Image of New KCSIE 2023 statutory safeguarding guidance: how to get ready for September

New KCSIE 2023 statutory safeguarding guidance: how to get ready for September

The Department of Education (DfE) has updated Keeping children safe in education (KCSIE) for 2023, replacing KCSIE 2022. This document sets out statutory safeguarding requirements for schools and colleges and comes into force on 1 September 2023.

We’ve just launched a series of webinars to help you determine your statutory safeguarding and online safety priorities for the new academic year, aligned with the new guidance. Please click here to browse our programme which offers expert guidance for specific phases and types of school.

In the blog below, Lorna Ponambalum, senior leader and safeguarding consultant with over 15 years’ experience as a designated safeguarding lead (DSL), guides you through the essential elements of KCSIE, exploring the latest changes and the next steps for schools and colleges in preparation for September.

What is KCSIE?

Keeping children safe in education (KCSIE) is statutory guidance produced by the DfE and issued under Section 175 of the Education Act 2002. It sets out the legal duties that all schools, colleges, and other institutes of education in England must follow when performing their duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children under the age of eighteen.

The guidance was first introduced in 2014 to ensure that all staff working in education were recognised as having a key role in the safeguarding of children and young people, and that the education sector was identified as a vital component of the wider safeguarding system.

KCSIE is a 179-page document and is organised into five parts which are as follows:

Part 1: Safeguarding information for all staff – This part should be read and understood by all school and college staff. Part 1 of the guidance is also available as a standalone document. Staff who do not work directly with children on a regular basis can read a shortened version of Part 1 (found in Annex A)

Part 2: The management of safeguarding – This part is aimed at headteachers, designated safeguarding leads (DSL) and their teams, and governors. It outlines the responsibilities of governing bodies, proprietors and management committees

Part 3: Safer recruitment – This part refers to an organisation’s recruitment processes and includes information about:

  • advertising
  • applications
  • shortlisting
  • interviewing
  • selection
  • pre-employment checks
  • record keeping

Part 4: Allegations made against/concerns raised in relation to teachers, including supply teachers, other staff, volunteers and contractors

Part 5: Child-on-child sexual violence and sexual harassment. This section was expanded in the 2022 version of KCSIE, and incorporated the previously separate DfE non-statutory advice entitled Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges

There are also six annexes at the end of the guidance which are:

Annex A which is a shortened version of Part 1 that can be read and understood by staff who do not work directly with children, such as school keepers

Annex B which should also be read and understood by all staff as it includes further guidance on specific safeguarding issues such as:

  • child abduction and community safety incidents
  • child criminal exploitation (CCE) and child sexual exploitation (CSE)
  • county lines
  • children and the court system
  • children missing from education
  • children with family members in prison
  • cybercrime
  • domestic abuse
  • homelessness
  • mental health
  • modern slavery and the National Referral Mechanism
  • preventing radicalisation
  • The Prevent duty and Channel
  • sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges
  • serious violence
  • so-called ‘honour-based’ abuse (including female genital mutilation and forced marriage)
  • forced marriage

Annex C which outlines the role of the DSL

Annex D which focuses on host families and homestay during exchange visits

Annex E is the statutory guidance for regulated activity (children), supervision of activity with children which is regulated activity when unsupervised

Annex F which changes each year as it sets out substantive changes made by the new guidance

KCSIE also explains the structures that schools and colleges must have in place. This includes having a specific safeguarding policy, which must be displayed on their website. Ofsted are likely to view this as part their pre-inspection work. The guidance also says that all educational establishments must have a DSL, who is at the right level of seniority. All staff should know who the DSL is and should know how to contact them when issues of a safeguarding nature arise.

Why is Keeping children safe in education so important?

KCSIE is essential for overall wellbeing and development of all children and young people. Safeguarding children is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that they are protected from harm and abuse, not only whilst they are in school but whilst they are online or within the school’s or college’s vicinity. Safeguarding includes protecting children and young people from physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, neglect, bullying and harassment. Having a safe and nurturing environment for children in schools and colleges is vital for their happiness, academic progress and mental health.

KCSIE also makes it clear that all staff should have safeguarding and child protection training (including online safety) at induction, with training being regularly updated. This means at least annually. The guidance also has information and tools that educational establishments can use to help keep children safe online. Furthermore, there are a bank of resources that schools and colleges can signpost to parents and carers to help them keep their children safe from different risks online.

What is the role of the DSL in Keeping children safe in education?

Whilst every school and college must have a DSL, it is governing boards (and proprietors of independent schools) who have strategic leadership responsibility for their school's or college’s safeguarding arrangements.

The DSL should meet regularly with the designated governor or trustee for safeguarding to discuss key safeguarding priorities. However, it is important to make sure that all of the governing body or board of trustees:

  • fulfil their duties under legislation
  • check that a school's or college’s safeguarding policies, procedures and training are effective
  • follow legislation in line with KCSIE

Why is Keeping children safe in education revised each year?

