Keeping Children Safe in Education: Key Changes

June 8, 2023
Clock Icon 5 min read

What is Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE)?

Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) is statutory safeguarding guidance that must be followed by schools and colleges (including maintained nursery schools, pupil referral units, further education colleges, sixth-form colleges, and other providers of post-16 education and training).

KCSIE clearly explains how to fulfil your safeguarding duties, including safer recruitment, and promoting the welfare of children. In this context, ‘children’ refers to anyone under the age of 18.

Expert Icon

Need a Course?

Our online Safeguarding Courses are built with sector specialists to bring you the latest guidance and industry thinking. Find everything from Designated Safeguarding Lead Training to Online Safety & Harms.

KCSIE guidance is for: 

  • Headteachers, teachers, and staff.
  • Governing bodies, proprietors, and management committees

The current guidance can be accessed here.

Keeping Children Safe in Education Changes

The KCSIE guidance is reviewed regularly by the Department for Education and any necessary changes made. The following drop-downs contain summaries detailing the key changes over recent years.

Remember to bookmark this article to revisit as new rounds of changes are announced.

Key Amendments to Guidance as of 2023drop down menu

The following changes come into force from 1st September 2023. 

The changes from the 2022 guidance to the 2023 guidance are relatively minimal compared to previous years (as such there has been no consultation document for this year). We will detail each change in the sections below but to give an overview these mainly relate to:

  • Additional mentions and details regarding expectations, roles and responsibilities in relation to filtering and monitoring with regards to online safety responsibilities.
  • Some clarification and change of terminology regarding both ‘children absent from education’ and ‘children missing from education’.
  • Inclusion of a note that shortlisted candidates should be informed that online searches may be done as part of safer recruitment practices.
  • Changes in terminology from ‘discipline’ to ‘sanction’ in some places. 
  • Updated resources and guidance within some sections.

We have summarized the changes using the headings, subheadings and paragraph references from the guidance.

Part 1 Safeguarding Information for All Staff

What school and college staff need to know

Paragraph 14 – reference to filtering and monitoring has been added to the mention of online safety as part of appropriate safeguarding and child protection training. It now reads:

‘All staff should receive appropriate safeguarding and child protection training (including online safety which, amongst other things, includes an understanding of the expectations, applicable roles and responsibilities in relation to filtering and monitoring – see para 141 for further information) at induction.’ 

Part Two: The Management of Safeguarding

Equality Act 2010

Paragraph 89 – there has been a slight rewording of this paragraph. The clause ‘including those with long-term conditions’ has been removed.

The paragraph now reads:

‘Provisions within the Equality Act allow schools and colleges to take positive action, where it can be shown that it is proportionate, to deal with particular disadvantages affecting pupils or students with certain protected characteristics in order to meet their specific need. A school or college, could, for example, consider taking positive action to support girls if there was evidence they were being disproportionately subjected to sexual violence or sexual harassment. There is also a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled children and young people.’  

Safeguarding policies and procedures

Paragraph 99 – ‘absent from education’ replaces ‘missing from education’.

The last bullet point in the list now reads:

  • appropriate safeguarding arrangements in place to respond to children who are absent from education, particularly on repeat occasions and/or for prolonged periods more information at paragraph 175).

The designated safeguarding lead

Paragraph 103 – additional wording regarding understanding the filtering and monitoring systems in place has been added:

The designated safeguarding lead should take lead responsibility for safeguarding and child protection (including online safety and understanding the filtering and monitoring systems and processes in place).

Staff training

Paragraph 124 – additional wording regarding the filtering and monitoring systems in place has been added to the requirement that governing bodies and proprietors must ensure that all staff undergo safeguarding and child protection training:

‘…(including online safety which, amongst other things, includes an understanding of the expectations, applicable roles and responsibilities in relation to filtering and monitoring – see para 141 for further information).’ 

Opportunities to teach safeguarding

Paragraph 133 – the resource link has been updated to reflect a name change (from Thinkuknow) as below:

National Crime Agency’s CEOP Education Programme: Protecting children and young people from online child sexual abuse through education.

Online safety

Paragraph 138 – additional wording has been added regarding filtering and monitoring:
Online safety and the school or college’s approach to it should be reflected in the child protection policy which, amongst other things, should include appropriate filtering and monitoring on school devices and school networks.

Filtering and monitoring

Paragraph 141- the last sentence has been reworded with further detail added. It now reads:

Governing bodies and proprietors should consider the number of and age range of their children, those who are potentially at greater risk of harm and how often they access the IT system along with the proportionality of costs versus safeguarding risks.  

Paragraph 142 – this paragraph has been expanded and reorganised. It now includes a link to DfE filtering and monitoring standards.

It includes a summary of the requirements from that document that schools and colleges should:

  • identify and assign roles and responsibilities to manage filtering and monitoring systems.
  • review filtering and monitoring provision at least annually. 
  • block harmful and inappropriate content without unreasonably impacting teaching and learning. 
  • have effective monitoring strategies in place that meet their safeguarding needs. 

It also states that governing bodies and proprietors should ‘review the standards and discuss with IT staff and service providers what more needs to be done to support schools and colleges in meeting this standard.’ 

Information security and access management

Paragraph 144 – addition of a sentence stating that schools consider meeting the Cyber security standards for schools and colleges.GOV.UK alongside a link to the standards.

Use of school or college premises for non-school/college activities

Paragraph 167 – a link to Keeping children safe in out-of-school settings guidance has been added.

Children who are absent from education

(This section has been retitled from ‘Children missing from education’.)


Paragraph 175 – the paragraph now includes some differentiation between children absent from education and children missing education and has been reworded to reflect that.

It refers to ‘children being absent from education for prolonged periods and/or on repeat occasions’.

There is a slight rewording to the following:

It is important the school or college’s response to persistently absent pupils and children missing education supports identifying such abuse, and in the case of absent pupils, helps prevent the risk of them becoming a child missing education in the future.


A new bullet point has been added to the list signposting further information and support at the end of this paragraph:


Guidance on school attendance ‘Working together to improve school attendance’ including information on how schools should work with local authority children’s services where school absence indicates safeguarding concerns.’

There is currently no link added, but you can access that document here.

Elective Home Education (EHE)

Paragraph 178 – an additional sentence has been added to the end of this paragraph stating that where a child has an Education, Health and Care plan, local authorities will need to review the plan, working closely with parents and carers.

Children with special educational needs, disabilities or health issues

Paragraph 202 – the following has been reworded in the list of specialist organisations:
The Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information and Support Services (SENDIASS). SENDIASS offer information, advice and support for parents and carers of children and young people with SEND. All local authorities have such a service: Find your local IAS service (

This replaces the link to the council for disabled children in KCSIE 2022.

Part Three: Safer Recruitment


Paragraph 221 – a sentence has been added stating that ‘schools and colleges should inform shortlisted candidates that online searches may be done as part of due diligence checks.’

Retention of documents

Paragraph 276 – this replaces paragraphs 276 and 277 from KCSIE 2022. The content has been rewritten and consolidated into a single paragraph. A footnote linking to the legislation mentioned has been removed.

Ongoing vigilance

Paragraph 343 – ‘(including online)’ has been added to this sentence:

To support this, it is important that school and college leaders create the right culture and environment so that staff feel comfortable to discuss matters both within, and where it is appropriate, outside of the workplace (including online), which may have implications for the safeguarding of children.

Part four: Safeguarding concerns or allegations made about staff, including supply teachers, volunteers and contractors

Organisations or Individuals using school premises

Paragraph  377 – this is an additional paragraph and section. It reads:

‘Schools and colleges may receive an allegation relating to an incident that happened when an individual or organisation was using their school premises for the purposes of running activities for children (for example community groups, sports associations, or service providers that run extra-curricular activities). As with any safeguarding allegation, schools and colleges should follow their safeguarding policies and procedures, including informing the LADO.’

Record keeping

Paragraph 417 – this sentence, from KCSIE 2022, has been removed:

Schools and colleges have an obligation to preserve records which contain information about allegations of sexual abuse for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), for the term of the inquiry (further information can be found on the IICSA website). 

The paragraph now reads:

‘All other records should be retained at least until the accused has reached normal pension age or for a period of 10 years from the date of the allegation if that is longer.’

Part Five: Child-on-child sexual violence and sexual harassment

Support for schools

Paragraph 466 – in the first list of resources there is a slight rewording of the name of the first resource. It now reads:

  • National Crime Agency’s CEOP Safety Centre: The CEOP Safety Centre aims to keep children and young people safe from online sexual abuse. Online sexual abuse can be reported on their website and a report made to one of its Child Protection Advisors.

In this second list, the previous ‘Thinkuknow from NCA-CEOP’ resource is replaced with:

  • National Crime Agency’s CEOP Education Programme provides information for the children’s workforce and parents and carers on protecting children and young people from online child sexual abuse.

Safeguarding and supporting the alleged perpetrator(s) and children and young people who have displayed harmful sexual behaviour

Paragraph 542 – the name of guidance linked out to has changed from ‘behaviour and discipline in schools’ to ‘behaviour in schools’ and within the text references to ‘discipline’ have been changed to ‘sanction’. 

The wording has also changed slightly in the sentence linking to statutory guidance, Suspension and Permanent Exclusion from maintained schools, academies and pupil referral units in England reflecting the update of the document name.

