Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE): summary

Read the key points in Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) 2022 and know where to look for information on specific areas of safeguarding in the statutory guidance.

Last reviewed on 25 May 2022
See updates
School types: Maintained, Special, Academy, Independent · School phases: All
Ref: 10122
  1. Overview 
  2. Part 1: safeguarding information for all staff
  3. Part 2: the management of safeguarding
  4. Part 3: safer recruitment
  5. Part 4: safeguarding concerns and allegations made about staff
  6. Part 5: child-on-child sexual violence and sexual harassment 
  7. Annexes

A new version of KCSIE comes into force on 1 September 2022

We've updated this article in line with the new version. If you want to find out what's new for this year, read our summary of the changes.


Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) is organised into 5 parts: 

  1. Safeguarding information for all staff
  2. The management of safeguarding
  3. Safer recruitment
  4. Safeguarding concerns raised about, and allegations made against staff (including supply teachers, volunteers and contractors)
  5. Child-on-child sexual violence and sexual harassment 

Part 1: safeguarding information for all staff

All school staff working directly with children are expected to read at least this section. Staff who don't work directly with children on a regular basis can instead read a condensed version of part 1 (located in annex A).

Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is everyone's responsibility.

Staff should at all times consider what is in the best interests of the child.

All staff should:

  • Provide a safe environment in which children can learn
  • Know about (and feel confident to use) school safeguarding systems, including:
    • Policies on child protection, pupil behaviour and staff behaviour (your code of conduct)
    • Your safeguarding response to children who go missing from education
    • The role and identity of your designated safeguarding lead (DSL) and any deputies

They need to know:

  • How to identify children who may benefit from early help, what your local early help process is and their role in it
  • How to make referrals to children's social care and for the statutory assessments that may follow a referral, and their role in these assessments
  • How to identify signs of abuse and neglect, and what to do if a child makes a disclosure
  • That child-on-child abuse can happen between children both inside and outside school 
  • That children can be at risk of abuse or exploitation in situations outside their families (e.g. sexual abuse, domestic abuse, criminal exploitation, serious youth violence, county lines and radicalisation), and consider when this might be the case
  • That technology is a significant component in many safeguarding and wellbeing issues, and that children are at risk of abuse and other risks online as well as face to face
  • How to maintain confidentiality by only involving those who need to be involved
  • That they should never promise a child confidentiality
  • That victims of abuse should know they'll be taken seriously, be supported and kept safe. They shouldn't be made to feel ashamed for making a report or that they're creating a problem
  • That children may not feel ready or know how to tell someone they're being abused, exploited or neglected, and children may feel embarrassed, humiliated or threatened - this shouldn't prevent staff from having a professional curiosity and speaking to the DSL

You should give all staff appropriate safeguarding and child protection training (including online safety) at induction, which is regularly updated. And they should receive safeguarding updates at least annually, for example via email or staff meetings.

The sections below go into more detail about what staff need to know and do:

How to respond to concerns 

If staff have concerns about a child

They should:

  • Act immediately
  • Follow your child protection policy
  • Speak to your DSL (or deputy) as soon as they can

The DSL may then choose to:

  • Manage any support for the child internally using the school's pastoral support processes
  • Do an early help assessment
  • Make a referral for statutory services

If the DSL or deputy is not available, staff should:

  • Not delay taking action
  • Speak to a member of the senior leadership team (SLT)
  • Contact the local children's social care directly, if appropriate, and follow advice
  • Tell the DSL or deputy about any actions taken as soon as possible

If a child is in immediate danger or at risk of harm, staff should:

  • Make a referral to local authority children's social care (and the police, if appropriate – get guidance on when to call the policeimmediately
  • Keep a log of all concerns, discussions and decisions made, and the reasons for those decisions (this information should be kept confidential and stored securely)
  • Discuss any uncertainties about recording requirements with the DSL or deputy

If staff have concerns about female genital mutilation (FGM) they should speak to the DSL or deputy immediately. There's a specific legal duty on teachers – where a teacher discovers that FGM has been carried out on a girl under the age of 18, they must report this to the police.

