Keeping Children Safe in Education 2022 (‘KCSIE’) was released on 20 May 2022, giving us an idea of what changes to safeguarding rules will come into force in September 2022. KCSIE 2022 can be accessed here. In the meantime, schools and colleges should continue to referto KCSIE 2021.
KCSIE applies to all schools and colleges and is for headteachers, teachers, staff, governing bodies, proprietors and management committees. The guidance sets out the duties you must legally follow to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people under the age of 18 in schools and colleges.
We last wrote about KCSIE earlier this year, where we set out the proposed amendments to the guidance as a result of the Department for Education consultation. Changes are minimal compared to last year’s overhaul with many being technical changes intended to improve clarity and ensure consistency.
- New definition of ‘victim’ and ‘alleged perpetrators’ introduced. It is explained how these terms are used in KSCIE 2022, but how they may not be transferable words to use when speaking to the child in question.
Part one – Safeguarding information for all staff
- ‘Peer on peer’ abuse is amended to read ‘child on child’ abuse.
- Text added to explain that the staff code of conduct should include wording around low-level concerns, allegations against staff, and ‘whistleblowing’.
- Clarification that ‘children’s social care’ means local authority children’s social care services.
- Paragraph added to outline that not all children may feel comfortable disclosing abuse, exploitation or neglect, and that they themselves may not even realise their experiences are harmful. Staff should still exercise professional curiosity and report concerns to the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) where they have concerns. Staff should focus on building a relationship with the children to facilitate communication.
- Abuse and neglect section expanded to emphasise that children are at risk of harm inside and outside of school/college, and that staff should exercise professional curiosity.
- Expansion of the definition of harm to include sexual abuse as well as exploitation, teenage relationship abuse, radicalisation, and any ill treatment that is not physical (such as witnessing harm against others, e.g. domestic abuse).
- New section added detailing ‘child on child abuse’ – explanation that children can abuse other children, and that all staff should be clear on the school’s policies in order to manage this. Definition of child on child abuse added; staff should also be aware that just because something may not have been reported, it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening – staff who have concerns should speak to their DSL in the first instance. Staff should also be prepared to challenge certain behaviours displayed by children that could amount to child on child abuse, such as ‘banter’ and ‘boys being boys’.
- Additional paragraph on domestic abuse, discussing what could amount to domestic abuse and the impact on the child.
- Text added with regards to record keeping, noting that written records are particularly helpful as evidence should a complaint be made against the school about how a case has been handled.
- Text added to emphasise that staff who have a safeguarding concern or allegation against a member of staff that does not meet the harm threshold should refer to the school’s internal low-level concern policy.
Part two – The management of safeguarding
- Text added to emphasise that headteachers and principals should ensure that all policies and procedures (particularly ones concerning referrals of cases of suspected abuse and neglect), are understood and followed by all staff.
- A new paragraph stating that governing bodies and proprietors should ensure that all governors and trustees receive appropriate safeguarding and child protection (including online) training from the outset. Training should be regularly updated.
- New guidance surrounding obligations for governing bodies and proprietors under the Human Rights Act 1998, the Equality Act 2010, and their local multi-agency safeguarding arrangements. Further paragraphs detail in depth obligations under each Act.
- Whole school approach to safeguarding should include everyone in the school, and all safeguarding policies should be clear and transparent so it is easy for all parties (staff, parents, pupils, teachers and carers) to understand and follow.
- Further guidance added on DSL requirements; the proprietor should not be the DSL (further information included in footnote to paragraph), and it should be ensured that the DSL has appropriate status and authority in the school for the role as it carries a lot of responsibility. A new Annex C has been provided detailing responsibilities of the DSL.
- Updated wording to reflect that ‘clinical commissioning group’ is now referred to as Integrated Care Systems (ICSs).
- Reference to the ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ guidance – explaining that safeguarding partners should set out in their published arrangements which organisations they will be working with (e.g. agencies) and that schools and colleges should understand their role in local safeguarding arrangements.
- With regards to data protection, new text is added to outline circumstances where information could be legitimately shared without consent.
- New timeframes are included for the transfer of child protection files, and the staff members who should oversee this.
