Safeguarding Simplified: Navigating the EYFS Statutory Framework

My name is Yvonne Sinclair from Safeguarding Support Limited. In this article, I will simplify safeguarding children around the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) statutory framework.  

This latest framework came into force on 4th January 2024, and is mandatory for all early year’s providers in England. The updated guidance sets out the standards which all early year’s providers must meet to ensure that children learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe. 

What Are The 2024 Key EYFS Changes?

From January 2024, there will be two versions of the EYFS framework: 

  1. Guidance for group and school-based providersThis framework is for all group and school-based early years providers in England (including maintained schools; non-maintained schools; independent schools; free schools; and academies) and all group-based providers on the Early Years Register.
  2. Guidance for childmindersThis framework is for all childminders in England caring for early years children (aged from 0 until the 31 August after their 5th birthday) who are registered on the Early Years Register or with an early year’s childminder agency (CMA).

Providers are responsible for ensuring they follow the current version of the framework for their provider type. 

The learning and development requirements remain covered in Section 1, the assessment requirements are in Section 2, and important changes to the safeguarding and welfare requirements (Section 3) are summarised below: 

Section 3: Safeguarding And Welfare

This section of the framework sets out the safeguarding and welfare requirements providers must meet, and the necessary steps a setting must take to keep children safe and well.  

For group and school-based providers, this means there must be a designated practitioner to take lead responsibility for safeguarding, and for childminders working alone or with assistants, the childminder must take lead responsibility for safeguarding, being alert to any issues of concern in the child’s life at home or elsewhere. 

Providers must take all necessary steps to keep children safe and well, which means they must:

  1. Safeguard children.
  2. Ensure the adults who have contact with children are suitable.
  3. Promote good health.
  4. Support and understand behaviour.
  5. Maintain records, policies, and procedures.

The safeguarding lead is also responsible for liaising with local statutory children’s services agencies, and with the LSP (Local Safeguarding Partners). 

Summary Of Safeguarding Updates: 

1. Safeguard Children.

Settings must take into account the government’s statutory guidance including:

  • Working Together to Safeguard Childrenupdated 31st December 2023 
  • The Prevent Dutyupdated 31st December 2023 
  • Keeping Children Safe in Educationupdated 1st September 2023
  • Early Years Qualification Requirements and Standardsupdated 4th January 2024 
  • Disqualification under the Childcare Act 
  • Special educational needs and disability code of practice:  0 to 25 years 

2. Ensure The Adults Who Have Contact With Children Are Suitable.

Group and school-based settings must ensure: 

  • setting managers appointed on or after 4 January 2024 hold a level 2 maths qualification, or they achieve one within 2 years of starting in the position. (Section 3, Staff:child ratios)
  • all level 2 and level 3 staff members who gained their qualification since June 2016, hold a valid paediatric first aid (PFA) certificate, otherwise they cannot be included in ratio (Section 3, Paediatric first aid)
  • they are aware of the new statutory document on early years qualification requirements and standards. 
  • is understood that while qualifications must be verified, employees do not have to provide physical copies of their qualifications (Section 3, Suitable people) 
  • changes to the wording on the validity of paediatric first aid (PFA) certificates are understood (Section 3, Paediatric first aid) 

Group and school-based settings may wish to consider applying the following flexibilities, if appropriate. 

  • level 3 practitioners will no longer be required to hold a level 2 maths qualification to count within staff:child ratios (Section 3, Staff:child ratios)
  • a manager can now allow students and apprentices to count in staff:child ratios at the level below their level of study, if the manager is satisfied that they are competent and responsible (Section 3, Staff:child ratios) 

Childminders may wish to consider applying the following flexibilities, if appropriate:

  • are no longer required to complete training on the EYFS prior to registration, however childminders will still need to demonstrate that they have the required knowledge of the EYFS at their pre-registration visit (Section 3, Safeguarding training) 
  • where judged appropriate by a childminder, childminding assistants can now fulfil the role of a key person for children (Section 3, Key person).

5. Maintain Records, Policies, And Procedures

Group and school-based settings safeguarding policies and procedures must ensure:

  • They include all electronic devices with imaging and sharing capabilities, not just mobile phones and cameras (Section 3, Safeguarding policies and procedures) 

Childminders must ensure: 

  • their safeguarding policies and procedures at a setting include all electronic devices with imaging and sharing capabilities, not just mobile phones and cameras and, as technology changes, they should also consider a wider range of devices in their policies, for example smart watches (Section 3, Safeguarding policies and procedures) 
  • be aware that further information has been provided in the framework on safeguarding responsibilities when childminders are working in a group, including a change on child protection language (Section 3, Safeguarding policies and procedures) 

Childminders should also be aware that the following updates have been made: 

  • the wording has been changed on ‘suitable person’ to clarify that it is the responsibility of the childminder agency (CMA) or Ofsted to carry out suitability checks on behalf of the childminder (Section 3, Suitable people) 
  • the wording has been changed on ‘confidential areas’ so rather than having a permanent area available, a suitable area is made available on request (Section 3, Organising premises for confidentiality and safeguarding) 
  • the requirement to display a paediatric first aid (PFA) certificate has been removed, instead these are available on request (Section 3, Paediatric first aid) 
  • a physical copy of the certificate of registration is no longer required to be displayed, a digital version can be used instead (Section 3, Information about the childminder)
  • may wish to consider that childminders with open plan kitchen-living areas can now utilise safely useable areas within this room for their provision (Section 3, Indoor space requirements).

Take a look at other articles on the topic of safeguarding here:

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