Thank you for visiting our 2016 blog posts, here you will find all the articles that we wrote in 2016. We hope that you find the information of interest.

You can view our current blog post here.

Alternatively, there is a quick overview of all our older posts here.

Please feel free to make comments on any of our blogs using our commenting system, We ask for your email address to enable us to contact you directly should your comment raise questions or queries about the blog post you are commenting on.

We will not use your email address in any other way than to contact you directly should your comment warrant us to do so.

Welcome to our 2016 blog!!


Posted by Steve at 15:07 on Tuesday, 23rd February 2016.

Safeguarding Children in the UK

Posted by Steve at 17:30 on Friday, 3rd June 2016.

Olympics and Injuries

Posted by Steve at 12:40 on Wednesday, 3rd August 2016.

Plug Socket Covers

Posted by Steve at 09:00 on Friday, 19th November 2016.


Posted by Steve at 14:30 on Thursday, 1st December 2016.

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Charles P. Rutherford
14/12/2018 15:40

Loving all the new blogs.

The Training Fox
25/11/2016 15:32

Hi Charles,

Whilst we have already emailed you about this comment of yours, we just thought that other readers may wish to follow this up like yourself.

Therefore we have provided the link to the article below:

We hope this helps

Steve, The Training Fox

Charles P. Rutherford
24/11/2016 0:26

Where did you find the Nursery World article?

Comment box

Over recent days, we have all been heartened by the courage of 2 year old Faye Burdett’s parents as well as 7 year old Mason Timmins’ parents in publishing emotional photographs, of their children as they are dying from Meningitis. We know that this has hit home as at the time of writing this, some 766,510 people have signed a petition to encourage the Government to roll out the Meningitis B vaccine to all children as opposed to just children aged between 2 and 5 months of age.

Every year there are around 2,500 cases of bacterial meningitis and it is possible that double that figure of viral meningitis occur in the UK. The 2 largest Meningitis charities in the UK have done a lot on the awareness of the signs and symptoms over recent years. These charities are MeningitisNow and the Meningitis Research Foundation. I would highly recommend that you visit them for further information if you are at all worried about someone. There is a link to their websites on out Useful Links page.

What is Meningitis

Meningitis is the inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord, helping to protect them from injury and infection. These membranes are called meninges.

There are 2 main types of meningitis: viral and bacterial. Viral meningitis can be very nasty but is rarely life threatening. Bacterial meningitis is life threatening.

Meningococcal Disease is life threatening and is a term that is often used to describe two major illnesses, Meningitis and Septicaemia. There are five main groups of meningococcal bacteria: A, B, C, W and Y, the most common group in the UK is group B. It has taken 20 years to find a vaccine for this strain, and the UK is the first country to introduce the vaccine routinely.

However the Men B vaccine has become controversial due to the age range that is being offered the vaccine routinely at this current time.

Meningitis can affect anyone, of any age at any time although it is true to say that the illness has target groups, depending on the type of meningitis. For example, pneumococcal meningitis targets children under the age of 18 months, whereas Meningococcal disease has recently been targeting children in their early teens.

Signs and Symptoms

Meningitis normally affects the child by showing flu like symptoms, so what are you looking out for?

There are certain Red flag signs that you should be aware of, these are:

Should you see any of these signs then you really should be getting that child checked out medically as quickly as you can.

Other signs of meningitis are:

There are other signs that are most associated with babies, these are:

The Blotchy purple rash is caused when the bacteria has got into the blood stream and has caused meningococcal septicemia. The rash may start off like pinprick marks, and will not fade when pressed. Be aware the rash MAY NOT appear and even if it does appear, may disappear, so keep checking.

The most up-to-date advice on meningitis where a rash is concerned is do not wait for a rash.

Meningitis Story

Even though the 2 main charities have done a lot of hard work in awareness, I was surprised to learn earlier this week, that clearly the message isn’t getting home. I learnt this while catching up on an interview that Matt Dawson had taken part in on ITV’s This Morning. Matt Dawson is one of England’s Rugby World Cup winning side of 2003. But more relevant to this blog is the fact at the same time as Faye Burdett was taken into hospital with suspected Meningitis, Matt’s own 2 year old son was on his way to hospital, again with suspected meningitis, although a different strain of the illness. In the interview Matt says that he was ‘a little ignorant to it…not realising how serious Meningitis could be’.

During his interview, Matt went on to describe the events of the day including the hospital events and his feeling of helplessness. Matt is strongly supporting the petition to widen the age range of children who are routinely receiving the Men B vaccine.

At the end of his interview, Matt states very clearly that although the petition for the vaccine is important for the short or medium term, the important thing is that parents are fully aware of the signs and symptoms of meningitis.

Chillingly, he went on to say that in his ‘ignorance’ he and his wife came close to saying its ok, their son will be ok and putting him to bed to sleep off the illness, had they done that, in Matt’s words, ‘he wouldn’t be with us today!’

The moral of Matt’s interview is that you should follow your instincts and act if you are in doubt by contacting your GP or your local A&E department.

