Keeping Children Safe in Education: Important changes for the new school year

Written by: Dawn Jotham | Published:
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The new school year has seen some minor – but important – changes to the statutory safeguarding guidance Keeping children safe in education. Dawn Jotham runs through the changes and offers her advice

The Department for Education’s statutory guidance, Keeping children safe in education (KCSIE) has been updated for the new academic year (DfE, September 2019).

As this comes just one year after the previous more substantial update, there are not a large number of changes this time around. However, there are references to key safeguarding issues such as upskirting, now that is has become a criminal offence, and also serious violence. Knowledge of both of these issues is vital.

Removal of the ‘multi-agency safeguarding transitional arrangements’ section

While this section was included in KCSIE 2018, this entire section has now been removed. This is because when KCSIE 2018 was being finalised, the details of the new local arrangements were in a period of transition. However, this period has now closed.

To support the transition from Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) and serious case reviews (SCRs) to a new system of multi-agency arrangements and local and national child safeguarding practice reviews, the DfE has published transitional statutory guidance (DfE, July 2018).

The new guidance focuses on three safeguarding partners – the local authority, a clinical commissioning group for an area within the local authority, and the chief officer of police for the police area in the local authority area. These partners will work together to safeguard and promote the welfare of local children, including identifying and responding to their needs.

As new local arrangements had to be published by the three safeguarding partners no later than June 2019 and had to be in place no later than September 29, 2019, this makes KCSIE 2018 out-of-date.

Changes to Part One

Part One of KCSIE is the section which all staff working within an education setting must read to be compliant. To improve the flow of information and ensure that this is clear and well laid out, a number of paragraphs have been moved/adjusted in Part One.

Paragraph 27: Peer-on-peer abuse

Paragraph 27 has been relabelled to refer to “peer-on-peer abuse” as a specific safeguarding issue. The advice remains the same though: “All staff should be aware that safeguarding issues can manifest themselves via peer-on-peer abuse.”

Upskirting

Since April 12, 2019, upskirting has been a criminal offence in England and Wales. Due to upskirting now being classified as a crime, KCSIE 2019 has been updated to include it as an example of peer-on-peer abuse.

Upskirting is described in the following way by KCSIE: “Upskirting typically involves taking a picture under a person’s clothing without them knowing, with the intention of viewing their genitals or buttocks to obtain sexual gratification, or cause the victim humiliation, distress or alarm”.

Under the Voyeurism Act, upskirting offenders can now be arrested, face up to two years in prison and having their name placed on the sex offenders’ register. This includes instances where culprits say the images were taken “just for a laugh”.

In KCSIE 2018 we saw a need for schools to adapt and extend their child protection policies to refer to peer-on-peer abuse. Now there is an additional requirement to include reference specifically to upskirting. What young people may say is harmless fun can have deeper consequences for both the victim and the perpetrator and everyone should be made aware of this.

Serious violence

Serious violence has now been added to KCSIE as a specific safeguarding issue. The addition of serious violence to KCSIE comes after the Serious Violence Strategy was introduced by the government in 2018.

The Serious Violence Strategy identifies offences such as homicides and knife and gun crime as key factors which account for around one per cent of all recorded crime and the impact these crimes have on communities.

KCSIE recognises that tackling serious crime is not just a law enforcement issue and requires intervention from a range of other areas, education being one of these.

The main areas that the Serious Violence Strategy focuses on are:

  • Tackling county lines.
  • Early intervention and prevention.
  • Supporting communities and local partnerships
  • Effective law enforcement and the criminal justice response.
  • As discussed above, multi-agency working – a three safeguarding partner approach is now being used instead of LSCBs.
  • With Ofsted’s new Education Inspection Framework being launched in September 2019, KCSIE has been updated to refer to this change.
  • The paragraph on relationships education and relationships and sex education has been expanded to include the forthcoming changes to PSHE, which will see the subjects (specific to age groups) become mandatory for schools in September 2020. Statutory guidance for the new subjects of RSE and health education is already available (DfE, June 2019) and schools are being actively encouraged and supported to teach these subjects from September 2019, if they do not do so already.

