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Keeping Children Safe in Education: summary

Ref: 4795
updated on 27 July 2018
School types: All · School phases: All
In-depth article
Read our summary of Keeping Children Safe in Education to find out where to look for information on the management of safeguarding, safer recruitment, allegations of abuse made against teachers and other staff, and peer-on-peer abuse.

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

Article features

  • 5 external links


All staff in all schools must read at least part 1 of Keeping Children Safe in Education. 

It's organised into 5 main parts: 

  • Safeguarding information for all staff
  • 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 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

Actions to take where staff have concerns

If staff have concerns about a child, they should 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 13 has a diagram illustrating this process.

However, 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/or the police immediately.

If a referral is made without the DSL's knowledge, they should be informed as soon as possible. All concerns, discussions and decisions made, and the reasons for those decisions, should be recorded in writing.

Where a teacher discovers that female genital mutilation (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
  • Sharing information too slowly
  • Failing to challenge those who are not taking action

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 bullying and sexual assault.

Part 2: the management of safeguarding

This section of the guidance outlines the duties and 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 their schools "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.

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 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.   

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

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

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 
  • 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.

Inter-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
  • Ensuring safeguarding arrangements take into account the procedures and practices of the LA

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.

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 

Staff training

All staff members must undergo safeguarding training at induction 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 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 put appropriate internet filters and monitoring systems 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 sex and relationships education (SRE).

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 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 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 after the resignation or removal of the individual.

Peer-on-peer abuse

Your 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
  • Sexting
  • Gender issues that can be part of peer-on-peer abuse

You 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, 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

  • Staff should have the skills, knowledge and understanding needed to keep looked after children (LAC) safe, including regarding the legal status and parental responsibility arrangements for LAC
  • Governing boards 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

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 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. 

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
  • Where the person will be engaging in regulated activity, a DBS barred list check will also identify any section 128 direction

Single central record

You must keep a single central record (SCR) to demonstrate you've carried out the mandatory pre-appointment checks, outlined 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

Your school should also record volunteers if they've made any checks on them. 

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

Part 4: allegations of abuse against 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 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.

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

  • Substantiated
  • Malicious
  • False
  • Unsubstantiated

The additional term 'unfounded' may also be used.

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. 

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. Suspension shouldn't be the default position. An individual should be suspended only if there's no reasonable alternative.

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 and adhere 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, has waived their right to anonymity, or information or a decision on the case is published by the secretary of state.

Managing the situation

Paragraphs 206-227 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


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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