Saturday, 24 October 2009

Photographs and childminders

Information for parents about taking and using photographs

In view of recent allegations of abuse surrounding the taking and illegal use of photographs of children, childminders are advised to clarify how they use and store photographs of children with parents.

We use photographs of children in the following ways
• To display around the house, which gives the child a sense of belonging;
• To share with the child’s parents so you can see what they are up to here;
• To go in the child’s Learning Journey or scrap book folder which parents will take home when the child leaves Knutsford Childminding;
• As presents for parents eg photo albums, photos in frames etc;
• To go in albums to show parents and Ofsted the range of activities we do at Knutsford Childminding.

Our safeguarding commitments to parents regarding photographs
• All photographs remain the property of the child’s parents;
• Photographs will not be used on the internet or taken on a mobile phone;
• If required in the future, we will register with the Information Commissioners Office. You can find more information here –;
• Any photographs not returned to parents when their child leaves (that may be in albums, photo frames or part of laminated displays) will be destroyed on request;
• We will not use photographs of your child for any reason other than above without your prior written permission.

Group photographs

Sometimes, there might be more than one child in a photograph or children from different families. This might happen when, for example, children request we take group scenes or when photographs are taken during group activities.

Sometimes group photographs might be placed in different children’s folders and / or used in the ways stated above.

If you are concerned about your child appearing in group photographs, your child’s face or any identifying features will be blurred on the photos in which s/he accidentally appears. You need to let us know if you want this to happen.

If you have any questions or concerns about the taking of photographs, please have a chat with one of us.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Cameras, childminders and the EYFS

With the shocking headlines that a Nursery worker has been abusing children and using photographs in improper ways, the camera debate has inevitably started up again.

Leading early years practitioners are calling for calm and common sense. They suggest that instead of panicking and losing so much of the good practice we have built up around taking photographs of children we must instead ensure our safeguarding practices are robust.

First of all, think about why you use photographs of children. You will...

• Display them around the setting to promote children’s self esteem (PSED);

• Give them to parents to feed back their achievements (2.2 Parents as partners);

• Use them to build up an interesting and informative learning journey (3.1 Observation, assessment and planning);

• Put them on birthday charts to teach children about a sense of time (KUW);

• Make albums with the children to show outings they have been involved in to promote a sense of place (KUW);

• Organise visits to promote activities such as people who help us and take photographs to remind children about their learning (3.4 The wider context);

• Send cameras home so children can take photos of their home lives to share within the setting, thereby promoting home and setting links (2.2 Parents as partners) and giving children a sense of belonging (PSED);

• Put on a CD to give to parents at Christmas or on birthdays (if celebrated) to promote partnership working (2.2);

• Use pictures of the children as story prompts (CLL);

• Add them to collages that promote equality of opportunity and diversity (1.2 Inclusive practice);

• Personalise resources such as adding baby’s photo to a jam jar lid for him to find in his treasure basket (4.2 Active learning);

• Make alphabet charts featuring all the children in the setting (3.2 supporting every child);

• Take pictures of children washing their hands or involved in other healthy living routines to support other children’s learning (1.4 health and well being);

• Photograph a child’s achievements (4.2 supporting learning) and document his learning to promote his continued interest (PSED)... and much more!

So, photos are useful and educational as tools to support us when we are working with children, working with parents and providing evidence of our activities etc for Ofsted.

However, we must make sure children are safe and protected from abuse so we need policies and safeguards in place...

• Parents must sign to say they are happy for their child’s photo to be taken and used in a variety of situations such as to display on your wall, put in their learning journey, go in general albums etc;

• You need to promote photos to parents and be clear with them about why you take them and how they are used. You could do this through your initial parent literature or by including information in your welcome booklet or on your website for parents to access (2.2 Parents as partners);

• Consider having an open door policy, so parents can stay and watch you with their child until they are confident you are the right person to work with them. This might take some parents longer than others and you may be concerned about the disruption to your setting but it is good practice and an excellent way to reassure parents that they are making the right decision;

• Ensure you have clear paperwork in place, which is shared with parents before their child starts with you, including information about how cameras are used in the setting;

• Prioritise regularly updated (at least every 3 years) safeguarding training for yourself and anyone who works with you;