Staff should know what poor practice looks like

This includes:

  • Failing to act on the early signs of abuse and neglect
  • Poor record keeping
  • Failing to listen to the views of the child
  • Failing to reassess concerns when the situation does not improve
  • Not sharing information, or sharing it too slowly
  • Not challenging those who aren't taking action

Concerns about a staff member (including supply staff, volunteers and contractors) posing a risk of harm to children

You should have procedures in place to manage any safeguarding concerns or allegations about staff members. Staff should tell the headteacher immediately if:

  • They have safeguarding concerns that a member of staff is posing a risk of harm to pupils
  • An allegation is made against another member of staff

If the concerns relate to the headteacher, the staff member should tell the chair of governors.

If the headteacher is also the sole proprietor of an independent school, the staff member should tell the local authority designated officer (LADO). 

If you have concerns or an allegation is made about another staff member and there's a conflict of interest in reporting to the headteacher, this should also be directly reported to the LADO.

Concerns about safeguarding practice

Staff should follow your whistle-blowing procedures if they're worried about poor or unsafe practice, so these concerns can be raised with the senior leadership team (SLT).

They can contact the NSPCC whistleblowing advice line if they:

  • Feel unable to talk to the headteacher or chair of governors
  • Feel that their genuine concerns aren't being addressed

What staff need to be alert to

Staff should know the indicators of abuse and neglect ...

Abuse is a form of maltreatment of a child and can take the form of:

  • Physical abuse – involving hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. This can also be caused by a parent or carer fabricating the symptoms of, or deliberately inducing illness in a child
  • Emotional abuse – persistent emotional maltreatment, which causes severe and adverse effects on the child's emotional development
  • Sexual abuse – forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening

Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child's basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of their health or development.

This is explained further on pages 10 and 11 of KCSIE 2022.

... and about behaviours linked to issues that can put children in danger

These include:

  • Drug use
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Deliberately missing education
  • Serious violence (including that linked to county lines)
  • Radicalisation
  • Consensual and non-consensual sharing of nude and semi-nude images and/or videos

Child-on-child abuse

All staff should be aware that children can abuse other children, both inside and outside of school and online, including through:

  • Bullying (including cyber-bullying, prejudice-based and discriminatory bullying)
  • Abuse in intimate personal relationships (sometimes known as 'teenage relationship abuse')
  • Physical abuse (which may include an online element)
  • Sexual violence (which may include an online element)
  • Sexual harassment, including online sexual harassment
  • Causing someone to engage in sexual activity without consent
  • Consensual and non-consensual sharing of nude and semi-nude images and/or videos (also known as 'sexting')
  • Upskirting (which typically involves taking a picture under a person’s clothes without their permission)
  • Initiation/hazing type violence and rituals, which may include an online element

Child criminal exploitation (CCE) and child sexual exploitation (CSE)

Staff should know that CCE and CSE:

  • Are forms of abuse where a person or group takes advantage of an imbalance in power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child into taking part in sexual or criminal activity:
    • In exchange for something the child needs or wants; and/or
    • For the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator(s) or facilitator(s); and/or
    • Through violence or the threat of violence
  • Can affect children both male and female, and can include children who have been moved (commonly referred to as trafficking) for the purpose of exploitation

In relation to CCE, staff should also know:

  • The common forms it can take (including drug trafficking through county lines, working in cannabis factories, shoplifting or pickpocketing and committing vehicle crime or threatening/committing serious violence)
  • Children may become trapped as they or their families may be threatened with violence and they may be trapped or coerced into debt or carrying weapons, or begin to carry them as a form of protection
  • Children involved in criminal exploitation need to be recognised and treated as victims (particularly older children, whose vulnerability is often not recognised by adults), even though they may commit crimes themselves
  • Even if a criminal activity appears to be consensual, the perpetrator may have been criminally exploited
  • Girls are at risk of criminal exploitation too, even though their experience may be different from boys'

In relation to CSE, staff should also know:

  • The types of activities that it covers, including physical contact and non-contact activities
  • Which pupils it can affect
  • That some children may not realise they've been exploited (e.g. they may believe they're in a romantic relationship)
  • It can be a one-off or a series of incidents over time and may happen without the child knowing (e.g. through the sharing of images of them on social media)

Domestic abuse

Staff should know:

  • It can encompass a wide range of behaviours and it may be a single incident or a pattern of incidents
  • 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
  • It can have a detrimental long-term impact on children's health, wellbeing, development and ability to learn

Serious violence

All staff should also be aware of the indicators that children may be at risk from, or are involved in, serious violent crime. These may include:

  • Increased absence from school
  • Changing friendships, or forming friendships with older individuals or groups
  • Significant decline in performance
  • Signs of self-harm or assault, or unexplained injuries
  • Significant change in wellbeing
  • Unexplained gifts or possessions

Staff should also know the risk factors that increase the likelihood of involvement in serious violence, such as:

  • Being male
  • Having been frequently absent or permanently excluded from school
  • Having experienced child maltreatment
  • Having been involved in offending, such as theft or robbery

Mental health 

Staff should be aware that mental health problems can be an indicator that a child has suffered or is at risk of suffering abuse, neglect or exploitation.