Sanctions and the alleged perpetrator(s)

This subheading has changed, with sanction replacing ‘discipline’.


Paragraph 544 – the name of the guidance linked out to has been changed from ‘behaviour and discipline in schools’ to ‘behaviour in schools’ and references to ‘discipline’ have been changed to ‘sanction’.

Annex A: Safeguarding information for school and college staff

Point 3 reflects the addition of the wording around ‘understanding of the expectations, applicable roles and responsibilities in relation to filtering and monitoring’ that appears in Part 1.

Annex B: Further Information

‘Children who are absent from education’ replaces the old title of ‘children missing from education’.

Children who are absent from education

The wording has been changed to include both children absent from education and children missing from education as below:

All staff should be aware that children being absent from school or college, particularly repeatedly and/or for prolonged periods, and children missing education can act as a vital warning sign of a range of safeguarding possibilities.

Mental health

The last sentence has been amended to, ‘It is key that staff are aware of how these children’s experiences can impact on their mental health, behaviour, attendance and progress at school.’ ‘Attendance and progress’ replaces the term education.

Preventing radicalisation

‘Vulnerable to extremist ideology and radicalisation’ has been changed to ‘susceptible to extremist ideology and radicalisation’. 

There are slight changes to the footnotes (147 and 148) for definitions of key terms. These now refer the reader to the Government’s Prevent Duty Guidance for England and Wales. 

‘Possible indicators’ now link out to government guidance – Managing Risk of Radicalisation in your Education Setting –  rather than the Educate Against Hate campaign.

A link has been added to making a Prevent Referral

In the additional support section, the link has been updated to this guidance.

Forced marriage

A new paragraph has been added to the end of this section reflecting the legislative changes regarding the legal age of marriage. The new paragraph reads: 

‘In addition, since February 2023 it has also been a crime to carry out any conduct whose purpose is to cause a child to marry before their eighteenth birthday, even if violence, threats or another form of coercion are not used. As with the existing forced marriage law, this applies to non-binding, unofficial ‘marriages’ as well as legal marriages.’ 

Additional advice and support

The following changes to the resources signposted have been made:

Annex C: Role of the designated safeguarding lead

The requirement of understanding the filtering and monitoring systems and processes in place, as part of lead responsibility for online safety, has been added.

Key Amendments to Guidance as of 2022drop down menu

General: Terminology


The document reiterated that ‘college’ includes providers of post 16 Education as set out in the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 (as amended): 16-19 Academies, Special Post-16 institutions, and Independent Training Providers

Victims and perpetrators

The document clarifies the use of the terms victim and perpetrator throughout the document, as widely recognised and understood terms. It cautions schools and colleges to be conscious of any use of these terms when describing individuals or incidents.

Regarding the term victim – ‘It is important that schools and colleges recognise that not everyone who has been subjected to abuse considers themselves a victim or would want to be described in this way. Ultimately, schools and colleges should be conscious of this when managing any incident and be prepared to use any term with which the individual child is most comfortable.’

Regarding the term alleged perpetrator(s) and where appropriate perpetrator(s). ‘Schools and colleges should think very carefully about terminology, especially when speaking in front of children, not least because in some cases the abusive behaviour will have been harmful to the perpetrator as well. 

The use of appropriate terminology will be for schools and colleges to determine, as appropriate, on a case-by-case basis. 

Terminology changes

Through the document the following changes to terminology have been made:

  • Peer-on-peer has been replaced with child-on-child.
  • Clinical Commissioning Groups has been changed to Integrated Care Systems.
  • Children’s social care has been changed to Local authority children’s social care.

The amendments below are organised into the following sections:

Back to Top


Part 1: Safeguarding Information for All Staff

What school and college staff need to know

Paragraph 19 –  All staff should be aware that children may not feel ready or know how to tell someone that they are being abused, exploited, or neglected, and/or they may not recognise their experiences as harmful.  

For example, children may feel embarrassed, humiliated, or being threatened. This could be due to their vulnerability, disability and/or sexual orientation, or language barriers. This should not prevent staff from having a professional curiosity and speaking to the DSL if they have concerns about a child. It is also important that staff determine how best to build trusted relationships with children and young people which facilitate communication

What school and college staff should look out for 

Domestic Abuse

Paragraph 43 – Domestic abuse can encompass a wide range of behaviours and may be a single incident or a pattern of incidents. It covers types of abuse such as psychological, physical, sexual, financial, or emotional. Children can be victims of domestic abuse. They may see, hear, or experience the effects of abuse at home and/or suffer domestic abuse in their own intimate relationships (teenage relationship abuse). All of which can have a detrimental and long-term impact on their health, well-being, development, and ability to learn.

Back to Top


Part 2: Management of Safeguarding

Legislation and the Law

Paragraph 81 – Governing bodies and proprietors should ensure that all governors and trustees receive appropriate safeguarding and child protection (including online) training at induction. This training should equip them with the knowledge to provide strategic challenge to test and assure themselves that the safeguarding policies and procedures in place in schools and colleges are effective and support the delivery of a robust whole school approach to safeguarding. Their training should be regularly updated.

Paragraphs 82-93 – There is new information regarding the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA), the Equality Act 2010 and the Public Sector Equality Duty. The new sections make the link between these legal duties and safeguarding.

Governing bodies and proprietors should be aware of their obligations under the Human Rights Act 1998, the Equality Act 2010, (including the Public Sector Equality Duty), and their local multi-agency safeguarding arrangements.

These paragraphs highlight particularly relevant articles from the acts mentioned.

Opportunities to teach safeguarding

Paragraph 129 – In schools, relevant topics will be included within Relationships Education (for all primary pupils), and Relationships and Sex Education (for all secondary pupils) and Health Education (for all primary and secondary pupils). In teaching these subjects schools must have regard to the statutory guidance which can be found here. Colleges may cover relevant issues through tutorials.

Paragraph 130  – Schools and colleges play a crucial role in preventative education. Preventative education is most effective in the context of a whole-school or college approach that prepares pupils and students for life in modern Britain and creates a culture of zero tolerance for sexism, misogyny/misandry, homophobia, biphobic and sexual violence/harassment. The school/college will have a clear set of values and standards, upheld and demonstrated throughout all aspects of school/college life. 

These will be underpinned by the school/college’s behaviour policy and pastoral support system, as well as by a planned programme of evidence-based RSHE delivered in regularly timetabled lessons and reinforced throughout the whole curriculum. Such a programme should be fully inclusive and developed to be age and stage of development appropriate (especially when considering the needs of children with SEND and other vulnerabilities). 

This program will tackle at an age-appropriate stages issues such as: 

  • Healthy and respectful relationships.
  • Boundaries and consent.
  • Stereotyping, prejudice and equality.
  • Body confidence and self-esteem. 
  • How to recognise an abusive relationship, including coercive and controlling behaviour.
  • The concepts of, and laws relating to, sexual consent, sexual exploitation, abuse, grooming, coercion, harassment, rape, domestic abuse, so called honour-based violence such as forced marriage and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), and how to access support.
  • What constitutes sexual harassment and sexual violence and why these are always unacceptable. 

Paragraph 131 – The Department has produced a one-stop hub for teachers which can be accessed here: Teaching about relationships sex and health. This includes teacher training modules on the RSHE topics and non-statutory implementation guidance. Further guidance focused on teaching relationships education specifically to prevent sexual harassment and sexual violence will be published in Spring 2022. 

Paragraph 132 – A resource has been added to this list regarding harmful online challenges and online hoaxes – this includes advice on preparing for any online challenges and hoaxes, sharing information with parents and carers and where to get help and support. 

Remote Education

Paragraph 138 – This paragraph highlights advice provided to support schools and colleges to help keep pupils, students and staff safe whilst learning remotely, safeguarding in schools colleges and other providers and safeguarding and remote education. This paragraph also signposts NSPCC advice – Undertaking remote teaching safely

Paragraph 139 – Schools and colleges are likely to be in regular contact with parents and carers.Those communications should be used to reinforce the importance of children being safe online and parents and carers are likely to find it helpful to understand what systems schools and colleges use to filter and monitor online use. It will be especially important for parents and carers to be aware of what their children are being asked to do online, including the sites they will asked to access and be clear who from the school or college (if anyone) their child is going to be interacting with online

Filters and Monitoring

Paragraph 140 – provides clarity on the role of governors and proprietors when considering filters and monitoring and ensuring the effectiveness is regularly reviewed: 

Whilst considering their responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and provide them with a safe environment in which to learn, governing bodies and proprietors should be doing all that they reasonably can to limit children’s exposure to the above risks from the school’s or college’s IT system. As part of this process, governing bodies and proprietors should ensure their school or college has appropriate filters and monitoring systems in place and regularly review their effectiveness. They should ensure that the leadership team and relevant staff have an awareness and understanding of the provisions in place and manage them effectively and know how to escalate concerns when identified. Governing bodies and proprietors should consider the age range of their children, the number of children, how often they access the IT system and the proportionality of costs versus safeguarding risks.

