Practice note

Keeping Children Safe - Practice Notes

Keeping Children Safe - Practice Notes

Early learning and childcare (ELC) staff should create a place of safety where children want to be and where they can develop a sense of wonder about the world. Caring for children involves staff being responsive and sensitive in meeting children’s needs. Children require a balance of independence, risk, new experiences, familiar routines, support and connections. When these needs are met, children will play and learn because they feel safe and secure.

ELC environments should be fun, challenging, stimulating and a place where children feel loved and respected, but importantly an environment that is safe and children feel protected. A strongly connected relationship and knowledge of individual children’s needs are key to children’s safety and wellbeing.

It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that children are safe, secure, and protected from harm. Our notifications and scrutiny work has highlighted that children’s safety is at greater risk when outings, transitions and children’s natural curiosity and exploration are not fully understood and supported by staff. To support ELC staff to keep children safe, we have developed a range of practice notes.

Keeping Children Safe - Practice Note to Support ELC Trips and Outings

This practice note provides a prompt for reflecting on and developing approaches to keeping children safe on trips and outings while ensuring they still have opportunities to be curious and develop their learning.

You can read this practice note in full below.

You can download this practice note here.

Keeping Children Safe - Practice Note to Support Transitions in ELC

This practice note will provide a prompt for reflecting on and developing approaches to keeping children safe during transitions, while ensuring they still have opportunities to build connections with others, play and learn.

You can read this practice note in full below.

You can download this practice note here.

Keeping Children Safe - Practice Note to Support Curiosity and Exploration in ELC

This practice note will provide a prompt for reflecting on and developing approaches to keeping children safe, while supporting their learning and development through regular opportunities to be curious, creative and to develop a sense of wonder about the world.

You can read this practice note in full below.

You can download this practice note here.

Keeping Children Safe - Practice Note Supporting Positive Mealtime Experiences in ELC

This practice note is designed to provide support and guidance in the planning, preparation and provision of nutritious and healthy meals and snacks for children.

You can download it here.

 

 

 

Keeping Children Safe - Practice Note to Support ELC Trips and Outings

This practice note provides a prompt for reflecting on and developing approaches to keeping children safe on trips and outings while ensuring they still have opportunities to be curious and develop their learning.

You can read this practice note in full below.

You can download this practice note here.

Children benefit from enjoying positive learning and play experiences in a wide variety of settings. Trips and outings provide opportunities for children to connect with their local community, build on their learning, develop new interests, promote health and wellbeing, and grow an appreciation for nature and their environment.

Through our scrutiny work and notifications of incidents we know that children have sometimes left a group and their responsible adult when on an outing. This presents a serious risk to their safety and wellbeing. A strongly connected relationship and knowledge of the individual child are key, without them, children's safety and wellbeing are at risk.

Sometimes children are not familiar with the environment, are curious about something they see, or are looking for something they need and leave the group. As a result, children have crossed roads, made their way home, and have been found by members of the public. Children who are unsupervised are at risk of coming to serious harm.

As ELC staff, it is your responsibility under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC 1989) to ensure children’s rights to life, survival and development (Article 6), protection from violence, abuse and neglect (Article 19) and to leisure, play and culture (Article 31) are promoted. 

“As a social service worker, I must protect and promote the rights and interests of people who use services and carers.”
(Codes of Practice for Social Service Workers and Employers, Scottish Social Service Council)

This practice note will provide a prompt for reflecting on and developing approaches to keeping children safe on trips and outings while ensuring they still have opportunities to be curious and develop their learning.

 You can download this practice note here.

Listen to children's words, actions, and emotions. What are they telling you?

Children’s voices:

“I don’t feel safe here.”

“I need the toilet.”

“I think my house is just over there, I'll just go and see...”

“I'm not sure how far I'm allowed to go on my own.”

“I think I just saw a bird over there. I'll go to find it.”

“I know where to go. I’ve been here before.”

“I’ve lost my toy. I need to go back and get it.”

“I feel tired and want to find a cosy space to lie down.”

We want to share our learning so you can be confident that you provide safe, nurturing, and supportive care.

Respond, Reflect, and Remember

The three R’s (Respond, Reflect, and Remember) can help you to keep children safe.

Respond to children

It is important to take account of children’s voices in matters that affect them. Each child will experience the care you provide differently.

  • Make sure you know me, where I am and who is responsible for me.
  • Speak to my family about my experiences to help you plan outings.
  • Take account of my interests and learning needs to ensure outings are meaningful to me.
  • I need a familiar adult nearby.
  • Be patient with me, I might not have experience of being out in the community.
  • Help me feel safe and reduce my anxiety in new places.
  • Communicate with me in a way that I understand.
  • Give me freedom to explore within safe boundaries
  • Include me, especially if I need extra help.
  • Notice me and know when to encourage my risky play and when to offer me support. 