- A new paragraph to assist schools with ways to teach safeguarding – new material will be included in relationships education (primary) and relationships and sex education (secondary) to assist with ‘preventative education’ and preparing pupils for life in modern Britain. Emphasis is put on creating a culture for zero tolerance towards sexism, misogyny/misandry, homophobia, biphobic and sexual violence/harassment. This programme should be fully inclusive and developed in age-appropriate steps to assist children of all ages.
- A new paragraph on remote education encouraging schools to be liaising with parents and carers about what platforms the children are using for their remote working, so that they can filter out any unwanted online access and encourage safety online. Schools are also to strictly monitor the filters on the school’s IT systems. Information is included to direct staff to the UK Safer Internet Centre guidance.
- Further information regarding staff who have a safeguarding concern or allegation against a member of staff that does not meet the harm threshold. Guidance states that the staff member should refer to the school’s internal low-level concern policy and should make applications to the DBS and/or Secretary of State as appropriate and in line with the school’s policies.
- New text surrounding the use of reasonable force in schools – reference to new government guidance about supporting children and young people with learning disabilities. All schools may find this useful.
- A new line added into the section on using school or college premises for non-school/college activities – schools should ensure there are appropriate arrangements in place regarding safeguarding, and this applies whether children to attend any of the activities go to the school or not.
- A new line added with regards to children missing from education, highlighting that this no longer includes sexual abuse as a safeguarding issue, but does include child criminal exploitation, particularly county lines.
- More information included on the resources available to help tackle bullying in schools, in particular Public Health England’s ‘Promoting and supporting mental health and wellbeing in schools and colleges’ guidance.
- A new paragraph on virtual heads and how to promote the education of looked-after and previously looked-after children. It goes into further detail about virtual head’s responsibilities to identify an engage with key professionals to improve the outcomes for children.
- Further information on children with special educational needs and disabilities or health issues, outlining additional barriers that can exist when recognising abuse and neglect in this group of children.
- A new section on children who are lesbian, gay, bi, or trans (LGBT) and how to support children who may be targeted and subjected to harm because of this.
Part three – Safer recruitment
- A new line added with regards to the application process – a CV should only be accepted alongside an application form; a CV on its own will not provide adequate information.
- A new paragraph suggesting that, as part of the shortlisting process, schools and colleges should consider carrying out an online search as part of their due diligence on the shortlisted candidates. This will help identify past incidents or issues that may have taken place that are publicly available online. Schools and colleges may want to explore any findings with applicants during interviews.
- A more detailed section on references, namely that only incidents which meet the harm threshold should be disclosed, and that any repeated concerns which have been found to be false, unfounded, unsubstantiated or malicious should not be included.
- Further reference to new publications about teacher misconduct and disciplinary procedures.
- A new line on existing volunteers at schools – schools do not need to re-check volunteers if they have already had a DBS check, but if the school or college has any concerns, they should consider obtaining a new DBS check.
- Reinforcement of the principle of ongoing vigilance of staff; it is important that all staff understand the process and procedures to follow if they have a safeguarding concern about another staff member.
- DBS checks – more information on the investigation that should be carried out if an allegation is made. The school should provide as much information as possible, as the DBS relies on the information given by the school.
Part four – Safeguarding concerns and allegations made about staff, including supply teachers, volunteers and contractors
- Information on further enquiries – where more information is required on how to proceed, the LADO will provide advice and guidance to schools. The LADO’s role is not to investigate, but to ensure an appropriate investigation is carried out.
- Further information on record keeping for allegations which are substantiated, unfounded, and substantiated, and what should be kept on the system.
- Further information on low-level concerns, i.e. concerns which do not meet the harm threshold. Low-level concerns may arise in several ways and from a number of sources. All low-level concerns should be shared responsibly and with the right person. Information is included on how schools can achieve their low-level concerns policy.
- A new paragraph on sharing low-level concerns is included, detailing the procedure for sharing confidentially and who should be informed. The DSL or a nominated person should be informed in the first instance, followed by the headteacher/principal. The headteacher/principal should be the ultimate decision maker.
