Safeguarding and child protection in nurseries

Discover everything you need to know about how to safeguard a child at nursery here

What is safeguarding and child protection?

As professionals who care for children every day at nursery, safeguarding and child protection in nurseries is a vital element of your daily practice: 

  • Protecting children from maltreatment
  • Preventing the impairment of children’s health or development
  • Ensuring that children are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care
  • Taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes
  • Protecting specific children who are suffering, or are at risk of suffering significant harm.
Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) changed on 1 September. See the key changes here.
‘Working together to safeguard children’ 2018 sets out how organisations and individuals should work together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people.

How can I ensure the children in my care at nursery are protected and safe? 

  • You must train all staff to understand their safeguarding policy and procedures – some of the most important in the nursery
  • Your team must know exactly what to do in any given situation where a child’s safety and welfare may be at risk
  • Inductions must include information on safeguarding and child protection – ensure staff level of understanding and competence in these areas is appropriate for their role
  • Consider making safeguarding a permanent addition to every staff meeting e.g using our safeguarding scenarios to help your staff  to put your procedure into practice
  • Assess safeguarding understanding and knowledge of each of your team members in supervisions 
    • Supervisions provide opportunities for each team member to discuss any issues relating to the child’s well-being, which enables you to check their understanding of what they should be concerned about and what they need to do if they have concerns.

Download our safeguarding policy and procedure template – free to NDNA members. Join NDNA here to access this. 

Key questions you could ask to determine staff knowledge:

  • What signs would concern you that a child was being neglected, mistreated or abused?
  • What would you do if you had concerns about a child’s welfare?
  • What would you do if you suspected a child was being neglected, mistreated or abused at home?
  • If the designated safeguarding person was not available, who would you talk to?
  • If you had concerns that a member of the team was acting inappropriately with the children in their care, what would you do? Who would you tell?
  • What would you do if the person you suspected of abuse was the person in charge during that day?

It is essential that you, as the manager, and your Designated Safeguarding Lead have an up-to-date knowledge of safeguarding issues.

You must use this knowledge and experience to make sure that your whole team is kept up-to-date with any changes to not only your internal procedures, but also local and national developments.

essential guide to safeguarding MPU
Live virtual classroom MPU
Safeguarding children policy MPU

Safeguarding Partners

A safeguarding partner in relation to a local authority area in England is defined under the Children Act 2004 (as amended by the Children and Social Work Act, 2017) as: 

  • The local authority
  • A clinical commissioning group for an area any part of which falls within the local authority area
  • The chief officer of police for an area any part of which falls within the local authority area. 

The three safeguarding partners should agree on ways to co-ordinate their safeguarding services; act as a strategic leadership group in supporting and engaging others; and implement local and national learning including from serious child safeguarding incidents. 

Taken from page 72 of Working together to safeguard children 2018.

Disclosure and Barring Service Checks (DBS Checks)

DBS checks (or Disclosure Scotland for Scotland) enable employers to see if potential employees or volunteers have been convicted of anything in the past that affects their suitability to work with children.

NDNA members get access to discounted DBS Checks with uCheck.

Frequently asked questions

How often do my team need to attend child protection training?
All staff must have access to information on safeguarding and child protection which may include child protection training as appropriate for their role.

Your training should be updated every two years to ensure you keep your knowledge refreshed and keeping your knowledge up to date throughout the two years. 

Your designated lead for safeguarding should be updating their knowledge on a continuous basis. 

Designated leads can sign up for alerts from your local authority, national bodies such as NSPCC and membership organisations such as NDNA to enable them to be able to support the team effectively.

They should also refresh their advanced level training every two years. 

How can I feel confident that all my team will respond to signs or symptoms of abuse quickly and appropriately?

As a manager you need to have a variety of different techniques and procedures in place to make sure that you know your team’s strengths and areas for development, including within safeguarding.

It is of course difficult to know exactly what everyone will do when faced with a potential case of abuse. But if you provide the support, training and have regular contact with your team, you are more likely to know where team members need further support and training.

You can then understand whether they are able to follow the appropriate procedures when required.

Talk to your team members on a regular basis about safeguarding.

Ask them key questions (as mentioned earlier) to test their knowledge and give them the confidence and knowledge to refer any concerns to you or the designated lead for safeguarding.

Useful Links

Department for Education – Child protection guide withdrawn

Keeping children safe in education

Safeguarding deaf and disabled children


NSPCC Learning has launched the first in a series of podcasts covering child protection issues. 

Safer Working Practices
Guidance for Safer Working Practices – non-statutory, but useful as a good starting point for a staff behaviour policy.

Keeping Children Safe in Education – translations

Support on Female Genital Mutilation:

FGM and Breast Ironing

Home Office free FGM training

Government resources on FGM

Support on online safety

Safeguarding children and protecting professionals in early years settings: online safety considerations

Screen-based activities guidance and screen based activities and mental health 

Jessie & Friends: online safety education for 4-7s

Child-friendly search engine Swiggle

Viral scare challenges

Use devices safety with children at home

Screen time guidelines

The dangers of Pokemon Go