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Keeping Children Safe in Education: summary
- 1 Updated guidance: Keeping Children Safe in Education
- 2 Part one: safeguarding information for all staff
- 3 Part two: the management of safeguarding
- 4 Part three: safer recruitment
- 5 Part four: allegations of abuse against staff
- 6 Annexes
- 1 download
- 5 external links
Updated guidance: Keeping Children Safe in Education
Changes from September 2016
We explain the main changes the updated version of Keeping Children Safe in Education introduces in another of our articles.
You can also read a one-page summary of the changes.
The Department for Education (DfE) has published an updated version of its statutory guidance on safeguarding, Keeping Children Safe in Education, which is in force from 5 September 2016.
It replaces the previous versions, which in turn removed the previous guidance, Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education 2006.
The guidance is organised into four main parts covering:
- Safeguarding information for all staff
- The management of safeguarding
- Safer recruitment
- Allegations of abuse made against teachers and other staff
You will find the content of each of these sections summarised under the headings later in this article.
The DfE says the document should be read alongside the government’s inter-agency safeguarding guidance, Working Together to Safeguard Children, which was updated on 26 March 2015, and its departmental advice on what to do if you are worried a child is being abused.
Who does the guidance apply to?
Pages 3-4 of Keeping Children Safe in Education explain that it should be read and followed by all schools and further education (FE) colleges. This includes maintained and independent schools, academies and alternative provision academies, free schools and pupil referral units (PRUs).
The updated guidance makes it clear that it also applies to maintained nursery schools.
Part one: safeguarding information for all staff
Page 4 explains that all school staff must read part one of the guidance, as a minimum. Part one outlines what school and college staff should know and do in relation to safeguarding.
Safeguarding is defined in paragraph 4 as:
... protecting children from maltreatment; preventing impairment of children’s health or development; ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care; and taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.
The definition of 'children' includes everyone under the age of 18.
Role of school and college staff
All school and college staff have a responsibility to provide a safe environment in which children can learn
Paragraphs 6-20 explain the role of school and college staff in safeguarding, and what they need to know and look out for.
In particular, it says all school and college staff have a responsibility to provide a safe environment in which children can learn. They should also:
- Be aware of systems within their school which support safeguarding and have these explained to them during induction. This includes the child protection and staff behaviour policies, and the role of the designated safeguarding lead (DSL)
- Be aware of the early help process and be prepared to identify children who may benefit from early help
- Be aware of the process for making referrals to social services
- Be aware of the signs of abuse and neglect, and of what to do if a child makes a disclosure
- Receive appropriate child protection training which is regularly updated
- Always act in the best interests of the child
QuickRead: schools' safeguarding duties
We have created a one-page QuickRead which clarifies governors' responsibilities for safeguarding.
You can download a copy below:
Actions to take where staff have concerns
The updated version of the guidance makes a distinction, in paragraphs 21-28, between action to be taken where a member of staff has concerns about a child, and action to take where a child is in immediate danger or at risk of harm.
Where a staff member has concerns about a child, he/she will make a decision on how to act. This would usually involve a conversation with the DSL about what action to take, including whether a referral needs to be made, though any member of staff can make a referral to social services. Page 10 features a diagram illustrating this process.
However, if the staff member believes a child is in immediate danger or at risk of harm, he/she should make a referral to children's social care and/or the police immediately.
If a referral is made without the DSL's knowledge, he/she should be informed as soon as possible. Paragraph 29 says all concerns, discussions and decisions made, and the reasons for those decisions, should be recorded in writing.
The guidance also explains that where a teacher discovers that female genital mutilation (FGM) has been carried out on a girl under the age of 18, he/she must report this to the police.
Paragraphs 31-34 set out what staff should do where they have concerns about another staff member (including the headteacher) or the school’s safeguarding practices.
Examples of poor practice are outlined in paragraph 30, and include:
- Failing to act on early signs of abuse and neglect
- Poor record keeping
- Failing to listen to the views of the child
- Failing to reassess concerns where the situation does not improve
- Sharing information too slowly
- Failing to challenge those who are not taking action.
Types of abuse and neglect
Paragraphs 35-40 define:
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
Staff should also know that safeguarding issues can manifest via peer-on-peer abuse ...
Specific safeguarding issues
The guidance explains in paragraph 41 that all staff are expected to be aware of safeguarding issues such as drug use, child sexual exploitation and radicalisation.
Staff should also know that safeguarding issues can manifest via peer-on-peer abuse, including bullying and sexual assault.
Links to advice on specific safeguarding issues are set out in paragraph 43, and further guidance on particular issues is set out in annex A (pages 51-57).
Part two: the management of safeguarding
Part two of the guidance outlines the duties and responsibilities of governing bodies of schools and colleges (and proprietors of independent schools) in relation to safeguarding.
