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In 2021, substantial changes were made to the Department for Education (DfE) Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) statutory guidance. In January 2022 the DfE launched a consultation to seek views on its proposed changes to KCSIE for the academic year 2022/2023; the results of the consultation helped to inform the revisions of the KCSIE guidance for the coming academic year.
This year’s changes have been designed to build upon those made in 2021, to improve the approach to safeguarding in schools, colleges and other institutes of education.
What is keeping children safe in education?
Keeping Children Safe in Education is statutory guidance from the Department for Education (DfE) issued under Section 175 of the Education Act 2002. It sets out the legal duties that govern all schools, colleges and other institutes of education in England when carrying out their duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children under the age of 18.
In order to safeguard children whilst in education, all staff, volunteers and governors are expected to comply with the requirements of the current Department for Education guidance which is reviewed and updated annually.
The original KCSIE document was published in March 2014, the aim being to ensure that education staff were included as an important part of the wider safeguarding system. The guidance was developed to provide relevant information to education staff in order that they fully understand their role in spotting the signs and reporting concerns about abuse to the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL).
Under KCSIE the educational establishment’s governing body, proprietors and management committees have clear responsibilities to ensure that safeguarding systems, policies and practices are in place and are all effective. This includes ensuring that the DSLs and their deputies are trained to the same level relevant to their specialist role.
They in turn are responsible for ensuring staff are trained at least annually and receive regular updates on safeguarding and child protection research findings, serious case reviews, studies etc. The educational establishment’s safeguarding training should be in line with the Local Safeguarding Children Board procedures and themes.
What is the keeping children safe in education document?
A key document for those working with children and young people is the Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE), which is organised into five parts:
- Safeguarding information for all staff – Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is everyone’s responsibility; all staff, supply teachers, volunteers and contractors. This part details what school and/or college staff should know and do in regard to safeguarding.
- The management of safeguarding – This part is for headteachers, Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSL) and teams, and governors. It also outlines the responsibilities of governing bodies, proprietors and management committees.
- Safer recruitment – This part refers to the recruitment processes including:
– Pre-employment checks.
– Record keeping.
- Safeguarding concerns raised about, and allegations made against, staff, also including supply teachers, volunteers and contractors.
- Child-on-child sexual violence and sexual harassment – This part should be read alongside the DfE’s advice on sexual violence and harassment between children.
There are also a number of annexes:
Annex A – Is a condensed version of part 1 that can be read by staff who don’t work directly with children.
Annex B – Includes detailed guidance on specific safeguarding issues.
- Child abduction and community safety incidents.
- Child criminal exploitation (CCE).
- Child sexual exploitation (CSE).
- County lines.
- Children and the court system.
- Children missing from education.
- Domestic abuse.
- Mental health.
- Modern slavery and the national referral mechanism.
- Preventing radicalisation.
- Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children.
- Serious violence.
- So-called honour-based abuse.
Annex C – Sets out the role of the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL).
Annex D – Host families, homestay during exchange visits.
Annex E – Statutory guidance, regulated activity (children), supervision of activity with children which is regulated activity when unsupervised.
Annex F – Sets out substantive changes made by the new guidance.
KCSIE makes it very clear that all staff should have safeguarding and child protection training (including online safety) at induction, with training being regularly updated. It also includes information and tools that educational establishments can use to help keep children safe online; this includes a dedicated collection of resources to support them in signposting parents and carers to help them keep their children safe from different risks online.
Who does keeping children safe in education apply to?
The KCSIE guidance applies to all schools, colleges and other institutes of education and is for:
- Headteachers, teachers and all other staff including supply teachers, volunteers and contractors.
- Governing bodies, proprietors and management committees.
The KCSIE guidance sets out the legal duties the above groups must follow to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people under the age of 18 in schools, colleges and other institutes of education.
Is keeping children safe in education effective?
Statistics derived from the annual Children in Need Census provide data on children in England referred to children’s social care services.