Paragraph 141 – signposts a tool from South West Grid for Learning to check whether a school or college’s filtering provider is signed up to relevant lists (CSA content, Sexual Content, Terrorist content Your Internet Connection Blocks Child Abuse & Terrorist Content)

What school and college staff should do if they have a safeguarding concern or an allegation is made about another staff member

Paragraph 152 – Governing bodies and proprietors should ensure there are procedures in place, as described in paragraphs 71 and 72, for staff to report concerns or allegations that may meet the harm threshold about staff members (including supply staff, volunteers, and contractors). These should be addressed as set out in Section one of Part four of this guidance.

Child-on-child abuse

Paragraphs 155 and 156 –  All staff should recognise that children are capable of abusing other children (including online). All staff should be clear about their school’s or college’s policy and procedures with regard to child-on-child abuse. 

Governing bodies and proprietors should ensure that their child protection policy includes: 

  • Procedures to minimise the risk of child-on-child abuse. 
  • The systems in place (and they should be well promoted, easily understood and easily accessible) for children to confidently report abuse, knowing their concerns will be treated seriously. 
  • How allegations of child-on-child abuse will be recorded, investigated, and dealt with 
  • clear processes as to how victims, perpetrators and any other children affected by child-on-child abuse will be supported.
  • A recognition that even if there are no reported cases of child-on-child abuse, such abuse may still be taking place and is simply not being reported.
  • A statement which makes clear there should be a zero-tolerance approach to abuse, and it should never be passed off as “banter”, “just having a laugh”, “part of growing up” or “boys being boys” as this can lead to a culture of unacceptable behaviours and an unsafe environment for children.
  • Recognition that it is more likely that girls will be victims and boys’ perpetrators, but that all child-on-child abuse is unacceptable and will be taken seriously.
  • The different forms child-on-child abuse can take.

Children requiring mental health support

Paragraphs 181-185 – These paragraphs mention the funding by the DfE of a significant training program for senior mental health leads and the national rollout of the Link Program. Training for senior mental health leads will be available to all state-funded schools and colleges by 2025, to help introduce or develop their whole school or college approach to mental health. They describe the role of the senior mental health lead, and links to guidance on applying for a grant. These paragraphs also signpost a range of resources regarding promoting positive health, wellbeing and resilience among children and young people, and regarding preventing and tackling bullying.

Virtual School Heads

Paragraphs 194-196 – The role of the virtual school head was extended in June 2021, to include a non-statutory responsibility for the strategic oversight of the educational attendance, attainment, and progress of children with a social worker. 

Children with special educational needs and disabilities or health issues

Paragraphs 199-200 Any reports of abuse involving children with SEND will require close liaison with the designated safeguarding lead (or deputy) and the SENCO or the named person with oversight for SEND in a college.

Schools and colleges should consider extra pastoral support and attention for these children, along with ensuring any appropriate support for communication is in place. Sources of further information are signposted in these paragraphs.

Children who are lesbian, gay, bi, or trans (LGBT)

Paragraph 204 – Information  has been extended regarding schools and colleges ensuring children who may be LGBT have a trusted adult who they can be open with.

Back to Top


Part 3: Safer Recruitment

Application Forms

Paragraph 214 – Reiterates that schools and colleges should only accept copies of a curriculum vitae alongside an application form. A curriculum vitae on its own will not provide adequate information


Paragraph 220 – In addition, as part of the shortlisting process schools and colleges should consider carrying out an online search as part of their due diligence on the shortlisted candidates. This may help identify any incidents or issues that have happened, and are publicly available online, which the school or college might want to explore with the applicant at interview.

Single Central Record

Paragraph 270 – A terminology change. ‘Barred list check’ is changed to standalone children’s barred list check in the list of checks that the single central record needs to include details of.

How to ensure the ongoing safeguarding of children and the legal reporting duties on employers – ongoing vigilance 

Paragraph 343 – Regarding the processes that governing bodies and proprietors should ensure that they have processes in place for continuous vigilance (maintaining an environment that deters and prevents abuse and challenges inappropriate behaviour) a sentences has been added:

As set out in Part one, Part two and Part four of this guidance it is important that all staff understand the process and procedures to follow if they have a safeguarding concern about another staff member. 

Back to Top


Part four: Safeguarding concerns and allegations made about staff, including supply teachers, volunteers and contractors

This section’s heading has been renamed since the previous version.

The initial response to an allegation: further enquiries

Paragraph 369 – Further details given regarding the role of the LADO in such cases:

The LADO will provide advice and guidance to schools and colleges when considering allegations against adults working with children. The LADO’s role is not to investigate the allegation, but to ensure that an appropriate investigation is carried out, whether that is by the police, local authority children’s social care, the school or college, or a combination of these. In straightforward cases, the investigation should normally be undertaken by a senior member of the school’s or college’s staff.

Paragraph 372 – Dates for subsequent reviews, ideally at fortnightly (and no longer than monthly) intervals, should be set at the review meeting if the investigation continues.

What is a low-level concern?

Paragraph 425 – in the bulleted list with examples of behaviour that might constitute a low-level concern the example ‘using inappropriate sexualised, intimidating or offensive language’ has been removed, and ‘humiliating pupils’ has been added. The paragraph reads as follows:

The term ‘low-level’ concern does not mean that it is insignificant. A low-level concern is any concern – no matter how small, and even if no more than causing a sense of unease or a ‘nagging doubt’ – that an adult working in or on behalf of the school or college may have acted in a way that: 

  • Is inconsistent with the staff code of conduct, including inappropriate conduct outside of work 
  • Does not meet the harm threshold or is otherwise not serious enough to consider a referral to the LADO. 

Examples of such behaviour could include, but are not limited to:

  • Being over friendly with children. 
  • Having favourites.
  • Taking photographs of children on their mobile phone, contrary to school policy 
  • engaging with a child on a one-to-one basis in a secluded area or behind a closed door.
  • Humiliating pupils. 

Paragraph 427 – Low-level concerns may arise in several ways and from a number of sources. For example: suspicion; complaint; or disclosure made by a child, parent or other adult within or outside of the organisation; or as a result of vetting checks undertaken.

Sharing Low-Level Concerns

Paragraph 432 – Schools and colleges should ensure that their low-level concerns policy contains a procedure for sharing confidentially such concerns which is clear, easy to understand and implement. Whether all low-level concerns are shared initially with the DSL (or a nominated person (such as a values guardian/safeguarding champion)), or with the headteacher/principal is a matter for the school or college to decide. If the former, then the DSL should inform the headteacher/principal of all the low-level concerns and in a timely fashion according to the nature of each particular low-level concern. The headteacher/principal should be the ultimate decision maker in respect of all low-level concerns, although it is recognised that depending on the nature of some low-level concerns and/or the role of the DSL in some schools/colleges, the headteacher/principal may wish to consult with the DSL and take a more collaborative decision making approach.

Paragraph 434 – If schools and colleges are in any doubt as to whether the information which has been shared about a member of staff as a low-level concern in fact meets the harm threshold, they should consult with their LADO. 

Recording Low Level Concerns

Paragraph 438 – a slight rewording. Records should be reviewed so that potential patterns of concerning, inappropriate, problematic or concerning behaviour can be identified.

Back to Top


Part 5: Child-on-child sexual violence and sexual harassment

Information from the publication Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Between Children in Schools and Colleges has been integrated into KCSIE including the following:

  • Sexual violence. 
  • Sexual harassment. 
  • Harmful sexual behaviour. 
  • Preventing abuse.
  • Responding to reports of sexual violence and sexual harrassment.
  • Support available for victims.
  • Confidentiality and anonymity.
  • What action to take. 
  • Discipline.
  • Advising and supporting parents and carers.
  • Safeguarding other children.

Some case studies have been added into this section.

Detailed changes include the following: 

What schools and colleges should be aware of

Paragraph 446 –  Schools and colleges should be aware of the importance of: 

  • Making clear that there is a zero-tolerance approach to sexual violence and sexual harassment, that it is never acceptable, and it will not be tolerated. It should never be passed off as “banter”, “just having a laugh”, “a part of growing up” or “boys being boys”. Failure to do so can lead to a culture of unacceptable behaviour, an unsafe environment and in worst case scenarios a culture that normalises abuse, leading to children accepting it as normal and not coming forward to report it. 
  • Recognising, acknowledging, and understanding the scale of harassment and abuse and that even if there are no reports it does not mean it is not happening, it may be the case that it is just not being reported. 
  • Challenging physical behaviour (potentially criminal in nature) such as grabbing bottoms, breasts and genitalia, pulling down trousers, flicking bras and lifting up skirts. Dismissing or tolerating such behaviours risks normalising them.

Harmful sexual behaviour

Paragraphs 454 – 457 – Children’s sexual behaviour exists on a wide continuum, ranging from normal and developmentally expected to inappropriate, problematic, abusive and violent. Problematic, abusive and violent sexual behaviour is developmentally inappropriate and may cause developmental damage. A useful umbrella term is “harmful sexual behaviour” (HSB). The term has been widely adopted in child protection and is used in this advice. HSB can occur online and/or face-to-face and can also occur simultaneously between the two. HSB should be considered in a child protection context

When considering HSB, both ages and the stages of development of the children are critical factors. Sexual behaviour between children can be considered harmful if one of the children is much older, particularly if there is more than two years’ difference or if one of the children is pre-pubescent and the other is not. However, a younger child can abuse an older child, particularly if they have power over them, for example, if the older child is disabled or smaller in stature. Confidential specialist support and advice on HSB is available from the specialist sexual violence sector and sources are listed in Annex B. 