The guidance is usually updated annually to reflect any changes in legislation, such as the Coronavirus Act 2020, any changes in government policy such as Brexit, any reviews or reports on particular safeguarding issues such as the 2021 Ofsted’s review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges, or any other issues relating to the safety of children and young people.

What are the changes to Keeping children safe in education for 2023?

KCSIE 2023 has been published by the DfE for implementation from September 2023.

There are very few changes to the statutory guidance. The major change which educational settings need to be aware of relates to increased expectations and responsibilities regarding the school’s filtering and monitoring systems for IT. This is in response to the recently published standards for filtering and monitoring, which can be found here.

We will now look at what the standards mean for education settings in more detail.

  • The DSL is expected to take lead responsibility for this, and this should be explicit in the role holder’s job description
  • All staff should receive appropriate safeguarding and child protection training which now includes an understanding of expectations, applicable roles, and responsibilities in relation to filtering and monitoring
  • Reiteration that all educational settings should follow the recently published guidance on filtering and monitoring
  • Governing bodies and proprietors should receive safeguarding training which includes an understanding of the expectations, applicable roles, and responsibilities in relation to filtering and monitoring. Paragraph 141 of the guidance now states the following: ‘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.’
  • Furthermore, there is a new section in paragraph 142 relating to the filtering and monitoring standards ‘which set out 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

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.’ 

  • Schools and colleges should consider meeting the Cyber security standards
  • The safeguarding and child protection policy should reflect the individual educational setting’s approach to filtering and monitoring on school devices and networks

Other changes to the guidance include:

  • Elective Home Education (EHE)

In paragraph 178, which outlines where parents or carers are considering removing their child from school to educate them at home, there is a new sentence which states that ‘where a child has an EHCP the local authority will need to review the plan whilst working closely with parents’.

  • Children who are absent from education

Guidance about ‘Children missing from education’ has been replaced with ‘Children who are absent from education for prolonged periods and/or repeated occasions

The updated guidance on school attendance Working together to improve school attendance now includes information on how schools should work with local authorities children services where school absence indicates a safeguarding concern

  • Safer Recruitment

Schools should inform shortlisted candidates that online searches may be done as part of due diligence checks

Copies of documents used to verify the successful candidate’s identity, right to work and required qualifications should be kept on their personnel file

  • Use of school premises for non-school activities

Where schools are used for non-school activities, there is clarity around safeguarding arrangements that schools should expect providers (hirers) to have in place in accordance with the guidance on keeping children safe in out-of-school settings. Further information can be found in paragraph 167 of the updated guidance

As with any safeguarding allegation, schools should follow their own safeguarding policies and procedures, including informing the LADO should they 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. Examples of these include community groups, sports associations or service providers that run extra-curricular activities)

  • Equality Act

Paragraph 89 has been updated and states that:

‘provisions within the Equality Act allow schools 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 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.’

  • Channel

An individual will be required to provide their consent before any support delivered through the Channel programme is provided

  • Forced marriage

In this section there is a new paragraph which states the following:

‘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.’

The forced marriage resource pack has also been updated, so it would be useful to obtain a copy of this.

Changes in terminology

As usual there are several changes in terminology in the statutory guidance which are as follows:

  • ‘children missing from education’ has been replaced with ‘children who are absent from education for prolonged periods and/or repeated occasions’
  • updated throughout the guidance to include ‘pupils or students’
  • reference to teachers can ‘discipline’ have been replaced with teachers can ‘sanction’
  • children may be ‘vulnerable’ has been replaced with children may be ‘susceptible’

Next steps

  1. Read the updated statutory guidance and begin to update your school’s or college’s safeguarding and child protection policy in preparation for 1 September 2023
  2. Ensure that there is a clear plan to implement the filtering and monitoring standards. It is important to point out the standards state that schools should already have implemented them
  3. Include filtering and monitoring in the staff CPD programme
  4. Ensure that the governing body/trustees understand their role in filtering and monitoring
  5. For DSLs, ensure that 'lead responsibility' for filtering and monitoring is added to their job description, and that what it involves is understood
  6. Check that out-of-hours hire contracts for organisations working with children that the meet the expectations in the guidance on keeping children safe in out-of-schools settings. Make sure this is included in the safeguarding and child protection policy
  7. Ensure that information about incidents relating to out-of-hours hire contracts for organisations working with children are referenced in the school’s or college’s safeguarding and child protection policy
  8. Remember that when an allegation is received relating to out-of-hours contracts, that the school or college follows its own safeguarding policy, including informing the LADO

If you’re concerned about keeping up to date with the latest education policy, practice and research, consider a membership with The National College.

Not only does it help your whole workforce meet their statutory training requirements for 2023/24, but also enables leaders to create training programmes precisely tailored to need - for individuals, departments, the whole setting, or for events such as your next INSET day – and provides everything you need to make sure you’re September ready.