Best Practice: Registers
Registers are vital for best practice operations within childcare. For this article, we are referring to a register of children present on a given day or activity. This is not to be confused with the Ofsted childcare register. Also please note that this registers best practice is relevant at the time of writing. Governing legislation and advice are subject to change so it is best to use this guide as a complement to checking current legislation.
General Register Best Practice
You need to know which children are attending, what time they arrive and what time they leave. You must meet this Ofsted requirement to track headcounts, in the event of a fire or an evacuation. As part of your safeguarding regime, you must know what children are onsite at any given time. Keep this information as accurate as you can so if a child arrives at 11:37, then record 11:37. A register can be in any format, so long as it’s useful and legible. A printer paper register is as valid in terms of regulation as a digital one.
Another important part of safeguarding is knowing who the approved collectors for a child are, so you know who has taken the child home. You can require parents sign the register, to confirm their children were there and who collected them. You must match this against your parent records. Perhaps consider using a collection password, that a collector must know and tell your staff. As with all passwords, this information must be kept secret.
Your register must balance:
- Exposing as little information as possible to people who do not need it, e.g. parents.
- Being as useful as possible, displaying all important information your staff need.
Important information can include if a child has allergies, their swimming ability or other necessary details. Always remember that safeguarding a child comes before protecting their information. You must consider these factors when producing registers for different activities, trips and events. One-Size fits all might not be the best practice with your registers. You could consider using multiple registers, one for signing and one for staff to solve these issues.
For best practice, you need to store your registers securely and to notify the Information Commissioners Office (ICO). Details on how to do that can be found here. As with all documents, there are additional considerations such as;
- How are you storing registers?
- How secure is your document storage?
The answers to these questions is typically a filing cabinet and lots of paper. This might not be the best idea because;
- You want to keep registers with first aid records to give them context and detail that a first aid record doesn’t record.
- Registers and incident reports must be kept together until the child in question is 21, under the Limitation Act 1980.
Using paper registers means you always need to have secure storage to comply with GDPR and you need to retain records for Ofsted and other legislation. The cost of printing and storing paper registers can mount up because of this. This cost is removed by using online booking systems such as Magicbooking.
Online Booking Systems
Magicbooking stores all data securely following GDPR regulations. This allows you to decide who has access to what level of data quickly and easily by setting admin rights.
The systems online live register is the easiest way to solve other issues around safeguarding and accurate record keeping. When a parent books, their child is automatically added to the register for that date. You can check future dates and work out staffing levels accordingly. If you have multiple time slots during a session, the register reflects these and groups children by these slots. If you work in a school, they may also require a register, so they know who is going to which club. Magicbooking can send these automatically to the school by email, so you don’t have to. You also have the facility to print a register on paper, if required.
Magicbooking saves you time producing registers, either by hand or using spreadsheets. Any changes are automatically made with each cancellation or addition. This allows your staff to spend more time looking after children and less on administrative tasks.
When a child arrives at the club, you register their arrival by clicking ‘Check In’, it is that easy. Their exact arrival time is recorded and displayed on the register. On collection, you have a ‘Check Out’ button which then gives a dropdown of all the approved collectors for that particular child, so you know who has taken the child home. Their check out is time stamped and the collector recorded.
Your magicbooking registers also have icons next to the child’s name showing allergies, dietary requirements, medication, etc. This shows you if there is anything additional that you need to know about the child. Any information that the parent has given on their
child’s registration form is available immediately by clicking on the child’s name from the register. This means that all the child’s details are quickly available in one place and you do not need to refer to paper copies stored in files.