Keeping Children Safe in Education

Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSiE) 2021 has some changes which we set out below. Safeguarding Network is here to help your DSL implement the changes. We provide much of the framework to tailor to your setting to ensure nothing is missed, and save you time to focus on the business of keeping children safe in education.

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We’ve summarised all the changes in Keeping Children Safe in Education, but you should read the document to be sure you are confident and competent in your role. At the bottom of the page Safeguarding Network members also have a full list of the changes an implementation tool which breaks the changes down into easily manageable tasks, with a timetabled plan and suggested actions to report to SLT and support the rolling out of the guidance in your setting. If you’re not currently a member you can get immediate access here.

01/09/2021 – KCSiE 2021 now live

The guidance has now come into force with only one substantive change from the draft. Our team are supporting settings implementing the new guidance for their staff with our Keeping Children Safe in Education Knowledge Check (see below). For more details please contact us or become a member.

Changes from the July draft

There is only one substantial change (see notes about paragraph 423 below) in Part 4. The remainder of the changes are minor.

There are no changes at all to Part 1. The page numbers are different but the paragraph numbers remain the same until paragraph 418.

  • Annex A (para 12) – rather than referring to “nudes and semi-nudes”, the guidance now refers to nude and semi-nude images and/or videos.
  • Annex B (page 128) – in considering the power imbalance in CCE/CSE the child’s gender is no longer a factor schools and colleges are required to consider (sexual identity remains as a factor).

In Part 4

  • Para 412 – harm threshold reworded as allegation/harm threshold.
  • Para 416 – Duplication around the requirement to share low level concerns about other staff and agency staff/volunteers with the DSL/deputy is simplified to refer to paragraph 74, in line with Part 1. The old paragraph 418 is deleted which affects paragraph numbers through the remainder of the document.
  • Para 418 – the requirement for concerns to be recorded in writing moves from the DSL to a general requirement.
  • Para 423 – the requirement for low level concerns to reported to the DSL is removed – instead schools should have a procedure for staff to follow. However, if the concern is raised by a third party the duty moves from the DSL to the head to speak to that third party and the individual involved and collect further evidence.

Annex B

Summary of key changes:

Keeping Children Safe in Education has been extended from early years, schools and colleges to cover 16-19 academies (and apprenticeships). It references the Education and Training (Welfare of Children) Act 2021 which amends the Education Act 2002 and the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 to impose safeguarding duties on 16 to 19 academies and further education in essence ensuring that safeguarding responsibilities are understood and prohibiting funding being given if safeguarding requirements not complied with.

COVID-19 is here to stay, at least for the mid-term, so the special remarks around the pandemic have been removed. Instead, any guidance you have in a Covid Appendix should be included now in the main body of your document so you are able to deal with part or whole site closures and have clear guidance in place for staff.

The emphasis on all staff reading Part 1 has been replaced by  a clear requirement that everybody in the setting understands their safeguarding responsibilities. Safeguarding Network can help with this element – we’ve a 99p Keeping Children Safe in Education Knowledge Check for members that tests knowledge, understanding and application of the guidance with a certificate for staff and report for the DSL.

The emphasis in the Introduction also shifts to governing bodies and proprietors being responsible for ensuring this understanding – a theme around accountability that is reflected throughout the document.

Governors & proprietors also must make a setting-based decision about whether those in roles that do not involve direct work with children should read the full Part one or a condensed version.  Governing bodies and proprietors are also now held ultimately responsible for ensuring that staff understand and discharge their role and responsibilities and should consider “which guidance will be most effective”. This gives some autonomy to improve understanding of safeguarding, for example where staff have literacy issues or English as a second language and may struggle to assimilate the entirety of Part 1. We recommend governing bodies should record the rationale for their decision.

This remains the main section that all staff are required to read (with the proviso set out above).  Several key themes have been integrated into this Part as well as the rest of the document: criminal exploitation, child sexual exploitation and serious violence in Part one and Annex B of KCSIE to better help schools and colleges understand how to identify children at risk from these harms”. The influence of the Ofsted Review of sexual abuse in schools & colleges can also be seen throughout. Safeguarding Network members have bite-size in-house training packs to support staff development ahead of the implementation of the guidance (see links below where relevant).