It is effective safeguarding practice for the designated safeguarding lead (and their deputies) to have a good understanding of HSB. This could form part of their safeguarding training. This will aid in planning preventative education, implementing preventative measures, drafting and implementing an effective child protection policy and incorporating the approach to sexual violence and sexual harassment into the whole school or college approach to safeguarding. 

HSB can, in some cases, progress on a continuum. Addressing inappropriate behaviour can be an important intervention that helps prevent problematic, abusive and/or violent behaviour in the future. Children displaying HSB have often experienced their own abuse and trauma. It is important that they are offered appropriate support

Preventing Abuse

Paragraph 458 – Effective safeguarding practice is demonstrated when schools and colleges are clear, in advance, about what local processes are in place and what support can be accessed when sexual violence or sexual harassment has occurred. It is important to prepare for this in advance and review this information on a regular basis to ensure it is up to date. As such: 

  • if required, the designated safeguarding lead (or a deputy) should discuss the local response to sexual violence and sexual harassment with police and local authority children’s social care colleagues in order to prepare the school’s or college’s policies (especially the child protection policy) and responses, and 
  • the designated safeguarding lead (and their deputies) should be confident as to what local specialist support is available to support all children involved (including victims and alleged perpetrators) in sexual violence and sexual harassment and be confident as to how to access this support when required. 

Further information on specialist support and interventions can be found in Annex B in the additional advice and support section under sexual violence and sexual harassment. 

The immediate response to a report – responding to the report

Paragraph 465 – this information has been elaborated on since the previous version.

Local authority children’s social care and the police will be important partners where a crime might have been committed. Referrals to the police will often be a natural progression of making a referral to local authority children’s social care. The designated safeguarding lead (or a deputy) should lead the school or college response and should be aware of the local process for referrals to children’s social care and making referrals to the police (also see the section “reporting to the police” on page 119 for further information). 

It then signposts a range of resources.

Paragraph 468 – It is essential that all victims are reassured that they are being taken seriously, regardless of how long it has taken them to come forward, and that they will be supported and kept safe. Abuse that occurs online or outside of the school or college should not be downplayed and should be treated equally seriously. A victim should never be given the impression that they are creating a problem by reporting sexual violence or sexual harassment. Nor should a victim ever be made to feel ashamed for making a report. It is important to explain that the law is in place to protect children and young people rather than criminalise them, and this should be explained in such a way that avoids alarming or distressing them. 

Considering confidentiality and anonymity 

This is a new section in the document.


Paragraphs 470 – 475

Staff taking a report should never promise confidentiality as it is very likely that it will be in the best interest of the victim to seek advice and guidance from others in order to provide support and engage appropriate agencies.

The school or college should only engage staff and agencies who are required to support the children involved and/or be involved in any investigation. 

The victim may ask the school or college not to tell anyone about the sexual violence or sexual harassment. There are no easy or definitive answers when a victim makes this request. If the victim does not give consent to share information, staff may still lawfully share it, if there is another legal basis under the UK GDPR that applies. For example, the public task basis may apply, where the overall purpose is to perform a public interest task or exercise official authority, and the task or authority has a clear basis in law. 

Advice should be sought from the designated safeguarding lead (or deputy), who should consider the following: 

  • Parents or carers should normally be informed (unless this would put the victim at greater risk). 
  • The basic safeguarding principle is: if a child is at risk of harm, is in immediate danger, or has been harmed, a referral should be made to local authority children’s social care
  • Rape, assault by penetration and sexual assaults are crimes. 

Where a report of rape, assault by penetration or sexual assault is made, this should be referred to the police. Whilst the age of criminal responsibility is ten, if the alleged perpetrator is under ten, the starting principle of referring to the police remains. The police will take a welfare, rather than a criminal justice approach, in these cases. 

Ultimately, the designated safeguarding lead (or a deputy) will have to balance the victim’s wishes against their duty to protect the victim and other children. 

If the designated safeguarding lead (or a deputy) decides to go ahead and make a referral to local authority children’s social care and/or a report to the police against the victim’s wishes, this should be handled extremely carefully, the reasons should be explained to the victim and appropriate specialist support should be offered. 

Additional information on confidentiality and information sharing is available at Safeguarding Practitioners Information Sharing Advice and NSPCC: Information sharing and confidentiality for practitioners.


Paragraphs 475 – 478 – Where an allegation of sexual violence or sexual harassment is progressing through the criminal justice system, schools and colleges should be aware of anonymity, witness support, and the criminal process in general so they can offer support and act appropriately. Relevant information can be found in: CPS: Safeguarding Children as Victims and Witnesses

As a matter of effective safeguarding practice, schools and colleges should do all they reasonably can to protect the anonymity of any children involved in any report of sexual violence or sexual harassment. Amongst other things, this will mean carefully considering, based on the nature of the report, which staff should know about the report and any support that will be put in place for the children involved. 

Schools and colleges should also consider the potential impact of social media in facilitating the spreading of rumours and exposing victims’ identities. The unique challenges regarding social media are discussed at paragraph 466 along with potential support. In addition, the principles described in Childnet’s cyberbullying guidance could be helpful.

Early Help

Paragraph 492 – Schools and colleges, as relevant agencies, should be part of discussions with statutory safeguarding partners to agree the levels for the different types of assessment and services to be commissioned and delivered, as part of the local arrangements. Safeguarding partners should publish a local threshold document which includes the process for the local early help assessment and the type and level of early help services to be provided, and DSLs (and their deputies) will need to familiarise themselves with this document.

Managing any delays in the criminal process

Paragraphs 521-523 – Considering any disciplinary action against the alleged perpetrator(s) whilst an investigation is ongoing is discussed below in the alleged perpetrator(s) section. 

Whilst protecting children and/or taking any disciplinary measures against the alleged perpetrator(s), it will be important for the designated safeguarding lead (or a deputy) to work closely with the police (and other agencies as required), to ensure any actions the school or college take do not jeopardise the police investigation. 

If schools or colleges have questions about the investigation, they should ask the police. The police will help and support the school or college as much as they can (within the constraints of any legal restrictions).

Ongoing response – safeguarding and supporting the victim

Paragraph 533 – Children who have experienced sexual violence display a very wide range of responses to their experience, including in some cases clear signs of trauma, physical and emotional responses, or no overt signs at all. Schools should remain alert to the possible challenges of detecting those signs and show sensitivity to the needs of the child (e.g. about attendance in lessons) irrespective of how overt the child’s distress is.

Discipline and the alleged perpetrator(s) – schools

Paragraph 543 – With regard to the alleged perpetrator(s), advice on behaviour and discipline in schools is clear that teachers can discipline pupils whose conduct falls below the standard which could be reasonably expected of them. Exclusions statutory guidance for maintained schools, academies and PRUs is here. Disciplinary action can be taken whilst other investigations by the police and/or local authority children’s social care are ongoing. The fact that another body is investigating or has investigated an incident does not in itself prevent a school from coming to its own conclusion, on the balance of probabilities, about what happened, and imposing a penalty accordingly. This is a matter for the school and should be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis. The designated safeguarding lead (or a deputy) should take a leading role. The school should consider if, by taking any action, it would prejudice an investigation and/or any subsequent prosecution. Careful liaison with the police and/or local authority children’s social care should help the school make a determination. It will also be important to consider whether there are circumstances that make it unreasonable or irrational for the school to reach its own view about what happened while an independent investigation is considering the same facts

Discipline and the alleged perpetrator(s) – colleges

Paragraph 544 – Whilst colleges are not under the same legal obligations as schools with regard to behaviour and discipline, the principles set out in paragraph 541 will still be relevant and should be applied to their decision-making process. 

Discipline and support 

Paragraph 545 – Taking disciplinary action and still providing appropriate support are not mutually exclusive actions. They can, and should, occur at the same time if necessary. The school or college should be very clear as to what its approach is. On the one hand there is preventative or forward-looking action to safeguard the victim and/or the perpetrator(s), especially where there are concerns that a perpetrator themselves may have been a victim of abuse; and, on the other, there is disciplinary action to punish a perpetrator for their past conduct. The school or college should be very clear as to which category any action they are taking falls or whether it is really both and should ensure that the action complies with the law relating to each relevant category.

Working with parents and carers

Paragraphs 546 – 551 – The school or college will, in most instances, engage with both the victim’s and the alleged perpetrator’s parents or carers when there has been a report of sexual violence (this might not be necessary or proportionate in the case of sexual harassment and should be considered on a case-by-case basis). The exception to this rule is if there is a reason to believe informing a parent or carer will put a child at additional risk. Schools and colleges should carefully consider what information they provide to the respective parents or carers about the other child involved and when they do so. In some cases, local authority children’s social care and/or the police will have a very clear view and it  will be important for the school or college to work with relevant agencies to ensure a consistent approach is taken to information sharing. 

It is good practice for the school or college to meet the victim’s parents or carers with the victim present to discuss what arrangements are being put in place to safeguard the victim and understand their wishes in terms of support they may need and how the report will be progressed. 

It is also good practice for the school or college to meet with the alleged perpetrator’s parents or carers to discuss any arrangements that are being put into place that impact an alleged perpetrator, such as, for example, moving them out of classes with the victim and what this means for their education. The reason behind any decisions should be explained. Support for the alleged perpetrator should be discussed. 

