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- MARY MCALLISTER
The Early Years Statutory Framework is mandatory for all early years providers, who LEGAL force by an order made under section 39(1)(a) of the Childcare Act 2006. The safeguarding and welfare requirements are given LEGAL force by regulations make under the section 39(1)(b) of the Childcare Act 2006. Ofsted has regard to the Early Years foundation Stage (EYFS) in carrying out inspections and reports on the quality and standards of provision.
The EYFS statutory framework recognises that; ‘children learn best when they are healthy, safe and secure, when their individual needs are met, and when they have positive relationships with the adults caring from them.’ The framework also outlines what all providers must do to safeguard children, ensure the suitability of adults who have contact with children, promote good health; manage behaviour and maintain records. Good.
The statutory Framework requirements promoting the safeguarding and welfare of children were written to ensure the protection and safety from harm of every child within the Early Years Setting. Some
As part of the statutory requirements, providers must have and be able to implement a policy and procedures to safeguard children in line with the guidelines and procedures of the relevant Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB). The Framework clearly outlines the responsibility of the provider with respect to identifying and responding to the signs of possible abuse and neglect and the provision of staff training to recognise this.
The statutory framework also states that; ‘Providers must ensure that people looking after children are suitable to fulfil the requirements of their roles.’ Providers need to ensure that they have effective systems in place to vet anyone coming into regular contact with the children within the setting are suitable to do so. It is the responsibility of the childcare provider to obtain enhanced criminal records disclosure and barred list checks for every person aged 16 and over who; works directly with children; who lives on the premises where the childcare is being provided and/or works on the premises where the childcare is provided. The provider must keep records of all practitioners’ checks and qualifications and be able to produce this during an Ofsted inspection.
Staff Qualifications, training, support and skills
Staff training is recognised as being an essential part of providing high quality care. Providers need to ensure that staff is made aware of their roles and responsibilities. Their training should include; evacuation procedures, safeguarding , child protection and the policies and procedures regarding reporting cases of suspected abuse or neglect and health and safety issues. The provider must also ensure that staffs have the relevant qualifications to work with children and that staff:child ratios are adhered to. At least one member of staff with a paediatric first aid certificate must be on the premises at all times. Good.
The framework outlines that policy and procedures should be in place to respond to children who are ill or infectious and the necessary steps to be taken to prevent spread of infection to other children. Administration of medicine should only occur where it has been prescribed for that child and with the parent’s written consent.
Food and drink
Any areas used for the preparation of food must be adequately equipped to provide healthy meals, snacks and drinks. These areas must be clean and suitable sterilisation equipment available for the preparation of food and mild for babies. Those responsible for the preparation of food and food handling must receive the appropriate up to date training. Cases of food poisoning involving two or more children on the premises must be reported to Ofsted. Failure to do so is an offence.
Early years providers and practitioners have a primary responsibility for the safety of the children in their care. There are a number of legal and regulatory requirements that help protect children (and adults) in any setting; some of which have already been discussed. When considering how best to keep children safe within the setting it is important that the practitioner is familiar with the following legislation as it pertains to their particular area if practice.
The statutory framework states that, ‘Providers must have and implement a behaviour management policy and procedures. A named practitioner should be responsible for behaviour management, and have the necessary skills to advise other staff on behaviour issues.’ Corporal punishment should NEVER be used as a form of discipline and if used would constitute an offence. There are many ways of dealing with the various types of behaviour that can arise within an early years setting and the recommended approach is one that is child-centred and non punitive. Educational psychologist B.F. Skinner suggested that most humans and animals learn through exploring the environment and then drawing conclusions bases on the consequences of their behaviour. Skinner goes on to suggest that positive reinforcers are likely to make people repeat a behaviour in order to get something they desire. In the case of young children this could be praise, a sticker or merit award, adult attention etc. This, skinner believed was the most positive and effective way of encouraging new learning behaviours. Child-centred approaches to behaviour focus on the underlying causes to prevent unwelcome behaviours and can be very effective, whereas simply managing or containing behaviour may not result in longer term improvement. Good point and link to Skinner’s theory.
While the environment in which children are cared for must be stimulating, they must also be safe. Young children have little sense of danger and so require constant adult supervision, where they are given the freedom to explore, discover and develop unhindered. Risk assessment is an important part of health and safety procedures, and the idea is to evaluate possible risks during activities and in the environment and then to consider how best to minimise them. Having a policy and procedures in place is essential as there is not only a moral duty to keep children safe, but also a legal one. The statutory framework outlines the following areas to be considered:
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
This act places overall responsibility for health and safety with the employer but also on the employees, so everyone in a setting has some responsibility for the health and safety of everyone who is there. In the context of an early years setting as it pertains to the safety of the children the act covers the following:
- Buildings should be well maintained and designed with the safety of the users in mind,
- The general environment should be clean and safe.
- Equipment must be safely used and stored.
- Working practice must promote the health and safety of children.
- Articles and substances should be stored and used safely
- Adequate welfare facilities should be available
- Appropriate information, training and supervision should be made for the health and safety of employees.
