The long-awaited Keeping Children Safe in Education 2018 has been released for reference only and should have been implemented by schools and colleges by 3 September 2018. It is a more comprehensive document than its predecessors and places new expectations and obligations on educational establishments. Here is our top ten list of what’s new in the guidance and what you need to know about:
- All school staff should have a robust understanding of safeguarding. This includes specific safeguarding issues such as peer on peer abuse, their role in safeguarding, and that of their school. It contains a clear expectation that staff will have had access to quality safeguarding training, which is updated regularly, and in a variety of ways. This is a significant move away from merely holding whole school training once a year and may even suggest that Ofsted will be taking a keen interest in staff training in the future.
- Schools should have the right culture. The guidance emphasizes the importance of having the right culture in school, one of ‘it could happen here’, and one where safeguarding concerns are acted on immediately. All staff are now expected to know how to make a referral to children’s social care themselves.
- Better practice including early intervention and whistleblowing. Access to early intervention is also a clear expectation. This includes identification of issues at an early stage, and delivery of interventions which may never involve services outside of the school (including social care). The vulnerability of students who are looked after, and have special educational needs is discussed along with consideration of those children who may be at risk of criminal exploitation, who parents are in prison, children who are homeless, and the relatively new category of ‘Contextual’ safeguarding. There is also an expectation that school staff know the process for whistleblowing where there are concerns about safeguarding practice in school.
- Children in specific circumstances. Guidance regarding online safety, and children in specific circumstances (such as SEN and Looked After Children) has been updated to reflect the ongoing needs and vulnerability of these children, and the expectation that extra scrutiny and support will be required from schools when other plans and arrangements have come to an end. There are new sections on children who are living in ‘homestay’ and private fostering placements.
- The role of the Designated Safeguarding Lead. As you might expect, the role of the designated safeguarding lead has also been updated, including emphasis on specific circumstances which trigger mandatory duties to report (such as female genital mutilation). There is also an expectation that DSLs will implement escalation procedures when there are differences of opinion with statutory partners. DSLs must always be ‘available’ during school hours to discuss safeguarding concerns, although out of hours and holiday availability remains at the discretion of the school.
- Raising awareness of safeguarding among pupils. The guidance includes a specific requirement for educational establishments to consider how to include safeguarding issues in the curriculum for delivery to students. It is likely that this will be further formalised when the requirement for schools to deliver healthy relationship work in schools comes into force next September.
- The management of safeguarding. There are also new expectations for the management of safeguarding, including robust staff codes of conduct, additional emergency contact numbers for students, and effective responses to children missing from education. There is specific information regarding mandatory duties to report (for example where female genital mutilation is suspected). There is clarification of the impact of GDPR on information sharing, and that fears of breaching confidentiality or data protection should never stand in the way of sharing information where there are concerns about a child.
- Safer recruitment and workplaces. There is updated and more stringent guidance on safer recruitment, including clarification over requirements for supply staff, pre-appointment check and what should be included on the Single Central Record. There is also provision for ensuring safer working practices and workplaces including procedures for work experience students, volunteers, visitors and contractors.
- Each school to have their own safeguarding policy. In something that will come as a surprise to many, there is a new requirement for all schools within a multi-academy trust to have their individual safeguarding policies and procedures, and not just follow a standard MAT policy. We believe that this is to reflect that many schools within one academy trust are often located in different geographical areas, with different communities, local need, and safeguarding dynamics.
- Responding to peer on peer abuse including addressing sexual violence and harassment in schools. Perhaps the most significant change is how schools are expected to respond to peer on peer abuse, and sexual harassment and violence in schools. Not only should there be a clear procedure to be followed in such cases, but staff should also be adequately skilled to recognise the signs and know how to respond. Additionally, there is an expectation that the culture of schools is such that no aspect of sexual harassment or violence is minimised or dismissed; and any intervention must address safeguarding issues for both victim and perpetrator.
The key message is don’t panic! While this might all seem overwhelming, the new guidance had a lot of issues to address. Provision in the guidance reflects best practice in safeguarding. Following it will mean that the children in your school will be better protected and supported, and that your staff will be better skilled in identifying and responding to safeguarding issues. Safeguarding is a constantly changing and evolving concept. To be the best we can be at making sure that children achieve their potential in safe learning environments means that our schools have to constantly change and evolve too.
Want help implementing some of the requirements of KCSIE 2018?
Safeguarding Children Training and Consultancy Ltd is a Yorkshire based organisation, founded in 2002 by Adele Gladman following her experiences working on the Home Office Child Sexual Exploitation pilot in Rotherham. We can help with safeguarding audits based on statutory guidance and the Ofsted inspection framework; policies and procedures; independent investigations; and a range of safeguarding training courses including student workshops on online safety and healthy relationships. Whatever you need, we are here to help you. Call us now on 01226 249590 or get in touch via email: email@example.com