These are standards that can suitably guide you to be able to demonstrate a professional approach and continually deliver best practice.
A policy needs to ensure that it covers the beliefs and values of your setting and shows how you deliver best practice in our sector. They need to be easily comprehended by all staff members, parents, and carers. Your policies will inform your procedures and minimise risk for both children and staff within your setting. Your procedures take shape from your policies and specifically pertain to a series of actions that are carried out in a particular order.
This is not a pointless exercise merely to show off to the inspector during the inspection. Policies and procedures protect you, your setting and most importantly the children. Inspectors will need to consider a sample of policies and these will include safeguarding and child protection, risk assessments, fire safety and any other policy that relates to health and safety, like the medicine policy and behaviour management policy.
I have been to many settings, where they have thought it would be a better option to ‘buy’ the pre-written policies. Firstly, ask yourself this… Why? Is it to save you the effort of writing them yourself? If so, when you use them, do you even understand what they mean? Consider if the wordings need to be customised and changed to make them right for you and your practice. This is your setting, so make sure your policies are aligned to you and not written by or for anybody else. This not only helps you when you get inspected, as you can always refer to the policies written by you; it also helps you take ownership of your setting.
There is nothing worse for an inspector to see these pre-written policies with no changes to show that you haven’t reflected upon each and taken ownership. You are only drawing negative attention to yourself, which will entail further questioning and investigation about what you know about your setting.
It is an excellent idea to get all your staff involved in writing your policies and serves as an additional mechanism to evaluate and embed your practice with current policies. During my time in Early Years, I have written more policies than I care to mention. I always dreaded the time when a new version or new legislation came into play, and I had to write yet another one adding to the vast 50 we had! As time progressed, it became easier, with the use of a structured format.
Staff should be aware of your policies through the robust processes implemented by you in the setting. You need to ensure that staff members are kept up-to-date with any amendments being made to your policies. As a previous group manager, in my personal experience, it was extremely difficult to guarantee that ALL staff members were aware and updated of these changes. One idea we had as an outstanding setting was to place a new policy on the back of the toilet door. Staff informed us this was a good way of reading the policies and even though this seemed odd, it worked! Staff meetings were also another way of making sure that every member was kept up to date also, the policies were signed by staff to certify that they understood the new changes. This is also a good way of sharing good practice and ensuring that all staff members understand the changes and their implementation. So contemplate, how do you make sure ALL staff members are aware of these changes if they do not attend staff meetings?
One of the most important policies will be your safeguarding policy and this will certainly be asked for during your inspection.
The Statutory Framework of the Early Years Foundation Stage (2021) states:
3.46. ‘Providers must have and implement a policy, and procedures, for administering medicines. It must include systems for obtaining information about a child’s needs for medicines, and for keeping this information up-to-date. Training must be provided for staff where the administration of medicine requires medical or technical knowledge. Prescription medicines must not be administered unless they have been prescribed for a child by a doctor, dentist, nurse or pharmacist (medicines containing aspirin should only be given if prescribed by a doctor).
Think about how you ensure that staff and parents are kept informed of your policies and procedures; when do you do this; and how often do you review your policies
The Statutory Framework of the Early Years Foundation Stage (2021) also states:
‘3.75. 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. All providers must investigate written complaints relating to their fulfilment of the EYFS requirements and notify complainants of the outcome of the investigation within 28 days of having received the complaint. The record of complaints must be made available to Ofsted or the relevant childminder agency on request.’
Your inspector will want to check your complaints folder to ensure that all complaints have been recorded and processed for resolution. Any complaints need to be reported to Ofsted for maintaining necessary records, regardless of how small it is. I cannot emphasise this point enough – doing so will help you show the inspector how professional you are in following your own policy.
The list of policies is immense and here are a few examples to be aware of:
- Accident and Incident Policy
- Admissions Policy
- Behaviour Policy
- Biting Policy
- Compliment and Complaints Policy
- Equal Opportunities Policy
- Healthy Eating Policy
- Lost or Missing Child Policy
- Non-Collection of Child Policy
- Risk Assessment Policy
- Safeguarding Children Policy
- Settling-in Policy
- Trip Policy
- Whistleblowing Policy
These documents are very important as they will help you run your setting effectively and show the inspector you have a good understanding of your business operations.
Again, you need to make sure they are unique to your setting.