The new KCSIE guidance states: “All staff should be aware of indicators which may signal that children are at risk from, or are involved with, serious violent crime. These may include increased absence from school, a change in friendships or relationships with older individuals or groups, a significant decline in performance, signs of self-harm or a significant change in wellbeing, or signs of assault or unexplained injuries. Unexplained gifts or new possessions could also indicate that children have been approached by, or are involved with, individuals associated with criminal networks or gangs. All staff should be aware of the associated risks and understand the measures in place to manage these.”

Early intervention is about recognising and responding to the indicators of potential vulnerability, providing early support that is effective. When a young person begins to show the signs of exploitation or vulnerability to exploitation, and therefore are at increased risk from serious violence, we should be able to intervene as early as possible to help reduce the risk factors and increase the protective factors.

Changes to Part Two

Part Two of KCSIE covers the management of safeguarding and the responsibilities of “governing bodies, proprietors and management committees”. Changes here include:

  • As discussed above, multi-agency working – a three safeguarding partner approach is now being used instead of LSCBs.
  • With Ofsted’s new Education Inspection Framework being launched in September 2019, KCSIE has been updated to refer to this change.
  • The paragraph on relationships education and relationships and sex education has been expanded to include the forthcoming changes to PSHE, which will see the subjects specific to age groups become mandatory for schools in September 2020. Statutory guidance for the new subjects of RSE and health education is already available (DfE, June 2019) and schools are being actively encouraged and supported to teach these subjects from September 2019, if they don’t do so already.

Changes to Part Three

Part three focuses on safer recruitment, including recruitment, selection and pre-employment vetting, and DBS checks.

Individuals who have lived or worked outside the UK

Due to forthcoming specific guidance relating to the employment of overseas trained teachers, the wording in KCSIE relating to this has been changed. In the meantime, the advice is to refer to the gov.uk website for information.

Maintained school governors

Paragraph 173 refers to the types of DBS checks required for school governors. This has been extended to recommend that schools carry out a Section 128 check.

A Section 128 check is used to check the names of individuals who have been barred from being involved in the management or governance of independent schools, academies and free schools under the terms of a direction made by the education secretary. Individuals who are the subject of a Section 128 order are disqualified from being governors.

Associate members

A new paragraph has been added to make it clear that enhanced DBS checks are not mandatory for Associate members.

Annex A

Annex A has been updated to communicate important additional information about specific forms of abuse and safeguarding issues. All staff in education settings who work directly with children should read this.

‘So-called honour-based abuse’

The paragraph on “So-called honour-based abuse” has been extended to clarify that female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage are examples of honour-based abuse.

The government has recently consulted on a proposal to introduce a mandatory reporting duty on forced marriage (Home Office, 2018). If implemented, this will mirror the duty already in place to report known cases of FGM (Home Office & DfE, 2015).

Conclusion

All educational organisations should now follow the 2019 KCSIE guidance. In order to ensure your organisation is prepared for the new guidance, you will need to consider the above and how you will need to update your policies, procedures and practices in recognition of the changes.

  • Dawn Jotham is education product development lead at EduCare, a UK provider of duty of care and safeguarding training. Visit www.educare.co.uk

Further information & resources

  • Keeping Children Safe in Education, Department for Education, March 2015 (last updated September 2019): http://bit.ly/2bI2Zsm
  • Working together to safeguard children, DfE, last updted February 2019 (includes the Working Together transitional guidance published in July 2018): http://bit.ly/2hZOeVM
  • Serious Violence Strategy, Home Office, April 2018 (updated June 2018): http://bit.ly/2kkeRth
  • Relationships education, relationships and sex education (RSE) and health education, DfE, June 2019: http://bit.ly/2kQwtgL
  • Preventing and tackling forced marriage, Home Office consultation – now closed (November 2018): http://bit.ly/2Wui9Za
  • Mandatory reporting of female genital mutilation: procedural information, DfE & Home Office, October 2015 (updated December 2016): http://bit.ly/2KbEerR


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