Staff should know that only trained professionals should attempt to make a diagnosis of a mental health problem, but that all staff should:

  • Observe children day-to-day and identify those whose behaviour suggests that they may be experiencing a mental health problem or be at risk of developing one
  • Report any mental health concern about a child that's also a safeguarding concern immediately by following your school's child protection policy and speaking to the DSL or deputy

Train your staff on pupil mental health using our resources in Safeguarding Training Centre. If you're not yet a Safeguarding Training Centre member, find out more here

Our safeguarding and child protection INSET pack covers everything your staff need to know from KCSIE part 1. If you aren't yet a member of The Key Safeguarding, download your free sample slides and watch previews of the videos in the pack here.

Part 2: the management of safeguarding

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

Governing boards (and proprietors of independent schools) have strategic leadership responsibility for their school's safeguarding arrangements. 

Your board must:

  • Make sure they comply with their duties under legislation
  • Make sure your school's policies, procedures and training are effective, comply with legislation and are in line with KCSIE

And should:

  • Appoint a board member responsible for the school's safeguarding arrangements
  • Receive appropriate safeguarding and child protection (including online) training at induction, which is regularly updated, to equip them with the knowledge to provide strategic challenge. This is so they can be assured that safeguarding policies and procedures are effective, and support your school to deliver a robust whole-school approach to safeguarding
  • Be aware of their obligations under the Human Rights Act 1998, the Equality Act 2010, the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) and their local multi-agency safeguarding arrangements
  • Facilitate a whole-school approach to safeguarding – making sure that safeguarding and child protection are 'at the forefront' and underpin all relevant aspects of process and policy development
  • Make sure your DSL:
    • Is from the SLT
    • Has the duty of lead responsibility for safeguarding and child protection (including online safety) explicitly in their job description
    • Has the appropriate status and authority, and additional time, funding, training, resources and support needed to carry out their role effectively
  • Make sure children are taught about safeguarding, including online safety and where necessary that teaching is adapted for those with specific needs and vulnerabilities, including victims of abuse and some pupils with special educational needs (SEN) and/or disabilities
  • Ensure any systems, processes and policies operate with the pupil's best interests at heart

The sections below go into detail about each of your responsibilities:


You must have effective safeguarding policies in place, which you should give to all staff at induction.

Headteachers should make sure all staff follow these policies, especially those on how to make referrals for cases of suspected abuse or neglect.

Your school should have a child protection policy. This should include:

  • Procedures that are in accordance with government guidance
  • Your whole-school approach to child-on-child abuse, and your policy and procedures to deal with it
  • Procedures to minimise the risk of child-on-child abuse and processes as to how victims, perpetrators and any other children affected will be supported
  • Recognition that child-on-child abuse may be taking place, even if not reported
  • A statement outlining a zero-tolerance approach to abuse and recognition that all child-on-child abuse is unacceptable and will be taken seriously
  • The different forms of child-on-child abuse
  • Recognition that there may be additional barriers when recognising abuse for pupils with SEN and/or disabilities and/or certain health conditions
  • Systems in place for pupils to report abuse (which should be well promoted, easily understood and easily accessible)
  • How allegations will be recorded, investigated and dealt with, in line with government guidance
  • Locally agreed multi-agency procedures put in place by the safeguarding partners (see 'Multi-agency working' below)
  • Links to policies on online safety, SEND and, if appropriate, serious violence and sexual harassment

And it should be: 

  • Updated at least every year
  • Publicly available (e.g. via the school website)

Your behaviour policy should include measures to prevent bullying, including cyberbullying, prejudice-based and discriminatory bullying

Your staff behaviour policy or code of conduct should cover at least:

  • Low-level concerns
  • Allegations against staff and whistle-blowing
  • Acceptable use of technologies, including mobile devices
  • Relationships between staff and pupils
  • Communications, including the use of social media

You can download and adapt model versions of these policies from our Policy Expert

Multi-agency working

You need to work with other agencies, as set out in Working Together to Safeguard Children.