It explains that governing bodies must have regard to the guidance to ensure that the policies, procedures and training in their schools "are effective and comply with the law at all times".
The guidance explains in paragraph 52 that schools must appoint a senior member of staff as the DSL. This person has lead responsibility for safeguarding, and this duty should be explicit in his/her job description. The DSL, or a deputy DSL, must always be available to staff during school hours.
Annex B of the document (pages 59-61) includes more extensive guidance on the role of the DSL. It outlines a number of specific duties relating to managing referrals, training and raising awareness.
You will find more information about the responsibilities of the safeguarding lead in another article from The Key:
Board level lead for safeguarding
As well as the DSL, who is the professional lead for safeguarding, Keeping Children Safe in Education says in paragraph 46:
Schools and colleges should have a senior board level (or equivalent) lead to take leadership responsibility for the organisation’s safeguarding arrangements.
This requirement is also set out on page 53 of Working Together to Safeguard Children, linked to above.
A representative from the DfE confirmed that this can be a member of staff, but that person must be a member of the board (for example, the headteacher or a staff governor).
The DfE advises that this is a separate person from the designated safeguarding lead, in order to ensure there is sufficient challenge to the organisation's safeguarding arrangements and performance.
Governing bodies should ensure that an effective child protection policy ... is in place
Paragraphs 47-48 say that governing bodies should ensure that an effective child protection policy and a staff behaviour policy or code of conduct is in place.
It explains that these policies should be provided to all staff on induction. Headteachers should ensure their policies and procedures are followed by all staff, particularly concerning referrals of cases of suspected abuse and neglect.
The child protection policy should:
- Describe procedures which are in accordance with government guidance
- Refer to locally agreed inter-agency procedures put in place by the local safeguarding children’s board (LSCB)
- Be updated annually
- Be publicly available via the school website or other means
It says the staff behaviour policy or code of conduct should cover relationships and communication between staff and pupils, including the use of social media.
The guidance also highlights other safeguarding policies and procedures schools should have in place, relating to:
- Whistle-blowing (paragraph 33)
- Peer-on-peer abuse (paragraphs 42 and 76)
- Children who go missing from education (paragraph 51 and page 51)
- Recruitment and selection (paragraph 71)
- Allegations against staff and volunteers in school (paragraph 73)
- Making referrals to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) (paragraph 74)
- Work experience (paragraph 139)
- Radicalisation (pages 56-57)
- The use of mobile technology in school (pages 62-63)
A DfE representative confirmed that schools do not need to have separate written documents covering these issues, but can include them within their child protection policy or other policies.
All staff members must undergo safeguarding training at induction
The guidance explains in paragraphs 59-63 that schools should work with other agencies, such as social care, the police and health services, as part of safeguarding efforts and as set out in Working Together to Safeguarding Children.
This work includes:
- Providing a co-ordinated offer of early help where needs are identified
- Contributing to inter-agency plans to support children who are subject to child protection plans
- Allowing access for children’s social care to conduct section 17 or 47 assessments
- Ensuring safeguarding arrangements take into account the procedures and practices of the LA
Page 17 of Working Together to Safeguard Children explains that under the Children Act 1989, local authorities (LAs) can undertake assessments of the needs of individual children to determine what services to provide and what action to take.
A full list and explanation of the different types of assessment is featured on pages 18-19. These include:
- Section 17 assessment: for children in need
- Section 47 assessment: where there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm
All staff members must undergo safeguarding training at induction, paragraph 64 explains, and this training should be updated regularly. Staff should also receive regular updates on safeguarding as required, but at least once a year, via for example email and staff meetings.
The guidance explains on page 59 that the DSL and any deputy DSLs should undertake training on their role that is updated at least every two years, and should also undertake training on their duties under the government's anti-radicalisation strategy, Prevent.
In addition to this formal training, the DSL and deputies should have their knowledge and skills refreshed regularly, but at least once a year, via for example e-bulletins, meeting other DSLs or spending time reading and digesting safeguarding developments.
Paragraph 67 explains that schools must put appropriate internet filters and monitoring systems in place, to protect pupils from harmful and inappropriate content online. Further information on this is provided in annex C (pages 62-63).
Teaching pupils about safeguarding
The guidance says in paragraph 68 that pupils need to be taught about safeguarding, including staying safe online, as part of a broad and balanced curriculum. This information could be provided through, for example, personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education or sex and relationships education (SRE).
Information about the inspection of safeguarding is included in paragraph 70. It explains that Ofsted inspectors "will always report on whether or not arrangements for safeguarding children and learners are effective", and that other inspectorates will also report on safeguarding arrangements.