Reflect on practice

These questions are designed to help staff in the process of reflection.

Assessing the environment

  • How do you know that the location of the outing meets children’s learning and development needs?
  • How do you assess the environment where trips and outings take place?
  • How does this inform your risk assessment?
  • How familiar are you and the children with the location and potential risks?
  • How do you know the address of your location to alert emergency services if need be?
  • How do you know that there is a mobile phone signal in the location of the outing?

Staff/adults roles and responsibilities

  • How do you ensure you understand your roles and responsibilities?
  • How do leaders know that procedures are clearly understood by all staff?
  • How do you create a culture where staff feel comfortable reporting concerns about children’s safety?
  • What procedures would you follow if a child was identified as missing?

Staff communication

  • How do you ensure that children are always accounted for?
  • How do you ensure effective communication with each other?
  • How would you get extra help from a colleague if needed?
  • How do you monitor children and communicate about where they are?

Family engagement

  • How do you engage families to support safe planning of trips and outings?
  • What do you need to know about each child before going out of the setting?
  • How do you use the information that parents provide you with?

Knowing and understanding the children in your care

  • How do you know that children will benefit from the outing?
  • How do you empower children to keep themselves safe?
  • How do you know that children understand messages about safety when out of the setting?

Time to Reflect

Scenario 1

A childminder and her two minded children arranged to meet another childminder and her three minded children at local woods. After 15 minutes of playing together, one of the children fell and cut themselves on a branch. While both childminders responded to the injured child, another child walked to a park at the entrance to the woods. The child regularly visited this park with their parents and loved playing there.  A member of the public noticed the child playing alone and called the police because of their young age.

Discuss this scenario:

  • What should the childminder have considered when planning this outing?
  • What action do you consider was needed to prevent this?
  • What do you consider were the thoughts of the child?
  • To prevent this happening to a child in your service, how could you develop your practice on outings?

Scenario 2

A group of 10 children aged four was going on an outing to a park a few miles away from the ELC setting. Staff had assessed that the safest way to travel was by public transport. The bus was very busy and this meant that the children were unable to sit together. Staff helped the children to find a seat and then found themselves a seat close by.

When they arrived at the destination, staff verbally encouraged children to exit the bus. Two children from the group were sitting at the back of the bus and did not hear staff instruct them to leave. After the bus had pulled away staff realised that two children were missing. After 10 minutes a member of public noticed that the children were alone. They notified the bus driver who called the police.

Discuss the scenario:

  • How might the children have felt?
  • What are your procedures when going on an outing?
  • What are your reflections and what would you do to prevent this from happening?

What are your reflections and what would you do to prevent this from happening?

Keeping Children Safe - Practice Note to Support Transitions in ELC

This practice note will provide a prompt for reflecting on and developing approaches to keeping children safe during transitions, while ensuring they still have opportunities to build connections with others, play and learn.

You can read this practice note in full below.

You can download this practice note here.

In early learning and childcare (ELC), transition is understood to mean a time of change for children. From their earliest years, children experience daily and major transitions as their environments, routines, expectations and relationships change. These changes can happen across the day or over time. If children are given the right support, they will learn to adjust to new situations and to form new and trusting relationships with others. This
places them in a good position to have the confidence to explore, develop their interests and progress their learning.

For most children, transitions are a source of excitement and opportunity. However, for some transitions can be a time of anxiety.

Through our scrutiny work and notifications of incidents, we know that children have sometimes left the setting or have been left behind during times of transition. This presents a serious risk to their safety and wellbeing. Knowledge of the individual child and listening to their words and actions are key. Without them, children’s safety and wellbeing are at risk.

Sometimes children leave a setting as they are not familiar with the environment or routine, are curious about something they see or are looking for someone familiar. As a result, children have crossed roads, made their way home and have been found by members of the public. Children who are unsupervised are at risk of coming to serious harm.

As ELC staff, it is your responsibility under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC 1989) to ensure children’s rights to life, survival and development (Article 6), protection from violence, abuse and neglect (Article 19) and to leisure, play and culture (Article 31) are promoted.

“As a social service worker, I must protect and promote the rights and interests of people who use services and carers.” (Codes of Practice for Social Service Workers and Employers, Scottish Social Service Council)

This practice note will provide a prompt for reflecting on and developing approaches to keeping children safe during transitions, while ensuring they still have opportunities to build connections with others, play and learn.

Respond, Reflect and Remember

We want to share our learning so you can be confident you provide safe, nurturing, and supportive care. The three R’s (Respond, Reflect and Remember) can help you to keep children safe.

