Keeping children safe in education

21st January 2022

What are the proposed changes to the statutory guidance: Keeping Children Safe in Education?

The Department for Education has launched a consultation seeking views on proposed changes to the statutory guidance for England: Keeping Children Safe in Education (‘KCSIE’).

The draft consultation can be found here with the full draft of KCSIE here.

KCSIE sets out the legal duties which schools and colleges in England must comply with and what they should do, to keep children safe.

KCSIE statutory guidance

Schools and colleges must have regard to KCSIE when carrying out their duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. It is split into five parts, which set out the following:

Part oneWhat staff in schools and colleges should know and do. It explains their safeguarding responsibilities, the forms of abuse and neglect can take and what staff should do if they have concerns about safeguarding matters.
Part twoThe arrangements for the management of safeguarding, including the responsibility of governing bodies and proprietors, the role of Designated Safeguarding Leads ('DSLs') and the safeguarding policies and procedures that should be in place.
Part threeThe safer recruitment arrangements schools and colleges should adopt and describes in detail the checks that are required for individuals working or visiting a school or college.
Part fourHow schools and colleges should manage allegations of abuse made against teachers and other staff including supply teachers, other staff, volunteers and contractors.
Part fiveHow to managing reports of child on child sexual violence and sexual harassment and sets out what governing bodies and proprietors should be doing to ensure reports of child on child sexual violence and sexual harassment are managed appropriately.

Proposed changes to KCSIE

With direct reference to Part one to five above, the draft consultation proposes the following changes and/or additions to KCSIE:

Part oneA statement that school and college staff need to know that children may not feel ready or know how to tell someone that they are being abused, exploited, or neglected or they may not recognise their experiences as harmful.
Part twoA reminder to schools and colleges of their legal duties under the Human Rights Act 1988 and the Equality Act 2010 including the Public Sector Equality Duty.
An addition explicitly setting out that all governors and trustees should receive safeguarding and child protection training.
Clearer guidance on the systems that should be in place to support the reporting of abuse, and links to the various policies such as behaviour, exclusion and Relationships and Sex Education ('RSE') that will all play important parts in the whole school/college approach.
Ensuring, as already set out in KCSIE, that DSLs have the appropriate status and authority to carry out the duties of the post.
Identifying whilst all children should be protected, it is important that governing bodies and proprietors recognise (and reflect in their policies and procedures) some groups of children are potentially at greater risk of harm.
Part threeAs part of the shortlisting process, a new paragraph has been added to suggest schools and colleges should, as part of their due diligence, consider carrying out an online search (including social media) on shortlisted candidates. This would explore anything that is publicly available online which may be worth testing at interview.
Part fourA new section about how to manage ‘low level’ concerns that fall short of the harms threshold.
With regard to 'low level' concerns the consultation wishes to find out more information about sharing these concerns when they are substantiated.
Part fiveWithdrawal of the sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in school and colleges standalone advice and a removal of all references to it. This guidance has now been incorporated throughout KCSIE, and especially in Part two and Part five.

How to have your say

Click here to provide views and comments in regard to the proposed revisions. The consultation closes on 8 March 2022, with an aim to make any proposed changes by 6 September 2022.

Blake Morgan can provide advice and legal support in relation to safeguarding and associated legal requirements including how to comply with KCSIE. We can also review, revise and provide training on your Safeguarding Policies and Procedures.

For further information, contact Partner Eve Piffaretti.

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