The response to the recent consultation and latest draft update to the government guidance, issued by the Department for Education, was published on 17 May 2018. The latest edition of Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) is due to come into force on 3 September 2018 (schools and colleges should continue to refer to the 2016 version of the guidance until then) and is likely to be amended again before implementation.
In this article, Tabitha Cave of VWV considers the key changes and likely further amends before September, what schools should do to respond to those changes and considers the future of our current regulatory framework for safeguarding.
KCSIE – the latest version
There are a number of changes from the draft which was consulted on earlier this year. The key points to note are:
Part one – safeguarding Information for all staff:
– There is an extension of the materials to be covered on induction
– Staff are required to be particularly alert to the potential need for the early help of some defined classes of individuals
– The DSL and their deputies should have a complete safeguarding picture and are identified as the most appropriate staff members to advise on the school’s response to safeguarding concerns and to lead on early help considerations. If they are not available, staff should speak to the SLT or children’s services without delay and follow up/escalate matters if information is not forthcoming
– Schools should identify other whistleblowing mechanisms available to staff who feel unable to raise concerns with the school directly
– All staff should consider the wider context in which safeguarding incidents or behaviours occur
Part two – management of safeguarding:
The principal changes relate to clarification of responsibility – they make it clear that responsibility sits with governing bodies or proprietors but add more focus on safeguarding being everyone’s responsibility and the individual responsibility on all staff that this principle carries.
– Governing bodies and proprietors should have a senior board level lead to take leadership responsibility
– School groups should ensure that each school has its own child protection (or safeguarding) policy
– Information sharing is justified where safety may be at risk and/or to support pupils’ transition to new schools
– All staff should be clear about procedures for managing allegations of peer-on-peer abuse
– Schools should have clear arrangements to support previously looked-after children and care leavers, as well as looked-after children
– Schools should have policies in place to support appropriate physical contact and the use of reasonable force for all pupils
– School leaders and those who work directly with children should read Annex A which contains new information about specific forms of abuse and safeguarding issues
Further revisions are likely to be made to this section (and other areas of the guidance) to reflect the changes to be made to Working together to safeguard children (WT), GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018.
Parts three and four – safer recruitment/allegations of abuse made against teachers and other staff):
Minor changes have been made to improve clarity. No new requirements have been introduced.
Part five – child-on-child sexual violence and sexual harassment:
There is a new part five – child-on-child sexual violence and sexual harassment. This is markedly different from the guidance attached to the consultation and focuses on the identification of concerns. It should be read in conjunction with the non-statutory advice on this topic.
KCSIE – what schools should do now
The guidance expressly refers to further anticipated changes to reflect the latest version of Working Together to Safeguard Children (expected imminently) and to the GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018. It is our view that any changes to be made to KCSIE will be consequent on these, will reflect references and terminology, and are unlikely to require significant change to safeguarding procedure within education institutions, especially as we understand that KCSIE is likely to be updated again next year.
We therefore recommend that schools and colleges plan for the implementation of the new guidance on the basis of what is published now, knowing that it will apply from the start of the 2018/19 academic year. Given that most of the changes have been through consultation and been published some four months prior to implementation, it is unlikely that inspectors or the DfE will give a ‘grace period’ for non-compliance (as they used to when guidance was effective as soon as it was published).
We suggest a risk-based approach and with this in mind suggest the following actions now:
1. Review the management of safeguarding and delegation arrangements internally and check that appropriate arrangements are in place to support
a. higher risk pupils as identified; and
b. pupils in homestay accommodation
As part of this, check that adequate resource has been allocated to the DSL/DDSL role
2. Plan training for staff
a. on the changes as part of their September inset. All staff will need to read and understand the changes to part 1 and leaders and staff who work directly with children should also read
b. review induction training for new starters and ensure reference to your behaviour policies is included
3. Ensure that your school or college’s policies and procedures are up to date. Of particular importance in this respect are changes to reflect early help indicators, to introduce the concept of contextual abuse and cover the use of reasonable force to:
a. safeguarding/child protection
c. behaviour and discipline
d. risk assessment for pupil welfare (if you maintain a separate policy for this)
4. Review staff policies and procedures including:
a. staff code of conduct
b. job description of DSL/DDSL
5. Review arrangements for information-sharing about pupils going to new schools or colleges
The future of safeguarding
Safeguarding is a concept which is in the public eye following widespread reports of safeguarding and abuse, in the independent sector and more widely.
Concern about how to prevent such issues from recurring and making our schools and colleges safer places has led to increased regulation and scrutiny and to regular change in the requirements which itself brings additional strain. What is clear is that regulation itself will not prevent abuse or welfare issues being missed and what is required is a fundamental culture change where everyone is encouraged and empowered to report concerns. All education organisations are encouraged to not only consider compliance with externally set standards, but consider what else they can do to impact this.
We are aware of the challenges posed by increasing regulation and the speed of regulatory change. We do not, however, anticipate any fundamental change in approach to the management of safeguarding in the short to medium term and certainly not while it is under the current level of scrutiny, and until the Independent Enquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has concluded and made its own recommendations. We are mindful of societal push back to increased regulation, which has been seen particularly in the health and safety sphere following a trend towards increased regulation, which has led to a more outcome-focused regime, which is emulated by many regulators. We do think that we are likely to see a similar shift in the longer term in the safeguarding arena, but this will require a fundamental change of approach by the Government.
To ensure that all your staff are aware of their responsibilities and have read and understood Part 1 of the new KCSIE guidance, we encourage you sign up for our online KCSIE E-learning through My OnStream. This portal allows you to easily distribute training to all your staff, provides reporting on completion, and alerts to those that haven’t yet completed. See more at mos.vwv.co.uk and request a free online demo.
Tabitha Cave heads the regulatory compliance team at leading education law firm VWV. Should you have any queries about any of the issues raised in this article, please do not hesitate to contact Tabitha on 0117 314 5381 or at email@example.com