The headline facts and figures for 2021 include:
- 388,490 children in need, down 0.2% from 2020, now at the lowest point since 2013.
- 50,010 child protection plans, down 2.9% from 2020, now at the lowest point since 2015.
- 597,760 referrals, down 7.0% from 2020, driven mainly by a decrease in school referrals.
This data is provided by the 151 local authorities in England and helps to underline the importance of the role that compliance with the KCSIE plays in safeguarding children.
Normally annually, the government updates the KCSIE guidance based on a number of factors including new laws that have been introduced, such as the Coronavirus Act 2020, changes in government policy such as Brexit, and new findings from research, so schools, colleges and other institutes of education know what policies, procedures and preventative measures should be put in place to keep children safe.
The new version of Keeping Children Safe in Education has now been released by the DfE and it comes into effect in September 2022.
What are the changes in the keeping children safe in education 2022 guidance?
The latest update to KCSIE has now been released and all schools, colleges and other institutes of education should be updating all staff on the revisions that will come into force on 1st September 2022.
Here is a summary of changes introduced by KCSIE 2022:
Summary – About the guidance.
About this guidance – Who is this guidance for? – Reiterated that “college” includes providers of post-16 education as set out in the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 (as amended): 16–19 Academies, Special Post-16 institutions and Independent Training Providers.
Part One: Safeguarding Information for all Staff
Paragraph 19 – New paragraph setting out that children may not feel ready or know how to tell someone they are being abused.
Paragraph 43 – New paragraph added on Domestic Abuse.
The guidance makes it clear that domestic abuse:
- Can be psychological, physical, sexual, financial, or emotional.
- Can impact on children through seeing, hearing or experiencing the effects of domestic abuse and/or experiencing it through their own intimate relationships.
Part Two: The Management of Safeguarding
Paragraph 81 – New paragraph explaining how safeguarding and child protection training will help governors and trustees. The new content emphasises that governors and trustees should receive appropriate safeguarding and child protection training at induction, and then at regular intervals. Training should provide them with the knowledge to ensure their educational establishment’s safeguarding policies and procedures are effective.
The guidance sets out the significance of the Equality Act 2010 to school safeguarding, including that schools, colleges and other institutes of education:
- Must not unlawfully discriminate against pupils because of their protected characteristics.
- Must consider how they are supporting pupils with protected characteristics.
- Must take positive action, where proportionate, to deal with the disadvantages these pupils face. For example, by making reasonable adjustments for disabled children and supporting girls if there is evidence that they are being disproportionately subjected to sexual violence or harassment.
It also looks at the implications of the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) for education settings. This includes a need to be conscious that pupils with protected characteristics may be more at risk of harm and integrate this into safeguarding policies and procedures.
Paragraph 132 – Added link to Harmful online challenges and online hoaxes, which includes advice on preparing for any online challenges and hoaxes, sharing information with parents and carers and where to get help and support.
Additions to the guidance state that governing bodies and proprietors should regularly review the effectiveness of school filters and monitoring systems.
They should ensure that the leadership team and relevant staff are:
- Aware of and understand the systems in place.
- Manage them effectively.
- Know how to escalate concerns when identified.
Schools, colleges and other institutes of education should use communications with parents and carers to reinforce the importance of children being safe online.
Schools, colleges and other institutes of education should share information with parents/carers about:
- What systems they have in place to filter and monitor online use.
- What they are asking children to do online, including the sites they will be asked to access.
- Who from the school or college, if anyone, their child is going to be interacting with online.
Paragraphs 139 – Added a paragraph to reinforce the importance of schools, colleges and other institutes of education speaking with parents and carers about children’s access to online sites when away from school or college.
Paragraph 140 – Provided clarity on the role of governors and proprietors when considering filters and monitoring and ensuring the effectiveness is regularly reviewed.