Our Advice

The most important thing that we can advise is for everyone to get up to date with the signs and symptoms.

The quicker you act the better chance a casualty has of making a good recovery.

We would urge all parents and childcarers who are aware that they have a child in their care who is ill and getting worse fast to get medical advice as soon as possible. We are aware that meningitis is difficult for doctors to diagnose at times as the signs and symptoms are so similar to other illnesses, if you are in any doubt then please ask for a second opinion.

Where to go for help

There are lots of ways to get more information on meningitis:

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August has arrived, the month of holidays, sun and fun for most. The month most people wait eagerly for, but this August for a group of 622 Great British athletes it’s the pinnacle of their sporting careers. For 366 of these athletes will spend 2 weeks of the month representing Team GB in the Rio Olympics, while the other 256 athletes put the finishing preparations to their turn to represent Team GB in Rio in September at the Paralympics.

622 athletes will be fighting it out across 44 different sports to claim the title of Olympic Champion or Olympic Medallist. Most athletes have worked hard over the last 4 years since London 2012 to ensure that they can achieve their dreams at the pinnacle of world multi-event sport tournaments.

So I hear you cry, what can possibly go wrong? Why is a First Aid Training business writing a blog on the Olympics?

And well you would be right to ask, however, I want to deal with the first of the 2 questions.

What could possibly go wrong?

Sadly, the worst thing that could go wrong is injury! (I see now you understand the answer to the second question!)

During the London Olympics in 2012, 1361 injuries were reported across all 204 participating National Olympic Committees (NOC), this equates to 11% of all athletes who participated incurred an injury. The highest risk of injury was in Football, Taekwondo, BMX, Handball, Hockey, Athletics, Badminton and of course Weightlifting, with a much lower chance of injury in Equestrian, Rowing, Shooting, Canoe Slalom and Sprint, Track Cycling and Archery.

I thought in this month’s blog we would look at some injuries that could happen and how, as a first aider, we can treat these.

Please remember that this blog is not in any way a replacement for a First Aid course, and I would advise that should you hold a position where First Aid could be needed, that you should attend a course.

So what injuries are a possibility?

Let’s deal with each of these injuries individually.

Sprains and Strains

Firstly, let’s look at the 2012 Olympics for an idea as to how many athletes suffered from this injury. A grand total of 556 athletes had a sprain or strain, making these the biggest injuries at the last multi-event tournament. Athletics, Football and Handball are the 3 most at risk sports with Archery, Track Cycling and Trampoline Gymnastics least at risk.

What is a Sprain?

A sprain is an injury to a ligament at a joint.

What is a Strain?

A strain is an injury to a muscle.

Both are caused by a sudden wrenching or stretching movement, tearing the surrounding muscle or ligament.

Signs and Symptoms:


Loss of Power

Swelling or Bruising


Please note that often minor fractures are mistaken as a sprain/strain. If in doubt get casualty checked out by a medically trained professional who can use an x-ray to establish the true injury.


Rest –               Rest the injury, stop doing the activity and protect from further harm.

Ice –                  Apply an ice pack (e.g. pack of peas wrapped in a tea towel) to the affected area for 10 minutes every 2 hours for a total of 24


Compress -    Apply a firm (not constrictive) bandage to the affected area. It can help to reduce swelling. You could apply the bandage over  

                          crushed ice for the initial 10 minutes.

Elevate -        Elevate the injury to help reduce swelling.

Contusion and Laceration

Contusion and laceration injuries are the second and third most likely injuries during the coming Olympics when using evidence from the last Olympic games held in London in 2012. 285 lacerations and contusions were recorded.

I have grouped these together as they are both minor injuries affecting the bleeding. A contusion is a bruise and a laceration is a deep cut or tear wound, categorised usually with a jagged edge.

Treatment of such injuries is fairly straightforward as far as first aid goes. When dealing with a contusion injury apply an ice pack to reduce swelling, 10 minutes is a good general rule of thumb. With a lacerated injury, the key is to help stop the bleeding and reduce the risk of infection. Using a first aid bandage, lightly dampen the pad of the bandage with water to prevent any flaps of skin sticking to the wound, and then place the dampened pad on the wound and wrap the crêpe bandage firmly around the rest of the limbs.

Should blood seep through the bandage, please apply a second bandage firmly on top of the first one. You can apply on top of each other a total of 3 bandages, if blood still seeps through the 3rd one then remove the top 2 LEAVING the base bandage in place and apply another on top. You will need to arrange for transportation to medical professionals at this stage.


The fourth most common injury at the Summer Olympics was fractures. You may know this type of wound as ‘broken bones’ a grand total of 41 injuries occurred.

There are 4 main types of fractures:

Signs and Symptoms:


Loss of Power

Unnatural Movements

Swelling or Bruising


Irregularity (with lumps, bumps and depressions in the skin)

Crepitus (the sound of the 2 ends of bone grinding together)



Immobilise the injury and prevent the casualty from using the affected injury any further, however again take the lead from the casualty, forcibly restricting the limb a casualty wishes to move may cause further tissue damage.

