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Last reviewed on 1 September 2020
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School types: All · School phases: All

A new version of Keeping Children Safe in Education came into force on 1 September. Find out what's changed and what you need to know.

Updates to this article

1 September: we updated this article to reflect that the 2020 version of Keeping Children Safe In Education (KCSIE) is now in force.

The only change from the draft version that was published in June is that the document now states that the COVID-19 safeguarding guidance no longer applies. 

5 key things for you to know

Read about the details in the sections below. The most important things to know are:

  • There's additional guidance for all staff on mental health, child criminal exploitation and child sexual exploitation
  • There's also new guidance for headteachers, DSLs and governors on supporting children with social workers and those who require mental health support
  • You should follow your procedure for managing allegations against staff where someone may have been involved in an incident outside of school which didn't involve children, but could have an impact on their suitability to work with them (e.g. domestic violence)
  • You should also use this procedure when allegations are made against supply staff, even if they're employed by an agency
  • The DfE has withdrawn the COVID-19 safeguarding guidance and instead, you'll need to follow the statutory requirements in KCSIE

The 2020 version of Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) came into force on 1 September. 

Part 1 – information for all staff

All staff working in schools are expected to read at least part 1 of KCSIE. The changes to this part are:

New information on mental health (paragraphs 4 and 34-38)

  • Mental health is explicitly included in the definition of safeguarding, which now includes "preventing impairment of children's mental and physical health or development"
  • New paragraphs have been added to say:
    • All staff should be aware that mental health problems can, in some cases, be an indicator that a child has suffered or is at risk of suffering abuse, neglect or exploitation
    • Only trained professionals should make a diagnosis of a mental health problem, but staff are well placed to observe children and identify those whose behaviour suggests they may be experiencing a mental health problem, or be at risk of developing one
    • Abuse, neglect and other traumatic adverse childhood experiences can have a lasting impact, and it's key that staff are aware of how these experiences can affect children's mental health, behaviour and education
    • Staff should take action on any mental health concerns that are also safeguarding concerns, following your school's child protection policy and speaking to the DSL or deputy
    • There's DfE guidance available on preventing and tackling bullying and mental health and behaviour, as well as Public Health England guidance on promoting children's emotional health and wellbeing and lesson plans and teaching materials from Rise Above

New information on child criminal exploitation (CCE) and child sexual exploitation (CSE) (paragraph 28)

  • A new paragraph on CCE and CSE explains that:
    • These are defined as forms of abuse where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance in power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child into sexual or criminal activity
    • The imbalance can be due to age, as well as other factors like gender, sexual identity, cognitive ability, physical strength, status and access to economic or other resources
    • In some cases, the abuse will be in exchange for something the victim needs or wants and/or will be to the financial benefit or other advantage (e.g. increased status) of the perpetrator or facilitator
    • It can be perpetrated by individuals or groups, males or females, and children or adults
    • It can be a one-off occurrence or be a series of incidents over time, and range from opportunistic to complex organised abuse
    • It can involve force and/or enticement-based methods of compliance and can involve violence or threats of violence
    • Victims can be exploited even when activity appears to be consensual
    • It can happen online as well as in person

 Other minor changes

  • Information about contextual safeguarding has been moved (it's now paragraph 21) and rewritten to make it clear that:
    • All staff should be aware that safeguarding incidents and/or behaviours can be associated with factors outside school and/or can occur between children outside of this environment
    • All staff should consider whether children are at risk of abuse or exploitation in situations outside their families (e.g. sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation, serious youth violence)
  • It's been clarified that staff should refer concerns or allegations about supply staff to the headteacher (paragraph 56)

Part 2 – the management of safeguarding

This is for headteachers, designated safeguarding lead (DSL) teams and governors.