Governing bodies and proprietors should prevent people who pose a risk of harm from working with children
You will find more information on Ofsted inspection of safeguarding in the following article:
Paragraph 71 makes it clear that governing bodies and proprietors should prevent people who pose a risk of harm from working with children by:
- Adhering to statutory responsibilities to check staff who work with children
- Taking proportionate decisions on whether to ask for any checks beyond what is required
- Ensuring volunteers are appropriately supervised
Maintained schools must ensure at least one person on any appointment panel has undergone safer recruitment training.
Further requirements for safer recruitment are set out in more detail in part three of the guidance, summarised in section 4 of this article.
Allegations of abuse against members of staff
Paragraphs 73-75 look at how to handle allegations of abuse against staff. They explain that allegations against staff should be referred to the designated officer(s) at the LA.
Further guidance on handling allegations against staff is set out in part four of the guidance, summarised in section 5 of this article.
Making referrals to the DBS
Paragraph 120 of the guidance explains that schools and colleges have a legal duty to make a referral to the DBS where:
- An individual has harmed, or poses a risk of harm, to a child or vulnerable adult;
- The harm test is satisfied in respect of that individual;
- The individual has received a caution or conviction for a relevant offence, or if there is reason to believe that individual has committed a listed relevant offence; and
- That individual has been removed from working (paid or unpaid) in regulated activity, or would have been removed had he/she not left
The guidance also says in paragraph 76 that school child protection policies should cover peer-on-peer abuse. They should include information on:
- Procedures to minimise the risk of peer-on-peer abuse
- Dealing with allegations of such abuse
- The different forms peer abuse can take
- Supporting the victims of peer abuse
- Gender issues that can be part of peer-on-peer abuse
It explains that schools should make clear that peer abuse will never be tolerated or passed off as 'banter' or 'part of growing up'.
The child's wishes
When determining what action to take in response to a safeguarding concern, paragraph 79 says, schools should ensure the pupil's wishes and feelings are taken into account.
Pupils should have the opportunity to make their views heard and any systems and processes should have the pupil's best interests at their heart.
Looked after children
Paragraphs 81-84 outline specific responsibilities in relation to looked after children (LAC). They explain that:
There can be additional barriers to recognising abuse and neglect in children with special educational needs
- Staff should have the skills, knowledge and understanding needed to keep LAC safe, including regarding the legal status and parental responsibility arrangements for LAC
- Schools must appoint a designated teacher to promote the educational achievement of LAC, and should ensure this person is appropriately trained and able to access the necessary information, such as details of social workers and virtual school heads, to support LAC
- The designated teacher for LAC should work with the virtual school head at the LA to discuss how best to use funding to support the progress of LAC
Children with special educational needs
Paragraph 85 explains that child protection policies should reflect the fact that there can be additional barriers to recognising abuse and neglect in children with special educational needs.
Part three: safer recruitment
Part three of the document covers safer recruitment procedures.
What do the different DBS checks include?
Enhanced DBS check
- Checks for spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings
- Asks local police for any additional information that is reasonably considered relevant to the workforce being applied for
Enhanced DBS and barred list check
- Includes the same checks as an enhanced DBS
- Also checks whether someone is included on the national DBS ‘barred lists’ of individuals unsuitable for working with children or adults
Paragraph 88 says that the majority of school staff will require an enhanced DBS check with barred list information, as they will be engaging in 'regulated activity'.
It explains that individuals will be considered to be in 'regulated activity' where they:
- Will be responsible, on a regular basis in a school or college, for teaching, training, instructing, caring for or supervising children; or
- Will carry out paid, or unsupervised unpaid, work regularly in a school or college where that work provides an opportunity for contact with children; or
- Engage in intimate or personal care or overnight activity, even if this happens only once
The guidance explains in paragraph 101 that all appointments must be subject to the satisfactory completion of pre-employment checks.
When appointing new staff, schools and colleges must:
- Verify identify
- Obtain a certificate for an enhanced DBS check (including barred list information, for those in regulated activity)
- Obtain a separate barred list check if an individual will start work in regulated activity before the DBS certificate is available
- Verify the candidate’s mental and physical fitness to carry out the work
- Verify the person’s right to work in the UK
- If the person has lived or worked outside the UK, carry out any other checks deemed necessary
- Verify professional qualifications
- Carry out a section 128 direction check (for anyone taking up a management position in an independent school or academy)
- Check that a candidate to be employed as a teacher is not subject to a prohibition order
The majority of school staff ... will be engaging in 'regulated activity'
Paragraph 114 explains that checks on those who have worked or lived outside the UK should include a check for information about any teacher sanction or restriction that a European Economic Area (EEA) professional regulating authority has imposed. This can be carried out via the National College for Teaching and Leadership's (National College's) Teacher Services system.