Never try to straighten a broken bone that is angulated.

On our courses we will provide guidance on how to minimise the movement of the casualty by demonstrating and observing the application of an elevated and support sling. We will also offer some common sense alternatives to using a triangular bandage.


Dislocations are caused when the bone comes out of its socket, very often this is diagnosable by the look of the limb being in a strange position or pointing in abnormal directions. Other indicators include:

Intense pain

Reduced Muscle strength

Bruising or redness

Difficulty in moving


It can be very difficult to tell the difference between a dislocation, sprain, strain or a fracture, the only way to be sure is with an x-ray.

During the last Olympics, this was the 5th most common injury causing 23 injuries. The most likely sports to get a dislocation are Football, Hockey and Water Polo, all with 4 injuries apiece.

The main treatment for a first aider, is to immobilise the affected part of the body, taking the lead from the casualty themselves, for they are more than likely going to have found a position that is comfortable for them. You MUST NEVER try to put the bone back into its socket.

If you want to and your casualty will allow you to, apply a sling to the injured arm.

On all our First Aid courses we offer advice and training on how to apply a sling.

Spinal Injury

The spine is an important part of the body. Within the 33 vertebrae there is a combination of discs between them and the spinal cord that flows down the spine. In some cases, injuries can cause lifelong disability to the casualty.

12 spinal injuries were caused during London 2012. Athletics with 6 and Weightlifting with 2 are the most likely. Table Tennis suffered from 1 spinal injury which may surprise some people.

It can be difficult to identify a spinal injury however you should suspect a spinal injury if:

The most important thing that you can do for a casualty in this situation is to restrict them from moving in anyway. However, never hold down a casualty to stop them from moving if they are adamant that they are wanting to move as physical restriction here could result in the casualty being even further injured than before the physical restraint.

The second most important thing to do for any such casualty is to reassure them, telling them that you do not think it is a good idea for them to move, and if necessary keep them warm. You will need to sit and stay with them, talking to them throughout, supporting their head and keeping it in line with their body.

Call 999/112 for emergency help. If they have stopped breathing this will take priority for you to carry out Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).


Concussion was the 5th biggest cause of injury at the London Olympics, with 6 casualties. Football was the biggest cause of this injury.

Concussion is the shaking of the brain. This can be caused by blows to the head, a fall from height or even a potential spinal injury.

It is worth mentioning at this point that if you suspect a head injury you must always suspect a spinal injury.

Signs and symptoms:


1. Sit the casualty down and apply a cold compress to hold against the injury, this can help to reduce swelling. Continue to assess the response levels of the casualty using the AVPU scale that we teach as standard on all courses.

2. Regularly monitor and record vital signs:

3. When the casualty has recovered ask a responsible person to look after the casualty.

4. If this has been caused from sporting activity, the casualty should not return to the activity until they have been assessed fully by a medically trained practitioner. Please note that casualties often have an inbuilt competitive streak, which will make them want to return to the field of play immediately; you will need to prevent them from doing so.  

5. Advise the casualty to seek medical help.

Remember that concussion can take 24 hours to fully show itself on the casualty, therefore you should keep an eye on a casualty for a period of time, especially if you suspect that they have suffered from a head injury.

Lastly of course due to the location of the Olympics there is a further risk to the athletes that we haven’t mentioned yet but has been in the news frequently in the last year. This risk of course is the Zika virus.

According to The World Health Organisation (WHO) Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by the Aedes Mosquitoes. People with Zika may suffer from:

Mild fever

Skin Rash


Muscle and joint pain

Malaise (a general feeling of discomfort, illness or unease)

Or headache.

At present the advice for treatment is to speak to a medical practitioner for assistance.

So how will Zika affect the Rio De Janeiro Olympics in the next few weeks?

Rio de Janeiro's Health Secretary, Daniel Soranz said,

‘Zika should not deter travellers from coming to the Games,

as cases of the virus had dipped significantly in recent months.’

Now that Brazil is having drier and cooler weather amid the Southern Hemisphere’s winter, incidences of the Zika virus have declined sharply in recent months. Therefore, the approximated 500,000 visitors to the Olympics should be fairly safe from the risk of Zika.

In summary of the question, ‘What could possibly go wrong?’ clearly the answer is a lot of things. However we would like to wish the spectators a safe and enjoyable occasion, and to the confirmed 10,293 Olympians (this number is likely to rise) and the Paralympians (numbers not yet confirmed), we wish them a safe, healthy and successful Olympics and Paralympics, but please do remember to warm up your bodies to try to prevent possible injury.

Remember: this is not to be used to replace a First Aid course.

Now please go and enjoy your month of August and the Olympics safe in the knowledge of some basic First Aid understanding. Should you wish to follow the Olympics, we have a dedicated page on our website. To access it please click here. Alternatively, for more information on our First Aid courses, please click here.

