Policies and procedures for group settings

One of the most common questions that childcare providers have when they set up their business is - what policies and procedures do I need?

There are different sets of guidance for England and Wales, but both cover the important issues of safeguarding the children in your care and the staff who work at your setting.

Policies and procedures for group settings in England

In England, the Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage (EYFS) requires nurseries and pre-schools to have specific policies and procedures in place. Schools are not required to have separate policies to cover EYFS requirements, provided the requirements are already met through existing policies.

Below are some key points from the EYFS. For full information, see the Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage 2017.

Child protection

  • Providers must be alert to any issues of concern in the child’s life at home or elsewhere.
  • Providers must implement a policy, and procedures, to safeguard children. These should be in line with the guidance and procedures of the relevant Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB).
  • The safeguarding policy and procedures must include an explanation of the action to be taken when there are safeguarding concerns about a child and in the event of an allegation being made against a member of staff.
  • The safeguarding policy and procedures must also cover the use of mobile phones and cameras in the setting.
  • A practitioner must be designated to take lead responsibility for safeguarding children in the setting.

For further information, see pages 16 to 18 of the Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage 2017.


Suitable people

  • Providers must ensure that people looking after children are suitable to fulfil the requirements of their roles. You must have effective systems in place to ensure that practitioners, and any other person who is likely to have regular contact with children, are suitable.
  • Providers must record information about staff qualifications and the identity checks and vetting processes that have been completed (including the DBS check reference number, the date a check was obtained and details of who obtained it).
  • Providers must meet their responsibilities under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, which includes a duty to make a referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service where a member of staff is dismissed (or would have been, had the person not left the setting first) because they have harmed a child or put a child at risk of harm.

For further information, see pages 18 to 20 of the Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage 2017.

Medicines

  • Providers must have and implement a policy for administering medicine. This must include systems for obtaining information about a child’s needs for medicine; keeping information up to date; and providing training for staff if medical or technical knowledge is required for administering medicine.
     
  • Medicine must only be administered after written permission has been obtained from the parent/carer. Practitioners must keep written records of all medicine administered and must inform the parents/carers.

For further information on administering medicine, see page 27 of the Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage 2017.

Policies and procedures for group settings in Wales

Below are some key points from the National Minimum Standards. Full guidance for nurseries and pre-schools in Wales can be found in the National Minimum Standards for Regulated Childcare for children up to the age of 12 years.

Standard 4: Meeting individual needs
Nurseries and pre-schools must have a written policy statement consistent with current legislation, and guidance about special educational needs and disabilities should be in place and available to parents.

Standard 6: Working in partnership with parents
A written policy about privacy and confidentiality should be made available to parents.

Standard 9: Behaviour
A written behaviour management policy should be drawn up and implemented which complies with the regulations and states the methods used to manage children’s behaviour. This should be discussed with parents and fully understood and followed by staff.

Standard 10: Healthcare
Where babies and children in nappies are cared for, there should be a nappy changing policy in place which covers both hygiene and safeguarding.

Standard 11: Medication
There should be a clear policy on medicine, understood and implemented by all staff and discussed with parents. This should cover the storage and administration of medicine. The policy conforms to the terms of the registered person’s insurance cover.

For further information about administering medicine, see page 30 of the National Minimum Standards.

Standard 16: Equal opportunities
There should be an equal opportunities policy, consistent with current legislation and guidance, which is regularly reviewed.

For further information, see pages 41 and 42 of the National Minimum Standards.

Standard 17: Financial Procedures
Children and their parents should be safeguarded by the registered person operating sound financial procedures.

Standard 19: Complaints
There should be a simple, clear and accessible written complaints procedure, which complies with the Regulations.

Standard 20: Child protection
The National Minimum Standards states that “the protection of the child is the first priority and it is everybody’s responsibility”.

There must be a written child protection policy in place which demonstrates awareness of the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) and All Wales Child Protection Procedures. In producing this policy, the registered person must also be familiar with the Welsh Government’s statutory guidance on safeguarding children under the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014.

A dedicated member of staff must attend a child protection training course and be responsible for liaison with child protection agencies.

Any persons working with and looking after children must be able to put the child protection policy into practice and be aware of safeguarding and child protection issues.

The child protection policy should be shared with parents before a child starts their place.

For further information, see pages 45 to 46 of the National Minimum Standards.

Dos and don’ts

Whether you live in England or Wales, here is a handy checklist of dos and don’ts when it comes to setting up policies and procedures:

Do...

  • …refer to the appropriate pages of the Statutory framework for early years foundation stage in England or the National Minimum Standards for Regulated Childcare in Wales, to read about policy and procedure requirements.
  • …provide high-quality training for staff on safeguarding and GDPR.
  • …provide high-quality training about policies and procedures, to enable staff to fully understand and implement them.   
  • …understand the difference between a policy and a procedure: a policy is a written statement about how you will work in one area of your practice. A procedure details the actions you will take to carry out the policy.
  • ...have a consistent approach to communicate your policies and procedures to parents. This ensures that they will be given the same message, which can help to prevent future misunderstandings.
  • ...consider sharing policies with parents via a shared platform
  • ...take time to go through your policies with parents and carers during initial meetings and settling-in visits. This will help you and the parents to get to know each other and will give parents the opportunity to ask questions about your policies and procedures.
  • ...remember that having compprehensive policies and procedures will make it easier for you to demonstrate to Ofsted (in England) or CIW (in Wales) how you manage your practice.
  • …make sure policies are easily accessible during Ofsted or CIW inspections, and that you can clearly explain how you embed policies and procedures in the day-to-day running of your setting.
  • …ensure that all policies and procedures are regularly reviewed and comply with GDPR. Find out more about your responsibilities regarding GDPR.

Don’t...

  • …believe everything you read. Be wary of some of the sample policies found online - not only could they be out of date; they may even suggest inappropriate policies that are not required.

Policies and procedures top tips

1. Keep it simple

  • Your policy should start with a short, clear statement. For example, "It is my policy to keep children safe when they are in my care".
  • Keep the language simple and jargon free.

2. Say what you are going to do

  • List the things that you will do to ensure that you meet your opening policy statement.
  • Explain clearly how and when you will implement your policies and procedures at your setting.

3. Make it your own

  • Think about your own setting, reflect on your practice, and write your policies and procedures to meet your own needs.

Putting policy into practice: checklist

  • Do you review your policies and procedures regularly? And do you include a review date on the document?
  • Do you review your policies and procedures when there are changes in your setting, for example, after an accident or incident?
  • Are all staff fully informed about the setting’s policies and procedures and do they understand how to implement them?
  • Is each policy evident in your practice, and demonstrated by all members of staff?
  • What do parents think of your policies? Have you asked them to suggest additions or changes? Do you consider changes based on feedback you’ve received?
  • Your policies can form part of your contract with families. Have you got copies signed and dated by both you and the parents? Have you given a copy to the parents?
  • Have you included useful numbers for parents on your policies? For example, the PACEY helpline, Ofsted or CIW, social services duty desk?

Further reading:

Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage 2017

Ofsted’s early years inspection handbook 2018

National Minimum Standards for Regulated Childcare in Wales

Working together to safeguard children 2018

Keeping children safe in education

Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006

Prevent duty guidance for England and Wales (updated April 2019)

All Wales Child Protection Procedures

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