The draft guidance adds:

  • an explicit statement that the role of school and college staff includes promoting the child’s welfare.
  • specific reference to the fact that the child protection policy should include a policy and procedures around dealing with peer-on-peer abuse, and a new section with explicit information on this area.
  • an expectation that behaviour policy includes measures to prevent bullying and cyberbullying. The guidance specifically mentions prejudice-based and discriminatory bullying.
  • an expectation that “all staff should receive appropriate safeguarding and child protection training (including online safety) at induction, and that online safety training is provided as part of regular updates.” Emphasis on impact of technology on increasing risks to children added throughout, including that young people can be both victims and perpetrators of abuse.
  • further wording to reinforce that potential for exploitation (criminal, sexual or otherwise) and child mental health issues are recognised as areas of vulnerability and extra-familial harms, with a specific note that staff know what to do when a child discloses exploitation, as well as abuse or neglect. A new paragraph has been added to ensure young people are always taken seriously:
    • “All staff should be able to reassure victims that they are being taken seriously and that they will be supported and kept safe. A victim should never be given the impression that they are creating a problem by reporting abuse, sexual violence or sexual harassment. Nor should a victim ever be made to feel ashamed for making a report.” (p8)
  • Wording changed to sharing nudes or semi-nude images/video (also known as sexting or youth produced sexual imagery).
  • Peer on peer abuse widened to include abuse in intimate personal relationships between peers.
  • a new sentence that staff “should be mindful that early information sharing is vital for the effective identification, assessment, and allocation of appropriate service provision, whether this is when problems first emerge, or where a child is already known to local authority children’s social care” (para 60)
  • The definition of sexual abuse has been amended so that there is no longer a reference to a “high level of violence”, instead now reading “Sexual abuse: involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving violence …”
  • When considering whether a child is in need of early help, the remit in relation to disability and specific additional needs has been expanded to include “certain health conditions”.  The same list has also been expanded to include children who have a mental health need, are at risk of ‘honour’-based abuse, has a parent in prison (or is affected by parental offending) or are persistently missing from education.  The issue of county lines is also now specifically mentioned along with a widening of the term exploitation to “sexual or criminal exploitation”. Staff should have a greater awareness of the potential for multiple issues overlapping, be vigilant and report this.
  • Wording added to reinforce information sharing should be with the right people between and within agencies. Part one also highlights the benefits of a separate file for each child and structuring your recording with a clear and comprehensive summary of the concern, details of follow-up and resolution then any actions taken and the outcome for the child.
  • reinforcement of the need to refer concerns to Children’s Social Care and when doing so consider what is known about the child’s wider context (i.e. contextual safeguarding).
  • Adds cross-reference to Working Together Chapter one for information about the social care assessment process and the serious case review process.
  • Schools and colleges should have processes and procedures in place to manage safeguarding concerns about staff members (including contractors, supply staff and volunteers). Safeguarding Network has a template policy at low cost – please contact us for details.

Emphasis has been added around the role of the governing body or proprietor having “strategic leadership responsibility for their school’s or college’s safeguarding arrangements”.  It further clarifies that it is the headteacher or principal’s role to ensure that staff understand and follow policies and procedures agreed by the governing body or proprietor.  The expectation is set out of there being facilitation of a “whole school approach to safeguarding” whereby safeguarding and child protection underpin all relevant policy and processes.

The guidance states that all systems should “operate with the best interests of the child at heart”, and that school leaders and governors should ensure that there are suitable systems and means by which children can say what is happening to them and know that they will be heard. There should be a statement in your policy that there is a zero-tolerance approach, and that even if there are no reported cases, staff must not take the view that it does not happen in their settings.  We will be writing about zero tolerance approaches over the summer. There is also additional information provided clarifying the government’s view of what constitutes peer-on-peer abuse (paragraph 145).

The guidance around what should be in child protection policies has been enhanced, with the emphasis now being on an effective policy reflecting a number of different areas listed in paragraph 85.

Staff safeguarding training must be integral and aligned part of a whole school or college approach and wider staff training and curriculum planning.  Reference also made to the Teacher’s Standards and the expectations within the standards around behaviour and understanding of the needs of all pupils. Safeguarding Network provides a robust two-year curriculum to support this staff training approach.