Over recent months there has been a lot of discussion in early years regarding the ‘safety’ socket covers that have been used as a safety feature in nurseries, crèches, and childminders for many years. This idea has stemmed from the NHS which has said:

Socket inserts should not be used in health or social care premises, nor supplied for use in a home or residence. Any socket inserts currently in use should be withdrawn from use and responsibly disposed of.’

However, this has been a discussion piece as far back as 2009 with an article that was written in the Telegraph newspaper. The headline of this article described the socket covers as ‘absurd and dangerous’ according to engineers.

No Longer Needed

Therefore, the news is that they are no longer needed, and should be totally withdrawn from use by the 1st December 2016!

Is this the case?

We have done some research into this area on your behalf to try and make this subject clearer. We appreciate that the change is likely to make a few people particularly worried of the increased risk of accidents and injuries occurring in their settings, namely, electric shock and/or burns. We have tried in this article to allay those additional fears.

Safety of sockets

It is the requirement of the IET Wiring Regulations BS7671:2008 (2015), that plug sockets have shutters and be compliant with BS1363. The British plug socket is considered to be one of the safest in the world. BS1363 sockets were introduced in 1947. Sockets which meet this British Standard must have an interlocking shutter mechanism preventing the insertion of any foreign object into the socket and therefore contacting the live electrical ports in the socket. This is an inbuilt safety feature that you can see in the picture below. BS1363 approved plug sockets include, 13A wall socket outlets, multiway adapters and flexible extensions, and therefore are the most likely to be used in the early years’ sector. BS1363 also details the distance that a plug pin must take in order to come into contact with live parts, this distance is 9.6mm. As a general rule, also, the pin holes of the socket are too small for a child to insert their fingers far enough into them in order to touch any dangerous live parts, this is an intentional design.

The problem with Socket Covers

Unlike plug sockets there are no safety regulations or British Standard rating for ‘safety’ plug covers. This however contradicts how the products are advertised. One such product on sale on a famous online store website is described in the product description as:

‘Designed to prevent curious children pushing fingers or other objects into dangerous electrical sockets.’

This implies that this is going to prevent accidents from happening, in a way that the plug socket themselves can’t do.

So, what is the problem with the Socket Covers?

One problem is there is not a single cover on the market that meets correct dimensions for plugs, and therefore does not meet any British Standard as opposed to the sockets which meet BS1363. Any cover which is made incorrectly can cause significant damage to the actual socket. Some socket covers actually increase the risk of danger and injury rather than reduce the risk.

A key fault of some of these covers allows curious young children to insert the cover into a socket upside down into the earth pin only, therefore opening the safety shutter and allowing access to live contacts. It is hard to find other such objects that can be inserted in such a way that opens the safety shutter and stays in place!

Why are Socket Covers Dangerous?

In summary, the risks of using socket covers are as follows:

 Some socket covers make it possible to poke pins and paper clips into the live parts!

 Broken plastic pins stuck in the earth hole - prevents shutters from closing.

 Wrong size pins can make covers easy to remove, some even pop out by themselves!

 Socket contact damage -results in overheating and possible fire.

 Socket shutter damage - the shutters will not be able to protect children.

 Children like to play with socket covers - plugging in upside down opens the shutter and exposes live contacts.

Can Children Remove Socket Covers?

Many people believe that children cannot remove ‘protective’ socket covers, this in reality is a myth. As discussed earlier, most pins on these covers are not the same size as a plug and therefore do not fit properly in a socket as the socket is designed. A socket cover that is tight in one socket, may be loose in another and therefore it would depend on the socket and child as to whether the child could remove it or not.

Children generally have capabilities beyond what an adult believes they can do and often will use objects around them to help lever out the socket cover.

What does Ofsted say about socket covers?

Ofsted has no official position on the use of these socket covers and they are not referred to in guidance for inspectors.

In September 2001 Ofsted said on this matter:

‘We neither encourage nor discourage the responsible use of socket covers as part of a risk-assessed approach to electrical safety.’

‘Inspectors should not set actions or make recommendations in relation to the use of socket covers and should not refer specifically to these in their reports.’

‘It is for the provider to decide, as part of the risk assessment they carry out at their premises, how best to protect children from any dangers associated with electric sockets and appliances.’

When asked about the recent Health and Safety alert an Ofsted spokesperson told Nursery World:

‘I can confirm that we have no official position on this specific issue. Providers are expected to ensure their premises are safe and suitable for childcare, and to form their own assessment on this within the requirements of the early years’ framework or childcare register requirements.’

In summary the use, or lack of, of socket covers will not impact on a provider’s Ofsted grading as there is no official position on this specific issue from Ofsted. Whether your setting continues to use these or not will depend on the individual risk assessments that providers are required to carry out.

However, the Health and Safety alert does state that these should not be used beyond December 1st 2016, it states that electrical socket inserts should be withdrawn and disposed of safely. They also state that 13A electrical socket inserts should not be used in Health and Social care premises nor supplied for use in a home or residence.

In Summary


 Sockets used in the UK meet BS1363 – covers meet no standard.

 Sockets have a safety shutter as standard – removes the need for a cover.

