September brings lots of new and exciting times at a nursery or pre-school. While you’re busy reorganising rooms, getting settling in sessions planned and sorting out funding, it can be easy to forget to keep things in order with your staff.
Every setting should have a policy on staff updating their manager of any change in circumstances which could affect their suitability to work with children. Early Years HR recommends having a section on your supervision forms to check for suitability throughout the year, and an annual suitability declaration is recommended.
I think that September is a great time for any early years provision to schedule their annual suitability declarations. Put the date in your calendar that you can transfer over from year to year, pull together a current staff list and make sure everyone submits their form by a chosen date. During any inspection, it will be great to show that you have a process in place that is supported by clear documentation.
However, this shouldn’t just be a tick-box exercise. Before completing the suitability check, staff must read the latest guidance so that they understand what they are declaring and what they may need to tell you about. I would suggest printing copies of the latest guidance in the staff room, emailing staff the link and giving a deadline which allows reasonable time to read the information. Even better…why not feature it in your staff meeting in September?
- Complete suitability checks during supervisions and regular 1:1 meetings with staff
- Schedule in an annual suitability check in September
- Give staff time to read the latest guidance before returning their form
- Discuss at a staff meeting
- Document your process in a policy
And remember, changes to disqualification by association come into effect this month. Read more here.
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