The guidance emphasises that there should not be a ‘one size fits all’ approach and teaching about safeguarding and online safety will need a personalised approach. There are resources in paragraph 121 to support this teaching.

The section on online safety has been substantially rewritten bringing in the contents of the Annex C from the previous version of Keeping Children Safe in Education, therefore mainstreaming this as opposed to it being viewed an additional section.

A stronger link has been made to Part four around low-level concerns and the need to consider referring teachers to the Secretary of State via the TRA.

Governors/proprietors’ responsibilities when hiring of or renting out of school / college premises / facilities to other organisations now include ensuring appropriate safeguarding arrangements are in place (including inspecting these as needed) and that the presence of these is a requirement of any agreement between the school / college and the other organisation. This follows some incidents on school sites.

There is emphasis on the additional risk of harm associated with alternative provision sites with links to the existing guidance. Similarly, guidance around risks to children persistently missing education and elective home education (see our Safeguarding Insight) have been gathered together in the new guidance.

Finally, proprietors and governors of SEND provision will wish to reflect on the bolstered guidance and ensure their child protection policy reflects the additional risks this cohort may face and how they will address the challenges this presents.

There has been significant revision of Part three from previous versions to be more explicit about the safer recruitment process and ensuring the guidance fits with the different stages of the process that schools are expected to go through, with an emphasis on the need to ensure that those involved in recruitment and employment of staff have received safer recruitment training. The section is more readable and better ordered.

As well as reframing the existing section to be more explicit about each step of the process, there is an additional section about ensuring the ongoing safeguarding of children and legal reporting duties on employers which consolidates existing expectations to refer to various bodies if there are concerns about an individual.

Main body now also incorporates what was originally in Annex G (i.e. information about the types of disclosure and barring service checks that are available). It reinforces the the additional provisions brought in for 16-19 providers and further education by the Education and Training (Welfare of Children) Act 2021 and adds guidance on the use of birth certificates (identified as best practice) to check candidate’s names.

The document is however clear that there are no changes to legal duties.

The guidance will be covered in full in our Safer Recruitment training in the autumn.

In the notes about the changes, the guidance states:

Following requests via the consultation for further information on low level concerns, we have separated Part four into two sections – Section one for allegations that may meet the threshold and Section Two for allegations/concerns that do not meet the threshold i.e. low level concerns. As such we have included in Section Two, information about concerns that do not meet the harm threshold. This includes what a low level concern is, making the link between low level concerns, staff code of conduct and safeguarding policies, and recording and sharing information with relevant parties including whether this information should be included in references.

As with Part three, there has been a rearranging of this part with some clarifying information, however the context has changed little.

As will be expected there are several amendments in response to the Ofsted Review of Sexual Abuse in Schools and Colleges here with additional paragraphs setting out that such abuse can happen in or outside of the setting as well as online and the need for an “it could happen here” approach. The paragraphs reinforce the need for all reports to be taken seriously and that the victims are supported throughout.  Readers are also reminded of the separate Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment guidance.

Schools & colleges are expected to recognise the scale and impact of harassment and abuse, and that non-recognition / downplaying the scale and scope leads to a dangerous culture in the setting. Staff must be vigilant and, rather than waiting for a disclosure, recognise young people may not always make a direct report and information may come from overheard conversations or observed behaviour changes. How a setting responds is seen to influence the confidence of others to report what is happening to them.

The need for a zero tolerance approach is reiterated throughout this Part. Organisations are also expected to regularly review decisions and actions to update and improve their policies and practice.

There is a new section on unsubstantiated, unfounded, false or malicious reports which provides a reminder about recording concerns and what to do when a report is found to be unsubstantiated, unfounded, false or malicious including the need to consider whether the person making the allegation did so as a cry for help, or whether disciplinary action (in line with the behavioural policy) is indicated.

There is also a section about the response after the incident recognising for the victims of sexual assault there can be a number of physical and mental health implications which may require additional support and a section on supporting the alleged perpetrator with further information about harmful sexual behaviour and provide signposting to sources of support.