 Socket covers do not meet the correct sizing of sockets – plugs do.

 Covers can damage the socket.

 Children can remove socket covers.

Electric Shock First Aid

Should a child get injured by electric shock, the electricity will travel through the body to ‘earth’. This in turn may affect the child’s body’s electrical impulses, including breathing and causing the heart to stop.

There is likely to be an entry and exit burn as well as the possibility that you can see the path of the current flow, from deep internal burns that are not visible.

An electric shock may cause the child’s muscles to contract and prevent them from releasing their grip on the offending object. Should this be the case they may still be live and therefore you should approach with caution.

1. Make sure the contact with the electricity has been broken. Turn the power off at the mains ideally.


2. Once safely disconnected from the power, check the child’s airway and breathing.

3. If breathing effectively, treat any burns or injuries that you find.

If not breathing effectively, start Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).

4. Ensure the child receives medical attention (even if they have apparently recovered).

5. Call 999/112 for emergency help if the child has been unconscious or has electrical burns.

Reference Sources:

Department of Health safety alert, EFA 2016 002 Final.pdf

Nursery World

The Telegraph – 23/03/2009

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As we enter into another period of Advent, we thought we would take a look at the true meaning of Advent and some of the traditions that we observe during this time.

What does Advent mean?

Advent is a time of expectant waiting and preparation of celebration of the second coming of Jesus by many Western Christian Churches. The word Advent comes from the Latin word adventus which means coming. Advent is the lead up to the Nativity of Jesus, and begins in 2016 on Sunday the 27th November.

Advent Calendars

As the start of Advent varies from the 27th November to the 3rd December due to the Sunday that is closest to Saint Andrews Day, most Advent Calendars will commence the countdown to Christmas and therefore the Advent period on the 1st December.

Advent Calendars were first used by German Lutherans in the 19th and 20th Centuries ubiquitous with many Christian denominations.

On the market today, there are many different themes and styles of calendar, with a simple idea behind them all. The idea being, opening or unveiling something on a day-to-day basis from the 1st December right through to and including Christmas Eve, or in some cases up to and including Christmas Day. Themes include traditional designs through to more contemporary, technology to sport. Some are very simple paper designs with flaps over the days to be opened, whereas some are card with a hidden piece of festive shaped chocolate hiding inside.

The market also has some more adult designs available ranging from a small packet of Pork Scratchings hiding inside the windows through to a very expensive malt Whiskey calendar which includes sampling bottles of fine malts, one of which of the bottles is worth nearly £1000.00.

Other designs include wooden shapes with drawers in where the user can insert any treat they wish, right through to some interactive versions available on certain websites which provide a special offer each day.

Most children enjoy the idea of opening an Advent calendar window to not only count down to the arrival of Father Christmas but also to eat the chocolate behind!

The origins of Father Christmas

The real story and person behind Father Christmas is a rich man named Nicholas who inherited a lot of money when his parents died. There is a story of Nicholas that goes on to say that he donated money to a poor family via dropping some money down the chimney which landed in a stocking that had been left hanging to dry. This first present allowed the poor family’s eldest daughter to get married by paying the dowry to the bridegroom. A dowry is a sum of money paid to the bridegroom by the bride’s parents on their wedding day, this practice still occurs in some countries today. Without the kind gift from Nicholas, the daughter would have been unable to marry.

The events repeated, allowing the middle daughter to get married, again with the gift of money falling into the stocking that had been left to dry. The father of the girls wanted to find out how this money was appearing and so he set a trap to identify the nice person, by waiting beside the fire every evening until he caught Nicholas. Of course, Nicholas asked the poor man to not tell anyone, which was agreed.

Over time the story of the kind rich man got out, and whenever anyone received a gift they believed it was from Nicholas himself. Because of his kindness, Nicholas was made a saint, making him Saint Nicholas (known today as Saint Nick!). This story also shows how the idea of hanging stockings by the fireplace for Father Christmas began.

Nicholas lived during the 4th Century.

As time went on the story of Saint Nicholas became unpopular particularly after the reformation in the 16th Century.

Of course, someone had to deliver the presents to the little boys and girls at Christmas and so in the UK, particularly England, he became known as Father Christmas or ‘Old Man Christmas’.

Other names for Father Christmas:

France                                  Père Nöel

Germany                                Christ Kind

Early USA                              Kris Kringle

Dutch Settlers in USA              Sinterklaas (Santa Claus)

Father Christmas began to become popular again in the mid-17th Century where he began to pop up in pictures and stories. However at that time he was referred to for adults and nothing to do with children and the deliverance of presents; this changed throughout the period up to 1880, when he was then seen as wearing red and as we know him today. Since then the tradition and history of Christmas has continued to develop and bring joy to many millions of children across the world.

Throughout history, Father Christmas and Santa Claus had been seen as different entities, but since the 1880s they have begun to be seen as one and the same thing.

When are the 12 Days of Christmas?