Respond to children

It is important to take account of children’s voices in matters that affect them. Each child will experience the care you provide differently.

• Make sure I am always cared for by people I know and who know me.
• When I feel overwhelmed or fearful, I need someone who makes me feel safe.
• Support me to make friends and to form trusting relationships with others.
• Remember that I feel big emotions and need help to make sense of them.
• Sometimes I feel fearful when I cannot predict what is going to happen next.
• I will seek comfort and safety from those I know and trust. Be patient with me as I build my attachment to you.
• Please take time to get to know my family, as well as me. They can help you to better understand me, what I like and what I might need support with.
• If I am upset or feeling anxious, do not be afraid to change plans so my care is responsive.
• Be curious about what my needs are and what my behaviour is communicating.

Reflect on practice

These questions are designed to help staff in the process of reflection.

Assessing the environment

• How do you assess the environment to identify potential safety risks during times of transition?
• What potential risks have you found, and how could these be addressed to ensure children’s safety?

Staff/adult roles and responsibilities

• How do you plan staffing arrangements to ensure that children are safe?
• What are the responsibilities of a child’s key person in supporting transitions?
• What discussions take place about the impact of transitions on children’s safety?
• How do leaders provide staff with feedback on their practice to support improvement?
• If a child were missing, what procedures would you follow?

Staff communication

• How do you communicate about children’s needs during daily transition?
• How do you ensure children are supported, and accounted for, during the different transitions across their day?
• How do you ensure that colleagues understand when you need support?
• How do you supervise children and communicate about where they are?

Family engagement

• To support transitions, how are families encouraged to share their knowledge and insights about their children with you?
• When children and their families arrive at your setting, how do you know they feel welcomed and feel connected with staff and children?
• How do you communicate with families to determine if children need extra emotional support across the day?
• How can comforters from home help a child feel settled, safe, and secure?

Knowing and understanding the children in your care

• How would you be reassured that children are secure and settled?
• How do you interpret what children are trying to communicate?
• How do you ensure nonverbal children can express their needs, feelings and wants?
• How do your observations and knowledge of a child influence the routine of the day?
• How do you promote children’s sense of self, independence and responsibilities?

Time to Reflect

Scenario 1

A child who has been attending your service for 18 months arrives one day upset. The parent appeared rushed at drop off and explained they were late for an appointment.

They highlighted that their child had not wanted to come to nursery and that they had a “very difficult” morning. The parent also seemed upset. A member of staff escorted the child to the garden where their friends were playing and then returned indoors. Unobserved by staff, the child then left the nursery garden by means of a small gap in a fence. After some time, the child was found in the nursery car park by an adult visiting the service. The adult brought the child to the nursery office. No one had been aware the child was missing. Although upset, the child had thankfully not come to any physical harm.

Discuss this scenario:

• What do you consider the emotions and thoughts were for the child?
• What actions do you consider were needed to prevent this?
• To prevent this happening to a child in your service, how will you improve your practice?

Scenario 2

Lunch time was approaching in a primary school nursery class. Children were encouraged to come inside from the garden, tidy up and wash their hands before going to the gym hall for lunch.

One member of staff asked the group of 20 children if they were ready before leading the way to the gym hall. The other staff walked alongside the children. One child was still washing their hands when everyone else left the playroom and the child did not hear the others leaving. When the child realised all the children had already left, they made their way out of the playroom through the open door that led into the school. At the gym hall, children were busily collecting their meals before sitting down. It was 10 minutes later before the child’s key worker realised they were missing. Staff began searching for the child who was found alone five minutes later in the school library.

Discuss the scenario:

• What do you consider the emotions and thoughts were for the child?
• What actions do you consider were needed to prevent this?
• Identify and discuss transition periods at your service, and reflect on whether any changes are needed to ensure children are accounted for and their needs met?

Keeping Children Safe - Practice Note to Support Curiosity and Exploration in ELC

This practice note will provide a prompt for reflecting on and developing approaches to keeping children safe, while supporting their learning and development through regular opportunities to be curious, creative and to develop a sense of wonder about the world.

You can read this practice note in full below.

You can download this practice note here.

Children’s learning and development are supported through regular opportunities to be curious, creative and to develop a sense of wonder about the world. Children in your setting may at times experience many new, exciting and challenging situations. This normally includes becoming familiar with new routines, people, spaces, ideas and concepts. When children have a strong connection to their care environment and the people in it, exposure to new experiences builds self-esteem and a love of learning. ELC staff are tasked with creating a fun
learning environment that is safe and familiar, as well as challenging and stimulating.

Through our scrutiny work and notifications of incidents, we know some children have left the care of their responsible adults to go and explore something interesting or when they have felt overwhelmed. In some instances, this has gone unobserved by the adults responsible for these children and some have been found by members of the public.

