In March this year Joanna Lada-Walicki provided an update on the draft changes to Keeping Children Safe in Education. On 5 September 2016, following consultation, the revised guidance came into force, incorporating various changes from the initial draft.
Updated KCSiE seeks to avoid any disconnect between good policy and procedure from a compliance perspective and what actually happens in practice on a day to day basis. Concerns about complacency and the potential for such disconnect have been a theme in serious case reviews.
Some key changes are highlighted below:
- Governors are still required to ensure that all staff read at least Part One. There is a new requirement to ensure that there are “mechanisms” in place to “assist staff to understand and discharge their role”. There is little guidance as to what would constitute ‘mechanisms’. Some schools have devised simple tests. Peer to peer liaison, review and mentoring may all help with this.
- Guidance on several specific safeguarding issues has been moved to a new Annex A. The issues include: preventing radicalisation; FGM; child sexual exploitation; and children missing from education. The express reference to these and other matters in Part One, albeit signposting them to their new location in Annex A, would arguably still require all staff to be familiar with these aspects of KCSiE.
- Early provisions have been re-worded to emphasise that promoting welfare of children is everyone’s responsibility and all staff should have in mind what is in the best interests of the child.
- No single professional will see the full picture so information should be shared in order to identify concerns and patterns. Data protection is no barrier to sharing information in order to avoid a child being at risk.
- A greater emphasis is placed on Early Help and the need for all staff to be able to identify vulnerable children and decide what action to take internally. This is clearly distinguished from any member of staff making an external referral to Children’s Services where a child is in immediate danger or at risk of harm.
- Provisions defining “abuse” now acknowledge that it is usually a complex cocktail of issues which may take place within a family, community or institutional setting or via the internet.
- There is a greater emphasis on peer to peer abuse, with express reference to sexting, cyber-bullying and gender-based violence. KCSiE seeks to eradicate any tolerance of such issues as ‘banter’ and requires policies to expressly explain how schools will respond to these issues.
- Governors must now ‘ensure’ that children are taught about safeguarding, ‘including online’. This stronger emphasis replaces the old requirement to ‘consider’ teaching children about such matters.
- The role of Designated Safeguarding Lead is clarified further. It is not possible to delegate the DSL’s ultimate lead responsibility to any deputy DSL. Despite this, deputy DSLs should still be trained to the same standard as the DSL. The DSL or a deputy should be available at all times during normal school hours.
- The DSL’s formal training frequency remains at two years. However, their skills and knowledge should be updated at least annually – for example via published updates and meeting other DSLs at events like the recent BSA Safeguarding Conference.
- All staff should receive formal safeguarding training at induction and should receive updates at least annually – for example via published alerts and staff meetings.
- There is a whole new section devoted to online safety in a new Annex C which explains the requirement for appropriate filtering and monitoring, without restricting a school’s ability to teach pupils effectively. Governors should also consider the school’s approach to pupils’ use of mobile technology. The guidance makes express reference to use of ‘3G and 4G’ and how this is managed in school.
- There is an additional check when recruiting those involved in management posts of an independent school, to verify that they have not been banned from taking up such a post (under S.128 Education and Skills Act 2008).
KCSiE presents the minimum standard required for the protection of children. The changes in the September 2016 version are intended to nudge schools towards a culture where safeguarding is the natural focus of everything they do and to bring policies of all schools more up to date with online/cyber challenges which schools have been facing for some time.
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