Karen Faux hears about continuing professional development in the vital area of safeguarding

Ensuring that safeguarding is intrinsically linked to the Early Years Foundation Stage is a key aspect of the training provided by the Lancashire-based Athena Programme. The company works with a range of settings spanning nurseries, children’s centres, childminders and out-of-school clubs to deliver bespoke courses that place effective safeguarding at the heart of practice.

Managing director Sarah Goodall says, ‘Our approach is to provide dynamic, interactive sessions that use socio-drama and action methods. These provide a way to explore what can be hard and emotionally challenging content. We want practitioners to take it all on board and feel confident and competent, rather than scared.’

These techniques are used to explore many ways to establish a safer nursery culture. This involves helping staff to develop policies and procedures, making a child protection referral and understanding what a referral is all about.

At Kidsunlimited, early years advisor Natalie Mason says the Athena Programme was identified as being a valuable addition to the internal safeguarding training it already offers to staff. It also wanted to provide confirmation that it was meeting and going beyond the EYFS welfare requirements.

‘Where possible, our nurseries access their local authority safeguarding training, but the difficulty with this is that we can only release a few staff members at a time and courses are often oversubscribed,’ Ms Mason says.

‘We worked alongside the inspirational team at the Athena Programme, who were able to provide a bespoke course for our Timperley nursery. The training was unlike any other safeguarding course we had come across. Despite the serious subject matter, the trainer was able to connect fully with all the nursery staff, including the domiciliary staff who have little contact with children, to make the course interactive and relevant to their setting. This was helped by using, among other things, Lego and artwork.

‘Although the team had already spent a full day at work and despite staying late for this three-hour course, they were fully engaged throughout.’

Afterwards, adds Ms Mason, ‘the staff team had a renewed sense of responsibility and commitment to creating a safeguarding culture in their nursery, and everyone was eager to pursue further training to an advanced level.’

If you would like to find out more about Kids Unlimted Timperley please contact Natalie Mason by calling 0845 365 2171 or emailing her at natalie.mason@kidsunlimited.co.uk or visit their website www.kidsunlimited.co.uk.

Author: Karen Faux – Nursery World – 1st June 2011

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