New information on supporting children who need a social worker (paragraphs 109-112)

These paragraphs explain that:

  • Children may need a social worker due to safeguarding or welfare needs, such as abuse, neglect and complex family circumstances
  • These experiences can leave children vulnerable to further harm, as well as potentially creating barriers to attendance, learning, behaviour and mental health
  • Your local authority should tell you if a child has a social worker, and the DSL should hold and use this information in the best interests of the child's safety, welfare and educational outcomes, such as when decisions are made on:
    • Responding to unauthorised absence or missing education where there are known safeguarding risks
    • The provision of pastoral and/or academic support
  • There's further information in the findings from the Children in Need review, including the steps the government is taking to support this

New information on supporting children who require mental health support (paragraphs 113-116)

Some of this new guidance repeats what is already set out in part 1 (see above). The unique points set out here are:

  • Schools have an important role to play in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of their pupils
  • Governing boards should ensure there are clear systems and processes in place for identifying possible mental health problems, including routes to escalate and clear referral and accountability systems
  • The DfE will be supporting the costs of:
    • A training programme for senior mental health leads to develop a whole school approach to mental health (this should be available by 2025)
    • The national rollout of the Link Programme

Other minor changes

  • There's a new link for DSLs to NPCC guidance on when to call the police and what to expect if you do (paragraph 70)
  • The information on multi-agency working now reflects that new local safeguarding partner arrangements should now be in place (paragraphs 74-78)
  • Guidance on the GDPR has been clarified to explain that you can refuse to share information if a serious harm test is met (paragraph 84)
  • There's now a link to the DfE's data protection toolkit (paragraph 86)
  • It's been made clear that the guidance in Annex C will apply to children learning at home (paragraph 92)
  • There's new guidance and links to further advice on the introduction of compulsory relationships education (primary), relationships and sex education (secondary) and health education (all state-funded schools) (paragraph 94)
  • The recent changes to Ofsted's inspection framework are now reflected (paragraphs 96-98)
  • Your procedure for managing allegations against staff should cover supply staff (paragraph 101), and concerns that may meet the 'harm test' should be addressed as set out in part 4 of KCSIE (paragraph 102) – see the section below for a full explanation

Part 4 – allegations of abuse

Consider behaviours that indicate someone may not be suitable to work with children (paragraph 211)

  • A new bullet point in this paragraph now means that the procedures set out in part 4 of KCSIE should apply to anyone working in the school who has behaved, or may have behaved, in a way that indicates they may not be suitable to work with children
  • Annex H gives the example of a member of staff involved in domestic violence at home where no children were involved, but you would need to consider what triggered these actions and whether a child in school could trigger the same reaction and be put at risk

New guidance on handling allegations against supply staff (paragraphs 214-217)

These new paragraphs explain that:

  • In some cases you may have to consider an allegation against someone not directly employed by you, where your usual disciplinary procedures don't fully apply, like supply staff provided by an agency
  • You should make sure allegations are dealt with properly, and you shouldn't decide to stop using a supply teacher due to safeguarding concerns without finding out the facts and liaising with your LADO to determine a suitable outcome
  • Governing boards should discuss with the agency whether it's appropriate to suspend the supply teacher, or redeploy them to another part of the school, while they carry out their investigation
  • Agencies should be fully involved and co-operate in any enquiries, but your school will usually take the lead as the agency won't be able to collect the necessary information
  • The allegations management meeting should address issues such as information sharing, to ensure previous concerns or allegations known to the agency are taken into account
  • When using an agency, you should inform them of your process for managing allegations, including inviting the agency's HR manager or equivalent to meetings and keeping them up to date with information about your policies

Annexes A to C

Annex A – further information

There's updated guidance on:

  • Child criminal exploitation (CCE) – this has been separated from 'county lines', and explained in full as in part 1 of KCSIE (see above) with a new list of possible indicators
  • Child sexual exploitation (CSE) – this reflects the update to part 1 of KCSIE on this (see above)
  • County lines – there's a more in-depth explanation of the specific exploitation techniques used here
  • Domestic abuse – there's now an explanation that domestic abuse can impact children if they witness it at home and/or suffer it in an intimate personal relationship, and there are new links to additional information and support
  • Honour-based abuse – this used to be called 'honour-based violence', but the name has changed to recognise non-violent forms of abuse
  • Preventing radicalisation – there's new information on what terrorism looks like and more details on Channel
  • Upskirting – there's a more detailed description of what upskirting means

Annex B – DSLs

There's new guidance (page 100) to say that:

  • DSLs should help promote educational outcomes by sharing information about the welfare, safeguarding and child protection issues that children (including those with a social worker) are experiencing, or have experienced, with teachers and other staff
  • This could be done by, for example:
    • Making sure that staff know who these children are, understand their academic progress and attainment, and maintain a culture of high aspirations for them
    • Supporting teaching staff to identify the challenges that children in this group might face, and the additional academic support and adjustments that they could make to best support them

Annex C – online safety

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