Britain's comprehensive laws and its welfare system are crucial in the protection of children enrolled in early-years education, said the founder of the United Kingdom's first Chinese-English nursery school.
Cennydd John, who set up the nursery Hatching Dragons, was speaking in the wake of child abuse allegations in Beijing, in which parents claimed their children were pricked with needles.
He said the Early Years Foundation Stage statutory framework makes it a legal responsibility for nurseries to ensure the safety of children and nurseries wanting to hire staff must follow vetting procedures.
"We cannot bring people to Hatching Dragons that do not have a disclosure and barring service check," he said. "It is a police records check that will go through all national databases to identify whether or not the candidate has ever been arrested, and on what grounds and for what issue."
In addition, he said candidates are asked to provide two written references from previous employers, something John said is a valuable tool for prospective employers and worth the time it takes to secure.
"Because, without references, you have no idea whether the person that you're employing is any good at the job that you're employing them for, or whether the previous employer has any issues on, for example, safeguarding that they would like to highlight," he said.
John explained that, in his nurseries, employees are never left alone with children.
"There are always at least two members of staff with children at all times, irrespective of whether there's only one child, so that the other staff member can act as a witness against or for their colleague in the case of safeguarding issues."
He said nurseries need to ensure a safe environment, and staff must understand what safeguarding is and how they are responsible for making the nursery as safe as possible.
In the UK, nursery employees are encouraged to inform outside agencies if they feel a proprietor is not properly protecting children.
"If they feel the proprietor does not respond to that concern and the child is at any risk, they have to call up both a local authority designated safeguarding officer and the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services, and Skill," he said. The two organizations have a duty to act within 14 days.
Failing to report something of concern could lead to a criminal prosecution.
"The stakes are very high and, as a result, I have to make routine checks on the nurseries myself every week," he said.
Hatching Dragon's philosophy has also attracted attention from China and education providers have expressed an interest in learning safeguarding procedures and operational compliance from a UK perspective.
As a result, John will host a weeklong training session early next year for 20 Chinese private-sector nursery groups, mostly from Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Shanghai and Beijing.