Safeguarding training requirements

All staff should have safeguarding and child protection training. Find out what this should include, and how this differs for the DSL, headteacher, governors and volunteers. Use The Key Safeguarding to help you save time and stay compliant.

Last reviewed on 14 June 2023
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School types: All · School phases: All
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  1. All staff
  2. The DSL 
  3. Headteachers
  4. Governors and trustees
  5. Volunteers
  6. Safer recruitment 

All staff

All staff should undergo safeguarding and child protection training at induction 

It doesn’t have to be formal face-to-face training, and can include online learning. 

This training should: 

  • Include online safety
    • Covering an understanding of the expectations, applicable roles and responsibilities in relation to filtering and monitoring 
  • Be integrated, aligned and considered as part of your whole school safeguarding approach, and wider staff training and curriculum planning
  • Be updated regularly 
  • Be in line with advice from the 3 local safeguarding partners (the LA, the Integrated Care Board - previously the clinical commissioning group - for an area in the LA, and the chief officer of police for an area in the LA)
  • Have regard to the Teachers' Standards, with the expectation that teachers manage behaviour effectively to ensure a safe educational environment and have a clear understanding of the needs of all pupils
  • Give staff an awareness of the school's safeguarding systems, including: 
    • The child protection policy
    • The behaviour policy
    • The safeguarding response to children who are absent from education
    • The staff behaviour policy/code of conduct
    • The role and identity of the designated safeguarding lead (DSL) and any deputies 
    • The whistle-blowing procedure

Make sure you provide staff with copies of the child protection, behaviour and staff behaviour policies at induction.

In addition, make sure all staff are aware of their role in identifying and dealing with safeguarding issues, including being aware of:

  • The local early help process and understand their role in it
  • The process for making referrals to local authority children’s social care and for statutory assessments under the Children Act 1989
  • What to do if a child tells them they're being abused, exploited or neglected

Staff should also be aware of the appropriate level of confidentiality required when a child tells them about abuse. This means only involving those who need to be, such as the DSL (or a deputy) and local authority children’s social care. Staff should also understand that they should never promise a child that they will keep the matter to themselves, as this may not be in the best interests of the child.

Staff should know how to reassure victims that they are being taken seriously and that they will be supported and kept safe. A victim should never be made to feel like they are creating a problem by reporting abuse and/or neglect and should never be made to feel ashamed for making a report.

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. This should not prevent staff from having a professional curiosity and speaking to the DSL if they have concerns about a child.

Staff should also be aware of the types of pupils who are at higher risk and would benefit from early help. They should know the different kinds of safeguarding issues that can put pupils at risk of harm, and the signs to look out for. These issues include:

  • Abuse and neglect
  • Serious violence
  • Mental health problems
  • Female genital mutilation (FGM)
  • Domestic abuse
  • Child sexual exploitation (CSE)
  • Child criminal exploitation (CCE)
  • Child-on-child abuse

All staff who have regular contact with children must read at least part 1 of the 2023 version of Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE), in effect from 1 September 2023. For staff who don't have direct contact with children, you can choose whether they read part 1 or the condensed version found in annex A – but all staff must read 1 of these options.

If you're a Whole School member, or have Leaders+ membership with access to The Key Leaders and The Key Safeguarding, you can use our:
If you don't have access to The Key Safeguarding, download your free sample slides and watch previews of the videos in the INSET pack here.

How and when to provide safeguarding updates to staff 

You should regularly update all your staff members on child protection and safeguarding. "Regularly" here means "as required, and at least annually".

You can update staff via, for example, email, e-bulletins and staff meetings. The updates should provide staff with the skills and knowledge they need to safeguard pupils effectively.

This is explained in paragraphs 14, 124 and 125 of KCSIE (2023).

Prevent duty training: it’s not statutory, but it’s best practice

It's important for staff to have Prevent training, to enable them to identify children at risk of being drawn into terrorism and to challenge extremist ideas. 

As a minimum, your DSL (and any deputies) should undertake Prevent awareness training so they can advise and support staff in protecting children from the risk of radicalisation. But it’s best practice for all staff to be trained in the Prevent duty.

It's up to you as a school to decide how much training on Prevent your staff need, by evaluating what your staff already know and the risks that radicalisation poses to your pupils.

Read more about your responsibilities under the Prevent duty

If you're a Whole School member, or have Leaders+ membership with access to The Key Leaders and The Key Safeguarding, use our eLearning – it covers everything your staff need to know about the Prevent duty and what's expected of them. 

The DSL 

Before becoming the designated safeguarding lead (DSL), or a deputy, you should complete training that provides you with the knowledge and skills to perform the role. 

This training should be updated every 2 years. You should also update your knowledge and skills "at regular intervals, and at least annually".

