Keeping Children Safe in Education (2023) (KCSIE 2023) has been published and it will come into force on 1 September 2023, giving schools and colleges the summer to bring their policies up to speed. There was no public consultation on the document this year and the changes are minor, see below.
Given the significant changes to the statutory guidance in the last few years, there has been much for DSLs and the school community to digest and adopt. This year of “less” should be seized as an opportunity for schools and colleges to ensure that the core elements of the statutory guidance, including the more recent additions (eg around child on child abuse, addressing sexual harassment and sexual violence, and low level concerns) are properly understood and embedded, not just in the policies but in training and in practice.
The key changes this year relate to:
- Filtering and monitoring. This is a focus on online safety and ensuring that staff and governors understand what filtering and monitoring is, and that it is in place to prevent children accessing inappropriate and harmful content online while pupils are in school. It is clear from this update that the DfE see this as a clear safeguarding and welfare concern and not just a matter for the IT team. The DSL should take lead responsibility for understanding the filtering and monitoring systems in place at the school and it should be covered in the safeguarding policy as well in the safeguarding and child protection training which all staff receive. KCSIE 2023 signposts schools and colleges to the DfE’s latest filtering and monitoring standards and cyber security standards for schools and colleges, which schools should read and have regard to when assessing whether their filtering and monitoring systems are appropriate. Safeguarding governors should add this to their list to include in their annual audit and ensure that they are aware of any breaches or incidents from which lessons can be learnt. Measures to mitigate known risks can then be put in place. Changes on this topic are throughout KCSIE 2023, but see in particular paragraphs 103, 124, 138, 142 and 144.
- Use of school sites by other organisations. There is new guidance on responding to allegations relating to incidents taking place when a third-party organisation (or individual) is using the school’s or college’s premises. In short, the school / college’s usual safeguarding policies and procedures should be followed and appropriate referrals to external agencies made. See new section in Part Four at paragraph 377.
There are also a number of smaller changes. For example, there is some further clarificatory wording that children absent (rather than missing) from education can be a warning sign of safeguarding concerns (including of child criminal exploitation and sexual exploitation): see paragraph 175. On safer recruitment there has also been an update to say that if schools / colleges are going to run online searches against shortlisted candidates, they should inform these candidates that online searches may be done as part of due diligence checks: see paragraph 221. A summary of all the updates can be found in Annex F.
There, of course, remain many references to Working Together to Safeguard Children (July 2018) in KCSIE 2023 and this is a timely reminder to refer to this document when you work with your local statutory agencies and safeguarding partners. This statutory guidance applies in its entirety to all schools and sets out the framework for statutory safeguarding referrals of safeguarding concerns about children or about adults who work or volunteer with children.
That’s all for KCSIE 2023 changes. However, another key regulatory change this year comes from the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) who have updated their inspection framework. We will be sharing our thoughts on these changes in due course, so do watch this space.
This publication is a general summary of the law. It should not replace legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances.
© Farrer & Co LLP, June 2023