Writing procedures is something anyone that works with children is well-used to doing. Few of us would even argue against it, knowing that thinking about activity planning and considering how we protect our children is absolutely the right thing to do. However, when it comes to crisis time, just how sure are we that our carefully crafted procedures, with their annual review, help us when we really need?
Earlier last month, every parent and child-care worker shared the gut-wrenching feelings of Discovery School in Newcastle when a 14 year old pupil was left at King’s Cross Station in London. Thankfully, the boy came to no harm and was sensible enough to seek help from Station staff. Without doubt, we are all thankful it wasn’t us in the news and can only imagine how all those involved must be feeling. However, one thing for certain is that the school had procedures in place to avoid this exact event from happening. And yet it did. So what went wrong? How can we be sure that same situation wouldn’t happen to us?
In short, we can’t ever be certain but we owe it to the children in our care to make sure we have considered all available options. When procedures are under review, how many of us actively look for improvements, make changes, ensure our plans are the best they can be? Consider who your procedures really protect. Are they written with the children in mind or are they a box-ticking exercise, another piece of admin you have to do? Do you look at changes in the education world and investigate how you can do things better? If we all did, I’m sure Hug Group and many other new pieces of technology would be at the top of every child-care providers list. We’d appear on every outdoor activity risk-assessment to mitigate the risk of losing a child!
Let’s take a look at the risk assessment. Always top of the list is risk of losing a child – what do you have in place to stop this from happening? ClassHug is designed to fit here perfectly. Simply, ClassHug is a small, unobtrusive tracker worn by the child. The adult only needs to have our app downloaded onto an Apple device, pair the tracker and child by one simple click and then let ClassHug get to work. Every second, ClassHug performs a headcount. If any child is not within your predefined range, ClassHug sounds an alarm, immediately alerting you that a child is wandering away from the group. You have time to react and call the child back to safety – the alert comes in before the child strays too far. Back to your risk assessment – risk of losing a child can be moved from High to Low. You, any helpers and parents at home know you have a clever, modern piece of technology monitoring the children.
Of course, we have to have procedures in place but how about, as well as showing parents a piece of paper, you could also show them a modern, safe, effective, product designed to keep their children safe. Ask any parent what they want most for their child and it’s for them to feel loved, safe and happy – whether at home or with a care provider.
A piece of paper offers reassurance that you’ve thought about possibilities and areas children can come to harm. Having a product specifically designed to keep children safe shows you are prepared to make an investment into children’s safety. It shows you are current, unafraid to make changes and, above all, that you’ve taken every step possible to ensure your procedures stand up if they are ever called into action.
So, with every procedure we write, we need to ask ourselves, who are we writing for? If we’re just ticking boxes, maybe we need to take a very close look and decide if they really are worth the effort. Ask yourself, do they actually work? I know no-one would ever want to have to break the news to a parent that something has happened to their child whilst in your care but, if the worst was to happen, knowing (and being able to prove) you have solid, robust procedures in place show you took every step possible to avoid the event.
About the author Claire Lockyer BA (Hons) PGCE is Managing Director at The Hug Group and runs the sales and marketing functions. Before qualifying as a teacher and venturing into the classroom to teach KS2, Claire worked in financial services at Goldman Sachs and Bank of New York. A busy mother of 2 and keen netball player, Claire has recently taken up playing the saxophone.