The designated safeguarding lead (or a deputy) would generally attend any such meetings. Consideration to the attendance of other agencies should be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

Clear behaviour policies and child protection policies, especially policies that set out the principles of how reports of sexual violence will be managed and how victims and alleged perpetrators are likely to be supported, that parents and carers have access to, will, in some cases, help manage what are inevitably very difficult conversations.

Parents and carers may well struggle to cope with a report that their child has been the victim of a sexual assault or is alleged to have sexually assaulted another child. Details of organisations that support parents are provided in Annex B. Schools and colleges should consider signposting parents and carers to this support.

Safeguarding other children

Paragraphs 552-557 – Consideration should be given to supporting children (and adult students) who have witnessed sexual violence, especially rape and assault by penetration. Witnessing such an event is likely to be traumatic and support may be required. 

Following any report of sexual violence or sexual harassment, it is likely that some children will take “sides”. The school or college should be doing all they can to ensure both the victim and alleged perpetrator(s), and any witnesses, are not being bullied or harassed. 

Social media is very likely to play a central role in the fall out from any incident or alleged incident. There is the potential for contact between victim and alleged perpetrator(s) and a very high likelihood that friends from either side could harass the victim or alleged perpetrator(s) online and/or become victims of harassment themselves. Specialist online safety support is discussed at page 109. 

School transport is a potentially vulnerable place for a victim or alleged perpetrator(s) following any incident or alleged incident. The school or college, as part of its risk assessment, should consider any additional potential support needs to keep all of their children safe. 

A whole school or college approach to safeguarding, a culture that makes clear that there is a zero-tolerance approach to sexual violence and sexual harassment and that it is never acceptable, and it will not be tolerated, and a strong preventative education programme will help create an environment in which all children at the school or college are supportive and respectful of their peers when reports of sexual violence or sexual harassment are made. 

It is important that schools and colleges keep their policies, processes, and curriculum under constant review to protect all their children. Reports of sexual violence and/or harassment (especially where there is evidence of patterns of behaviour) may point to environmental and or systemic problems that could and should be addressed by updating relevant policies, processes, or relevant parts of the curriculum. Alongside this, patterns identified in schools may also be reflective of the wider issues within a local area and it would be good practice to share emerging trends with safeguarding partners. 

Back to Top


Annex A: Safeguarding information for school and college staff

Annex A is a condensed version of Part one of Keeping children safe in education. It can be provided (instead of Part one) to those staff who do not directly work with children, if the governing body or proprietor think it will provide a better basis for those staff to promote the welfare of and safeguard children.

What school and college staff need to know

Paragraph 560 – added content: 

All staff should be aware that technology is a significant component in many safeguarding and wellbeing issues. Children are at risk of abuse and other risks online as well as face to face. In many cases abuse and other risks will take place concurrently both online and offline. Children can also abuse other children online, this can take the form of abusive, harassing, and misogynistic/misandrist messages, the non-consensual sharing of indecent images, especially around chat groups, and the sharing of abusive images and pornography, to those who do not want to receive such content.


Back to Top

Annex B: Further Information

Children and the court system

Children are sometimes required to give evidence in criminal courts, either for crimes committed against them or for crimes they have witnessed. There are two age appropriate guides to support children 5-11 year olds and 12-17 year olds. The guides explain each step of the process, support and special measures that are available. There are diagrams illustrating the courtroom structure and the use of video links is explained.

Making child arrangements via the family courts following separation can be stressful and entrench conflict in families. This can be stressful for children. The Ministry of Justice has launched an online child arrangements information tool with clear and concise information on the dispute resolution service. This may be useful for some parents and carers.

Children missing from education

All staff should be aware that children going missing, particularly repeatedly, can act as a vital warning sign of a range of safeguarding possibilities. This may include abuse and neglect, which may include sexual abuse or exploitation and can also be a sign of child criminal exploitation including involvement in county lines. It may indicate mental health problems, risk of substance abuse, risk of travelling to conflict zones, risk of female genital mutilation, ‘honour’-based abuse or risk of forced marriage. 

Early intervention is essential to identify the existence of any underlying safeguarding risk and to help prevent the risks of a child going missing in future. It is important that staff are aware of their school’s or college’s unauthorised absence and children missing from education procedures. 

Children with family members in prison 

Approximately 200,000 children in England and Wales have a parent sent to prison each year. These children are at risk of poor outcomes including poverty, stigma, isolation and poor mental health. The National Information Centre on Children of Offenders, NICCO provides information designed to support professionals working with offenders and their children, to help mitigate negative consequences for those children.

Mental Health 

Where children have suffered abuse and neglect, or other potentially traumatic adverse childhood experiences, this can have a lasting impact throughout childhood, adolescence and into adulthood. It is key that staff are aware of how these children’s experiences can impact on their mental health, behaviour, and education. 

More information can be found in the Mental health and behaviour in schools guidance, colleges may also wish to follow this guidance as best practice. Public Health England has produced a range of resources to support secondary school teachers to promote positive health, wellbeing and resilience among children. See Every Mind Matters for links to all materials and lesson plans.

Forced marriage 

A link to government guidance The Right To Choose has been added.

Additional advice and support

Some linked to resources have been added in this section:

Back to Top


Annex C: Role of the designated safeguarding lead

Working with others

Reference to and link included for the Statutory Guidance –  PACE Code C 2019 in relation to DSLs being aware of the requirement for children to have an appropriate adult.

Key Amendments to Guidance as of 2021drop down menu

Summary section

  • Whilst staff who work with children must read the full Part 1 of KCSIE, those who don’t work directly with children can now read a condensed version, found in Annex A.
  • Online Safety has been made more prominent by being moved to Part 2 – staff training must now include online safety, and it must be included in all relevant policies. Online safety policies and procedures should be reviewed at least annually.
  • There are additions to be made to a school’s Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy (detailed below).
  • There is new and further information about types of abuse, such as sexual violence and harassment (including by peers) and child criminal and sexual exploitation.
  • Allegations Management has been updated and clarified to set out clearly two levels of allegations against staff: (a) those that meet the threshold and will be case-managed by the Headteacher or Chair of Governors if the allegation is against the Head, and (b) low-level concerns that do not meet the threshold and can be dealt with by the school internally.
  • There is new information on pre-employment checks, and guidance on the recruitment process is set out in chronological order (giving best practice guidance for the process).

Policy updates

  1. Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy
    • Further information is given about peer on peer abuse – schools should have a zero-tolerance and whole-school approach to the issue, and recognise that this type of behaviour is occurring (even when it is not formally being reported). They should also have procedures for dealing with peer on peer abuse, including a functional reporting system which is well-promoted and both accessible and simple to understand.
    • Further information is given about serious violence.
    • There is recognition that there might be additional barriers for staff when recognising abuse for children with SEND.
  2. Behaviour Policy
    • The bullying section should be updated to include cyber-bullying, prejudice, and discriminatory bullying.
    • The policy must include information about sexual harassment and violence. Updates should include preventative measures.
  3. Safer Recruitment Policy
    • This must be in line with Part 3 of KCSIE.
  4. SEND Policy
    • This must reflect Part 4 of KCSIE.


  • Online safety should form part of staff safeguarding training at induction and in the update programme.
  • The safeguarding training provided should include a whole-school approach and should include consideration of managing behaviour, as set out in the Teaching Standards.
  • Further information is included about the role of Mental Health Lead and government-backed schemes for training.

Individual responsibilities

  • The headteacher is responsible for ensuring policies and procedures are known and followed by all staff.
  • Governing bodies and proprietors should ensure that there is a whole-school approach to safeguarding – safeguarding and child protection should be at the front of thinking and should underpin relevant policies and procedures. Policies and procedures should all operate with the best interests of the child at their heart.
  • Governing bodies/proprietors and school leaders should ensure that when there is a safeguarding concern, the child’s wishes and feelings are accounted for when deciding on appropriate actions, and that the systems for dealing with safeguarding issues are “well-promoted, easy to understand and accessible for children confidently to report abuse, knowing their concerns will be treated seriously, and knowing they can safely express their views and give feedback”.
  • Governing bodies and proprietors should ensure, when fulfilling their responsibility to teach children about safeguarding (including online safety), that this learning is – where necessary – tailored and contextualised for individuals, including more vulnerable children, victims of abuse, and some SEND children.
  • The school’s DSL is now additionally responsible for:
    1. Promoting supportive relationships with parents and those with parental responsibility.
    2. Together with others (such as the headteacher), ensuring educational outcomes of children in need – including knowing who this cohort are and understanding their progress and attainment.
    3. Helping teaching staff to provide additional support and reasonable adjustments for children who have or had a social worker so that they can reach their potential – giving consideration to the fact that even after statutory intervention there can be a lasting impact on their educational outcomes.
    4. Being aware of their crucial role in supporting children who have been involved in the care system and the long-lasting impact adversity can have on children in terms of education, mental health, behaviour, and health and wellbeing, as well as being able to respond to this.
    5. Recognising the barriers that stop children from reporting issues and how to build trust to help with this.
    6. Building a culture of listening and making sure the wishes and feelings of the children are considered.
    7. Knowing how to identify, understand, and respond to specific needs that can increase the vulnerability of children, as well as specific harms that can put children at risk, and how to further the processes, procedures, and responsibilities of other agencies, particularly children’s social care.
    8. Additionally, further information is given about storing and sharing information in child protection files (see Annex C Holding and Sharing information and Parts 1, 2, and 5 for specific details).

