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Inspecting safeguarding in the early years - a reminder of the guidance and some commonly asked questions

Gill Jones

With children under the age of five being cared for and taught in a range of different settings, often with slightly differing regulatory requirements, it’s not surprising that we frequently get questions about expectations around safeguarding.

So I wanted to take the opportunity to give you a refresher on what the statutory framework and guidance says and also highlight just a few of the queries that come to us.

For early years registered settings the Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage (the EYFS) is the most important document, which sets out the statutory requirements for safeguarding. If you’re a provider of early education and care (working with children from birth to the 31 August following their fifth birthday) you must meet the EYFS requirements. These state that:

  • providers must have, and implement, a policy and procedures to safeguard children, which should be in line with the guidance and procedures of the Local Safeguarding Children Board; the policy and procedures must include an explanation of the action to be taken in the event of an allegation being made against a member of staff, and must cover the use of mobile phones and cameras in the setting (paragraph 3.4)
  • a practitioner must be designated to take lead responsibility for safeguarding (paragraph 3.5)
  • providers must train all staff to understand their safeguarding policy and procedures and ensure that all staff have up-to-date knowledge of safeguarding issues (paragraph 3.6)
  • providers must have regard for the government’s statutory guidance ‘Working together to safeguard children’ (paragraph 3.8)
  • providers must ensure that people looking after children are suitable (paragraph 3.9); and there must be an enhanced criminal records disclosure in place for every person aged 16 or over who works directly with children, lives on the premises where childcare is provided, and/or works on the premises on which the childcare is provided (unless they do not work there during the times when children are present) (paragraph 3.10).

In addition, providers may find the additional information set out in ‘Inspecting safeguarding in early years, education and skills settings’  a useful supplement to the EYFS. It should offer additional insight into what constitutes good practice in relation to all providers who are offering care and education for children.

One area the guidance covers is the evidence inspectors look at when inspecting safeguarding arrangements. This includes:

  • how effectively leaders and governors create a safeguarding culture in the setting
  • arrangements for staff recruitment and vetting
  • the quality of safeguarding practice
  • arrangements for handling serious incidents and allegations.

Even with all of the guidance, I appreciate people will always have queries and we do our best to answer them. A few of the most common are set out below.

Early years setting

Do the requirements in ‘Keeping children safe in education’ apply to registered early years providers?

No – registered early years providers aren’t governed by the Department for Education’s guidance on ‘Keeping children safe in education’.

However, schools that offer early years services are covered.

Other providers might also find the guidance useful, for instance in giving examples of how settings can check the suitability of staff.

Do I need to have a single central record of DBS checks for my staff?

The requirement for a single central record only applies to schools and colleges.

However, other early years providers must be able to demonstrate to Ofsted, during inspection, that they’ve carried out the necessary DBS checks on all relevant staff.

Do I have to change all my references in policies/procedures from ‘safeguarding’ to ‘child protection’?

No – and it doesn’t matter if you call your policy a safeguarding policy, or a child protection policy, as long as it meets the requirements set out in EYFS.

Do I have to renew my safeguarding training every two years?

There is no need for you to renew training at any particular intervals.

However, under the EYFS requirements you must ensure that all staff caring for children have up-to-date knowledge of safeguarding.

Does my designated safeguarding lead have to be on the premises at all times?

The EYFS doesn’t specify that the designated safeguarding lead must be on the premises at all times, but they do need to be accessible.

In practice, this means that the setting must know who the designated officer is and that they’re contactable if needed. They don’t have to be physically present, but all staff must know what to do in the event of a safeguarding incident and know who to speak to.

If there’s a long period of absence from the setting, for example due to illness, the setting must appoint someone to be the temporary designated officer, to ensure continuity of care and welfare for children.

Do I need to have a deputy designated safeguarding person in place at all times?

There is no requirement under EYFS for every setting to have a deputy designated safeguarding person.

However, settings must ensure that they’ve appropriate arrangements in place to deal with safeguarding matters when the safeguarding lead is absent from the setting, for example during a period of annual leave.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it does cover some of those most frequently asked questions.





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  1. Comment by sue Lucas posted on

    Thank you- this is helpful.

  2. Comment by Sonal Mathur posted on

    I wonder if you are able to advise me on the staff qualifications please.

    1)Kindly can you explain me the difference between the Qualified teacher status (QTS) and the Education (School Teachers’ Prescribed Qualifications, etc) Order 2003 and the Education (School Teachers’ Qualifications) (England) Regulations 2003. This is in relation to the qualification requirements as stated in sections 3.33 to 3.37 of the Early years foundation stage (EYFS) statutory requirements document(page 22 to 23)
    From 3.33 to 3.36 there is a mention of QTS but in 3.37 the mention is Education (School Teachers’ Prescribed Qualifications, etc) Order 2003 and the Education (School Teachers’ Qualifications) (England) Regulations 2003.
    2)Also it does not specify that this person is working directly with children or not?
    3)I have checked the mentioned act but I cannot decipher what it means. Kindly if you can explain it too.
    Many thanks for your time with my enquiry

  3. Comment by M MONK posted on

    2017 - Some of these responses are now outdated therefore it is best to check what your local safeguarding board policy and procedure states for each of the questions above as they also may differ since the recent updates to recent publications off-
    Ofsted safeguarding children 2016
    The EYFS 2017 and
    The Working together to Safeguard Children guide 2015

  4. Comment by Ofsted external relations posted on

    Hi, sorry about the delay in responding. For queries regarding staffing qualifications you would need to contact the DfE.