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Nursery Health & Safety ‘Hindering’ Physical Development

Ofsted have suggested that the physical development of pre-school children is being hindered due to health and safety rules.

Concerns over health and safety in some of the nurseries around the UK may result in having a negative impact on the physical development of children in their early years.

So says education watchdog Ofsted in its latest report, suggesting that children going to pre-school in England are not being given the chance to build up both dexterity and muscular strength because education providers are worried that they’ll hurt themselves during exercise, the Independent reports.

It was explained that the fears over possible ramifications if a child does hurt themselves means that those in charge at nurseries are stopping kids from playing on climbing frames, or preventing them from going on day trips.

The report highlighted the fact that the best nurseries will encourage toddlers to be both active and busy, so they can build up their muscular strength and manual dexterity, but “undue concerns about the risk and safety of such activities” mean that in some settings this “good practice is stifled”.

Ofsted’s, Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman commented on the report, saying that it’s vital children are able to explore, develop in a physical way and do all that they need to in order to put their physical boundaries to the test.

“There’s a great deal of concern about children hurting themselves, concern about children having the lumps and bumps that we know are part of childhood,” Ms Spielman said.

And the watchdog’s Gill Jones, made further comments, saying: “Some private providers have to work very hard with parents because parents want their children to be really safe when they leave their baby and their toddler in a setting.

“Parents’ first concern is going to be their safety, but the provider has to ensure that children take risks. So a child climbing on a climbing frame has to be well supervised.”

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has useful information on its website to help those running nurseries ensure the safety of the children in their charge, which could prove beneficial to look at if you work in this sector.

There is, for example, guidance available on school trips and outdoor learning activities that will help you carry out such pursuits without having to worry that the children in your care will be put at risk.

It’s noted in the guidance that misunderstandings about the application of health and safety laws can potentially discourage teachers and schools from organising trips – and the HSE is keen to ensure that unfounded and mistaken concerns about health and safety will not get in the way of these trips from taking place.

There’s also information available on how to take a sensible approach to school health and safety, focusing on how to manage real risks.

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