Sunday, 21 September 2014

Safeguarding: why the differences between early years providers and schools?

The statutory guidance for schools, Keeping children safe in education [PDF], was published in April and makes it clear that schools must always pass on safeguarding records when a child transfers to another school.

The school's safeguarding lead is required to ensure that "where children leave the school or college...their child protection file is copied for any new school or college as soon as possible but transferred separately from the main pupil file." 

The Department for Education's 2010 study of serious case reviews [PDF] by Brandon et al found that recommendations about information-sharing were the second most common out of the Serious Case Reviews analysed in 2009-2010:

With so many of the serious case reviews concluding that a failure to share information had contributed to children's deaths or serious injuries, it is easy to see the rationale behind this requirement on schools. 

So, why aren't early years providers, including nursery schools, similarly required to share safeguarding information? The safeguarding requirements for them are set out in the EYFS statutory framework which has just been revised this year [PDF]. This says, in Section 3, that early years providers must have regard to the 2013 government guidance, Working together to safeguard children [PDF]. They must also have policies and procedures in line with the guidance of the Local Safeguarding Board.

The EYFS at paragraph 3.68 (page 29) states: “Providers must maintain records and obtain and share information (with parents and carers, other professionals working with the child, and the police, social services and Ofsted as appropriate) to ensure the safe and efficient management of the setting, and to help ensure the needs of all children are met. Providers must enable a regular two-way flow of information with parents and/or carers, and between providers, if a child is attending more than one setting.

Providers must be alert to any issues for concern in the child’s life at home or elsewhere. Providers must have and 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)."

But there is nothing I can see that specifically requires providers to keep records of concerns, and nothing that requires them to pass them onto receiving schools when the child reaches statutory age.

I wonder why there is this inconsistency, given that the EYFS has only recently been revised? It doesn't seem to make any sense.

This post has been amended to make it clear that the EYFS does require early years providers to maintain and share records; thanks to the DFE social media team for their feedback.