Safeguarding considerations for Schools: What you need to know about Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE)

How has Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) changed?

The new version of Keeping Children Safe 2020 (“KCSIE”) applies from 1 September 2020.

The changes fall into three main areas:

  1. To reflect changes in the law e.g. upskirting, and Relationship Education, Relationship and Sex Education and Health Education;
  2. To include further guidance / external support e.g. in relation to mental health, domestic abuse, child criminal and sexual exploitation and county lines; and
  3. Amendments to guide schools further in certain circumstances.

There is also some additional wording to clarify that KCSIE continues to apply during the pandemic, and a link to the COVID-19 specific safeguarding guidance (albeit this guidance was withdrawn on 31 July 2020).

A list of all the substantial changes can be found at Annex H of KCSIE 2020.

The changes of particular note include:

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE)

CSE and CCE are now explicitly included as forms of abuse and a new paragraph is included to provide staff with an explanation of, and information about these forms of abuse.

Mental health

Mental health is now specifically included as part of the definition of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. KCSIE includes guidance to help staff identify mental health concerns, where these may be an indicator of safeguarding issues, and what staff should do if they have concerns about a child. Links are provided to a range of resources that may assist.

Child Protection Policy

Governing bodies and proprietors should ensure that their child protection policy includes bullying (and cyberbullying), physical abuse and upskirting (updated and additional information regarding upskirting is included at Annex A).

Police involvement

The revised KCSIE includes a link to the National Police Chiefs’ Council advice which helps clarify when a school should involve the police in circumstances in which a crime has or may have been committed. There is specific guidance and helpful flowcharts in cases involving assault, criminal damage, cyber-crime, drugs, harassment, sexual offences, theft and weapons.

Teaching safeguarding

There is a new paragraph regarding opportunities to teach safeguarding in Relationships Education (for all primary pupils) and Relationships and Sex Education (for all secondary pupils) and Health Education (for all pupils in state-funded schools) which is compulsory from September 2020. Schools can be flexible and take a phased approach to introducing these subjects for the first year. Separate statutory guidance explains this further.

Data protection

The information sharing section has been tweaked, including to emphasise relevant data protection principles in safeguarding. In addition, a link has been provided to the data protection toolkit for schools (note: this toolkit was, at the time of writing, last updated in September 2018 so is not a new resource).

Safeguarding concerns regarding staff

Part 4 of KCSIE must now be followed for allegations against anyone working with a school who has “behaved or may have behaved in a way that indicates they may not be suitable to work with children”. This is broader in scope and includes behaviour which suggests an individual may not be suitable i.e. to capture behaviours which occur inside or outside the school environment but which may present a ‘transferable risk’ of harm to a child, for example domestic violence.

Where the school is not the employer of the individual (such as supply teachers and volunteers) or where the concern is low level (such that it does not meet the threshold of harm) KCSIE makes clear that the school still has responsibility to ensure allegations are dealt with appropriately and that they liaise with relevant agencies where applicable.

Supply teachers

The guidance makes clear that schools will likely take the lead on managing a response to an allegation concerning a supply teacher which should include liaising with the LADO and ensuring the employment agency is fully involved. Schools should avoid simply ceasing to use the supply teacher in response to an allegation. KCSIE makes clear that schools should inform agencies of its process for managing allegations, keep them up-to-date with policy information and invite the agency’s HR manager or equivalent to meetings. Commercial arrangements with agencies should therefore allow schools to take the steps required by KCSIE.

Honour-based abuse

The wording in Annex A has been changed from ‘honour-based violence’ to ‘honour-based abuse’ to recognise non-violent forms of abuse.

Six new things schools need to know about Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) from the September 2019 guidance

The following points are of note:

1. Safeguarding Partnerships

References to multi-agency arrangements are replaced with reference to the new safeguarding partner arrangements. All references to Local Children Safeguarding Boards should be removed from school policies and replaced with appropriate reference to the new safeguarding partners. Schools will also need to liaise with their local authority, clinical commissioning group and chief of police to ensure their safeguarding procedures reflect the locally agreed multi-agency safeguarding arrangements put in place by the three safeguarding partners in their local area.

2. New Curriculum

The guidance references the new Relationships Education and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and states that relevant safeguarding issues may be included in Relationships Education (for primary pupils), RSE (for secondary pupils) and Health Education (for state-funded schools only) from September 2020. (Independent schools are already required to teach Health Education by virtue of the Independent School Standard Regulations requirement to teach Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education.) Proprietors and governing bodies should therefore ensure that opportunities to teach about safeguarding, including online, are embedded in the curriculum and where appropriate, as part of the new Relationships Education, RSE and Health Education curriculum.

3. ‘Upskirting’

References to ‘upskirting’ are included as a form of abuse following changes to the Voyeurism (Offences) Act 2019 which criminalise the act of ‘upskirting’. School policies, and staff training, should be updated to ensure reference and guidance to the new offence is included.

4. Teaching online safety in school

The non-statutory guidance Teaching online safety in school (applicable to all schools, except independent schools) outlines how schools can ensure their pupils understand how to stay safe and behave online as part of existing curriculum requirements. Although the guidance does not imply additional content and teaching requirements, schools should review the guidance to ensure staff understand the risks that exist online so that teaching can be tailored as appropriate to the pupil cohort. This could be, for example, as part of the new compulsory Relationships Education, RSE and Health Education in place from September 2020.

5. Serious violence

A new emphasis of the importance of staff being aware of the indicators of children being at risk from, or involved with, serious violence and the measures in place to manage these.

6. Vetting checks

The guidance helpfully clarifies when s128 checks are required for maintained school and what level of DBS checks are required for associate/committee members of maintained school governing bodies.

Schools should review and update their safeguarding policies and procedures to ensure they reflect the above. Policies likely to require amendment include:

  • the child protection policy;
  • staff behaviour policy/code of conduct;
  • pupil behaviour policy;
  • safer recruitment policy and procedures.

Additional policies which should dovetail with the school’s safeguarding arrangements are:

  • missing pupils,
  • SEND,
  • peer on peer abuse
  • use of reasonable force and
  • managing allegations of abuse.

Close liaison with the school’s safeguarding partner arrangements will be crucial when updating and developing school policies following consultation with key stakeholders in school.

Updated staff training, not just for new staff on induction but for all existing staff, should ensure that the training also covers the changes.

The September 2018 guidance was substantial and required a significant modification of policies, with 12 crucial points.

1. Staff induction

In addition to the child protection policy, staff behaviour policy and the identity and role of the designated safeguarding lead (‘DSL’) and any deputies, staff induction should now include the school’s pupil behaviour policy and safeguarding response to children who go missing from education.

2. Role of staff

If staff have any concerns, these should be acted upon immediately: early information sharing being vital in keeping children safe. Similarly, in exceptional circumstances, staff should consider speaking to a member of the senior leadership team and/or speak to Children’s Social Care to discuss safeguarding concerns where the DSL or their deputy is not available. Staff may also be required to be the lead professional following an Early Help referral.

3. Early help

Helpful information about those children who may benefit from Early Help has been included e.g. those misusing drugs or alcohol and those who are young carers.

4. Contextual safeguarding

The guidance highlights the importance of staff and the DSLs taking a holistic view to ensure wider environmental factors are considered that may be a threat to safety and welfare of children.

5. Peer-on-peer abuse

The guidance provides further detail on what constitutes peer-on-peer abuse with recognition of its gendered nature. Pupils with SEND are more prone to peer group isolation and schools should put in place extra pastoral support to address this. The information to include about peer-on-peer abuse in child protection policies has also been expanded with a new Part Five on ‘Child on Child Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment’.

6. Information sharing

The guidance includes a new requirement that where children leave the school the receiving school should now ensure their DSL and SENCOs are aware of the requirements set out in KCSIE about transferring a child protection file to a new school. The DSL of the transferring school should also consider if it would be appropriate to share information with a new school in advance of a pupil leaving i.e. to help support victims of abuse when moving to a different establishment.

7. Use of Reasonable Force

A new section broadly reflects the DfE guidance on use of reasonable force but with a focus on the use of reasonable force to safeguard children. Further guidance has been provided on the use of reasonable force with vulnerable pupils, such as those with SEND or medical conditions and the need for positive and proactive behaviour support.

8. Safer Recruitment

A number of changes have been made to Part Three, including further detail around teacher status checks and how these should be used (via the Secure Access Portal on the Teacher Services’ web page); clarification of checks to be carried out on teaching staff; and additional information when seeking references (these should be sought for internal as well as external candidates, requested from a senior person with appropriate authority, and if electronic, checked to ensure they originate from a legitimate source).

9. Allegations of abuse made against teachers and other staff

Part Four includes an additional outcome for allegation investigations, which is ‘Unfounded’. This was previously only referred to in a footnote but been brought into the main guidance.

10. Single Central Register

Schools may, if they wish, record the name of the person carrying out the checks. There is now clarity that the SCR can be in electronic or paper form.

11. Homestay

When a school arranges a homestay, an assessment of the suitability of the care-giver should be considered. For host families abroad, Annex E now states that schools should use their professional judgement to satisfy themselves of the suitability of the arrangements and parents should be made aware of the agreed arrangement.

Policies which should have been amended are likely to include:

  • The child protection policy
  • Staff behaviour policy
  • Pupil behaviour policy
  • Safer Recruitment policy

The law and practice referred to in this article or webinar has been paraphrased or summarised. It might not be up-to-date with changes in the law and we do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided at the time of reading. It should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice in relation to a specific set of circumstances.

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