• If you put photos from which children can be recognised on your computer, you must find out if you need to register with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO);

• If you work with a co-childminder or assistant, they must have a valid CRB check which is shared with parents to reassure them that you take steps to ensure their child’s safety. If you act transparently in all dealings with parents they will have more reason to trust you;

• Have clear information, to be shared with parents, for co-childminders and assistants about how to whistle blow if they have concerns about bad practice related to anyone connected with your setting;

• Risk assessments need to be updated to say what you would do if you see adults taking photographs of your minded children in the park or on outings. It would probably not be wise to challenge them as you could get hurt (although that might be our first thought) but you would be within your rights to call the Police;

• A Confidentiality Policy that clearly safeguards a child and their family’s right to privacy and states what information may and may not be shared, including mention of photographs;

• Reassure parents that you do not store photos and explain how you taken them... promptly print them... then discard from all media to protect against theft of memory cards full of children’s pictures. You might also show parents where you lock cameras and memory sticks overnight so if there is a theft, they are safe;

• Share Visitor Policies and a visitor log book with parents, so parents can see (at any mutually convenient time) who has been in the setting when their child was there;

• Be absolutely clear when speaking with parents that you would never take inappropriate photos of their children for example, in the bath or without clothes. If parents would feel more comfortable seeing photos of their child before you print, organise this in a sensitive way that ensure confidentiality for other children’s images;

• Do not use mobile phones for photos – maybe adding this to your safeguarding policy – I feel a re-write of mine coming on;

• A clear Complaints Procedure and details provided to parents about how to contact Ofsted if they have a concern;

• If you work with students, they will never be asked to evidence their work by taking photos of children... but they might take photos of the setting and displays they have helped make etc. This information would need to be shared with parents as part of the information pack and permissions you give them if you agree to mentor a student;

• Childminders are their child’s key person – if you work with another childminder, you might share the key person responsibility. Parents must be told who their child’s key person is and that person should do the bulk of the child’s care routines to follow parents wishes;

• A Safeguarding Policy that is treated as a working document and updated at least annually, in partnership with the parents;

• A clear policy throughout the setting and shared with all assistants and co-childminders that the children come first – not parents, not colleagues and not visiting friends. If the children’s safety is compromised in any way, then steps must be immediately taken to protect them.

I hope you find this useful to add to your Portfolio of evidence of how you protect children from inappropriate use of cameras and photographs in your setting.

If you have any comments I would enjoy hearing them.

Please email me –

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Child Care Magazine and Knutsford Childminding

This months’ Child Care magazine - features quotes from 3 members of the Childminding Forum - – Lyn, Alison and me!!

The article is called 'You are what you eat'.

We were contacted by writer Siobhan O’Neill - who asked us for our thoughts on food, nutrition and EYFS age children.

We were asked to comment on whether we thought it was a good idea for the Government to get involved in giving out pre-school dietary advice (like they do with school age children’s nutrition) and how childminders feel generally about food for the under 5s.

A while ago, when I was writing e-book 21 ‘Healthy Eating’ (which is available from my website -, I researched the information available for pre-school diets and found it patchy to say the least. While school children’s diets are planned carefully with only a certain amount of fat and sugar and no salt allowed, pre-school providers are not given any guidance at all, even though we are closely involved (along with parents of course) in shaping children’s eating patterns at a crucial growth period in their little lives.

There was even a recent study which showed that some pre-school settings are feeding children too healthily and forgetting that they need a certain amount of carbohydrates and fats to give them enough energy to get through their busy days!

It did occur to me as I was reading the article that we are only a part of the jigsaw – it is all well and good the Government starting to postulate on what we are feeding children but what about the parents?? I know a parent who used to give her 9 month old child crisps (because he liked them); over the years I have watched children skipping down the path with sweets (because they have been good) and arriving with lollies for breakfast (because otherwise they would not leave the house in time)...

It does make me wonder if perhaps it is some parents (not all of course) rather than childminders who need to be the focus of at least the first wave of advice if the Government chooses to take on the pre-school dietary challenge.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts :)

Monday, 1 June 2009

Risk Taking and Childminders

Taking risks with other people’s children

We all want our children to be safe... parents want to leave their child with a childminder or other setting and feel that they will be carefully monitored and that risks will be assessed so they do not come to any harm.

