Following the national press coverage relating to arrests connected to the death of a one-year-old boy at a Dudley nursery, nursery and early learning childcare providers will doubtless be concerned about what the law says regarding requirements for staff and businesses.

Our Health & Safety Team’s experienced advisors in this highly regulated sector look at the Safeguarding and Welfare Requirements in Early Years Foundation Settings and highlight what you need to know.


The Childcare Act

The Childcare Act 2006 is the key piece of legislation with regards to childcare and early years provision. Within the Act, there are certain welfare requirements which must be met.


The matters that may be dealt with by welfare regulations include:

a) The welfare of the children concerned

b) The arrangements for safeguarding the children concerned

c) Suitability of persons to care for, or be in regular contact with, the children concerned

d) Qualifications and training

e) The suitability of premises and equipment

f) The manner in which the early years provision is organised

g) Procedures for dealing with complaints

h) The keeping of records

i) The provision of information


The statutory framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets the standards for learning, development and care for children from birth to five and refers to the following legislation:

  • The learning and development requirements are given legal force by an Order made under section 39(1)(a) of the Childcare Act 2006

  • The safeguarding and welfare requirements are given legal force by Regulations made under section 39(1)(b) of the Childcare Act 2006

Section 3 of the statutory framework for EYFS covers safeguarding and welfare requirements and, in summary, stipulates that providers must take all necessary steps to keep children safe and well.


The requirements in section 3 explain what early years providers must do to:

  • safeguard children;

  • ensure the suitability of adults who have contact with children;

  • promote good health;

  • manage behaviour; and

  • maintain records, policies and procedures.

The following sections, amongst others, are covered:


Risk Assessment

Undertaking a risk assessment is a legal requirement which is covered within Health and Safety legislation. You can do this yourself or appoint a competent person to help you.

Providers must ensure that they take all reasonable steps to ensure staff and children in their care are not exposed to risks and must be able to demonstrate how they are managing those risks.

Providers must determine where it is helpful to make some written risk assessments in relation to specific issues, to inform staff practice, and to demonstrate how they are managing risks if asked by parents and/or carers or inspectors.

Risk assessments should identify aspects of the environment that need to be checked on a regular basis, when and by whom those aspects will be checked, and how the risk will be removed or minimised.


Suitable People

Providers must ensure that people looking after children are suitable to fulfil the requirements of their roles. Providers must have effective systems in place to ensure that practitioners, and any other person who may have regular contact with children (including those living or working on the premises), are suitable.


Staff qualification, training, support and skills

In settings on the Early Years register, the manager must hold an approved Level 3 qualification or above and at least half of all other staff must hold at least an approved Level 2 qualification. The manager should have at least two years’ experience of working in an early years setting, or have at least two years’ other suitable experience. The provider must ensure there is a named deputy who, in their judgement, is capable and qualified to take charge in the manager’s absence.

Providers must ensure that all staff receive induction training to help them understand their roles and responsibilities. Induction training must include information about emergency evacuation procedures, safeguarding, child protection and health and safety issues.

Providers must put appropriate arrangements in place for the supervision of staff who have contact with children and families.

Staffing arrangements must meet the needs of all children and ensure their safety. Providers must ensure that children are adequately supervised, including whilst eating, and decide how to deploy staff to ensure children’s needs are met.


First aid training

At least one person who has a current Paediatric First Aid (PFA) certificate must be on the premises and available at all times when children are present and must accompany children on outings.

PFA training must be renewed every three years and be relevant for workers caring for young children and, where relevant, babies. Providers should take into account the number of children, staff and layout of premises to ensure that a paediatric first aider is able to respond to emergencies quickly.


Other Legal Duties:

The EYFS requirements sit alongside other legal obligations and do not supersede or replace any other legislation which providers must still meet. For example, where provision is taking place in maintained schools, there is other legislation in place with which headteachers, teachers and other practitioners must comply. Other duties on providers include:

  • employment laws;

  • anti-discriminatory legislation;

  • health and safety legislation;

  • data collection regulations;

  • duty of care


This is a comprehensive review of the regulatory and legal requirements that providers must be aware of and comply with. However, it is a good idea to obtain specialist legal advice to ensure that all aspects of your business are fully compliant, either when you start up in business or when there is a significant change in circumstances or environment.