A popular song that is sung and used through the advent period is the 12 Days of Christmas, most people will be able to name the first 6/7 gifts that ‘my true love gave to me’, however beyond this point we get confused. Below we have explored the song days and gifts in some detail, and linking them to the calendar day that the presents would have been given:

 Date             Day                  Present                                     Number of                   Total number

                                                                                          times ‘given’                 of presents

                        25/12              1                  A Partridge in a Pear Tree                  12                                12

                        26/12              2                         2 Turtle Doves                            11                                22

                        27/12              3                         3 French Hens                             10                               30

                        28/12              4                         4 Calling Birds                              9                                36

                        29/12              5                         5 Gold Rings                                8                                40

                        30/12              6                      6 Geese a-laying                             7                                42

                        31/12              7                   7 Swans a-swimming                          6                                42

                        01/01              8                     8 Maids a-milking                            5                                40

                        02/01              9                      9 Ladies Dancing                            4                                36

                        03/01             10                   10 Lords a-Leaping                           3                                30

                        04/01             11                      11 Pipers Piping                            2                                 22

                        05/01             12                 12 Drummers Drumming                     1                                12


                                                                       Presents in the song                                                       364

The 12 Days of Christmas was first used in around 1780 and there are a few versions with subtle differences in the gifts, however our list above seems to be the most familiar, possibly with the exception of 4 Colly Birds as opposed to 4 Calling Birds.

The song leads up to the Epiphany, which is the 6th January and tradition says that Christmas decorations should be taken down on this day; Not a day before nor after. If any decorations are left up beyond this point they should then remain up all year round, otherwise it is bad luck.

Why decorate?

The tradition of using green trees indoors goes back a long way, even before it was used as a Christmas decoration. Pagan tradition shows that using an evergreen tree indoors is a symbol of life amidst dark and cold days. Today’s tradition dates back to Roman times, although those in Northern Europe were sceptical to the idea. The Romans displayed their trees around the New Year celebrations.

According to Christianity Today’s website, Northern Europe’s scepticism stems from a prominent Christian called, Tertullian, who has been quoted as saying:

‘Let them over whom the fires of hell are imminent,

 affix to their posts,

laurels doomed presently to burn: to them the testimonies of

darkness and the omens of their penalties are suitable.

You are a light of the world, and a tree ever green.

If you have renounced temples, make not your own gate a temple’

This stance softened over the years as missionaries spread a legend that every tree threw off ice and snow when Jesus Christ was born to reveal luscious green leaves and branches.

Somewhere in the 1500s did evergreen trees really become associated with Christmas, it is believed because of trees being decorated in biblical and nativity plays. As the plays got rowdier and rowdier in the 16th Century, the plays were banned, leading people to move their decorated trees into their own homes – taking a Christmas tree into its pride of place, and the tradition began. Eventually, churches began to put up decorated trees too.

The tradition of lights on a tree, began as churches began to put up decorated trees, usually next to shelves of candles which illuminated the tree, soon the candles on the shelves started to adorn the tree and illuminate it from being on the tree. This has over time, and with the electrification of homes, led to the tradition of the day of using ‘fairy’ lights to light the trees within the home.

History shows us that the Romans used to wait until after noon on Christmas Eve before their tree went up. There doesn’t seem to be a fable or tradition that says when a tree should be erected into the home, but some people put it up on December the 1st others wait ‘til the second Saturday in Advent.

Some people use real trees, some use artificial trees that can be brought out of the attic each year, some use the same tree that had been decorated the year before, wrapped in cling film and stored, then unwrapped, some find the experience of decorating a tree from scratch part of the experience. The moral of the story is it doesn’t seem to matter as long as the tree is enjoyed and all decorations have been removed by Epiphany, to avoid any bad luck.


Christmas as we know is a time for children, family and the giving and receiving of presents. But should we really ever forget the true meaning of Christmas? I don’t think you have to be particularly religious to mark or remember the ‘birth’ of Jesus Christ. The story I believe has much more to it.

Firstly, and for some Christians the most important part of Christmas is that it is the day that Jesus Christ was born in a manger in Bethlehem (I bet you’re now singing Away in a Manger in your head!).

Secondly, the thing that Christians will point out is that CHRISTmas begins with Christ!

Now let’s think about the story of the Nativity:

It happened over 2000 years ago, when King Herod ruled Judea, now a part of Israel, an angel came from the sky to a young woman called Mary, and said ‘Peace be with you! God has blessed you!’ and went on to explain that Mary would give birth to the son of God and how she would call him Jesus.

At the time the Roman Emperor, Augustus, had called all his people to their homeland in order to conduct a census to ensure all taxpayers were paying their taxes. Mary and Joseph had to endure a journey of some 70 miles on foot and donkey from Nazareth to Bethlehem whilst Mary was heavily pregnant with child. When at Bethlehem they had problems finding a place to stay and when enquiring at an inn, although it was full, the innkeeper offered the stable. In that stable, a child was born to Mary and Joseph. That child would be known as Jesus, son of God. He was laid in a manger of hay and straw as Mary and Joseph rested alongside.

