Journalist and Writer
Hilary Wilce specialising in all aspects of education
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The Quandary - 19 Mar 2009

At my daughterís pre-school staff walk around with hot drinks. I am worried but donít want to make a fuss.

Hillary's Advice

A cup of tea with milk comes out at 65 degrees C when poured, and causes injury within five seconds of being on a childís skin. Even five minutes later the drink is hot enough to cause harm. You might not want to make a fuss, but you would feel terrible if you stayed silent and a child got injured.

This doesnít mean you have to be confrontational. Go and see the head and explain your worries. Explain, as you did to Quandary, that you are particularly worried about what could happen in the playground . Say you understand that staff need their tea and coffee, but ask if something can be worked out to make things safer. Use a tone of voice that implies that, of course, the head will want to do this. Itís just a mere oversight that it has not been done already. If the answer is that staff will object, go to the staff and ask whether they have considered the danger. Get other parents on your side and, if all else fails, go to the governors.

Many nurseries have policies on this, which include only allowing staff to have hot drinks away from play areas, and only permitting drinks at times when the children are sitting down. And while no-one wants a nanny state where every action is regulated, hot drinks are the main cause of child scaldings, and anyone who has seen a child badly burned or scalded would go a million miles to prevent it happening again.