Information for all staff

Staff need to know:

  • How to reassure victims that their allegation is being taken seriously and explain how the victim will be supported and kept safe.
  • Not to give any indication or impression that victims are “creating a problem” by reporting abuse, sexual violence, or sexual harassment.
  • Never to make a victim feel ashamed for coming forward to report.
  • That the indicators of need for early help have been added to, and are now: where the child has a mental health need, a family member in prison (or parental offending), a risk of honour-based abuse (such as female genital mutilation or forced marriage), or is persistently absent from education (including for part of a day).
  • The indicators of abuse and neglect, and to understand that types of abuse overlap.
  • There is a new resource around sharing nude and semi-nude images that replaces previous advice on sexting.

Child Criminal Exploitation and Child Sexual Exploitation

  • New information is included in Part 2 as opposed to Annex B.
  • CCE and CSE (including county lines) can involve both boys and girls, though boys and girls can be exploited using different methods and they may present differently.
  • Children who exploit – and have been exploited – in this way are victims themselves. This is sometimes not recognised by professionals.
  • CCE can lead to CSE for both boys and girls.
  • Children can be moved from place to place (trafficked) in order to be exploited.
  • Children might become involved in these offences as a result of threats of serious violence to themselves and their family.
  • Indicators of CCE might include serious violence, vehicle crime, and carrying weapons for others or as a sense of protection.
  • CSE is acknowledged to be a type of sexual abuse.
  • Victims of CSE may consider themselves in a “romantic” relationship.
  • CSE can involve offences that are non-contact, such as those which occur online – for example, producing sexual images or sending nude images.

Peer on peer abuse

  • This is tackled with more detail and direct information on the types of abuse that peer on peer can cover.
  • There is inclusion of discriminatory/prejudice-based bullying.
  • Sexual violence, physical abuse, and hazing can each contain an online element (such as encouraging this activity online).
  • A new offence – of causing someone to engage in sexual activity without consent (such as forcing them to strip, touch themselves sexually, or engage in sexual activity with a third party) – has been added.
  • “Sexting” can be either consensual or non-consensual and involves sharing nude or semi-nude image or video content.
  • Upskirting – i.e. taking a picture under someone’s clothing for the purpose of sexual gratification, or to cause the victim humiliation, distress, or alarm – is now defined as being when the other person doesn’t give permission. Previously, it was where the other person didn’t have knowledge of it.
  • Technology/online factors in safeguarding should always be considered.
  • Staff should understand that peers can abuse each other online using using abusive, threatening, or misogynistic messages; by sharing nude and semi-nude images; and by sharing abusive images and (violent) pornography.
  • All staff should know the school’s policies and procedures for dealing with this issue (including the zero tolerance of it).
  • All staff should know how to recognise indicators of peer-on-peer abuse and how to respond to it; understand that peer on peer abuse is taking place – even if not reported; know their role in preventing peer on peer abuse; know to report to the DISL if a child is at risk of this type of abuse; know how important it is to challenge inappropriate behaviour which may be seen as “banter” “just having a laugh”, or “boys being boys” between peers so that abuse
    isn’t “normalised”, which can prevent children reporting it; and know that this type of abuse occurs both inside and outside of school.

Serious violence

Risk factors which increase the likelihood of involvement in serious violence have been added, including being male, having been frequently absent or permanently excluded from school, having experienced child maltreatment, and having been involved in offending (such as theft or robbery).

Online safety

  • The importance of engaging with parents is highlighted.
  • There is recognition that children are at risk of financial types of abuse through online activity. There is now a further group for this type of online abuse which is now known as “commerce”, and includes gambling, online advertising, and phishing.
  • Further examples are given in relation to inappropriate content that children may be exposed to (or creating), such as anti-Semitism; misogyny; self-harm; peer-on-peer contacts, and advertising.
  • Schools must provide “an appropriate level of security” to protect users and their data (Paragraph 131 has links to the National Cyber Security Centre which has useful resources for Cyber Security in Education and keeping networks secure).

Child on child sexual violence and harassment

This section highlights:

  • That this type of abuse takes place in school, outside of school, and online. It can affect any age of child but is predominantly an issue for secondary and college age groups.
  • Staff need to maintain an attitude of “it could happen here”.
  • Intervening in “inappropriate” behaviour is important and can prevent abusive or violent behaviour.
  • Victims of this type of abuse are likely to be distressed and there is a likelihood of it affecting their educational attainment – this is more likely where the alleged perpetrators attend the same school or college.
  • Girls are more likely to be victims and boys are more likely perpetrators – however, any report or suspicion should be taken seriously.
  • The abuse can be perpetrated by an individual or a group.
  • Advice given to read Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Between Children in Schools and Colleges which contains detailed information on a range of relevant topics (e.g. definitions, contextual issues such as power and coercion, and advice on a whole-school approach).
  • Schools should have systems in place to deal with issues of sexual violence or harassment that are clear, easily accessible, and well-promoted, so that children feel confident in reporting abuse.
  • Downplaying inappropriate behaviour can lead to a culture of unacceptable behaviour and ultimately to normalisation of abuse.
  • Staff need to be aware of behaviour in children that might indicate there is an issue with sexual harassment or violence and act immediately.
  • Responding to each incident well will build trust in the systems so that victims will feel able to come forward in future.
  • The need for care in listening and reacting to the child’s report (for example, listening well and not asking leading questions).
  • That some children may face additional barriers in reporting because of vulnerabilities, disability, sex, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.
  • Schools should be looking for patterns in all reports and identifying any broader issues that need to be addressed.
  • Whilst victims’ wishes and feelings are of paramount importance, a school should not forget to balance this with its duty to protect other children.
  • Sexual violence can happen in intimate relationships between peers.
  • The links between this type of abuse and sexual and criminal exploitation.
  • Schools should have zero tolerance to sexual violence and sexual harassment, and an important part in this is not tolerating or laughing off sexual banter or jokes.
  • Where a report is found to be malicious or unfounded, the school should consider what the most appropriate step should be – it might be that the person has been abused by someone else or the allegation might be a cry for help. If the report was deliberately made up, schools should consider using disciplinary processes.
  • Schools should be aware of the consequences of sexual violence and should be aware of all of the available resources for victims but also for perpetrators – many of which are linked at the end of the section.

Safer Recruitment

  • Nothing has changed in terms of a school’s requirements to fulfil their statutory and other requirements in terms of safer recruitment. The changes are mainly to give more detail around the process of recruitment. The sections
    are now set out in a timeline for the process and give “good practice” information in relation to advertising, shortlisting, interviewing/selection, employment history and references, and reviewing self-disclosure forms (there are reminders that these should be in line with the Ministry of Justice guidance on disclosure of criminal records – plus a link to the guidance).
  • In terms of pre-employment checks: 16-19 academies and training providers must carry out enhanced checks with barred lists for “regulated activity” roles (though these providers are not entitled to request separate barred list checks as schools can). These providers should follow all of the other regulations.
  • Further information is given about birth certificates being the preferred choice of identification
  • Separate barred list checks can be carried out either: (1) when all other checks have been completed and the school is only waiting for the Enhanced DBS to be returned. The individual must be accompanied at all times before the Enhanced DBS check is complete, or (2) when the person has been employed in regular activity with children in the past 3 months (and all other checks are complete).
  • The section on S128 directions (checks) has been clarified.
  • There is clarification about checks for individuals who have lived or worked outside the UK (this now applies to those in the EEA – post 31st December 2020). The same checks are required as with a candidate in the UK. A school may choose to request further information about these candidates and there is further information about this, e.g. criminal record checks from overseas/a letter from a professional regulation authority in other countries. There are also links to useful resources for undertaking checks – see in particular Paragraph 262.
  • There has been clarification of the expectations for agency staff/contractors and visitors. Checks must be the same as for other staff. In terms of record keeping, schools must obtain written confirmation from the agency or business that the Enhanced DBS has been obtained. Where the certificate discloses information or information has been disclosed to the business, then the school must obtain a copy of the certificate from the agency. Where barred list information is also required, confirmation must be obtained before the appointment. Schools should also check that the person who presents for work is the person to whom all the checks relate.
  • For contractors – the main addition to the normal DBS regime for working in school (which is set out in Paragraphs 272 to 277) is that safeguarding expectations and arrangements should be included in the contract.
  • The process for referrals to DBS is set out clearly under its own heading in Paragraphs 329 to 322. There is also an expectation that the referral will include as much information as possible, as the DBS process relies on the quality of information it receives.
  • There is a slight clarification to the Single Central Record, including a requirement to add individuals even
    if they only work at the school for a day. Schools should remove the details of people who have left the school.