After his birth, some shepherds were visited by an angel who informed them that the Saviour was born in Bethlehem and they decided that they should visit him to see the Saviour.

Whilst, this was happening a joyous bright new star formed in the sky, some Wise Men in a faraway land saw the star and being wise and having studied the stars and read the old readings they knew that the son of God had been born. They got some gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh, and followed the star towards the stable in Bethlehem, (the star came to rest over the stable of the child’s birthplace). En route, King Herod had summoned them to tell him where the child was as he wanted to kill the new king. The Wise Men arrived at the stable and wondered at the newborn baby, delivering their gifts before returning to their own land by a different route to avoid bumping into King Herod, and thus avoiding informing him of the child’s location.

Although a brief walk through the story, there are a lot of underlying messages that lie there, including kindness, family, togetherness and looking at Mary and Joseph, it doesn’t matter what you begin with but what you end up with. They made the most of a stable to welcome their child into the world.

As I have said, the story behind Christmas is the birth of Jesus Christ, and whether religious or not the story can teach us so many things.

And as we enter this Advent period I would hope that we can even in a small part remember some of the messages of the story, but here at The Training Fox…….

We would like to wish

All our customers, supporters and suppliers


Merry Christmas.

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Victoria Climbié




8 years

Peter Connolly




17 months

Khyra Ishaq




7 years

Hamzah Khan




4 years

Keanu Williams




2 years

Callum Wilson




11 months

Daniel Pelka




4 years

Tia Sharp




12 years

Mikaeel Kular




3 years

Liam Fee




2 years

Keegan Downer




18 months

Dedicated to the memory of these children,

and others not mentioned here;

And to those who are currently being abused by their parents as I type this.

A collage of children who have died at the hands of their parents

Across the United Kingdom there are over 13,050,000 children under the age of 181, last year over 56,700 children were identified as needing protection from abuse2. It is thought that for every one of these 56,700 children another 8 children are actually suffering from abuse, according to an NSPCC estimate3, this would make the number of children approximately 453,600.

So what can be done to help these children?

The answer in truth is very simple, but in practice is more difficult. The simplest answer is observation and being aware that something is wrong. In practice this can be really hard, some children will try to hide that something is wrong.

It is important to remember that ‘safeguarding children is everyone’s responsibility’.

What has happened in the area of safeguarding and child protection in recent years?

A lot has happened over the years in the pursuit of keeping our most vulnerable safe, dating as far back as 1601. The laws back at that time in fairness were arbitrary at best, gladly over the following 400 years things have become more clear and centred around the child’s best interests. In fact, it wasn’t until 1839 that the custody of under 7 year olds was assigned to their mothers under the Custody of Infants Act, something that we have always taken for granted that children are under the custody of their parents.

Until 1889, the police and authorities had no power to arrest anyone who was mistreating a child, nor could they enter a home to prevent any mistreatment from occurring. This law went on to be known as the Children’s Charter, and although changed and amended many times, you could say that this charter is still in place today. This is the Act of law that was amended in 1904, which gave the NSPCC the statutory right to intervene in child protection cases and the power to remove children from abusive or neglectful homes, a statutory right that they still have today and are the only voluntary agency with this power.

Although in the intervening years a lot of good things happened in the area of safeguarding, the next major milestone occurred in 1989, with the inception of the Children’s Act 1989, which introduces the concept of parental responsibility and enshrined in law the inquiries to safeguard children’s welfare. There was another major event in 1989, which was the United Kingdom signing up to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), providing 54 articles aimed at giving children rights within our society and throughout the world.

Article 6 of the convention is quite pertinent to this blogpost as it states that children have the right to be alive, something that sadly the 11 children named at the top didn’t get to live for as long as they had the potential to do.

Article 19 states that children have the right to be safe from being harmed, or mistreated in body and mind. Surely these 2 simple articles are really important and if you look through any further law aimed at keeping children safe you can see that these are at the centre of Government business.

In 1999, a law was passed aimed at stopping paedophiles from working with children, as more recent history shows us, whilst this is important and is good intentioned, sometimes these people do slip through the net and are able to work with children. If we look at the Vanessa George case, better known as Little Ted’s, which happened in Plymouth in 2009, the resulting Serious Case Review found that no ‘professional could have predicted that George might be a risk to children’. This implies that her CRB (DBS) check was clean at the time of being completed, maybe because she hadn’t done anything before this case, or even that she hadn’t been caught offending before this sad case. However, what the Little Ted’s case highlighted was the true extent of the problem of female paedophiles; in fact some experts believe that 20% of paedophiles are female. This is a statistic that is bound to shock people, especially those who expect that paedophiles are all male.

In the year 2000, Victoria Climbié was killed by her Great Aunt. Victoria’s case is the first high profile case of the new millennium. Anybody who has been inVictoria Climbiévolved in Early Years, safeguarding or anywhere near newspapers, radio and television will have heard of Victoria Climbié. This truly is a sad case, which could have been prevented, the Laming Review found that there were 12 missed opportunities to save Victoria’s life. Had one of these opportunities been taken, we wouldn’t be talking about Victoria as she would not be known to the world. Victoria Climbié was brought to the UK, via France, by her Great Aunt having offered her parents the chance of a better life for Victoria. Victoria was actually the second child to have been offered a chance of a better life, as the original child’s parents changed their mind at the 11th hour. In some reports Victoria is referred to as Anna, as this was the name that she came into the country under, dressed to look like the other child.

