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Last updated: 30.10.17

Safeguarding Within a Nursery

Nurseries, as with all care and education settings, can be hugely important in the development of a child. As a result, it’s vital that they are places where children are safe and healthy. Safeguarding is the action or set of actions undertaken by those responsible for children in order to ensure this. Children of all genders, ethnicities, religions and ages are covered. In this article, we’re going to look in more detail at what safeguarding means, who it is applicable to, and how it works in practice in the nursery.

For more detailed information about safeguarding, consider enrolling on our Introduction to Safeguarding Children Course. Click here to find out more.

What is Safeguarding?

The UK government provides guidance on what it expects safeguarding to mean, and in the Working together to safeguard children (2015) document, they present four points that define the initiative. They are the following:

  • Protecting children from maltreatment
  • Preventing impairment of children’s health or development
  • Ensuring the children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care
  • Taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes

There are also two main pieces of legislation that detail the legal duties that come under safeguarding. They are the Children Act 1989 and Children Act 2004. They will not be covered in this article, but you can read more about them on the GOV.UK site.

Ultimately, safeguarding is about making sure that children are well looked after when they are not at home, and it has a fairly broad remit. Most elements of safeguarding would be considered completely normal parts of the nursery environment, but the government mandates safeguarding as an initiative to ensure that all bases are covered.

Who is Responsible?

Safeguarding policies are relevant to all members of staff within a nursery. Everyone has a responsibility to the safety and wellbeing of the children in their care. Sound policies should ensure that everyone knows their role, but it is also important to note that Ofsted now requires that there is a Lead Safeguarding Practitioner on the premises at all times the nursery is open. This has changed from previous rules that simply required there to be a Lead Safeguarding Practitioner employed by the nursery. It’s the job of this person to makes sure that safeguarding policies are in place and being followed.

It is also worth noting that safeguarding is not just used in the nursery - it is applicable to children up to the age of 18.

Safeguarding in Practice

In most nurseries, a safeguarding policy should be put in place, which will help ensure that all of the criteria of safeguarding are met. Below are some of the main areas that these policies will cover:

  • Recruitment is perhaps the clearest and most obvious example of safeguarding in action. This means conducting rigorous checks on any candidates before they are considered or permitted to work in the nursery. A Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check is the main element of this, which seeks to ensure that candidates are suitable to work with children. You can learn more about safer recruitment here.
  • Health is less commonly recognised as a form of safeguarding, but it is important, and a core element nonetheless. In practice, this will involve a wide range of considerations, from making sure that children are given healthy food to eat, to facilitating their medication needs, to keeping up with any vaccination requirements.
  • Mental health is also important in the development of a child, including at nursery age. Bullying should be prevented, and children encouraged to be happy and make the most of their time at the nursery. This helps to promote good health and educational outcomes.
  • Protection from abuse is likely the most important part of safeguarding. This means protecting children from adults or other children that might do them harm. At its basic level, this will involve things like ensuring that only those who should be there are present on the premises and that children are picked up by the correct person. It will also mean maintaining vigilance and following the correct procedure if home abuse is suspected.
  • Safety in the nursery is another consideration that will seem obvious to most. Whether you’re playing outside with the children, or doing arts and crafts, they need to be in a safe environment. Nurseries must ensure that children are not placed in situations where there is a high likelihood of injury.

In order for a nursery to comply fully with its safeguarding duties, and ensure that children are being looked after to the best of the nursery’s ability, it is paramount that all members of staff receive adequate training, understand their responsibilities, and follow a sound policy.

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