Licensing criteria for hospital-based ECE services

Section 10 of the Education and Training Act 2020(external link) defines hospital-based education and care service as the provision of education or care to 3 or more children under the age of 6 who are receiving hospital care.

ECE services operating from hospital premises that provide education and care to siblings of patients or children of hospital staff or patients are centre-based ECE services, not hospital-based ECE services.

Hospital-based services are licensed in accordance with the Education and Training Act 2020 under the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008(external link), which prescribe minimum standards that each licensed service must meet. Licensing criteria are used to assess how the services meet the minimum standards required by the regulations.

For each criterion there is guidance to help services meet the required standards.

The publication of the criteria on its own can be downloaded as a PDF [PDF, 1018 KB] and printed.

The licensing criteria were last updated in May 2016.

HS4 Emergency drills

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Health and safety practices criterion 4

      Adults providing education and care are familiar with relevant emergency drills.

      Documentation required:

      A record of the emergency drills carried out.


      The criterion aims to uphold the safety of children by ensuring that:

      • adults at the service have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to deal with emergency situations;
      • review of the service’s emergency plan and evacuation procedures are part of the service’s regular self review processes; and
      • children are familiar with, and confident in, responding to emergency procedures.

  • Guidance
    • Guidance

      Any examples in the guidance are provided as a starting point to show how services can meet (or exceed) the requirement. Services may choose to use other approaches better suited to their needs as long as they comply with the criteria.

      Drills should be carried out in line with the hospital’s requirements and procedures.

      Research has shown that the factor that most contributes to reducing injuries and fatalities during any emergency procedures is regular practice. This ensures that staff and volunteers are familiar with procedures.

      In the event of an emergency, hospital play specialists may have a useful role in supporting children who are distressed, and should be prepared with strategies for such situations.

      The following activities will support all adults being with the emergency procedures:

      • Emergency procedure briefing for all relieving staff and volunteers.
      • Training as part of new staff and volunteer induction.
      • Regular refresher training for all staff and volunteers.
      • Including emergency plans and procedures as a regular agenda item for staff meetings.

      Staff and volunteers should be able to talk confidently and knowledgeably about the procedures without needing to refer to any documentation. They should be able to confidently identify the roles that they and others will play during an emergency. They should be able to confidently and knowledgably describe how children (walking and non-walking) will be managed during an emergency. They should be able to confidently and knowledgeably describe how they will deal with any unexpected circumstance that arises during an emergency.

      Reviewing emergency plans and evacuation procedures should be a regular part of the service’s self review and records should be kept of these discussions.

      Documentation guidance:

      Keep the drill records for two years.

  • Things to consider
    • Things to consider

      It is essential that staff, relievers and volunteers are made familiar with these requirements before commencing work, and are confident in knowing what they are expected to do, both for practice drills and should there be an actual emergency.

      In the event of a major disaster, they should make themselves available to assist, with particular reference to providing support for the emotional wellbeing of children and suitable coping strategies.

      If a service is closed because of emergency, staff should ensure they are available wherever they can be of help to children, families and colleagues.