These updates can include:

  • E-bulletins
  • Meetings with other DSLs
  • Taking time to read and digest safeguarding developments

What training should cover 

DSL training should help you to: 

  • Understand the assessment process for providing early help and intervention, for example, the local criteria for referral arrangements
  • Have a working knowledge of how LAs conduct child protection case conferences and child protection review conferences, and attend and contribute to these effectively when required
  • Understand the importance of the role the DSL has in providing information and support in order to safeguard and promote the welfare of children
  • Understand the lasting impact that adversity and trauma can have, including on children’s behaviour, mental health and wellbeing, and what is needed in responding to this to promote educational outcomes
  • Be alert to the specific needs of children in need, those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), those with relevant health conditions and young carers
  • Understand the importance of information sharing, both within your school, and with the 3 safeguarding partners and other agencies, organisations and practitioners
  • Be able to keep detailed, accurate and secure written records of concerns and referrals
  • Understand and support the school with regards to the requirements of the Prevent duty, and be able to provide advice and support to staff on protecting children from the risk of radicalisation
  • Understand the unique risks associated with online safety, and be confident you have the knowledge and capability to keep children safe while online at school
  • Recognise the additional risks that children with SEND face online, and be confident you have the capability to support SEND children to stay safe online
  • Obtain access to resources and attend any relevant or refresher training courses
  • Encourage a culture of listening to children and taking account of their wishes and feelings, among all staff, in any measures the school may put in place to protect them

You and your deputies should also have a good understanding of harmful sexual behaviour (HSB), which could form part of your safeguarding training.

This is explained in KCSIE 2023 (pages 168 to 170). 

Read more about the role of the DSL

If you're a Whole School member, or have Leaders+ membership with access to The Key Leaders and The Key Safeguarding, use our DSL refresher eLearning to refresh their training. It covers the core aspects of the DSL role, as set out in Keeping Children Safe in Education.


In primary schools it's good practice for the headteacher to be trained to the same level as the DSL. This is because primary schools often have smaller leadership teams, and the headteacher may be more involved in dealings with parents/carers and other agencies.  

In secondary schools, the headteacher should have more training than an ordinary staff member, but this doesn't necessarily need to be to the same level as the DSL. They need to be on top of things and should do some wider reading, so they’re equipped to discuss issues with the DSL if needed.

However, it's good practice for at least 1 other member of the senior leadership team (SLT) in a secondary school to be trained to the same level as the school’s DSL. While this could be the headteacher, it might be more appropriate for this to be a member of the SLT who's doing work on specific areas of leadership, such as attendance or pastoral care.

Headteachers in both primary and secondary schools should have training in managing allegations against staff. Headteachers will usually be the case manager if an allegation is made (see paragraph 358 of KCSIE 2023, linked above), so need to be confident in how to handle this.

If you're a headteacher, you should also have training on:

  • Safer recruitment, to be able to recruit in a way that makes sure you can filter out anyone who'd be unsuitable (see the last section of this article) 
  • Equal opportunities, and schools’ responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010 – there’s a crossover with safeguarding here in terms of understanding the implications of the legislation

As KCSIE doesn't specifically refer to safeguarding training for headteachers, we’d like to thank our associate education expert Gulshan Kayembe for her help with this section.

Governors and trustees

Every governor and trustee should undergo safeguarding training, including online safety, at induction, which is regularly updated. The training should give governors enough knowledge to assess whether the safeguarding procedures and policies are effective and robust. This is set out on page 111 of the Governance Handbook.  

If you're a Whole School member, or have Leaders+ membership with access to The Key Leaders and The Key Safeguarding, get your governors to take our governor training course in order to meet this expectation. 

Chairs of governors should also have training on handling allegations against staff, as they will be the case manager in the event of an allegation against the headteacher or principal (see paragraph 358 of KCSIE 2023, linked above). Our associate expert Gulshan Kayembe advised this. 


It's up to you to decide whether volunteers need safeguarding training.

You should take "a proportionate, risk-based approach" to determining what level of information to give volunteers and temporary staff on and after induction (see paragraph 101 of KCSIE 2023, linked above). 

Safer recruitment 

It's a legal requirement for maintained schools to ensure that at least 1 of the people conducting an interview has done safer recruitment training. It's best practice for academies to also adhere to this (see paragraph 209 of KCSIE 2023, linked above). 

The requirement is set out in regulation 9 of the School Staffing (England) Regulations 2009.

This training should cover the content of part 3 of KCSIE 2023 as a minimum, but you can seek advice from your 3 local safeguarding partners about what it should cover in your area and how often you should refresh it (see paragraphs 208 and 209 of KCSIE 2023). 

Training providers may also stipulate whether their certificates expire, and if so, how often they should be refreshed. You should check how long your certificate remains valid with your provider. 

Regardless of whether there is an expiry date on your certificate, it's good practice to regularly review your knowledge every 2 or 3 years.

This was explained to us by Jacqueline Baker, one of our associate education experts.

If you're a Whole School member, or have Leaders+ membership with access to The Key Leaders and The Key Safeguarding, you can use our eLearning course on safer recruitment to meet this requirement.


Jacqueline Baker is an education consultant who specialises in senior leadership recruitment. She supports schools through the recruitment process and helps them develop leadership capacity. Jacqueline also has experience as a chair of a governing board. 

Gulshan Kayembe is an independent consultant who has experience of inspecting schools. As a consultant, she provides mentoring for senior leaders and has worked as an external adviser on headteachers’ performance management.

Article updates

14 June 2023

We've updated this article in line with Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) 2023, which will come into force on 1 September 2023.

KCSIE specifies that safeguarding training for all staff should include understanding the expectations, applicable roles and responsibilities in relation to filtering and monitoring.

There have been no other changes to your requirements.

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