Paragraphs 191–196 – Added further information on the role of the virtual school head. Guidance has been updated to reflect the extension of the role of the virtual school head to include a non-statutory responsibility for oversight of the attendance, attainment and progress of children with a social worker. Virtual school heads should identify and engage with key professionals to help them understand the role they have in improving outcomes for children.
Paragraphs 202–204 – Extended the information about schools, colleges and other institutes of education ensuring children who may be LGBT+ have a trusted adult who they can be open with. Guidance now emphasises the importance of providing LGBTQ+ children with a safe space for them to speak out or share their concerns with members of staff.
Part Three: Safer Recruitment
Footnote 101 – Added a reminder that DBS for checks on volunteers is free. The updated guidance clarifies that a curriculum vitae (CV) should only be accepted alongside a full application form and is not sufficient on its own to support safer recruitment. Information has been added to highlight that schools, colleges and other institutes of education should consider online searches as part of their due diligence checks on shortlisted candidates.
Part Four: Allegations Made Against / Concerns Raised in Relation to Teachers, Including Supply Teachers, Other Staff, Volunteers and Contractors
Retitled heading – Safeguarding concerns and allegations made about staff, including supply teachers, volunteers and contractors.
Paragraphs 432–434 – Added information to provide clarity on the process for sharing low-level concerns. Updates make it clear that learning lessons applies to all cases, not just those which are concluded and found to be substantiated. Information has been updated to make it clear that a low-level concerns policy should contain a clear procedure for confidentially sharing concerns.
The educational establishment can decide whether concerns are initially shared with the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) or nominated person or directly with the headteacher/principal. The headteacher should ultimately be informed of all low-level concerns and make the final decision on how to respond. Where appropriate, this can be done in consultation with the DSL.
The guidance also clarifies that low-level concerns which are shared about supply staff and contractors should be notified to their employers, and educational establishments should consult with their Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) if unsure whether low-level concerns shared about a member of staff meet the harm threshold.
Part Five: Child-on-Child Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment
Paragraph 465 – Added bullet point and link to London Grid for Learning “Undressed” guidance.
Paragraph 468 – Added paragraph to highlight the importance of ensuring children understand that the law on child-on-child abuse is there to protect them rather than criminalise them.
Paragraph 482 – Added a bullet point to emphasise the importance of understanding intra-familial harms and any necessary support for siblings following incidents.
Paragraph 492 – Paragraph added to emphasise the need for educational establishments as relevant agencies should be part of the discussion with statutory safeguarding partners.
This section has been expanded to incorporate guidance previously covered in the DfE’s Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges advice.
It also provides new information, emphasising:
- The importance of explaining to children that the law is in place to protect rather than criminalise them.
- The importance of understanding intra-familial harms, and any necessary support for siblings following incidents.
- The need for educational establishments to be part of discussions with statutory safeguarding partners.
Annex B – Provides additional information about specific forms of abuse and safeguarding issues. It has been updated to move most of the content on peer-on-peer / child-on-child abuse and sexual violence and harassment into the main body of the guidance.
Forced Marriage – Added link to the Right to Choose, government guidance on forced marriage.
County Lines Toolkit – Added link to the County Lines Toolkit for Professionals, the Children’s Society in partnership with Victim Support and National Police Chiefs’ Council.
Operation Encompass – Added contact details.
Abuse – Added link to CSA (Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse) free resources.
Annex C – Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL).
Working with others – Added reference and link to the statutory guidance PACE Code C 2019 – Appropriate adult.
Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) exists to promote the welfare of children and young people aged under 18 years in the United Kingdom.
For anyone working in an educational setting, irrespective of your role, there are various responsibilities that you need to fulfil in order to ensure the safety of all children and young people in your care.
These responsibilities start with reading and understanding the most up-to-date statutory government guidance, including the 2022 updated version of the Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) guidance. Not doing so, could put the children and young people in your care at risk of harm.