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Ofsted's new Education Inspection Framework is all set to be rolled out this September. Although there are a number of new changes across the spectrum, we will focus on the inspection of 'safeguarding' for early years in this post.

According to the new inspection framework for 2019, safeguarding will be assessed under the judgement for 'Leadership and Management'.

 Inspectors will look for evidence on how effective your settings arrangements are to:

  • Identify children who may be at the risk of neglect, abuse, grooming or exploitation and maybe in need of early help
  • Help the children at risk by providing the support they need, or refer in a timely manner to those who have the expertise to help
  • Manage safe recruitment and allegations on adults who may pose a risk to children

Safeguarding risks

Apart from the safeguarding risks detailed in the earlier revisions of Ofsted’s guidance document on 'Inspecting safeguarding in early years, education and skills settings', a set of new risks linked to technology and social media have been included in the document:

  • Online bullying
  • The risks of being groomed online for radicalisation or exploitation
  • Risks of accessing and generating inappropriate content

What is classed as effective safeguarding?

As per the new framework, effective safeguarding is seen when adults working with children are aware of how to spot signs that a child is at risk and respond to it promptly, following local procedures and statutory guidance. They should also ensure that the children understand what constitutes a healthy relationship – 'both online and offline' and know how to recognise the risk.

Some of the elements the new EIF will look at as effective safeguarding are:

A culture of addressing risks and discriminatory behaviour

Have clear procedures and policies in place to protect and support children who experience bullying, racism, homophobic behaviour, sexism and other forms of discrimination. Settings should make sure discriminatory behaviours are challenged, and appropriate help and support are given to children to encourage children to treat others with respect.

In cases of peer-on-peer abuse,  it's important that staff consider what support might be needed for the perpetrators as well as the victims.

Adequate training to staff to understand and handle reports of abuse

Emphasis has been placed in the new framework that all staff members understand how to handle reports of sexual violence and harassment, (both in your setting and outside your premises) following the guidelines issued by the Department for Education. Inspectors will check the training has been provided and the staff are aware of what action to take.

Screening children with poor behaviour for trauma or abuse

One of the notable new inclusions is the requirement to screen children with 'poor behaviour' for possible abuse or trauma.

It is an important addition that calls for providers to understand that children's poor behaviour could be a sign that they could harm or that they have been traumatised by abuse. Providers should consider putting a clear system in place to ensure any child who is displaying behaviour that is a cause of concern is not doing so as a result of any abuse they could have been subject to.

Inspectors will also look closely at how the behaviour of children are managed, and what strategies the school has as an alternative to exclusion. They will look for evidence that the school is taking into account any safeguarding risks to pupils who may be excluded.

Where the children are attending off-site units, inspectors may visit units and assess:
  • The safeguarding procedures
  • The quality of education
  • The effectiveness of the unit's efforts to help improve the children’s behaviour, learning and attendance

What safeguarding evidences should you submit on the day of inspection?

  • The list of safeguarding referrals made to the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL)
  • The list of those who were subsequently referred to the local authority along with brief details of the resolution
  • The list of children whose cases are open to children’s services/social services and for whom there is a multi-agency plan


Childcare providers will be expected to develop a culture where all adults working at the setting understand how to spot the indicators that a child could be at the risk of abuse or exploitation and are aware of how to seek help and respond to it promptly.

Any ineffectiveness in safeguarding will be referenced in the leadership and management section of the report. For an early year setting to receive a judgement of 'Good' for Leadership and Management, providers should have effective safeguarding arrangements in place to :

  • Identify learners who might be at risk of neglect, abuse, grooming or exploitation
  • Respond to identified risks in a timely way
  • Deal with staff recruitments and allegations regarding adults who may pose a risk

For a centre that’s awarded 'Outstanding', the provider must meet the above criteria consistently.


You might also like:

Ofsted Education Inspection Framework 2019: Key changes for early years  >View article

Falls, scrapes and tumbles: What does Ofsted need to know?  >View article


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