Allegation management

  • This section has been split into two distinct sections. The first is where “the threshold” has been met and the second one relates to “low level concerns”.
  • Paragraphs 338-404 set out in detail the process that should be used to manage a concern which meets the harm threshold, i.e. where the concern raised indicates the person would pose a risk of harm if they continued to work in their present position, or in any capacity with children a school or college. This process is very similar to that which is already in place (i.e. the Head will be the first point of referral and likely manage the case going forward – unless the allegation relates to the Head, in which case the Chair of Governors takes over), but it is set out a little more accessibly and has details which might assist in difficult decision-making, such as the merits of moving a child from a particular class following an allegation, suspending staff members, and allegations against supply staff and contractors. In addition, paragraph 339 deals with allegations relating to actions which have occurred outside of the schools and where there is a “transferable” risk.
  • Paragraphs 406-427 set out a process for handling low-level concerns (i.e. those that do not meet the threshold but, as part of an open/transparent culture, should be dealt with). Examples of this might be poor practice such as staff taking photos of a child on their personal mobile phone or other mobile device, or a staff member picking on a child or having “favourites”.
  • There is an indication that schools should have a policy covering low-level concerns (though this may be found in a staff code of conduct). The same system of referral to the headteacher should be used to report these concerns, records should be kept and information shared where appropriate, and records should be reviewed to ascertain any patterns of concern.

Further information on abuse for school leaders and staff working directly with children

  • On CCE and CSE, note that imbalance of power associated with exploitation can be based on a variety of factors which make some children more vulnerable such as gender, sexual identity, cognitive ability, learning and communication difficulties, physical strength, status, and access to economic or other resources. Children who are victims of exploitation may need extra support to keep them in education. Children who are victims may display signs of sexual experience beyond their age.
  • On county lines, there is a note that county lines recruitment is increasingly through online exploitation.
    A list of indicators for children who might be being exploited through county lines has been added, including those who go missing and are subsequently found in areas away from their home; have been the victim or perpetrator of serious violence (e.g. knife crime); are involved in receiving requests for drugs via a phone line, moving drugs, handing
    over and collecting money for drugs; are exposed to techniques such as ‘plugging’, where drugs are concealed internally
    to avoid detection; are found in accommodation that they have no connection with (often called a ‘trap house’ or ‘cuckooing’) or in a hotel room where there is drug activity; owe a ‘debt bond’ to their exploiters; have their bank accounts used to facilitate drug dealing.
  • Modern Slavery is added to this annex – the section gives a definition and gives information
    about the National Referral Mechanism and gives a link for further information.
  • Further information is given about domestic abuse, and there is reference to the adoption of the definition of domestic abuse in the Domestic Abuse Act 2021.
  • On Prevent guidance, there is information added which asks the DSL to consider whether or not it would be appropriate for any information to be shared with a new school or college. This might be appropriate where, for example, a child is receiving support and it would assist the child for the information to be shared.
  • Child abduction and community safety incidents are included with information on the importance of teaching children how to be safe as they become more independent. It is important to remember the dangers outside of the school gates and be alert to these. There is a note about child abduction which is the unauthorised removal of a child from its parents or those with parental responsibility. The guidance notes that this offence can be committed by strangers but also by family members.
  • New information is added about cybercrime. These offences are dependent upon a cyber element such as unauthorised access to computers (e.g. “hacking”) which children may commit to (for example) change their grades; denial of service attacks (“booting”)n where the action is aimed at overwhelming a network; and attacks connected to malware. There is information about actions that the DSL should take, for example, referring to the Cyber Choice programme, if there is a concern about this activity occurring. This is a national system designed to steer children away from this activity. It is not available for activity involving cyberbullying or purchasing illegal drugs, or where sexual harassment is a factor. It is targeted directly at pure cybercrime.
  • Paragraph 79 refers to Charity Commission guidance for charities and trustees to safeguard children.
  • Paragraph 82 has information about developing a whole-school approach to safeguarding – putting children at the centre of safeguarding and ensuring that safeguarding underpins all relevant policies and procedures.
  • Paragraph 105 contains further information emphasising the powers a school has to retain and use information for the purpose of promoting child welfare.
  • Paragraphs 117 and 118 stress the importance of staff having online safety training and ensuring that children are taught online safety.
  • Paragraph 143 has information about teacher dismissal – when a school must consider referral to the Secretary of State (via the Teaching Regulation authority).
  • Paragraphs 146-148 contain new information for boarding schools, residential special schools, residential colleges, and children’s homes. This is about the signs of abuse and issues that they must be alert to in terms of safeguarding in a residential setting (e.g. peer on peer abuse), especially where there are more boys than girls and vice versa. There is also a requirement to work closely with the Local Authority, and there are links to National Minimum Standards for the different types of establishments.
  • Paragraph 154 gives a link to support for helping children with learning disabilities, autistic spectrum conditions, and mental health difficulties to reduce the need for restraint.
  • Paragraphs 155-156 discuss that, where a school is hiring its premises out, the contract should include appropriate safeguarding arrangements. Where the activity is provided by the proprietor or governing body and is under supervision or management of the school, the school’s child protection policies will apply.
  • Paragraph 158 has links to new statutory guidance for Alternative Provision.
  • Paragraph 157 and 164 add children in Alternative Provision and those missing education to the list of children who are potentially at greater risk of harm.
  • Paragraph 167 has information about Elective Home Education and the role a school should play in terms of reporting to the LA children whose parents are considering Elective Home Education. There is also a suggestion that, in this situation, there is the need for multi-agency coordinated meetings with parents (ideally before the child is finally off-rolled).
  • Paragraphs 169-175 contain further and updated information about the role of Mental Health Lead and programmes of training that are available. In addition, there are links to support from Public Health England.

Key Amendments to Guidance as of 2020drop down menu

2020 has been an uncertain year for the education sector, but Keeping Children Safe in Education has received some amendments to include new guidance and to expand on existing sections. We will look at these amends based on which parts they have affected, including the annexes.

Part 1

  • The definition of ‘safeguarding’. This has been amended to make it clear that both mental and physical health are relevant to safeguarding and the welfare of children. Those who work with children should consider both these factors so they have a more complete picture of a child’s wellbeing.
  • Contextual safeguarding. As safeguarding incidents and behaviours can be associated with external factors, all staff (but particularly the DSL) should be reminded to consider whether a child is at risk of extra-familial abuse or exploitation i.e. contextual safeguarding. It’s worth noting however that this term has been removed from the 2020 guidance and it simply refers to ‘context’.
  • County Lines. Additional guidance has been added for county lines, as well as criminal exploitation and serious violence, to assist schools in identifying children at risk of these. Page 85 contains a dedicated section on county lines.
  • Mental Health concerns. The guidance contains new information regarding links between mental health and safeguarding. It has references to Public Health England mental health and wellbeing resources, as well as Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools guidance.
  • Peer on peer abuse. Intimate personal relationships between peers, as well as a reference to hazing-type violence and rituals, are now included in the guidance. Sexual harassment can include sexual comments, remarks and/or jokes and may take place online or in person, and may be standalone or as part of wider abuse.

Part 2

  • Relationship and Sex Education. The guidance contains new wording to reflect that schools now have flexibility regarding how they deliver Relationship Education and Relationships and Sex Education for the first year of its compulsory teaching.
  • Allegations Management. The guidance places emphasis on staff raising safeguarding concerns or allegations about a member of staff, and now specifically includes supply staff and volunteers. It also signposts where to find information about addressing allegations or concerns (under Part 4 of KCSIE).
  • Most vulnerable children. There is a new section regarding safeguarding for children who are at greater risk of harm, e.g. they need a social worker or require mental health support. The emphasis is on multi-agency working to provide support to vulnerable children. Furthermore, note that training for senior mental health leads will be funded for all maintained schools and colleges by 2025.
  • Data protection. The guidance has been updated regarding the relationship between data protection and safeguarding, including reference to the new data protection tool (page 23).

Part 4

  • Emphasis that supply teachers and volunteers are included under ‘other staff’.
  • Clarification that schools must consider transferable risk from incidents outside of school, where staff behaved or may have behaved in a way that indicates that the person may not be suitable to work with children (e.g. domestic violence).
  • Guidance on managing allegations against supply teachers, and on handling ‘low level’ concerns that do not meet the harm threshold. The guidance provides clarity that it’s still the responsibility of the school or college to ensure allegations are dealt with appropriately, in conjunction with the agency where applicable, even if they are not the employer of the individual (i.e. in the case of supply teachers and volunteers).

Annex A

  • Child Criminal Exploitation. This is covered in more detail, including county lines, to assist staff in recognising warning signs associated with these concerns. It also includes a reminder that safeguarding referrals should be considered.
  • Domestic abuse. Children may witness, and be affected by, domestic abuse between family members. The National Domestic Abuse Helpline and details on Operation Encompass are now included.
  • Radicalisation and the Prevent duty. The guidance provides additional information about these, as well as detailing terrorism as a by-product of radicalisation. A reminder has also been included for the DSL that they must be aware of local procedures for making Prevent referrals. Additional support intended to complement Prevent, including updated advice for schools, has also been published and referenced.
  • Honour-based abuse. This was previously known as honour-based violence. Its new name now acknowledges that it may include non-violent forms of abuse.
  • Peer on peer abuse and domestic violence. The guidance clarifies that peer on peer abuse and domestic abuse can occur within an intimate partner relationship.
  • Upskirting. The definition has been updated to include that a person of any gender can be a victim of upskirting.

Annex B

Annex B has added advice for DSLs, who have a responsibility to raise awareness for safeguarding, including by sharing information with teachers and school leaders about the welfare issues that children in their school have experienced. More specifically, it gives advice on the needs of children with a social worker and suggests actions the DSL could take.

