Outings Risk Assessments
It is important to carefully plan outings and to involve the children and their families in the planning and risk assessment process. While written risk assessments are not a requirement of the current EYFS (2014) you should consider how you can provide evidence to Ofsted, children’s parents and possibly your insurance company and RIDDOR (should there be a serious accident) that you have risk assessed without them.
EYFS requirement 3.25 states, ‘At least one person who has a current paediatric first aid certificate must … accompany children on outings.’
You need to ensure your first aid certificate is up-to-date – this is one of the most common reasons for childminders being downgraded at inspection and it is avoidable if courses are booked well in advance before certificates expire.
EYFS requirement 3.65 states, ‘Children must be kept safe while on outings. Providers must assess the risks or hazards which may arise for the children, and must identify the steps to be taken to remove, minimise and manage those risks and hazards. The risk assessment does not necessarily need to be in writing; this is for providers to judge.’
It is no longer a requirement of the EYFS (2014) to ask parents for permission before taking their children on outings, but they should still be consulted about the intended outing. You might want to inform them about the date and timing of the outing in advance, suggest suitable clothing for their child to wear, ask for a lunch bag (and give them suggested contents), request a contribution to the entrance fee and ask, for example, for updated information about whether their child has any known allergies.
EYFS requirement 3.65 also states, ‘The assessment must include consideration of adult to child ratios.’ The EYFS requires early years providers to ensure they are within ratio for outings: while written risk assessments are not a requirement of the EYFS (2014) brief notes might be helpful to show that you have considered ratios and children’s safety before taking them on an outing.
EYFS requirement 3.66 states, ‘Vehicles in which children are being transported, and the driver of those vehicles, must be adequately insured.’
An outing to somewhere like the farm or zoo will generally involve children being transported in a vehicle. It is good practice to put vehicle paperwork together in a file whether it can be viewed by parents and inspected Ofsted on request. If you are travelling on public transport you should risk assess how you will keep the children safe during the journey to and from the venue.
Here are some other areas of provision you might want to consider:
If children take medication, you need to transport it carefully and think about how you will ensure it is labelled so that if you are in an accident it will be linked to the child. Childminders often store children’s medication individually and label it for the child, ensuring it is kept cold (with ice blocks) if necessary.
You should link your outing risk assessments to your ‘lost child procedures’, stating what you will do if a child goes missing during the outing. You will also need a way of identifying each child in case they are lost or you have an accident and are unable to speak for them. Many childminders take a photo of each child before the outing – this will show what they are wearing on the day of the outing and how they can be identified. Contact details for parents and something highlighting you as a childminder should also be carried in case of emergency.
Many large venues such as farms and zoos have risk assessments on their website which you can download, print and personalise to include information you want to share with parents such as accessibility of toilets and places for picnics.
You must consider hand washing, especially if you are taking the children on an outing where there are animals. You might want to take hand wipes and alcohol free cleansing liquid but you should also check that the venue has child-friendly sinks with soap and running water.
Outings can be very beneficial for children: they learn about the local community and wider world and activities can be planned to support their ongoing interests on your return. Children must be kept safe on outings and it is your responsibility, as their carer, to ensure they have a safe and happy time. Risk assessments should be robust and consider all aspects of the outing: they can be updated on your return to include information that has arisen during the day so it is in place for next time you visit.
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