This includes:

  • Providing a co-ordinated offer of early help where needs are identified
  • Contributing to inter-agency plans to support children who are subject to child protection plans
  • Allowing access for local authority children’s social care to conduct section 17 or 47 assessments

You'll need to work with your safeguarding partners:

  • Local authority (LA)
  • Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) (previously known as clinical commissioning group)
  • Chief officer of police 

If the safeguarding partners have named your school as a 'relevant agency', you have a statutory duty to co-operate with their published arrangements. 

Your governing board should:

  • Make themselves aware of, and follow, their local arrangements
  • Be prepared to supply information requested by the safeguarding partners
  • Understand the local criteria for action and protocol for assessment, and make sure these are reflected in your policies and procedures

Information sharing

Governing boards, proprietors and staff need to make sure that:

  • Arrangements are in place that set out principles and processes to share information within the school, and with the safeguarding partners, local authority children's social care, and others as required
  • School staff are proactive in sharing information as early as possible to help identify, assess and respond to concerns about the safety and welfare of children
  • Staff are aware of their obligations under the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) and the Data Protection Act (DPA) 2018
  • Staff are aware that data protection regulations do not prevent information sharing for the purpose of keeping children safe
  • Staff are aware that they have the power to withhold information to promote children’s welfare, as well as share it
  • Child protection files are maintained in line with the guidance in Annex C of KCSIE 2022

Your board should make sure that relevant staff:

  • Have due regard to the data protection principles, which allow them to share, and withhold, personal information
  • Are confident of the processing conditions that allow them to store and share information for safeguarding purposes
  • Are aware that, if they need to share ‘special category personal data’, the DPA 2018 contains ‘safeguarding of children and individuals at risk’ as a processing condition that allows them to share information
  • Are aware that the school can refuse to share pupils' personal data if a serious harm test is met

Get further advice on sharing safeguarding information here.

Training for staff 

You should provide safeguarding and child protection training at induction, and make sure it is updated regularly. This should follow advice from your local safeguarding partners. Staff should also receive regular safeguarding and child protection updates at least annually, via email, staff meetings, etc. 

Your DSL and any deputies should undertake training on their role, and update this at least every 2 years. They should also undertake Prevent awareness training.

Your DSL and deputies should refresh their knowledge and skills at least once a year through:

  • E-bulletins
  • Meeting other DSLs
  • Reading about safeguarding developments

Online safety

You should: 

  • Consider the 4 areas of online safety risk – content, contact, conduct and commerce – when developing your online safety policy
  • Consider how online safety is reflected in all relevant policies, and consider it when planning the curriculum, teacher training, the role of the DSL and parental engagement
  • Have a clear policy on the use of mobile and smart technology, which reflects how you manage online child-on-child abuse in school
  • Make sure your school uses regular contact with parents and carers to reinforce the importance of online safety, including making parents aware of what you ask children to do online (e.g. sites they need to visit or who they'll be interacting with online) 
  • Make sure there are appropriate internet filters and monitoring systems in place to protect pupils from harmful and inappropriate content online
  • Make sure you have the appropriate level of security measures in place to protect your systems, staff and pupils
  • Review your approach annually, including a risk assessment that considers and reflects the risks your pupils face

Allegations against a staff member

Make sure you have procedures to manage any safeguarding concerns or allegations about staff

This includes supply staff, volunteers and contractors. 

You should refer to your local authority designated officer (LADO) any allegations against staff that might indicate they pose a risk of harm to children.

You should follow procedures set out in part 4, section 1 of KCSIE for addressing allegations that may meet the harms threshold and part 4, section 2 for lower-level concerns. 

Your procedures must include how to make a referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) if a member of your staff working in regulated activity has been dismissed or removed for safeguarding reasons (or would have been if they hadn't resigned). 

Part 4 of KCSIE has more information about this.

Making referrals to the DBS

You have a legal duty to make a referral to the DBS where a person in regulated activity has been dismissed or removed due to safeguarding concerns or would have been had they not resigned. 

Part 3 of KCSIE includes more details on when to make a referral to the DBS.

Children potentially at greater risk of harm 

Children who need a social worker 

Children may need a social worker due to abuse, neglect and/or complex family circumstances. Experiences of adversity and trauma can leave children vulnerable to further harm, as well as potentially creating barriers to attendance, learning, behaviour and mental health.

