The Department for Education (DfE) is consulting on proposals to strengthen the EYFS safeguarding requirements. The safety of our youngest children is our utmost priority, and we continually monitor and review safeguarding requirements for early years settings to make sure children are kept as safe as possible.

We know that practitioners and early years providers already have excellent practices in place to keep children safe, and many will already be carrying out the proposed changes in their setting. We are looking to formalise existing best practice in the sector and ensure that all practitioners have the knowledge and support they need to deliver the safest, highest quality early education and childcare possible.

Proposals within the consultation are based on lessons learned from past safeguarding cases and extensive engagement with providers, health professionals, Ofsted, sector stakeholders and safeguarding experts.  Through the consultation, we hope to hear from many people and organisations so we can gather a broad range of views to help the Government reach well-informed and fair decisions about any potential future changes to strengthen EYFS safeguarding requirements.

The consultation proposals include:

  • Amendments to promote safer recruitment including new requirements to obtain references and requiring safeguarding policies to include procedures to follow to help ensure recruitment of suitable individuals.
  • Creation of new requirements for following up if a child is absent for a prolonged period of time and amendments to ensure providers hold additional emergency contact details.
  • Creation of new requirements to ensure safer eating.
  • Creation of a safeguarding training criteria annex and a requirement for safeguarding policies to include details of how safeguarding training is delivered and how practitioners are supported to put it into place.
  • Amendments to clarify that early years students and trainees are required to have paediatric first aid (PFA) training.
  • Amendments to ensure that children’s privacy when changing nappies and toileting is considered and balanced with safeguarding need.
  • A small number of other minor changes to the structure and wording of the safeguarding requirements to improve clarity.

Should any of the proposals in the consultation result in change, we want to make sure we give the sector enough time to prepare.   Any changes to the EYFS will be supported by a programme of communications and engagement. We will work with the sector and local authorities to ensure they understand the changes being made and how they can best implement them.   We will share regular updates, including via further Foundation Years communications, and will keep stakeholders in the loop on how they can spread the word.

Supporting the early years sector is a priority for this government and the Department recognises the hard work and dedication of staff across the sector in providing high-quality early education and childcare for young children. Practitioners play a crucial role in enriching the lives of the children they care for and enable parents and carers to access the labour market.  The changes we are consulting on are intended to provide settings with clarity and support they need to deliver the highest quality, safest early education and childcare provision possible.

You can access the consultation here, and have your voice heard. Responses are required by 17 June 2024: Early years foundation stage (EYFS) safeguarding – GOV.UK (


Other open consultations

On 22 April 2024, we also launched a 4-week consultation on the experience-based route for early years practitioners. This change aims to recognise the valuable experience and skills of the sector, enabling early years providers to deploy their staff with greater flexibility and count additional staff in level 3 ratios. The consultation asks questions about how we think the experience-based route could work. Responses are required by 20 May 2024. You can respond to this consultation here: Experience-based route for early years practitioners – GOV.UK (

Although both consultations are related to changes in the EYFS, they are considering different issues.

On 15 March 2024, we also launched a consultation on new proposals to improve the recruitment and retention of childminders and support the role of childminder agencies in the sector. These proposals form part of our ongoing work to support the sector in continuing to deliver a fantastic standard of childcare and helping to deliver our transformative expansion of childcare. Responses are required by 10 May 2024. You can access this consultation here.

We recognise the burden it creates when the EYFS frameworks change. We keep the EYFS under review and make changes when it is necessary, including based on sector feedback and requests. More widely of course we are in a time of exciting change and challenge in the EY sector, and we are mindful that means things like the EYFS may not be as static as they have been in the past.

Ensure you’re subscribed to Foundation Years to stay abreast of any future changes and sector news more broadly.