Safeguarding Network members have access to a free series of 4 hour-long sessions exploring the issue of child on child sexual abuse in detail. You can access the videos, presentations and other resources in our series and draw on these for improving your policy framework and approach by logging on at Responding to the Challenge of the Ofsted Review. Non-members can access these for £99+vat, please contact us for more details.

Annex A – Safeguarding information for school and college staff – New annexe providing a condensed version of Part one.  Guidance at beginning states:

The following is a condensed version of Part one of Keeping children safe in education. It can be provided (instead of Part 1) to those staff who do not directly work with children, if assessed by the governing body or proprietor to provide a better basis for those staff to promote the welfare and safeguard children.

This will be particularly helpful where there are literacy or language barriers to reading the whole of Part 1.

Annex B – Further information – What was originally Annex A in the previous guidance has been bolstered slightly with additional information in relation to exploitation, modern slavery (and the National Referral Mechanism), county lines, peer-on-peer abuse and preventing radicalisation.  There are two new areas added in relation to child abduction and cybercrime.

The Annex has also been updated to reflect the implications of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021.  As the guidance notes:

The Act introduces the first ever statutory definition of domestic abuse and recognises the impact of domestic abuse on children, as victims in their own right, if they see, hear or experience the effects of abuse. The statutory definition of domestic abuse, based on the previous cross-government definition, ensures that different types of relationships are captured, including ex-partners and family members. The definition captures a range of different abusive behaviours, including physical, emotional and economic abuse and coercive and controlling behaviour. Both the person who is carrying out the behaviour and the person to whom the behaviour is directed towards must be aged 16 or over and they must be “personally connected” (as defined in section 2 of the 2021 Act).

Annex C – Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) – This section has been bolstered to set out the expectations about the working relationships the DSL should have, and where they should provide support.  Whilst this does not look too different to the role that a DSL will be doing already, it is important to note that this is recognition of the scope of working relationships and the light in which the DSL is seen.

The section on information sharing builds on the previous “Child protection file” section and now not only covers the transferring of records when a child leaves school, but also the requirements around storing of records and access to those records with the expectation that the DSL will oversee this. A paragraph has also been added to ensure the DSL understands the importance of information sharing, the regulations around information sharing and the need to keep accurate and detailed records.

A new section on understanding the views of children has been added to ensure the DSL is supported in developing knowledge and skills to encourage a culture of listening and reducing barriers to disclosure.

Annex D – online safety – With the majority information about online safety now being in the main body of the document, this annex now is a source of useful resources to help support DSLs in ensuring that online safety is considered throughout the setting.

Annexes E & F – no changes

Annex G – In the previous version of the guidance this annex contained information about the types of DBS checks available.  This has been removed as an annex from this version of Keeping Children Safe in Education.

What do members get?

The following resources are available for free or discounted prices for all Safeguarding Network members. To become a member and get instant access to all these additional resources click Become a member here or the button below.

We’ve a Keeping Children Safe in Education Knowledge Check to easily manage the process of ensuring people are familiar with KCSiE and the relevant school policies. This online tool is sent direct to all your staff and volunteers and includes:

  • A link to the guidance
  • All staff confirm they have understand and can apply the guidance
  • All staff confirm they have read your child protection, behaviour, code of conduct and whistleblowing policies
  • A quiz on staff knowledge of the guidance
  • A scenario to test applied knowledge
  • A Keeping Children Safe in Education certificate if they attain a sufficient mark
  • Live completion tracking data, reminders and an easy process to add new users through the year
  • Reports for the DSL to evidence staff have understood and can apply the guidance.

No more signing a sheet to say it has been read!

The Knowledge Check is only 99p+VAT per person for members (£9 for non-members). Membership is £99+VAT a term with no tie in and gives you access to all our materials to support the new guidance and create a structured, robust and evidenced approach to in-house safeguarding training and awareness in your school. Read more about membership, or contact us if you’ve any questions.

Keeping Children Safe in Education 2021 was significantly amended in June following the Ofsted Review of Sexual Abuse in Schools and Colleges. Safeguarding Network has a series of four workshops on the implications of the review, beginning with barriers to young people sharing concerns and developing their potential as agents of change and concluding with the development of a setting-specific plan to address the concerns.