- A line stating that, if schools and colleges are in any doubt as to whether the information which has been shared about a member of staff as a low-level concern in fact meets the harm threshold, they should consult with their LADO.
- Resources provide for more guidance and case studies on low-level concerns.
Part five – Child-on-child sexual violence and sexual harassment
- Strong emphasis that all staff working with children are advised to maintain an attitude of ‘it could happen here’, and this is especially important when considering child-on-child abuse.
- A new paragraph detailing what schools and colleges should be aware of, such as a zero-tolerance approach, recognising a scale of harassment/abuse, and challenging behaviours.
- Emphasis that children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are also three times more likely to be abused than their peers.
- A new section on sexual violence, detailing sexual offences under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and the fact these can take place inside and outside of school/college. The definition of ‘consent’ is also detailed. More information is provided on sexual harassment and what can constitute this.
- A new section on harmful sexual behaviour, detailing what this is and the fact it can occur face to face, online, or simultaneously.
- A new section on preventing abuse, detailing how effective safeguarding practices can achieve this and the DSL’s role.
- A new section on support for schools and colleges, where it sets out various authorities that can assist the school in these circumstances, such as the police, social services, NSPCC, CEOP, sexual violence sector organisations, and the anti-bullying alliance. Various online resources are also cited.
- A new line with regards to responding to an initial report – It is important to explain to the ‘victim’ that the law is in place to protect children and young people rather than criminalise them. This should be explained in such a way that avoids alarming or distressing them.
- A new line on the careful management and handling of reports, being aware of various online elements that could hinder the process (such as screen sharing and confiscation advice for schools). A note on ‘sharing nudes and semi nudes’ is also included for information.
- A new section on considering confidentiality and anonymity has been included, outlining the risks with promising confidentiality, how to obtain advice from the DSL on how to deal with circumstances which should remain confidential, and how to protect the anonymity of children (especially where criminal proceedings are in force).
- A new line included with regards to actions following a report of sexual violence and/or sexual harassment, namely the importance of understanding intra familial harms and any necessary support for siblings following incidents.
- A new case study outlining a scenario where sexual harassment and bullying has taken place, and a school’s response.
- More information on how the school should be part of any early-stage discussions, to agree levels for various services and assessments regarding safeguarding.
- A new paragraph on managing delays in a criminal process, such as the DSL working closely with the police to manage any disciplinary action against the alleged perpetrator, along with an example case study. This is further discussed in new paragraphs.
- A new case study example surrounding safeguarding and supporting victims, with an example response from a school.
- A line about recognising trauma and other responses in children who have experienced sexual violence, and how to respond to this.
Annex A – Safeguarding information for school and college staff
- A new paragraph has been included highlighting the importance of recognising that technology plays a big factor in many safeguarding and wellbeing issued. It is further highlighted that abuse can take place wholly online, or technology can be used to facilitate offline abuse.
Annex B – Further information
- New sections have been added with further information on county lines, cybercrime, domestic abuse, homelessness, mental health, preventing radicalisation, sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges, serious violence, and FGM mandatory reporting duty for teachers.
- Resources are listed for additional advice and support at the end of Annex B. A new section on online safety resources has been included, as well as a section on ‘specialist organisations’.
Annex C – Role of the designated safeguarding lead
- A line in the sub-paragraph ‘working with others’ highlighting that the DSL should be aware of the requirement for children to have an appropriate adult, with reference made to PACE Code C 2019, in enquiries under the Children Act 1989 and police investigations.
Annex D – Host families – homestay during exchange visits
- No changes to the wording in this section, other than ‘Host families – homestay during exchange visits’ was previously Annex E.
- The previous Annex D wording titled ‘Online safety’ has been removed.
Annex E – Statutory guidance – Regulated activity (children) – Supervision of activity with children which is regulated activity when unsupervised
- No changes to the wording in this section, other than ‘Statutory guidance – Regulated activity (children) – Supervision of activity with children which is regulated activity when unsupervised’ was previously Annex F.
Annex F – Table of substantive changes – from September 2021
- No changes to the wording in this section, other than ‘Table of substantive changes – from September 2021’ was previously Annex G.