A BRADFORD programme which aims to support places of worship, encourage community cohesion and offer advice on safeguarding has released a set of guidelines, in the wake of out-of-school settings now being allowed to fully re-open.
Strengthening Faith Institutions (SFI) is encouraging out-of-school settings – which include supplementary schools, tuition and learning centres, extracurricular clubs and religious settings such as madrassas and Sunday schools – to maintain safe practices and continue to adhere to Government guidelines.
It comes amid out-of-school settings now being able to open their doors to more children, with the school summer holidays underway.
Up until now, they had only been able to operate for children from the eligible and priority groups – those children who are deemed as vulnerable, children of key workers and select year groups.
However, as outlined in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement on 23 June, now that the summer holidays have started, out-of-school settings can open to all children – should they choose to – as long as they put in place the appropriate protective measures and follow all guidelines.
Javed Bashir, Safeguarding Consultant with SFI, has welcomed the fact that such settings are able to fully operate once again, but has stressed how important it is that they operate in a safe manner and make health a priority.
“This is a great news for parents and children who have been in lockdown since 23 March”, said Mr Bashir.
“But, before sending your children to these settings, it is highly important that you make your own checks, in order to reassure yourself that your child will be in a safe environment.
“As a minimum, all out-of-school settings should be able to provide you with their risk assessments and their policies on health and safety, safeguarding and child protection.
“If a provider is reluctant to answer, if they cannot answer your questions, or if you are not satisfied with their answers, you may wish to consider sending your child to a different provider.
“A provider should be able to reassure you that your children will be safe in their setting, and demonstrate the steps they are taking to ensure their safety and well-being.”
Some of the measures which Mr Bashir is encouraging all out-of-school settings to adopt include risk assessments, a strong awareness of social distancing, regular hand washing and a ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach to help stop the spread of germs.
It is also important, he says, to regularly assess the health of staff and children, especially those with underlying health conditions, and ensure that there is a back-up of alternative staff to cover someone who may need to self-isolate.
Classes must also be kept small, Mr Bashir says, with a maximum of 15 children and one staff member in a classroom, while PPE should be made available.
Mr Bashir also says that every setting should have at least one qualified first aider present at all times, as well as at least one designated safeguarding lead.
If any of the out-of-school settings need help with carrying out risk assessments, training or DBS checks, they are able to contact Javed Bashir via email, at email@example.com.