In just over 10 months in the United Kingdom, Victoria Climbié was treated in the most inhumane way possible. For the last few months of her life, she was living, eating and sleeping in a bath.

During her post-mortem, the coroner found 128 separate injuries on the little girl’s body.

In sentencing Victoria’s Great-Aunt and partner the judge said, ‘What Anna endured was truly unimaginable. She died in both your hands, a lonely drawn out death’4.

In 2001, Lord Laming was appointed to conduct an inquiry into the events of Victoria’s death; he published a report in 2003, in which he stated:

The extent of the failure to protect Victoria was lamentable. Tragically, it required nothing more than basic good practice being put into operation. This never happened.’

The Laming Report provided the Government with 108 recommendations for improving. The Government accepted these recommendations in full.

From the Laming Inquiry, came the Children’s Act of 2004. This Act introduced the concept of Local Safeguarding Boards (LSCBs) replacing the previous system, it also mandated that each Local Authority would appoint a Children’s Director. The 2004 Children’s Act legalised the Every Child Matters Framework, which is seen as one of the most important policy initiatives in the past decade. It has been described as a sea change in the children and families agenda. The Every Child Matters agenda featured 5 key outcomes for children, often the acronym SHEEP is used to remember these:

Every child shall be:





Positive Contribution.

Although, the Governments have changed since its inception, the Every Child Matters framework still exists today, just in different forms and is now referred to inside Whitehall as ‘Helping Children achieve more’.

Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman just before they disappeared

Also, in 2004, the Bichard Inquiry recommendations for a registration scheme for those working with children came into effect; this started life as the Independent Safeguarding Authority, which has since merged with the Criminal Records Bureau, making the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). The Bichard Inquiry was set up in the aftermath of the disappearances and murders of two schoolgirls in Soham, Cambridgeshire, namely Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

In 2007, HPeter Connollyaringey Social Services (the department involved in the Victoria Climbié case) were again in the news for their failure to protect yet another child. During the initial months of the newsreels, due to the court case taking place, this child was referred to as Baby P, now we know him to be Peter Connolly. He had suffered 50 injuries over an 8-month period. The Government again enlisted the services of Lord Laming to complete a review into the death of Peter, he looked at his own recommendations that he had made in 2003 following the Victoria Climbié inquiry. In his second report, entitled The Protection of Children in England: A Progress Report, he starts with four simple words:

Please keep me safe5

He then went on to explore how things had changed in England since his last report. He does praise the Government for the work that they have done, however, in the tone of the words you can tell that he is dissatisfied with how things have progressed. Lord Laming says very clearly:

‘With greater ambition and determination I am sure it can be done. Now is the time to prove that the well-being of every child and young person really does matter’.

He acknowledges that the report was conducted in a tight timescale.

Whilst Working Together to Safeguard Children had been in existence since 2006, again partly due to the Victoria Climbié case, in 2010 and subsequently several times since, most notably a simpler concise version in 2015, it became statutory, outlining the ways that all agencies involved with children should work together to safeguard children.

Arguably the most useful review in recent years was carried out by Professor Eileen Munro, when the coalition Government came to power to review the safeguarding children processes across the UK, but not because of a specific case but to see what they could do differently to better benefit the most vulnerable in our society. She made 15 recommendations all based around the amount of ‘box ticking’ and central Government prescription in social work practice whilst improving the focus on the needs of the child.Liam Fee

As this blog shows, a lot has happened in the area of safeguarding over the last 400 years, however, the events of the last 2 weeks in the UK still show that there is a long way to go, not least the case of Liam Fee, where Fife Social Services stated in court that Liam ‘fell off the radar’. Surely this is the one thing that shows that systems in Social Services still need to be improved; a child known to be at risk of significant harm should not be allowed to simply drop off the radar.

The other noteworthy story in the safeguarding area in the last two weeks, concerns Birmingham Children’s Services, who in recent years have failed many children, to name a few, Khyra Ishaq, Keanu Williams and Keegan Downer. The failing department is now due to be run by a voluntary trust. The Department of Education is to appoint a trust to run these services, plans however, are at an early stage.

I would like to end as I began,

To all the children who have died

at the hands of their parents/family members,

may you all Rest in Peace and may you never be forgotten.

May we also not forget the children that are living at risk of significant harm.


1 ONS (2014) Table MYE2 in Population estimates for UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, mid-2014 (zip)

2 compiled using the Home Nations statistics available on the NSPCC website.

3 How Safe are our Children (2013)

4 The Victoria Climbié Inquiry, Lord Laming HMSO 2003

5 The Protection of Children in England: A Progress Report, Lord Laming 2009, TSO

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