Keeping Children Safe in Education: updated statutory guidance and call for evidence


6th June 2024

In May 2024 the Department for Education (“DfE”) published an updated version of its statutory guidance on the safeguarding of children for schools and colleges in England.

The DfE have also launched a 12-week call for evidence to take views on safeguarding practice development and direction, in advance of preparing substantively updated guidance for 2025.

This updated guidance is solely for information purposes, as Keeping Children Safe in Education 2023 (“KCSIE”) will remain in force until the final version of the new guidance becomes effective in September 2024.

It is proposed that the 2024 version of KCSIE will only undergo technical rather than substantive changes before final publication in September 2024, to ensure KCSIE is in line with recent changes to the DfE guidance on Working Together to Safeguard Children (“WTSC”) (updated in December 2023).

Schools and colleges in England must have regard to the 2023 KCSIE when carrying out their duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. KCSIE should also be read alongside:

You can read our previous article on the 2023 guidance here.

The key updates to KCSIE published in May 2024 are as follows:

Summary of changes

Part One: Safeguarding information for all staff

In this section, the definition of ‘safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children’ has been amended to explicitly recognise that the term “children” includes anyone under the age of 18. This reflects the definition given in the guidance WTSC.

Paragraph 18, which lists circumstances which should trigger early help for a child, has been amended to again reflect the wording in WTSC. Children who are frequently missing or goes missing from education, including for part of the school day, have now been included on the list.

Paragraph 24 – the definition of abuse now explicitly references the impact on children who witness or experience domestic abuse as a form of abuse.

The behaviours that are linked to safeguarding issues has been updated in KCSIE For example, “deliberately missing education” has been amended to read “unexplainable and/or persistent absences from education” (paragraph 29). This emphasises the need for school staff to consider whether there is a connection between absences and potential safeguarding concerns.

Part Two: The management of safeguarding

This section now includes a reference to the DfE Data Protection in Schools Toolkit, which supports staff, governors and trustees with data protection compliance, developing policies and processes, data storage, and preventing personal data breaches.

Paragraph 171 has been amended to clarify that the school remains responsible for the safeguarding of pupils they place in alternative provision.

A section has been added at the end of Part Two to consider children who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or gender questioning. This section is under review, pending the outcome of the March 2024 consultation on the gender questioning children guidance, and final guidance being published. It is anticipated that the upcoming general election and a potential change in government may delay publication further.

Annexes

The following changes have also been made to the Annexes in the guidance:

  • Annex B (Further Information) has been amended to include two separate age-appropriate guides (for 5-11 years olds and 12-17 year olds) for schools to support children who are involved in the criminal justice system, and slight changes to clarify schools’ duties in relation to preventing radicalisation (which is under review), following the new definition of extremism published on 14 March 2024.
  • Annex C (Role of the designated safeguarding lead) has been amended to provide further guidance regarding the rationale for making decisions when holding and sharing information.

A full list of changes can be found in Annex F of the guidance, which can be accessed here.

Next steps

Schools and colleges should familiarise themselves with the changes made to KCSIE, and ensure that all leaders and governors are aware of the practical implications.

You can respond to the call for evidence here, the deadline to respond is 20 June 2024.

If you have any questions about KCSIE or require any safeguarding advice, policy updates / reviews or have training needs in relation to any of the aspects discussed above, please contact Eve Piffaretti or Trish D’Souza.

 

This article has been co-written by Eve Piffaretti, Trish D’Souza and Eloise Knight.

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