Paragraph 105 explains that there is no requirement to obtain an enhanced DBS check or checks for events that have occurred outside the UK for appointees who, in the previous three months, have worked in a school or FE college in England in a post which brought them into regular contact with children. However, all other pre-appointment checks must still be carried out, including a separate barred list check for those in regulated activity.
More details on the checks to be carried out on specific groups, including people who have worked outside the UK, contractors, visitors, governors, volunteers and agency staff, are set out in paragraphs 114-144.
More information about which individuals require DBS checks can be found here:
Teacher prohibition orders and section 128 directions
Paragraphs 97-100 of the guidance explain that:
- Teacher prohibition orders prevent a person from teaching in schools and colleges
- Section 128 directions prohibit or restrict a person from taking part in the management of an independent school, including academies and free schools. This would include staff management positions, academy trustees and local governors in academies that have been given management responsibilities
Checks for teacher prohibition orders and section 128 directions can be carried out via the National College's Teacher Services system.
Where the person will be engaging in regulated activity, a DBS barred list check will also identify any section 128 direction.
Guidance on obtaining references and checking employment history can be found in paragraphs 108-111. Paragraph 109 says:
References should always be obtained [and] scrutinised, and any concerns resolved satisfactorily, before the appointment is confirmed.
Single central record
The guidance explains in paragraph 112 that schools must keep a single central record (SCR) to demonstrate they have carried out the mandatory pre-appointment checks, outlined above.
It explains that the SCR must cover:
- All staff (including supply staff and trainee teachers on salaried routes) who work at the school or college; and
- For independent schools, including academies and free schools, all members of the proprietor body
Where checks on volunteers are made, these should also be recorded.
For each check on each member of staff, the school must record whether it has been carried out and the date on which it was carried out (or the certificate received).
You will find information on the requirements for the SCR in the following articles from The Key:
Part four: allegations of abuse against staff
Part four of the guidance outlines information about handling allegations against staff. Paragraph 144 explains that this part of the guidance should be used in relation to cases in which it is alleged that a member of staff or volunteer has:
- Behaved in a way that has harmed a child, or may have harmed a child;
- Possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child; or
- Behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates he/she would pose a risk of harm to children
Initial considerations when investigating an allegation
Paragraphs 148-157 contain guidance on how to investigate allegations of abuse by staff.
The school should think carefully about whether to suspend the person accused ...
It says that the headteacher or chair of governors (‘case manager’) should discuss any allegation that a member of staff has acted in a way described above with the designated officer at the LA immediately. The case manager and designated officer can then decide on a course of action.
Paragraph 150 explains that one of the following terms should always be used when determining the outcome of an investigation of an allegation:
The additional term 'unfounded' may also be used.
The guidance explains that the case manager should inform the person accused about the allegation as soon as possible after consulting the designated officer, unless a strategy discussion is needed or other agencies need to be involved, in which the case manager should wait until these parties have been consulted before informing the accused. This also applies to informing parents or carers of children involved (paragraph 160).
The school should think carefully about whether to suspend the person accused or whether alternative arrangements can be put in place until the investigation is resolved. The guidance explains:
Suspension should not be the default position: an individual should be suspended only if there is no reasonable alternative.
Supporting those involved
Paragraphs 160-166 outline guidance on supporting all those involved in allegations of abuse.
It is important that the school maintain confidentiality about the investigation ...
It explains that schools have a duty of care to employees and should support the accused to manage and minimise the stress resulting from the allegation. The accused should be advised to contact his/her union representative or a colleague for support, and be given access to welfare counselling or medical advice where available.
It is important that the school maintain confidentiality about the investigation and adhere to reporting restrictions that prohibit the publication of any material that may lead to the identification of the accused unless he/she is charged with an offence, has waived his/her right to anonymity, or information or a decision on the case is published by the secretary of state.
Managing the situation
Paragraphs 167-188 contain guidance on how allegation cases should be managed, including specific information about:
- Resignations and ‘settlement/compromise agreements’
- Record keeping
- Oversight and monitoring
- Information sharing
The guidance explains in paragraph 167 that if the accused resigns, this should not prevent the allegation being followed up. The school must refer the accused to the DBS if the criteria set out in paragraph 120 are met.
Actions in specific circumstances
Paragraphs 189-195 give advice on specific actions to take in particular circumstances. These include actions following a criminal investigation or prosecution, on the conclusion of a case, and where a malicious or unsubstantiated allegation has been made.
Annexes A-H set out additional information supplementing the previous sections of the guidance. They cover topics such as:
- Specific safeguarding issues
- The role of the DSL
- Online safety
- DBS checks and regulated activity
More from The Key
The Key has taken great care in publishing this article. However, some of the article's content and information may come from or link to third party sources whose quality, relevance, accuracy, completeness, currency and reliability we do not guarantee. Accordingly, we will not be held liable for any use of or reliance placed on this article's content or the links or downloads it provides. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence.