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Last updated on 19 September 2018
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Read our summary to find out about the main points in Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE), and to know where to look for information on specific areas of safeguarding contained in the statutory guidance.

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  1. Overview 
  2. Part 1: safeguarding information for all staff
  3. Part 2: the management of safeguarding
  4. Part 3: safer recruitment
  5. Part 4: allegations of abuse made against teachers and other staff
  6. Part 5: Child-on-child sexual violence and sexual harassment 
  7. Annexes

Keeping Children Safe in Education was updated for September 2019 - find out about the key changes.

We're updating our content to reflect these changes.


Keeping Children Safe in Education is organised into 5 main parts: 

  • Safeguarding information for all staff (all staff in all schools must read at least this part)
  • The management of safeguarding
  • Safer recruitment
  • Allegations of abuse made against teachers and other staff
  • Child-on-child sexual violence and sexual harassment 

Part 1: safeguarding information for all staff

Part 1 outlines what staff should know, do and look out for in relation to safeguarding. 

Role of school and college staff

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 your school which support safeguarding and have these explained to them during induction. This includes the:
    • Child protection, pupil behaviour and staff behaviour policies
    • Safeguarding response to children who go missing from education
    • Role and identity of the designated safeguarding lead (DSL) and any deputies
  • Be aware of the early help process and their role in it, and be prepared to identify children who may benefit from early help
  • Be aware of the process for making referrals to children's social care and for statutory assessments that may follow a referral, and of their role in these assessments
  • Receive appropriate child protection training which is regularly updated, and child protection updates (for example, via email, e-bulletins and staff meetings)
  • Be aware of the signs of abuse and neglect, and of what to do if a child makes a disclosure
  • Know how to manage the requirement to maintain an appropriate level of confidentiality (i.e. only involving those who need to be involved)
  • Never promise a child that they won't tell anyone about a report of abuse
  • Always act in the best interests of the child

Actions to take where staff have concerns about a child

If staff have concerns about a child, they should act immediately. They should follow your school's child protection policy and speak to your DSL (or deputy) about what action to take, including whether a referral needs to be made. Page 13 has a diagram illustrating this process.

The options after staff have spoken to the DSL about a concern include:

  • Managing any support for the child internally via your school's own pastoral support processes
  • An early help assessment
  • A referral for statutory services

If the DSL or deputy is not available, they should:

  • Not delay taking action
  • Consider speaking to a member of your school's senior leadership team and/or take advice from local children's social care 
  • Share any action taken with the DSL or deputy as soon as is practically possible 

If they believe a child is in immediate danger or at risk of harm, they should make a referral to children's social care (and the police if appropriate) immediately.

All concerns, discussions and decisions made, and the reasons for those decisions, should be recorded in writing. Staff should discuss any uncertainties about recording requirements with the DSL or deputy. 

All staff should speak to the DSL or deputy regarding concerns about female genital mutilation (FGM), and there is a specific legal duty on teachers – where a teacher discovers that FGM has been carried out on a girl under the age of 18, they must report this to the police.

Poor practice

Examples of poor practice 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
  • Not sharing information
  • Sharing information too slowly
  • Failing to challenge those who are not taking action

Concerns about staff members posing a risk of harm to children

If a staff member has safeguarding concerns, or an allegation is made about another member of staff (including volunteers) posing a risk of harm to children, they should refer this to your school's headteacher or principal.

If their concerns/the allegations relate to the headteacher or principal, they should refer this to your chair of governors.

Where the headteacher is also the sole of proprietor of an independent school, staff should report allegations directly to the designated officer at your local authority.

Concerns about safeguarding practices within your school or college

Your school or college should have appropriate whistleblowing procedures in place for your staff to raise any concerns about poor or unsafe practice with the senior leadership team.

If staff members feel unable to raise an issue, or they feel that their genuine concerns are not being addressed, they can contact the NSPCC whistleblowing helpline.

Types of abuse and neglect

Page 14 defines:

  • Abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Neglect

Specific safeguarding issues

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 (but not limited to): 

  • Bullying (including cyberbullying)
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual violence and sexual harassment
  • Sexting
  • Initiation/hazing type violence and rituals

Assessments of children should consider whether wider environmental factors are present in a child’s life that are a threat to their safety and/or welfare ('contextual safeguarding'). 

Part 2: the management of safeguarding

This section of the guidance outlines the responsibilities of governing boards of schools and colleges (and proprietors of independent schools) in relation to safeguarding.

You must have regard to the guidance to ensure that the policies, procedures and training in your school(s) "are effective and comply with the law at all times".

Safeguarding leadership


You must appoint a senior member of staff as the DSL. This person has lead responsibility for safeguarding, and this duty should be explicit in their job description. The DSL, or a deputy DSL, must always be available to staff during school hours.

Annex B 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.

Read about the role of the DSL in more detail in another of our articles.

Board level lead for safeguarding

As well as the DSL, who is the professional lead for safeguarding, schools should have a senior board level (or equivalent) lead to take leadership responsibility for the organisation’s safeguarding arrangements.

This can be a member of staff, but if so that person must be a member of the board as well (for example, the headteacher or a staff governor).

This must be a separate person from the DSL, in order to ensure there is sufficient challenge to the organisation's safeguarding arrangements and performance.

Safeguarding policies

You should ensure that an effective child protection policy and staff behaviour policy or code of conduct are in place.

These policies should be provided to all staff on induction. Headteachers should ensure that 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 multi-agency procedures put in place by the 3 safeguarding partners (see under the subheading "Multi-agency working" below for more details on the safeguarding partners)
  • Be updated annually (as a minimum) 
  • Be publicly available via the school website or other means

All schools should have their own individual child protection policy. Multi-academy trusts can have overarching policies, but these must be built on locally to ensure local procedures and protocols can be reflected.

The staff behaviour policy or code of conduct should cover acceptable use of technologies, relationships between staff and pupils, and communications including the use of social media.

The guidance document as a whole also highlights other safeguarding policies and procedures schools should have in place, relating to:

  • Whistle-blowing 
  • Peer-on-peer abuse
  • Children who go missing from education 
  • Recruitment and selection 
  • Allegations against staff and volunteers in school 
  • Making referrals to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)
  • Work experience 
  • Radicalisation 
  • The use of mobile technology in school

Schools don't need to have separate written documents covering these issues, but can include them within their child protection policy or other policies.

Multi-agency working

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 Safeguard 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

As per the updated Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 guidance, Keeping Children Safe in Education identifies 3 safeguarding partners you'll be expected to work with going forward:

  • The local authority (LA)
  • A clinical commissioning group for an area within the LA
  • The chief officer of police for a police area in the LA area

If the safeguarding partners name your school as a relevant agency (i.e. they believe your involvement may be required to safeguard and promote the welfare of children with regard to local need), you’ll be under a statutory duty to co-operate with their published arrangements (which should be in place by 29 September 2019).

You should:

  • Ensure arrangements are in place that set out clearly the process and principles for sharing information within your school or trust, and with the 3 safeguarding partners or other agencies as required
  • Be prepared to supply information as requested by the 3 safeguarding partners
  • Understand the local criteria for action and protocol for assessment, and ensure these are reflected in your school or trust’s own policies and procedures

Your school should continue to work in partnership with your local safeguarding children board (LSCB) and follow any relevant local arrangements until the new safeguarding partner arrangements are in place.

Information sharing

You and your school's staff need to be aware of your obligations under the GDPR and the Data Protection Act (DPA) 2018.

You should ensure relevant staff:

  • Have due regard to the data protection principles, which allow them to share personal information
  • Are confident of the processing conditions which allow them to store and share information for safeguarding purposes
  • Are aware that, if they need to share ‘special category personal data’, the DPA 2018 contains ‘safeguarding of children and individuals at risk’ as a processing condition that allows practitioners to share information

Statutory assessments

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.

You can find information about the assessments on pages 10-11.

  • Section 17 assessment is for children in need
  • Section 47 assessment is for where there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm 

Staff training

All staff members must undergo safeguarding training (including online safety) at induction and this training should be updated regularly. Training should be in line with advice from the local 3 safeguarding partners.

Staff should also receive regular updates on safeguarding as required, but at least once a year, via for example email and staff meetings.

The DSL and any deputy DSLs should undertake training on their role that is updated at least every 2 years, and should also undertake training on their duties under the government's anti-radicalisation strategy, Prevent.

The DSL and deputies should also 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.

Online safety

You must ensure appropriate internet filters and monitoring systems are in place, to protect pupils from harmful and inappropriate content online. There's further information on this in annex C. 

Teaching pupils about safeguarding

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 relationships and sex education (RSE).

Safer recruitment

You 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 that at least one of the people conducting an interview has completed safer recruitment training.

Further requirements for safer recruitment are set out in more detail in part 3 of the guidance. 

Allegations of abuse against members of staff

This section looks briefly at how to handle allegations of abuse against staff, but this is covered further in Part 4. Allegations against staff should be referred to the designated officer(s) at the LA.

Making referrals to the DBS

You 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 they not left
The DBS will then consider whether to bar the person. You should make a referral as soon as possible and ordinarily on conclusion of an investigation, when an individual is removed from working in regulated activity (see pages 23 and 44-45).

Peer-on-peer abuse

Your child protection policy should cover peer-on-peer abuse. It should include information on:

  • Procedures to minimise the risk of peer-on-peer abuse
  • Recording, investigating and dealing with allegations of such abuse
  • The different forms peer abuse can take, such as sexting and physical abuse
  • Supporting the victims and perpetrators of peer abuse, and any other children affected by it
  • The gendered nature of peer on peer abuse (i.e. that it is more likely that girls will be victims and boys perpetrators), but explaining that all peer on peer abuse is unacceptable and will be taken seriously

It should make clear that peer abuse will never be tolerated or passed off as 'banter', 'just having a laugh' or 'part of growing up'.

The child's wishes

When determining what action to take in response to a safeguarding concern, you 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 and previously looked after children

  • Staff should have the skills, knowledge and understanding needed to keep looked after children (LAC) and previously LAC safe, including regarding the legal status and parental responsibility arrangements for LAC
  • You must appoint a designated teacher to promote the educational achievement of LAC (and previously LAC), and should ensure this person is appropriately trained
  • The DSL should have details of the child’s social worker and the name of the virtual school head in the authority that looks after the child, and should work closely with the designated teacher
  • 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. They should also work with the virtual school head to promote the educational achievement of previously LAC

Care leavers

LAs appoint personal advisers for young people who cease to be looked after and become care leavers. DSLs should:

  • Have details of the personal adviser appointed to support a care leaver
  • Liaise with the personal adviser as necessary regarding any issues of concern affecting the care leaver

Children with special educational needs

Your child protection policy should reflect the fact that there can be additional barriers to recognising abuse and neglect in children with special educational needs.

The use of 'reasonable force'

There are some circumstances when it's appropriate for staff to use reasonable force to safeguard children. The decision on whether or not to use reasonable force to control or restrain a child:

  • Is down to the professional judgement of the staff concerned
  • Should always depend on individual circumstances

When using reasonable force in response to risks presented by incidents involving children with SEN, disabilities or medical conditions, staff should, in considering the risks:

  • Carefully recognise the additional vulnerability of these groups
  • Consider their duties under the Equality Act 2010

Part 3: safer recruitment

Part 3 of the document covers safer recruitment procedures.

Pre-appointment checks

The majority of school staff will require an enhanced DBS check with barred list information, as they will be engaging in regulated activity. 

Other pre-appointment checks for new school staff and governors include:

  • Verifying identity
  • Verifying the right to work in the UK
  • Verifying professional qualifications, as appropriate
  • Checking that anyone employed to carry out teaching work is not subject to a teacher prohibition order
  • Section 128 checks 

Teacher prohibition orders and section 128 directions 

  • 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
  • Section 128 directions also disqualify a person from holding or continuing to hold office as a governor of a maintained school
  • Where the person will be engaging in regulated activity, a DBS barred list check will also identify any section 128 direction (provided that ‘children’s workforce independent schools’ is specified in the parameters for the barred list check)

Single central record

Your school must keep a single central record (SCR) to demonstrate you've carried out the mandatory pre-appointment checks referred to above.

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 (members and trustees in the case of academies and free schools)

For each check on each member of staff, your school must record whether it has been carried out and the date on which it was carried out (or the certificate received).

There's no statutory duty to include details of any other checks on the SCR, but you're free to record any other information you deem relevant. This might include checks for childcare disqualification, volunteers, and safeguarding and safer recruitment training dates.

The SCR can be in paper or electronic format.

MATs should ensure the information on the SCR for their trust is recorded in such a way that information for individual academies can be provided separately and without delay to those entitled to inspect it.

Part 4: allegations of abuse made against teachers and other staff

Part 4 of the guidance covers handling allegations against staff. You should use this part of the guidance for cases in which it's 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 they would pose a risk of harm to children

Initial considerations when investigating an allegation

The headteacher, or your chair of governors if the allegation is against the headteacher, should discuss the allegation with the designated officer at the LA immediately. The headteacher/chair ('case manager') and designated officer can then decide on a course of action.

One of the following terms should always be used when determining the outcome of an investigation of an allegation:

  • Substantiated
  • Malicious
  • False
  • Unsubstantiated
  • Unfounded

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 case 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. 

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. All options to avoid suspension should be considered prior to taking that step. Suspension should be considered only in a case where:

  • There is cause to suspect a child or other children at the school or college is/are at risk of harm, or
  • The case is so serious that it might be grounds for dismissal

Supporting those involved

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 their union representative or a colleague for support, and be given access to welfare counselling or medical advice where available.

It's important that the school:

  • Maintains confidentiality about the investigation
  • Where the accused is a teacher, adheres to reporting restrictions that prohibit the publication of any material that may lead to the identification of the accused, unless:
    • They are charged with an offence,
    • They have waived their right to anonymity, or
    • Information or a decision on the case is published by the secretary of state

Managing the situation

Paragraphs 210-232 contain guidance on how allegation cases should be managed, including specific information about:

  • Resignations and ‘settlement/compromise agreements’
  • Record keeping
  • References
  • Timescales
  • Oversight and monitoring
  • Suspension
  • Information sharing

If the accused resigns, this should not prevent the allegation being followed up. You must refer the accused to the DBS if the criteria are met.

Part 5: Child-on-child sexual violence and sexual harassment 

This section is new for 2018. It covers:

  • Responding to reports of sexual violence and sexual harassment
  • The immediate response to a report
  • Risk assessment
  • Action following a report of sexual violence and/or sexual harassment
  • Options to manage the report
  • Ongoing response

The DfE's also published further advice on sexual violence and sexual harassment between children – read our summary here


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

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