At the end of 2018 the Department for Education ("DfE") published some new guidance and updated a number of existing pieces of guidance. You will find below a summary of each of these, together with a link to the full document.
Of particular note is the update to the multi-agency statutory guidance on female genital mutilation (FGM), which must be read and followed by all that are under a statutory duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and vulnerable adults. You may also find the new non-statutory guidance on Health and Safety of Educational Visits and Controlling Access to School Premises helpful, the latter particularly in this age of heightened security.
The DfE has also announced a new consultation on its draft guidance on school security. You can find more details of this below, together with a link to the consultation document if you would like to contribute to it.
And finally, the DfE published some guidance for schools on 31 January 2019 about the implications of a no-deal exit from the EU. Given its very recent publication date, it is not dealt with further below, but we anticipate sending further commentary in due course.
Updates to Guidance
Multi-agency statutory guidance on female genital mutilation
On 23 October 2018 the DfE updated its statutory guidance on FGM. This must be read and followed by all that are under a statutory duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and vulnerable adults. The purpose of the guidance is:
• to provide information on FGM, including on the law on FGM in England and Wales;
• to provide strategic guidance on FGM; and
• to provide advice and support to front-line professionals who have responsibilities to safeguard and support.
This guidance encourages agencies to cooperate and work together to protect and support those at risk of, or who have undergone, FGM.
Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools
On 14 November 2018 the DfE updated its non-statutory guidance on mental health and behaviour in schools. It sets out how schools can support pupils whose mental health problems manifest themselves in behaviour.
The guidance is for all school staff working to support children. This includes school leadership, governing bodies, primary and secondary school teachers, pastoral leaders, Special Educational Needs Coordinators, mental health leads, designated safeguarding leads and designated teachers for looked after children.
The guidance includes non-statutory departmental advice on:
• schools' responsibilities in relation to supporting the mental health and well-being of their pupils;
• understanding the link between mental health and behaviour and how to identify children with possible mental health problems; and
• providing support for pupils as soon as problems emerge and collaborative working with other agencies.
Health and Safety of Educational Visits
On 26 November the DfE published new guidance on the health and safety of educational visits. The guidance covers topics such as consent from parents, what to do when using outside organisations, and how to risk assess for adventurous activities, as well as trips abroad.
Controlling Access to School Premises
On 27 November 2018 the DfE published new guidance to help schools control access to school premises. It applies to academies and free schools, maintained schools, local authorities, independent schools and non-maintained schools. It provides guidance to schools on:
• who can go onto school premises;
• the right of schools to bar individuals from school premises; and
• steps that schools can take to remove individuals from school premises.
New Consultation Document
School Security Guidance
On 26 November 2018 the DfE opened a consultation on the new school security guidance. The DfE has issued draft guidance for schools to help them respond to a range of threats and it has invited headteachers, teachers, staff, governors, local authorities and the proprietors of independent schools to respond to the guidance via a consultation that runs until 18 February 2019.
This publication is a general summary of the law. It should not replace legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances.
© Farrer & Co LLP, January 2019