Ofsted requires all settings to have a set of policies and procedures. Policies and procedures help and guide all staff working in the setting. They ensure and endorse the well-being of all families, children, staff, volunteers and everyone who is connected to the setting. When policies and procedures are well thought out and, most importantly, implemented they provide common understanding and agreement on how things should be done at the setting. Procedures provide clear instructions and guidelines on what should/must be done in a particular set of circumstances or with regard to a particular issue.
Providers, working with children 0-5, (other than childminders) are required to have policies and procedures recorded in writing. Childminders are not required to have written policies and procedures. However they must be able to explain their policies and procedures to parents, carers and others and ensure that their assistants follow them. Schools are not required to have separate policies to cover EYFS requirements provided the requirements are already met through an existing policy.
Policies and procedures help new staff and families to familiarise themselves with the setting's practices and gives them information about what to expect from the setting. Policies should be 'living' documents that must be regularly reviewed to ensure that they meet all the needs of those working in the setting, take account of the safeguarding and welfare requirements in Section 3 of the EYFS Statutory framework, and incorporate the changes that have happened in the setting and within the wider community.
All providers, other than childminders, must have and implement a policy, and procedures to safeguard children. The policy must include an explanation of the action to be taken when there are safeguarding concerns about a child and in the event of an allegation being made against a member of staff, and cover the use of mobile phones and cameras in the setting. Providers on the childcare register, including childminders must keep and implement a written statement of procedures to be followed for the protection of children, intended to safeguard the children being cared for from abuse or neglect.
Providers must have a procedure, discussed with parents and/or carers for responding to children who are ill or infectious, take necessary steps to prevent the spread of infection and take appropriate action if children are ill. They must also have and implement a policy, and procedures for administering medicines.
Providers have a responsibility to provide a range of information to parents and carers and this must include the procedure to be followed in the event of a parent / carer failing to collect a child at the appointed time, or in the event of a child going missing at, or away from the setting.
Providers must put in place a written procedure for dealing with concerns and complaints from parents and / or carers, and must keep a written record of any complaints, and their outcome. Childminders are not required to have a written procedure for handling complaints, but they must keep a record of any complaints they receive and their outcome.
To summarise; good, well thought out and implemented policies and procedures:
- Ensure good practice;
- Help to establish a professional and effective organisation;
- Provide consistency amongst staff, parents and children;
- Can prevent any ambiguity about how particular situations/issues should be handled in the setting;
- Provide clear information about what to do when there are concerns or when things go wrong;
- Promote harmony among staff; and
- Lead to a more efficient and effective delivery of service.
Policies should be clear and concise and revised regularly to make sure they reflect best practice. Writing these can seem daunting but they are essential for the smooth running of your business and the welfare of children, staff, parents and carers and those with overall legal responsibility for the organisation.