Your LA 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. This includes when decisions are made about safeguarding and promoting welfare, such as:

  • Responding to unauthorised absence or missing education where there are known safeguarding risks
  • The provision of pastoral and/or academic support

Children missing from education 

You must provide your LA with certain information when removing a child from your school roll. This is because children missing from education, particularly persistently, can be an indicator of a range of safeguarding issues including neglect, sexual abuse, and child sexual and criminal exploitation.

Your response to this happening should aim to help identify any abuse and limit the risk of the child going missing in the future.

Elective home education (EHE)

If a parent/carer requests their child is educated at home, you should work with your LA and other key professionals to co-ordinate a meeting with the parents/carers, where possible. This is to make sure the decision is made in the best interests of the child. 

This is particularly important where a child has SEN and/or a disability, is vulnerable, and/or has a social worker.

Looked-after children (LAC) and previously LAC

The most common reason for children becoming 'looked after' is as a result of abuse and/or neglect.

Make sure:

  • Your staff have the skills, knowledge and understanding needed to keep LAC and previously LAC safe
    • This includes information regarding the child's legal status and parental contact arrangements
  • Your governing board appoints a designated teacher to promote the educational achievement of these children
    • This person must be appropriately trained
  • The DSL has details of the child’s social worker and the name of the virtual school head in the authority that looks after the child
  • The designated teacher for LAC works with the virtual school head to discuss how best to use funding to support the progress of LAC and meet the needs identified in the child's personal education plan
    • They should also work with the virtual school head to promote the educational achievement of previously LAC

Children needing mental health support 

Governing boards should make sure there are:

  • Clear processes for identifying possible mental health problems 
  • Routes to escalate concerns 
  • 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 roll-out of the Link Programme

Having a senior mental health lead isn't compulsory, but it's expected that any individual taking up this position would be a member of, or supported by the SLT, and could be the pastoral lead, special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) or DSL.

Care leavers

Your LA appoints personal advisers for young people who become care leavers.

Your DSL should:

  • Have details of the personal adviser appointed to support a care leaver
  • Liaise with the personal adviser regarding any concerns affecting the care leaver

Children with special educational needs (SEN) and/or disabilities, or health issues

These children can face additional safeguarding challenges.

Make sure your child protection policy reflects that additional barriers can exist to recognising abuse and neglect in children with SEN and/or disabilities, or health issues. These can include:

  • Assumptions being made that possible indicators of abuse relate to the child's disability, without further exploration
  • Peer isolation
  • Being disproportionately more affected by issues such as bullying
  • Communication barriers and difficulties in overcoming those
  • Cognitive understanding barriers – for example, being unable to understand the difference between fact and fiction in online content, or the consequences of repeating the content/behaviours in school

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

Recognise that:

  • These children can be targeted by other children
  • It's vital you provide a safe space for these children to speak out and share their concerns with members of staff

Pupils in alternative provision

These pupils often have complex needs and as a result, they may be more at risk of harm. 

Page 42 of KCSIE includes links to guidance for alternative provision settings.

Use of reasonable force 

In some circumstances, it's appropriate for your staff to use reasonable force to safeguard children.

The decision on whether or not to use reasonable force to control or restrain a child:

  • Is down to the professional judgement of the staff concerned
  • Should always depend on individual circumstances

If you need to use reasonable force to respond to risks presented by incidents involving children with SEN, disabilities, mental health problems or medical conditions, you should:

  • Carefully recognise the additional vulnerability of these groups
  • Consider your duties under the Equality Act 2010

Part 3: safer recruitment

Recruitment processes  

  • Adverts should:
    • Include details on your commitment to safeguarding
    • Make it clear that safeguarding checks will be carried out
    • Include the safeguarding responsibilities of the post
    • Outline whether the post is exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974
  • Application forms should: 
    • State that it's an offence to apply for a role involving regulated activity with children if the applicant is barred from this type of activity
    • Include a copy of your child protection policy and policy on employment of ex-offenders, or refer/link to those policies your website
  • When shortlisting, you should:
    • Ask shortlisted candidates to complete a criminal record self-declaration form. See the link on page 53 of KCSIE 2022 for more guidance on this
    • Have at least 2 people shortlisting candidates  
    • Consider any inconsistencies and look for gaps in employment and reasons given
    • Explore all potential concerns
    • Consider carrying out an online search on shortlisted candidates to help identify any issues that are publicly available online
  • When seeking references, you should:
    • Obtain these before the interview 
    • Obtain a reference from the candidate’s current employer and a reference from the relevant employer from the last time they worked with children (if not currently working with children)
    • Contact the referee to make sure the information given is legitimate and to clarify any information that's vague or insufficient
    • Resolve any concerns before confirming the appointment  
  • When selecting candidates, you should use: 
    • A range of selection techniques to identify the most suitable person for the post
    • Interviews to explore potential areas of concern and to determine the applicant’s suitability to work with children

Go to pages 51 to 55 of KCSIE for more detailed guidance on the above.

