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Will My Child Be Looked After In Pre-School/Nursery?

Pre-school providers and nurseries have responsibilities under Health and Safety legislation to make sure that children are safe. You might want to find out how adults entering the premises are screened and what safeguards there are to prevent children leaving.

Health

Pre-school providers and nurseries should be able to provide first aid if there are minor accidents. They will normally record incidents in a book and will send a note to you at home. If an injury or illness is anything other than minor, the pre-school or nursery is likely to call you and ask you to collect your child. They may also have a child protection policy, to pick up on any signs of abuse.

If your child has a medical condition or needs to take medication regularly, you should let the staff know.

Racism

As a parent, you may be concerned about the possibility of your child having to deal with racism in pre-school. Staff need to acknowledge that racism exists in society and it’s therefore possible that it might exist even within pre-school and nursery schools. They need to confront racism wherever and whenever it appears in pre-schools or nursery schools.

Under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, public bodies (including state-funded nurseries) must have ‘due regard to the need’:

- to eliminate unlawful racial discrimination; and
- to promote equality of opportunity and good relations between persons of different racial groups.

Pre-schools and nurseries can’t claim that they don’t have the resources to meet these responsibilities.

All state-maintained schools must also produce a written statement of their policy for promoting race equality and you can ask to see it. They must also note and report racist incidents to the local authority. The race equality policy is just as important in schools with few children from Black and Minority Ethnic or Traveller families as it is in those with many. Just because there are few BME or Traveller children does not mean that racism does not exist within that school.

Independent pre-school facilities and nurseries don’t have to comply with these requirements in the same way although the Commission for Racial Equality strongly encouraged them to do so. However, the Race Relations Act does require them not to discriminate in terms of admissions, access to benefits or services, and exclusions. If your child’s pre-school or nursery is privately run, you may still want to ask if they have a race equality policy.

If you believe that your child is subject to racism in pre-school or nursery, you might first talk to the staff. If you are not happy with the results, you can discuss the matter with a governor or management committee member. If that does not help, you can take your complaint to the local authority. You can try to get help from your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau or Racial Equality Council.