- Certain injuries, diseases and occurrences should be reported to the Health and safety Executive.
- First Aid facilities should be provided.
- Employees should take care of their own health and safety and that of others affected by their actions.
- Employees should cooperate with their employer on health and safety.
Toys and products used within the early years setting should be tested by the British Standards Institution (BSI) and carry a kite mark as proof that they have been independently tested and conform to the relevant standards. They may also carry a CE mark which indicates that the product meets the European legal requirements; however this is not a safety or quality mark.
Control of Substances Hazardous to Health
COSHH Regulations 2002 covers substances which can cause ill-health and the legislation lays down a step by step approach to the precautions that need to be put in place to prevent injury or illness from dangerous substances. These substances must have particular labels on them, which show the substances are dangerous and need to be kept in special containers and carefully stored. The importance of this cannot be over emphasised as children can easily ingest such substances causing considerable harm.
Every person working with children is responsible for their safety. It is important that the environment children are working and playing in is regularly checked, before and during activities. The following points should be considered:
Buildings and maintenance
- Doors opening into entrances and exits from the building must NOT be capable of being opened by young children.
- Emergency exits must be clear and easy to open from the inside.
- Floors should not have any loose rugs or pieces of carpet.
- Low-level glass should be safety glass of covered with a guard.
- Electrical sockets should be covered.
Cleanliness of the general environment
- There should be a high standard of cleanliness throughout the building.
- Spillages should be immediately cleaned.
- Toilet areas should be regularly cleaned and checked.
Food preparation areas
- All staff dealing with food should have a food hygiene certificate.
- All regulations relating to food storage should be in place.
Safe storage and use of equipment
- Cupboards at ‘child-level’ should not contain cleaning items, knives, tools or any other potentially dangerous items.
- Toys with very small parts should be kept away from children under three years old.
- Heaters and radiators should be covered and not a risk to children.
- Outdoor slides, swings etc. Should be safe and have impact absorbing matting provided.
- Young children should not be able to open gates.
- Sandpits should be kept covered when not in use.
As a general rule equipment should be regularly checked for wear and tear, such as fraying ropes and rusty joints. Check equipment before use to ensure that it is clean and dry especially slides and steps. Children should have enough space to play and move freely without bumping into each other or objects. Appropriate adult-child ratios should be maintained and supervising adults should be able to see all the children. Good. Swings and rope ladders should be used by only one child at a time and other children discouraged from getting too close in case they are hurt by a swing or rope.
First aid provision
Young children invariably have accidents and injure themselves and at such times can become frightened and upset. It is the responsibility of the practitioner to know what to do in an emergency and to carry out the appropriate first aid calmly and confidently. In accordance with the Health and Safety at work Act 1974 and the statutory requirements of the EYFS the early years provider must ensure that there is at least one member of staff with a current paediatric first aid certificate present at all times on the premises and that there is a well stocked up to date first aid kit available. There must be policies and procedures in place to deal with and record all accidents and their treatment as well as current phone numbers to contact parents or a designated adult in the event of a child requiring emergency treatment. In the event of serious injury or death the provider must comply with the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR).
The framework states that, ‘The premises and equipment must be organised in a way that meets the needs of the children.’ The indoor space requirements are:
- Children under two years: 3.5m² per child.
- Two year olds: 2.5m² per child
- Children aged three to five years 2.3m² per child.
The provider must also ensure the following:
- Facilities and equipment and access to the premises are suitable as far is reasonably possible accessible to children with disabilities.
- That there is access to outdoor activities.
- Provision of a quiet area for children who wish to relax or sleep.
- Adequate toilet and hand washing facilities.
- Child care settings should have secure entrance doors that sound an alarm or require buzzer activation to alert staff to anyone coming into the premises. It is important to check that other adults coming in are allowed to be there and that they sign in and out; not only for security purposes but also in case of fire or accident on the premises. It is also important to ascertain from parents those adults who will have responsibility for collecting their child at the end of the day. There should be procedures in place for parents to inform the setting if a different adult is to collect a child at the end of the day. However the practitioner should never be afraid of challenging someone they are not familiar with. It is also important to take care when people are leaving the setting that no other children are nearby and able to slip out the door unnoticed.
 Statutory Framework for the Early Years foundation Stage. (March 2012). Department of Education. https:// www.educataion.gov.uk/publications/standard/AllPublications/Page1/DFE-00023-2012
 COSHH assessment: identifying hazard and assessing risk. Available online at: www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/basics/assessment.htm.
 Tassani, Penny; Bulman, Kath; Beith, Kate (2005) Children’s Care, Learning and Development (2nd edition), Heinemann. ISBN 978-0-435-44851-6
 The Health and Safety at work Act 1974 Available online at: www.hse.gov.uk/legislation/hswa.htm
 RIDDOR Available online at: www.hse.gov.uk/guidance/index.htm
 B.F. Skinner – Operant Conditioning www.simplepsychology.org/operant-conditioning.htm
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