New Choking Rules Come Into Force in September

Teacher with preschool kids at desk during lunch

New Choking Rules to Come Into Force in September

Providers in early years settings in England may soon need to ensure all pupils are seen and heard at all times during mealtimes to reduce choking risks, the government has announced. The stricter guidance comes from the Department for Education which highlights the modifications to the early years’ foundation stage statutory framework.

“We intend to change the wording in the EYFS [statutory framework] to make it explicit that ‘adequate supervision’ while children are eating means that children must always be in sight and hearing of a member of staff - not just within sight or hearing,” the DfE said in a consultation response.

Some respondents have raised reservations on how the new change could impact staff capacity needing a break and settings’ layouts. “In some settings, this will inevitably require increased staffing at certain times of the day, and the implications of this on early years funding must be recognised,” said Tiffnie Harris, primary and data specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders. 

Nevertheless, Tiffnie and the majority of EYFS practitioners recognise and welcome the new update to the framework as a sensible clarification. Neil Leitch, CEO of the Early Years Alliance welcomed the change, noting that it is “absolutely imperative that all children in early years settings are adequately supervised,” though he also pointed out that most settings should already be operating on this basis. Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of the National Day Nurseries Association likewise voiced her support for the change, and even suggested her members felt there might be scope for the EYS to go further.

The change is expected to be rolled out by September this year and it will affect any provider abide by the framework including childminders, preschools and nurseries and reception classes.