Making the wider connections with parents, families and schools

October 2012

A child's family is the biggest influence on their life. Here we outline some of the ways in which people working in child accident prevention can build connections with parents and the wider family.

The main health programmes and early years opportunities are described in Safer children, healthier lives, but research also shows the important role of informal care, particularly the continued reliance on grandparents for childcare. Child safety information and advice should also take account this important group and the opportunities to promote ‘intergenerational’ safety awareness.

Findings from a Child Safety Week survey showed that despite GPs coming out top as the place where mums think they should be able to get information about child safety (80% of respondents gave this response), they are turning to their own mums and friends instead, with the risk of relying on out of date or even inaccurate advice.

Children’s Centres

Sure Start Children’s Centres offer a variety of services and ‘drop in’ sessions providing a ‘one stop’ focus for health visitor’s advice and support to parents and families. Find out more about Children’s Centres.

A Sure Start Children’s Centre survey of parents found that while 78% of parents and carers were aware of their local centre, use of health services and family and parenting services was less widespread. This points to opportunities for the greater involvement of parents around health and well-being, including the provision of information and advice about child safety in a supportive and encouraging environment.

Early Years Foundation Stage statutory framework

From September 2012 there is a new statutory framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage which is mandatory for all early years providers. A prime area of the early learning goals is physical development, which includes moving and handling, safely negotiating space and being able to talk about ways to keep healthy and safe. The framework also covers the safety and suitability of premises, environment and equipment.

Child care providers

Ofsted has produced a factsheet for registered early years and childcare providers on when and how to inform them and local child protection agencies of deaths, serious accidents and injuries.

The Chief Fire Officer's Association has published guidance on fire safety in houses or flats used for childminding.

Using their own knowledge and awareness, child care providers can help to encourage parents and the wider family to adopt safer behaviour in the home and beyond. Child Safety Week provides resources to do this in a simple and empowering way.

OFSTED’s 20 questions for early years and child care providers include:

  • How well do you help children to learn about keeping themselves safe?
  • How do you talk with parents about keeping children safe at home?
  • How confident are you in identifying any potential case of child neglect or abuse, and in responding appropriately when you are concerned that the welfare of a child may not be properly protected?
  • How rigorously do you assess and manage risks to children?
  • How rigorously do you investigate any concerns and complaints, and resolve any issues identified, to improve children’s safety?

Schools

The important role of schools in supporting children’s health and wellbeing, including their safety, is made clear in the Public Health White Paper which emphasises the pastoral role and links to local agencies and community groups.

Safety partnership work with schools takes many forms, reflecting the ‘stay safe’ principle (Every Child Matters) and schools’ duty to promote the wellbeing of pupils at school. Pupils themselves, staff, governors and school nurses will all have a role to play in different aspects of a school’s health and well-being strategies and in specific opportunities for safety education and engagement.

This may include:

  • Healthy Schools: for more information see Programmes in Health
  • Personal Social and Health Education (PSHE): a review of PSHE is under way to determine the support needed to improve the quality of PSHE teaching. Survey results on PSHE models of delivery and effectiveness published in January 2011 show that safety education was most likely to be taught within discrete PSHE education lessons, with over 60% of schools teaching it this way at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. Potential local partnership opportunities are reflected in the survey finding that in primary schools, external guest speakers were most likely to be involved in the delivery of safety education.

Effective safety education

A review of the evidence for effective safety education carried out by the PSHE Subject Association and RoSPA suggested that resources should address 10 principles:

  • encourage the adoption of, or reinforce, a whole school approach, within the wider community
  • use active approaches to teaching and learning including interactive and experiential learning
  • involve young people in real decisions to help them stay safe
  • assess children and young people’s learning needs
  • teach safety as part of a comprehensive personal, social and health curriculum
  • use realistic and relevant settings and resources
  • work in partnership
  • address known risk and protective factors
  • address psychosocial aspects of safety, eg, confidence, resilience, self esteem, self efficacy
  • adopt positive approaches which model and reward safe behaviour, within a safe, supportive environment.

Sustainable schools

Some schools will have adopted a sustainable schools strategy which has at its heart three key ‘care’ commitments as well as sustainability ‘doorways’ such as ‘travel and traffic’ and ‘local well-being’. The strategy focus is on:

  • care for ourselves (our health and wellbeing)
  • care for others
  • care for the environment.

See curriculum support resources for sustainable schools teaching resources.

Sustainable travel

Promoting active, safe and sustainable travel for children making the transition from primary to secondary school also provides an opportunity for parents and children to focus on personal safety and road safety (see also below). The National Children’s Bureau One Step One World programme includes an Active Transitions guide to support the development of schemes to encourage more children, and their parents, to consider walking or cycling to school, or using public transport or shared cars.

Curriculum links

To supplement and support curriculum connections, school-based opportunities for safety and risk education can be linked to:

  • visits to local or regional interactive safety centres or multi-agency LASER (Learning About Safety by Experience Risk) events run by the emergency services and a variety of other organisations with an interest in safety concerns – this can relate to specific local risks, such as water safety on the coast or near canals, construction sites or farms
  • involvement in the Injury Minimisation Programme for Schools (IMPS) – a health education programme for year 6 children providing them with knowledge and skills to minimise injury, provide basic life support and take safer risks
  • the involvement of parents in out-of-school and community-based activities.

Briefing paper

Department of Health West Midlands and Learning for Public Health West Midlands are producing a series of briefing papers aimed at local authorities and local partners. The series is a legacy from the work done by the Regional Public Health Group.

The briefing on children, young people and families (see link at bottom of page) includes areas for partnership action by Health and Wellbeing Boards, such as initiatives to prevent child accidents. CAPT’s Advocating Child Safety resource was originally developed and piloted as part of an extensive regional programme of work to raise awareness and prevent accidents to children and young people in the West Midlands. Other briefings include: planning, transport and health, housing and health and environment and health.

Curriculum support resources

We've collated links to some curriculum resources which support different aspects of safety education.

Updated June 2013