I know as a parent myself I would be distressed if anything happened to my child while he was in the care of another person. Would I sue a nursery if my child broke their leg while in their care? Possibly, because I would suffer from loss of earnings. Would the Nursery take it personally? Probably not, because nurseries are usually large concerns and their insurance company would deal with everything for them.

Now put yourself in the position of a childminder – the childminder takes 2 children to a park which she has previously risk assessed as safe. She is carefully watching one child who is on the slide when the other dashes off like a giddy thing straight into the path of a swing. The childminder calls the ambulance, deals with the children, writes up the incident when she gets home, informs Ofsted and RIDDOR... then the parent announces he is going to sue her.

There is a big difference between negligence and an accident, but nowadays the lines seem to be blurred. We are told, as childminders, by the media and other eminent professionals to allow children to take calculated risks and yet we run the risk at every turn of being sued by parents because their child has had an accident. For goodness sake, we have to hold on to our paperwork for 21 years and 6 months in case a young adult we used to look after decides to sue us for something that happened when she was a baby!

Does this mean we must wrap children in cotton wool, just in case..? no, good practice tells us that we should –

• Ask children questions which make them think about situations;

• Give children time to think and reply;

• Use books, road safety campaigns, websites etc to support their learning;

• Help children to explore risk, assessed depending on their age and stage of development;

• Write any behaviour goals with the children’s input;

• Remind children why you have asked them to do something eg can you remember why you should pick up the cars when you have finished playing with them?

• Show children how to use the mop and cloths if they have spilled water... etc

This is an interesting article if you want to learn more -

I have also discussed many different ways to enable children to consider their own safety in my e-book 24 ‘Safety Checklists’ which is available from my website.

Here’s to an accident free summer! 

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Childminders, the unique child and the EYFS

I have been asked about this subject recently... a lot. So I thought I would put something here to support people who are maybe struggling to see how it all fits together.

I hope it helps! :)

1. Think about how you have the Statutory Requirements, Guidance advice and 16 Principles of the EYFS in place to support each child’s experiences with you;

2. Find out all you can about the unique child... from the child, his parents and other settings or professionals involved in the child’s care. These are your starting points;

3. Make your observations... watch, listen and learn as the child plays. Observations should be –

a. To the point – don’t waffle on;
b. Relevant to something the child has said or done;
c. Interesting to the reader;
d. Informative about what has happened;

4. Assess your observations... link them to the 6 areas of learning and development of the EYFS;

5. Plan... for the child’s next steps using the EYFS, information from parents and others to decide what you want to do. Next steps planning should be –

a. To the point – again waffle is boring;
b. Realistic for the child’s abilities, age and stage of development – check this out with the EYFS ages and stages information;
c. Following the child’s interests and learning styles / schemas;
d. Shared with parents;

6. Support the child’s next steps... think about how you might help the child’s learning and development. Maybe you will –

a. Buy some new resources or...
b. Make changes to your environment or...
c. Work with the child more closely to achieve something he finds tricky or...
d. Make suggestions to parents or...
e. Work with another setting to support the child or...
f. Take advice from someone better qualified than you or...
g. Write a message on the
Childminding Forum so other childminders can help you (remembering confidentiality of course);
h. Read a book or look something up on the internet or...

i. Buy one of my e-books from to find out more about a particular subject that interests you;

7. Constantly evaluate yourself by thinking about how you are doing and how you could make things work better so the child’s time with you is even more special next session.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Working with others

The EYFS says that we must work with other settings, other professionals and people in the local area to enhance children’s learning experiences and help them progress towards the 5 outcomes of the Every Child Matters agenda...

1. Be healthy;

2. Be safe;

3. Enjoy and achieve;

4. Make a positive contribution;

5. Achieve economic wellbeing.

Working with others forms part of our commitment towards Principle 3.4 of the EYFS which covers ‘The Wider Context’. Principle 3.4 talks in detail about enhancing children’s learning and development experiences by partnership working and gives ideas for good practice.

My new mini e-book 18, Working with others, will support you with ideas for making this work. It contains good practice advice from other childminders and suggestions for things to try when the going gets tough and other settings / professionals just don’t want to play the game.

Working with others is available on my website priced at £1.45.