Overview

The DfE has published its response to the consultation on the changes it proposed to make to ‘Keeping children safe in education’ (KCSIE) from September 2022. Alongside the consultation response, the DfE has published the version of KCSIE that will be in place from September 2022. This article outlines the key changes you need to know about.

Key Points

  • The majority of the changes that were proposed have been made
  • The guidance on child-on-child abuse (previously peer-on-peer abuse) has been merged into KCSIE 2022
  • Guidance on training for governors has been strengthened
  • New information on human rights and equality has been added
  • There is new information about children not being ready to report abuse
  • Domestic abuse guidance has been added to the main body of KCSIE
  • Children who are LGBTQ+ have been identified as potentially at greater risk from harm
    More information about online safety has been added
  • There is new advice on carrying out an online search as part of the recruitment shortlisting process
  • More clarity has been provided on sharing low-level concerns
  • The majority of the guidance on DSLs has been moved to Annex C
  • Read on to learn more about each key point.

The majority of the changes that were proposed have been made

The finalised version of KCSIE that has been published reflects the majority of the changes that the DfE proposed to make during the consultation, which ran between January and March 2022. The key changes are summarised below, and we have also highlighted changes that were not proposed during the consultation that are in the finalised version.

The guidance on child-on-child abuse (previously peer-on-peer abuse) has been merged into KCSIE 2022

KCSIE 2022 incorporates the current standalone non-statutory guidance on ‘Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges’. Until the updated version of KCSIE commences on 1 September 2022, the existing non-statutory guidance is still in force.

The majority of the information from the standalone guidance has been merged into part five of KCSIE 2022, alongside a number of new case studies to help schools deal with instances of child-on-child abuse.

References to peer-on-peer abuse have been changed to child-on-child abuse throughout KCSIE 2022. The DfE has said that this is for consistency of terms. The DfE has also added definitions for the use of the terms ‘victims’ and ‘perpetrators’ in the guidance.

Guidance on training for governors has been strengthened

There is a new paragraph in KCSIE 2022 which states that governing boards and proprietors should ensure that all governors and trustees receive appropriate child protection and safeguarding training upon their induction, and that this training needs to be regularly updated.

There are existing government documents that already set out the need for governors to receive safeguarding training, e.g. the ‘Governance handbook’; however, in the KCSIE consultation, the DfE said that it wanted this to be explicitly stated in KCSIE.

The finalised version of KCSIE 2022 adds slightly more information than was proposed at consultation. It states that the training should equip governors and trustees with the knowledge to provide strategic challenge to themselves that the safeguarding policies and procedures in place in schools are effective and support the delivery of a robust whole-school approach to safeguarding.

New information on human rights and equality has been added

Part two of KCSIE 2022 includes a number of new paragraphs on human rights and equality which highlight that governing boards and proprietors should be aware of their obligations under the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010, including the Public Sector Equality Duty. The new paragraphs also set out specific responsibilities for schools and provide links out to further guidance.

It is worth noting that these paragraphs do not introduce any new requirements or legal duties for schools.

There is new information about children not being ready to report abuse

A new paragraph in part one of KCSIE 2022 states that all staff need to 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.

This paragraph was proposed as part of the consultation, but more information has been added in the final draft of KCSIE 2022 after some consultation respondents said they wanted greater clarity on why a child may not feel ready to share this information. The DfE has added to the finalised version of KCSIE about the importance of staff having professional curiosity and speaking to the DSL if they have a concern.

Domestic abuse guidance has been added to the main body of KCSIE

A new paragraph has been added to the main body of KCSIE 2022 which covers what domestic abuse is and how this can have an impact on children. KCSIE 2021 does currently have information on domestic abuse in Annex B; however, including this issue in the main body of KCSIE 2022 highlights the importance the DfE is placing on schools understanding this issue further and how the effects of abuse at home can have a long-term, detrimental impact on children.

Children who are LGBTQ+ have been identified as potentially at greater risk from harm

KCSIE 2022 highlights that children who are LGBTQ+, or who are perceived to be LGBTQ+, are potentially at greater risk of harm.

KCSIE 2022 includes further information on this issue than was originally proposed, and clarifies that a child being LGBTQ+ is not, in itself, an inherent risk factor, but does mean they could be targeted by other children. The finalised guidance also states that risks can be compounded where LGBTQ+ children lack a trusted adult with whom they can be open. KCSIE states that it is vital that staff seek to remove the additional barriers faced by these children and to provide them with a safe space to speak out. The document also reiterates that LGBTQ+ inclusion is part of the RSHE curriculum so there is a range of support available for schools.

More information about online safety has been added

A variety of changes have been made in KCSIE relating to online safety.

A new paragraph has been added which reinforces the importance of schools speaking to parents about ensuring children are safe online when they are away from school.

KCSIE 2022 also provides more information about the role of governors in filters and monitoring systems. The document states that governors should ensure school leaders and relevant staff are aware of and understand the provisions in place, manage them effectively, and know how to escalate concerns when identified.

A link has also been added to the DfE’s guidance on ‘Harmful online challenges and online hoaxes’. The guidance includes advice on preparing for any online challenges and hoaxes, sharing information with parents and where to get support.

There is new advice on carrying out an online search as part of the recruitment shortlisting process

KCSIE 2022 contains a new paragraph advising that schools should consider carrying out an online search as part of their due diligence on shortlisted candidates. The DfE has said this may help to identify any issues that the school may want to explore with the candidate during their interview.

The version of KCSIE published with the consultation made specific reference to checking social media; however, this has been omitted from the finalised version. This is because a number of consultation responses raised concerns that checking social media could be considered an invasion of privacy. The DfE has said it still wants schools to use their professional curiosity and that schools should use a search engine as another tool which provides more information about the suitability of an individual to work with children.

More clarity has been provided on sharing low-level concerns

KCSIE 2022 includes further clarity about how low-level concerns should be shared. The document published alongside the consultation said schools should ensure they have a clear and easy-to-understand process for low-level concerns to be reported. This version also said that who the concerns are reported to is for schools to decide, but the finalised version provides more detail on sharing low-level concerns.

The previous example of behaviour that might have led to a low-level concern (using inappropriate sexualised, intimidating and offensive language) has been replaced in the finalised KCSIE 2022 as the DfE has determined that this would not be considered a low-level concern.

The majority of the guidance on DSLs has been moved to Annex C

In the current 2021 version of KCSIE, there is a fair amount of information included in part two about the role of the DSL – in KCSIE 2022, much of this guidance has been moved to Annex C. The DfE has explained that this has been done to encourage people to read the full DSL job description that is set out in Annex C to ensure they fully understand the importance and breadth of the role.

What’s next?

Please note: KCSIE 2022 is currently for information only and does not come into force until 1 September 2022. Schools must continue to follow KCSIE 2021 until September.