The sessions ran each Wednesday through July at 11am. They are also available as a recording, together with tools for implementing the ideas in your setting. Visit now to access the recordings, the slides and other resources.

If you’re not yet a member you can gain immediate access to these and the other tools when you join Safeguarding Network. Non-members can gain access for £99+vat by contacting us.

Members can access a full list of all the changes indexed by page and paragraph number with some notes about the rationale for the change.

We’ve taken all the changes and produced an plan with timescales and suggested actions for you to complete as a report to SLT. Add the evidence of the changes you have made and this becomes your October report to governors on the implementation of the new guidance.

Ofsted guidance on inspecting safeguarding in early years, education and skills settings set out that.

Inspectors will be looking to ensure:

There are clear and effective arrangements for staff development and training in respect of the protection and care of children and learners.

para 13 Ofsted Inspecting Safeguarding guidance

Plan your year ahead ensuring there are regular slots in staff meetings to cover safeguarding and build your staff team knowledge throughout the year. McElearney et al. (2019) highlight seven characteristics of effective safeguarding CPD for teachers.

We have built these into our safeguarding training approach:

  • A focus on student outcomes
  • Collaboration
  • Reflection
  • Specialist expertise
  • Sustained over time
  • A supportive school culture
  • Incorporating models of effective practice

We suggest schools take 15-20 minutes a month for this reflective space out of their staff meetings and develop a cohesive curriculum for staff safeguarding training, rather than simply a responsive slot. We’ve a 2-year programme that covers every area required by Keeping Children Safe in Education and have created expertly designed and quality assured presentations, quizzes, handouts and true-to-life scenarios to build a strong safeguarding culture together across the school so that staff recognise potential issues and have a calm, balanced and confident approach to looking after your children and young people. Join now for immediate access.

Free article on safeguarding training

You’re welcome to read more about the requirements around safeguarding training for educational settings in our recent Safeguarding Insight.

We are a rapidly growing community of early years settings, schools and colleges that share the huge demands on DSLs by producing core content that all settings can use to develop their staff team’s confidence, understanding and response to safeguarding issues.

Membership is just £99 a term – there’s no formal tie-in but you won’t want to leave! This includes the full two-year staff safeguarding curriculum, free initial safeguarding advice and access to events such as the Responding to the Challenge of the Ofsted Review series. We also have discounted online learning, free audit tools and a series of Safeguarding Insight articles with in-depth guidance on writing effective referrals, awareness of sibling sexual abuse, elective home education and much more.

With our SUMMER21 discount code you can purchase for the 21/22 academic year and receive the rest of this academic year for free.

For immediate access join here.

How to brief staff:

Start with our briefing presentation…

A copy of the presentation that we used in the webinar is available to members by clicking the “Webinar Resources” link in the member only resources section above. You will need to be a subscribing organisation and logged in to see this.

Do staff have to read Part 1 (again!)?

It’s crucial that you ensure all staff are familiar with the contents of Part 1 and, where appropriate, Annex A. How you do this is a matter for your discretion. The guidance is clear that you must “ensure that all staff in [your] school or college read at least Part one of this guidance”.

You may assess whether it is most efficient for some staff to read the condensed version of Part 1 in Annex A.

It’s not just about reading the document, as the guidance also says that there is a requirement leaders “should ensure that mechanisms are in place to assist staff to understand and discharge their role and responsibilities as set out in Part one of this guidance.”

Have staff read and understood KCSiE 2021?

The guidance now requires you demonstrate understanding, not just a list of people who’ve signed to say they read the document.  Our Keeping Children Safe in Education Knowledge Check will help – we point people to the right part of the guidance, ask when they read it, quiz them on their knowledge and on the application of their knowledge with scenario based questions and was completed by over 8,000 members last year.

The guidance has been bolstered to ensure staff know what to look for and know what to do. Our knowledge check is just 99p including a certificate for those achieving the 75% passmark and a report for your Designated Safeguarding Lead.

Find out more here….

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It’s not easy staying on top of all the policy changes, legislation and news when it comes to safeguarding. Let us keep you informed with our fortnightly newsletter to keep you on top of what you need to know, when you need to know it.

Subscribers will also receive a copy of our staff presentation covering the main changes in the next few days.