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Farrer & Co | DfE consultation: "Keeping children safe in education"

The DfE recently consulted on changes to Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) and issued a short consultation paper along with the draft revised guidance. 

The DfE has proposed making a number of alterations. Some are cosmetic; others are clarifications; still others flow from changes in the law (eg references to the new Prevent duty and the requirement to report instances of FGM). However, others relate to the role of the guidance and of safeguarding policies/training etc. This briefing does not cover all the proposed amendments. For a full list, see Annex F of the draft guidance (links below).

Changes are proposed in the following sections of KCSIE

Summary

The draft clarifies that the requirement for schools to "have regard to" KCSIE when carrying out their safeguarding duties means that "they should comply with it unless exceptional circumstances arise".

The importance of the guidance has also been strengthened in this section: schools should not only ensure that all staff read at least Part 1 of KCSIE, they should also ensure that they understand it.

Part one: Safeguarding information for all staff

In the consultation draft, this now opens with background information about the broader safeguarding system within which schools operate. It has also been updated in various places to emphasise the role that all staff have to play in safeguarding. New paragraphs state that safeguarding and child protection systems need to be explained to staff at induction and revisited "at appropriate intervals (at least annually), via training".

A section on allegations of abuse against the Headteacher of an independent school who is also the sole proprietor of the school has been moved from Part 2 into Part 1. It has also been updated to clarify that, in these circumstances, staff may discuss concerns with the school's designated safeguarding lead as well as reporting allegations directly to the local authority.

As mentioned earlier, the new Prevent and FGM-reporting duties have been included; paragraphs on what to do if a child is missing from education have been amended to clarify the requirements for schools.

Part two: The management of safeguarding

This clarifies that schools should have an overarching safeguarding policy. Under that policy will be (among other things) a child protection policy, a policy to manage children who go missing from education, and a staff behaviour policy.

The section on the school's designated safeguarding lead has been updated to:

  • clarify that s/he should always be available to discuss safeguarding concerns during school hours and that governing bodies should ensure that an appropriate deputy is available when it is clear that s/he is going to be absent;
  • change the requirements for training from every two years to "as and when required, (but at least annually) to keep up with any developments relevant to their role".

As drafted, Part 2 will also include more information on the role of Local Safeguarding ChildrenBoards and the importance of local data sharing.

Online safety has been given its own subheading to reflect the increasing importance of this aspect of safeguarding, with a new paragraph stating that schools should have in place a clear policy on the use of mobile technology in school.

On the subject of recruitment, the document notes that the governing bodies of maintained schools are statutorily obliged to ensure that at least one person on any appointment panel has undertaken safer recruitment training. The draft adds a paragraph suggesting that the governing bodies and proprietors of other schools "may consider if safer recruitment training would strengthen" their recruitment processes and organise appropriate training.

The section about allegations of abuse made against other children has been amended to state that schools should not only have procedures in place to deal with peer on peer abuse; they should address the issue in their overarching safeguarding and child protection policies.

The draft contains a new paragraph on children with SEN and disabilities, which states that governing bodies should ensure their policies reflect the fact that additional barriers can exist when recognising abuse and neglect in this cohort.

Part three: Safer recruitment / Part 4: Allegations of abuse made against teachers and other staff

The consultation only deals with Parts 1 and 2. The consultation paper states that further consideration will be given to determine whether Parts 3 and 4 could benefit from further revision.

That said, one small change has been made to Part 3: a bullet point has been added noting the (relatively) new duty of independent schools to check whether an individual who has been appointed to a management position has been barred by the Secretary of State from taking part in the management of an independent school.

By and large, the consultation questions ask whether readers agree with the proposed changes, whether the guidance is clear, and what effect (if any) the changes will have on their school's practices.

The consultation document and draft guidance can be found here. The consultation closed on 16 February 2016.

We will inform you of the outcome of the consultation in due course. 

If you require further information on anything covered in this briefing please contact Rachel Holmes (rachel.holmes@farrer.co.uk; 020 3375 7561) or your usual contact at the firm on 020 3375 7000.

This publication is a general summary of the law. It should not replace legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances.

© Farrer & Co LLP, March 2016

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