The Importance of Safety

Keeping Children Safe

While risk assessments are no longer a requirement of the EYFS, we must all take children’s safety very seriously whether we are in the house, garden or on outings. It is generally advised that all childminders have a set of risk assessments to cover –

  • Inside the house
  • Garden / outside spaces
  • Outings – regular and one-off
  • Toys and equipment
  • Fire safety etc…

The aims are that all children...

  • Learn more about safety in general;
  • Begin to manage their own safety;
  • Are supported to manage their own safety in a range of situations;
  • Are kept safe and healthy as they engage in various fun, interesting and appropriate activities through the year.

Teaching children to manage their own safety was something our Ofsted inspector focussed on during our recent inspection. It is linked to teaching children about British values (which must be embedded throughout your practice) as well as planning for Physical Development – health and self-care.

Here are some ideas for planning a risk assessment day which can be used over and over again when reminding children about the risks associated with their play.  The planning is also great for encouraging even reluctant children to make marks…

  • Write or type up some safety checklists, print and put onto clipboards;
  • Set up some posed hazards such as a spiky leaf in the garden, an uncovered socket or toys in front of the door;
  • Provide safety hard hats for children to wear;
  • Go for a walk around the house or garden, considering the various risks and helping the children to decide what action needs to be taken.  Younger children can draw the risks and their solutions while older children might like to write things down to share with their parents later;
  • 999 - older children can learn their home addresses and how to recognise and ring 999 from various phones… however they need to be old enough to fully understand the dangers of making prank calls;
  • Stranger danger - you can plan lots of activities (I usually use traditional stories in books such as ‘3 little pigs’ and ‘Hansel and Gretel’) to support children’s understanding of strangers and how to be safe when on outings. Again, put children in charge of their learning… ask them lots of open questions which encourage them to think about different scenarios and keep themselves safe.

It is also important to consider risks depending on the ages of the children in your care. for example, you might note that –

  • A baby might roll off a high surface
  • A toddler might fall when climbing and need extra support
  • An inquisitive 2 year old might burn themselves in the kitchen
  • A 3 year old might climb too high on a frame at the park
  • A child who has autism might ‘melt down’ and need a cosy space in which to sit and calm etc.

Again, these risk assessments do not need to be on a form called ‘risk assessment for child’s name’ but you must be able to explain to Ofsted and parents how you keep children safe and, of course, they might be part of your observations, assessments and individual planning.

As long as you have all the main information you are doing as much as Ofsted ask...

Hazard – what might cause an accident?

Risk – what might happen to the baby, child or adult?

Level of risk – it is likely someone will be hurt?

Control – what have you put in place to help stop an injury?

Review date – when do you intend to review the risk assessment?

So, while we no longer need to write risk assessments it is clear that we still need to do them! We do not want to be sued in 20 years’ time because a baby was hurt while with us and the scar is preventing them from being a model… or sued now because we left a trip hazard at the top of the stairs and a child took a tumble… or questioned by police because we knew a child was prone to running off but we failed to risk assess and use reins.

It is important to do a risk assessment – be confident when explaining risk assessments to parents and passing Ofsted inspectors – know the reporting procedures if a child has an accident – ensure insurance and first aid training is always up-to-date – check first aid kits regularly – take every opportunity to ensure children’s safety – blow the whistle if you see dangerous practice in other settings…

 

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