Pre-employment checks

You'll need to carry out an enhanced DBS check including children's barred list information for all staff engaging in regulated activity (most of your staff will fall into this category) – see our article on DBS checks for further details on these requirements. 

You'll also need to carry out the other necessary pre-employment checks, including verifying the applicant's:

  • Identity
  • Mental and physical fitness to carry out their work responsibilities
  • Professional qualifications
  • Right to work in the UK – if the applicant has lived or worked outside of the UK, you'll need to make further 'appropriate checks'
  • Employment history and references (see more on references in the section above)

Depending on their role, you also need to check that they're not subject to:

Download our list of required checks for new staff and governors to make sure you're staying compliant. 

Single central record (SCR)

You must keep a single central record (SCR) to demonstrate you've carried out the mandatory pre-appointment checks referred to above. It can be in paper or electronic format.

Your SCR must cover:

  • All staff (including supply and agency staff, and trainee teachers on salaried routes)
  • If you're in an independent school, all members of the proprietor body (for academies and free schools this means members and trustees)

For each staff member you must record:

  • Which checks you've carried out or certificates you've obtained
  • What date you carried out the checks or obtained the certificates

If you're in a multi-academy trust (MAT), you must hold this centrally but you need to make sure you can separate out the information on your SCR for each school in the trust, so it can provide it without delay to inspectors.

Use our SCR template and read our summary for further details on what you need to record. 

Making referrals to the DBS

You must make a referral to the DBS if you've removed someone from regulated activity (or would have done if they hadn't left) and you believe they have: 

  • Engaged in relevant conduct with children and/or adults; and/or 
  • Satisfied the harm test in relation to children and/or vulnerable adults; and/or
  • Been cautioned or convicted of a relevant (automatic barring either with or without the right to make representations) offence

Part 4: safeguarding concerns and allegations made about staff

This includes teachers, supply staff, volunteers and contractors. 

Use this guidance where a member of staff has allegedly done any of the following:

  • Behaved in a way that has harmed a child, or may have harmed a child
  • Committed a criminal offence against or related to a child
  • Behaved in a way that indicates they may pose a risk of harm to children
  • Behaved or may have behaved in a way that indicates they may not be suitable to work with children

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

These reports are complex and require difficult professional decisions, which you often have to make quickly and under pressure. Pre-planning, effective training and effective policies will help you to make calm, considered and appropriate responses.

When developing your policies and procedures, keep in mind that:

  • All staff need to maintain an attitude of 'it could happen here'
  • Addressing inappropriate behaviour can help prevent abusive/violent behaviour
  • Victims of this abuse will likely find the experience distressing, which can affect their progress in school. This can be made worse if the alleged perpetrator attends the same school
  • All victims should know they'll be taken seriously, be supported and kept safe. They shouldn't be made to feel ashamed for making a report or that they are causing a problem by reporting sexual violence or sexual harassment

You should read part 5 alongside the DfE's advice on sexual violence and harassment between children

Take a look at the following articles to help you tackle sexual harassment in your school:


  • Annex A – is a condensed version of part 1 (that can be read by staff who don't work directly with children)
  • Annex B – includes detailed guidance on specific safeguarding issues, such as:
    • Child abduction and community safety incidents
    • Child criminal exploitation (CCE)
    • Child sexual exploitation (CSE)
    • County lines 
    • Children and the court system
    • Children missing from education
    • Cybercrime
    • Domestic abuse 
    • Homelessness
    • Mental health
    • Modern slavery and the national referral mechanism
    • Preventing radicalisation 
    • Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children
    • Serious violence
    • So-called 'honour'-based abuse
  • Annex C – sets out the role of the DSL


The DfE's statutory safeguarding guidance, Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) 2022

Article updates

25 May 2022

We updated this article in line with Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) 2022.

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