Annex C

Annex C includes a number of additional resources and advice regarding online learning, including a link to the Government guidance for home learning due to COVID-19.

Key Amendments to Guidance as of 2019drop down menu

In September 2019, KCSIE received some additions and changes to reflect new requirements and guidelines that education settings should follow. The updates were not as substantial as previous years, but they were still vital for those who work with children to understand and reflect in updated safeguarding policies.

The main changes in Keeping Children Safe in Education 2019 included guidance on:

  • Upskirting. KCSIE 2019 included a reference to upskirting, as it has officially become a criminal offence. Upskirting refers to taking a picture under a person’s clothing without them knowing. It is listed under peer on peer abuse and sexual harassment. All staff must understand their setting’s policy and procedures so they can help to prevent it.
  • Serious and honour-based violence. KCSIE 2019 contained an additional paragraph about serious violence and how to identify risks. It also emphasised that honour-based violence includes FGM and forced marriage and provides advice on what to do if staff have concerns.
  • Safeguarding partners/partnerships. As of September 2019, safeguarding partnerships fully replaced local safeguarding children’s boards (LSBCs).
  • Relationships and sex education. In September 2020 the Department for Education is introducing compulsory Relationships Education for primary pupils and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) for secondary pupils. Schools will be required to teach these subjects, so they must be aware of what the statutory guidance states. KCSIE referenced this to ensure education settings were aware. You can find a link to guidance for this topic at the following link: Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education, and Health Education in England
  • New Ofsted inspections framework. KCSIE included additional information about changes to Ofsted’s Education Inspection Framework. It stated that, as of September 2019, Ofsted inspections of early years, schools, and post-16 provision will be carried out under Ofsted’s Education Inspection Framework and includes a link: Education inspection framework (EIF).
  • Teaching online safety guidance. KCSIE 2019 linked to the non-statutory guidance document regarding teaching online safety in school, which was published by the Department for Education. You can find this document here: Teaching online safety in school.

It’s also worth noting that KCSIE removed references to the School Inspection Service, as they have closed and so no longer inspect independent schools.

Key Amendments to Guidance as of 2018drop down menu

The Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance document received several changes and additions to improve safeguarding procedures in 2018.

Peer on peer abuse, child sexual exploitation, and sexual violence and harassment

The guidance placed stronger emphasis on tackling peer-on-peer abuse and stated that schools’ policies must clearly explain how they’ll deal with these issues.

More specifically, the guidance outlined a clear definition of what the different forms of peer-on-peer abuse are. It stated that it can include ‘bullying (including cyberbullying); sexual violence and sexual harassment; physical abuse such as hitting, kicking, shaking, biting, hair pulling, or otherwise causing physical harm; sexting and initiating/hazing type violence and rituals’. Furthermore, it explained what the school’s child protection policy should include and how the school will support children affected by peer on peer abuse. For example, the policy should state that “abuse is abuse and should never be tolerated or passed off as “banter”, “just having a laugh” or “part of growing up””.

Another key addition was new information about sexual violence and sexual harassment. As the government guidance document “Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Between Children in Schools and Colleges” was published, Keeping Children Safe included a summary of this document. The summary clarified that a school’s systems, policies, and training must address sexual violence and sexual harassment between children, so staff know how to help prevent it.

It stated that ‘Staff should be aware of the importance of:

  • Making clear that sexual violence and sexual harassment is not acceptable, will never be tolerated and is not an inevitable part of growing up;
  • Not tolerating or dismissing sexual violence or sexual harassment as “banter”, “part of growing up”, “just having a laugh” or “boys being boys”; and
  • Challenging behaviours (potentially criminal in nature), such as grabbing bottoms, breasts and genitalia, flicking bras and lifting up skirts. Dismissing or tolerating such behaviours risks normalising them.”

Online safety

The guidance included references to the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS), who emphasise the importance of monitoring online safety. In particular, they highlight sexting as a risk and offer advice for schools and colleges regarding online safety. They also remind schools that children can easily share photos and videos online, particularly through their smartphones. KCSIE linked to UKCCIS’s guidance document about online safety in schools and other useful guides that can help schools improve their policies regarding sexting incidents.

Students with SEN and disabilities

Schools were strongly reminded to ensure that students with SEN and disabilities have a greater availability of mentoring and support, as they could be more vulnerable to safeguarding issues. It also addressed using reasonable force for students with SEN and disabilities. It emphasised that schools need to be cautious about using it and should “carefully recognise the additional vulnerability of these groups.”

Contextual safeguarding

This section closely resembled the one in Working Together. Contextual safeguarding expanded on child protection procedures and improved their effectiveness with “an approach to understanding, and responding to, young people’s experiences of significant harm beyond their families.” (Definition taken from the Contextual Safeguarding Network).

It emphasised the importance of considering every aspect of a child’s life that may impact their wellbeing, rather than limiting it to one area – such as their family life. Therefore, it is crucial for those assessing the needs of children to consider wider environmental factors that may be affecting their safety collectively. For example, they may be at risk of extremism if they are bullied at school and seek a sense of belonging. Issues at home could worsen this, such as if their parents neglect their needs.

Emergency contacts

The guidance drew attention to the fact that schools must always have a suitable emergency contact, particularly if there is a safeguarding issue at home. Therefore, it strongly recommends that schools have at least two emergency contacts for every child.

Risk assessments for volunteers

As of 2018, schools were required to carry out a risk assessment for volunteers, in order to determine whether they should then carry out an enhanced DBS check for those not engaged in regular activity.

The assessment should cover:

  • The nature of their work with children.
  • What the establishment knows about the volunteer, including formal or informal information offered by staff, parents and other volunteers.
  • Whether the volunteer has other employment or undertakes voluntary activities where references can advise on suitability.
  • Whether the role is eligible for an enhanced DBS check.

Details of the assessment should be recorded.

Proprietor-led schools

The guidance stated that sole proprietors must select a suitable designated safeguarding lead, who must be sufficiently independent from the family running the school.

S128 checks

Information about S128 checks – which determine whether a person has been prohibited from managing a school – was made much clearer. Historically, the guidance simply stated that the checks apply to people in management positions. However, the new guidance clarified that this includes governors, trustees, headteachers, members of the senior leadership team, and departmental heads.

Alternate providers

The guidance stated that, if students need to be placed in an alternative provision, the school must obtain a written statement from the alternate provider. This statement must confirm that the provider has completed all the necessary vetting and barring checks on staff, to ensure the students’ safety.

Annex A

All staff must read Keeping Children Safe in Education Part 1, and those who work directly with children must also read Annex A. The Annex A section included four new key topics: children and the court system, when children are witnesses; children with family members in prison; criminal exploitation of children; and homelessness.

Disqualification by association

Following government consultation, the Childcare (Early Years Provision Free of Charge) (Extended Entitlement) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 amended the Childcare Act 2006. The changes related to disqualification by association, which historically could apply to staff, such as those in schools, providing child care. They could be prohibited from working with children if someone in their household made a conviction.

However, as of the 2018 update this only applies to domestic premises, not schools. Staff may still be disqualified due to offences they commit, but schools need to carry out suitable DBS checks to determine whether this is the case. Furthermore, the schools’ policy should reflect this and they should take care when recruiting staff to ensure they don’t include reference to the previous disqualification standards in their questions.

It’s also worth noting that this change does not impact settings specifically for early years provision.

GDPR/Data Protection

Like Working Together, Keeping Children Safe emphasises that GDPR and the Data Protection Act do not affect your ability to collect information and report safeguarding concerns. The guidance stated that “fears about sharing information must not be allowed to stand in the way of the need to promote the welfare and protect the safety of children.”

It also stated that you can find further advice about this topic in the Information Sharing: Advice for Practitioners guidance document. This document also includes the seven golden rules for sharing information.

  • Upskirting. KCSIE 2019 included a reference to upskirting, as it has officially become a criminal offence. Upskirting refers to taking a picture under a person’s clothing without them knowing. It is listed under peer on peer abuse and sexual harassment. All staff must understand their setting’s policy and procedures so they can help to prevent it.
  • Serious and honour-based violence. KCSIE 2019 contained an additional paragraph about serious violence and how to identify risks. It also emphasised that honour-based violence includes FGM and forced marriage and provides advice on what to do if staff have concerns.
  • Safeguarding partners/partnerships. As of September 2019, safeguarding partnerships fully replaced local safeguarding children’s boards (LSBCs).
  • Relationships and sex education. In September 2020 the Department for Education is introducing compulsory Relationships Education for primary pupils and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) for secondary pupils. Schools will be required to teach these subjects, so they must be aware of what the statutory guidance states. KCSIE referenced this to ensure education settings were aware. You can find a link to guidance for this topic at the following link: Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education, and Health Education in England
  • New Ofsted inspections framework. KCSIE included additional information about changes to Ofsted’s Education Inspection Framework. It stated that, as of September 2019, Ofsted inspections of early years, schools, and post-16 provision will be carried out under Ofsted’s Education Inspection Framework and includes a link: Education inspection framework (EIF).
  • Teaching online safety guidance. KCSIE 2019 linked to the non-statutory guidance document regarding teaching online safety in school, which was published by the Department for Education. You can find this document here: Teaching online safety in school.

It’s also worth noting that KCSIE removed references to the School Inspection Service, as they have closed and so no longer inspect independent schools.


Further Resources: