Keeping Children Safe in Education: The Latest Guidance

4 mins

Posted on 04 Sep 2023

Keeping Children Safe in Education: The Latest Guidance

On 1 September 2023, the Department for Education’s updated statutory guidance on safeguarding and child protection came into force.

What is its purpose?

The guidance explains what schools and colleges must do to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people under the age of 18. The education sector is a key part of the wider safeguarding system and all staff working in the sector have a vital part to play in safeguarding children and young people.

Who is affected by Keeping Children Safe in Education and what are the key changes?

Keeping Children Safe in Education (“KCSIE”) applies to all schools and colleges in England, including maintained schools, independent schools, non-maintained special schools, nursery schools, colleges, and pupil referral units.

What are the Key changes?

The monitoring of IT systems

The guidance clarifies that all staff, including governing bodies and proprietors, should understand and be trained on the responsibilities, expectations and applicable roles in relation to the filtering and monitoring of IT systems, designed to ensure children’s online safety while at school. This change in the guidance has been made in response to recently-published standards for filtering and monitoring. The Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) should take lead responsibility for the filtering and monitoring of IT systems and processes, and this should be clearly expressed in any job descriptions for the role.

Schools and colleges are advised to:

  • Identify and assign roles and responsibilities to manage filtering and monitoring systems;
  • Review filtering and monitoring provision annually (at a minimum)
  • Block harmful and inappropriate content without unreasonably impacting teaching and learning; and
  • Have effective monitoring strategies in place that meet their safeguarding needs.

Absence can be indicative of a safeguarding issue

The guidance highlights that where a child is missing or absent from education, this can be indicative of a safeguarding issue, such as child criminal exploitation, sexual abuse or sexual exploitation. 

Home schooling - Local authority will need to review EHCPs

Where a parent or guardian wants to remove their child from school to educate them at home, the guidance states that ‘where a child has an EHCP (Education, Health and Care plan), the local authority will need to review the plan whilst working closely with parents’. 

Pre-recruitment checks

The guidance states that schools and colleges should inform short-listed applicants that they may perform online searches on them, as part of their pre-recruitment checks.

Responding to safeguarding allegations

Where an incident has occurred involving an individual or organisation who is using a school’s premises (such as a sports association, community group or service provider running extra-curricular activities), the guidance provides advice on responding to safeguarding allegations which may be made. In line with existing advice on safeguarding allegations, schools should follow their safeguarding policies and procedures, including informing the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO).

Changes to terminology 

    There have been a number of changes in terminology:

    • 'Children missing from education' has been replaced with 'children who are absent from education for prolonged periods and/or repeated occasions';
    • Updates throughout the guidance to include 'pupils or students';
    • References to 'teachers can discipline' have been replaced with 'teachers can sanction'; and
    • 'Children may be vulnerable to' has sometimes been replaced with 'children may be susceptible to'.

    What does the new guidance mean for your school?

    It is important that all staff read the new guidance and that the updates are incorporated into staff training. In particular, staff should be aware that there have been changes in relation to:

    Out-of-hours hire contracts

    • Check that out-of-hours contracts with organisations that work with children satisfy the guidance expectations set out in the keeping children safe in out-of-schools settings guidance. References to the guidance should be made in any safeguarding and child protection policy, including information about incidents relating to out-of-hours hire contracts;
    • Ensure that any allegation received relating to out-of-hours contracts are referred to the LADO and the school/college follows the safeguarding policy.

    Monitoring and filtering

    • Implement the filtering and monitoring standards, including incorporating the filtering and monitoring guidance in staff CPD training. In addition, DSLs should ensure that “lead responsibility” for filtering and monitoring is added to their job description;
    • It is important that the governing body/trustees fully understand their role in filtering and monitoring.

    Pre-recruitment checks

    • Incorporate reminders to tell short-listed staff about any potential online checks in their recruitment process.

    You can access the updated KCSIE guidance here.

    Contact Us

    For further information on how we can support you with KCSIE, please complete an enquiry form or contact a member of our Education team directly.

      Jonny Robinson

      Jonny is a Legal Advisor in the Education team. He also assists lawyers with a wide range of Employment, Data Protection and High Court matters.

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      Fachiema Menjoh

      Fachiema is a specialist education legal adviser, providing comprehensive legal advice on a daily basis, and ensuring clients understand the SEND (special educational needs and disability) tribunal process and guiding them through how to appeal an EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plans).

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      The articles published on this website, current at the date of publication, are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your own circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.

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