Children who are unsupervised are at risk of coming to harm. A strongly connected relationship and knowledge of the individual child are key. Without them, children’s safety and wellbeing are at risk.

As ELC staff, it is your responsibility under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC 1989) to ensure children’s rights to life, survival and development (Article 6), protection from violence, abuse and neglect (Article 19) and to leisure, play and culture (Article 31) are promoted.

“As a social service worker, I must protect and promote the rights and interests of people who use services and carers.” (Codes of Practice for Social Service Workers and Employers, Scottish Social Service Council)

 

Respond, Reflect and Remember

We want to share our learning so you can be confident you provide safe, nurturing, and supportive care. The three R’s (Respond, Reflect and Remember) can help you to keep children safe.

Respond to children

It is important to take account of children’s voices in matters that affect them. Each child will experience the care you provide differently.

• Make sure you know me, where I am and who is responsible for me.
• Provide me with a wide range of experiences so I can lead my own play.
• Involve me and talk to me about staying safe.
• Respond when you notice I need your help to explore and investigate the world around me.
• Play is my serious work, keep my experiences interesting and challenging.
• Be curious about the world with me. This will strengthen our emotional connection and help keep
me safe.
• Explain things to me in a way that I can understand.
• Notice me and know when to encourage my risky play and when to offer me support.
• Ensure that the environment reflects my individual needs and interests.
• Please take time to wonder what my actions are communicating.

Reflect on practice

These questions are designed to help staff in the process of reflection.

Assessing the environment

• How do you ensure children cannot leave the premises without an authorised adult?
• How do you identify and address safety risks within children’s spaces and environment?
• How does your environment support children’s natural curiosity, while keeping them safe?
• How do you ensure that children’s spaces, choices, and experiences reflect their needs?

Staff/adult roles and responsibilities

• How do you know what your responsibilities are within your team?
• How do you keep children safe, while at the same time, encourage them to lead and take
responsibility for their own learning?
• How do you ensure that children have opportunities to be creative, curious, and imaginative within a safe environment?
• How do you share concerns and speak out when things need to improve?
• What procedures should you follow if a child is identified as missing?

Staff communication

• How do you know who you are responsible for?
• How do you ensure effective communication with each other?
• How do you let your colleagues know you need their support?
• How do you observe, monitor, and communicate about where children are?
• As a team, how do you critically discuss your care and learning environment to support improvement?

Family engagement

• To support curiosity and learning, how are families encouraged to share their knowledge and
insights about their children with you?
• How do you ensure children feel secure and able to explore, be curious and learn?
• How do you work in partnership with families to plan children’s emotional support across their day?

Knowing and understanding the children in your care

• How do you ensure that children have at least one strong emotional connection with someone
responsible for their care, support and learning?
• How do you know when a child needs challenge, additional support or help to pursue their
interests?
• How do you include children’s needs, interests, and capabilities in your planning processes and
risk assessments?
• How do you support children to assess their safety during exploratory play?

Time to Reflect

Scenario 1

A young child had recently started in your setting and was in the outdoor play area. The child was used to collecting their older sibling from school and they were familiar with the school playground. Unobserved by staff, the child left the nursery outdoor area by means of an opened gate and went to the school nearby to play in the sandpit. After some time, the child was observed by an adult passing who took them to the school. Fortunately, this child did not come to any harm.

Discuss this scenario:


• What do you consider the emotions and thoughts were for the child?
• What actions do you consider were needed to prevent this?
• What would your immediate next steps and actions be after an incident like this?
• To prevent this happening to a child in your service, how will you improve your practice?


Scenario 2

A child was being creative and building with large resources at the rear of the nursery garden. They successfully balanced two crates on top of each other and climbed on top. To build a little higher, the child moved the crates closer to the fence. While balancing on the crates and holding on to the fence, the child was able to see into the nursery car park. There were some interesting sticks in the car park and the child climbed over the fence to gather them for their play. Once outside, the child realised they could not get back into the garden. They shouted but no one heard or noticed they were gone. The child’s house was a few streets away from the nursery and they were familiar with the area. The child walked home where they found their dad who was home working. The child did not come to any physical harm but was emotionally distressed by the time they got home.


Discuss the scenario:


• What do you consider the emotions and thoughts were for the child?
• How was it possible for the child to leave the garden unnoticed?
• What would your immediate next steps and action be after an incident like this?
• To prevent this happening to a child in your service, how will you improve your practice?

Keeping Children Safe - Practice Note Supporting Positive Mealtime Experiences in ELC

This practice note is designed to provide support and guidance in the planning, preparation and provision of nutritious and healthy meals and snacks for children.

You can download it here.