The government has reviewed and updated the principle safeguarding resource for schools, Keeping Children Safe in Education.  The document now reflects changes to notable fields such as DBS checks and FGM reporting, in addition there are amendments to language and new key focus areas such as online safety.

The information below from Handsam reviews changes to be aware of in this essential document, which came into force on the 3rd September 2018.

Defining Language: Defining Roles

  • The opening summary defines what ‘must have regard to’ means in a educational management context. Professionals must have regard to this document while carrying out their duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and should comply with it unless exceptional circumstances arise.
  • The resource explores safeguarding in a wider context, stating: “Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is everyone’s responsibility. Everyone who comes into contact with children and their families and carers has a role to play in safeguarding children. In order to fulfil this responsibility effectively, all professionals should make sure their approach is child-centred.” 
  • Early help and intervention is highlighted as an essential preventative measure: All school and college staff should be prepared to identify children who may benefit from early help- identifying emerging problems, liaising with the designated safeguarding lead, sharing information with other professionals to support early identification and assessment and, in some cases, acting as the lead professional in undertaking an early help assessment.
  • All staff members should receive appropriate safeguarding and child protection training which is regularly updated. In addition, all staff members should receive safeguarding and child protection updates as required, but at least annually. This point is subject to repeat emphasis and must form a part of preparations for the new school year if not already in place.

Supporting Disclosure: Acknowledging Variation


  • The abuse definition has been amended to reflect current guidance, and also now contains a reference to the manifestation of abuse between peers: “A form of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm or by failing to act to prevent harm. Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting by those known to them or, more rarely, by others (e.g. via the internet). They may be abused by an adult or adults or by another child or children.
  • The resource clarifies ‘immediate risk of harm’ and ‘concern’ definitions and procedures, providing a useful flowchart for concern cases: “If a child is in immediate danger or is at risk of harm, a referral should be made to children’s social care and/or the police immediately. Anyone can make a referral […] If staff members have any concerns about a child they will need to decide what action to take. Where possible, there should be a conversation with the designated safeguarding lead to agree a course of action, although any staff member can make a referral to children’s social care.”
  • A school environment should be a positive environment in which to make referrals, where staff know they will be taken seriously.
  • Records of safeguarding decisions and activities must be kept.
  • If a teacher, in the course of their work in the profession, discovers that an act of Female Genital Mutilation appears to have been carried out on a girl under the age of 18, the teacher must report this to the police.
  • All school and college staff should be aware that abuse, neglect and safeguarding issues are rarely standalone events that can be covered by one definition or label. In most cases, multiple issues will overlap with one another.

The Role of the DSL And Virtual School Head

  • The role of the DSL and the decision to take on deputies is further outlined. All these individuals must be trained and the DSL(s) in your school/academy retains ultimate responsibility for safeguarding at all times.
  • Online safety has been given a new, dedicated section, in light of the increased use of the medium to perpetrate abuse: “Whilst it is essential that governing bodies and proprietors ensure that appropriate filters and monitoring systems are in place, they should be careful that “over blocking” does not lead to unreasonable restrictions as to what children can be taught with regards to online teaching and safeguarding.”
  • A new paragraph has been added providing information on the role of the virtual school head: “Virtual school heads receive pupil premium plus additional funding based on the latest published numbers of children looked after in the authority. In maintained schools and academies, the designated teacher should work with the virtual school head to discuss how that funding can be best used to support the progress of looked after children in the school and meet the needs identified in the child’s personal education.”

Protecting SEND Students: Enforcing Prohibition

  • Children with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities can face additional safeguarding challenges. Governing bodies and proprietors should ensure their child protection policy reflects the fact that additional barriers can exist when recognising abuse and neglect in this group of children.
  • A person who is prohibited from teaching must not be appointed to work as a teacher in such a setting. A check of any prohibition can be carried out using the new Teacher Services’ system.

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