Part 1 – What Staff Should Know and Do
The latest version of the statutory guidance ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ (KCSIE) became effective on the 3rd September and is likely to have a significant impact on the role undertaken by Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSLs) and their Deputies in schools and colleges across England. This is the first in a series of five articles that will be focusing on the main changes within the guidance and giving some consideration as to what DSLs need to be looking out for at the beginning of the new school year.
Part 1 of the guidance is focused on what all school and college staff need to be aware of in order to fulfil their safeguarding duties and should be a document which is read by everyone. Much of the content from the previous guidance (KCSIE 2016) remains in place so I’m just going to highlight some of the major themes from the new guidance with a particular focus on early help and contextual safeguarding, reporting concerns, information sharing and some very specific aspects of Annex ‘A’.
Early Help and Contextual Safeguarding
The guidance makes it clear that all staff should be aware of their local early help process and be prepared to identify children who may benefit from this kind of support. More detailed information about the early help process can be found in the latest version of ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ which was published in July 2018 and you should be able to access your own local authority arrangements via your Local Safeguarding Children’s Board.
Most DSLs will be very aware of their own early help process at a local level and that process would not have changed with the introduction of the new guidance. What has changed within KCSIE 2018 is the emphasis on additional areas of concern that school and college staff need to be ‘particularly alert’ to; the children that may benefit from early help include those that:-
Increasingly, staff in schools and colleges are being asked to consider safeguarding issues ‘beyond the school gates’ and this not only reflected in the categories listed here. Part 1 of the guidance also refers to the concept of ‘contextual safeguarding’ which is a way of describing the environmental factors present in a child’s life that may be a threat to their safety and/or welfare.
All staff should be considering the context within which safeguarding concerns occur, but especially the DSL and more information about contextual safeguarding can be found here.
What staff should do if they have a concern about a child
The guidance makes it very clear that if staff have any concerns about a child’s welfare, they should be acting on them immediately, should be following their organisation’s child protection policy and speaking to the DSL or a Deputy DSL. This is a fairly significant departure from the previous guidance with a stronger emphasis on staff acting immediately and the requirement for them to speak with the DSL or a Deputy.
The guidance doesn’t go as far as defining what is meant by ‘child’s welfare’ given that a very wide range of issues under the umbrella of ‘welfare’ could fall into this category. The school’s child protection policy should help to clarify under what circumstances members of staff should be personally speaking to the DSL so that the threshold for reporting is clear to everyone and staff understand when they need to be personally speaking to the DSL.
The new guidance also says that the DSL or a Deputy should always be available to discuss safeguarding concerns and if they are not available for any reason this should not delay any appropriate action from being taken. This is the first time that the issue of DSL availability has featured in the main body of the guidance; in Annex ‘B’ there is reference to the fact that DSLs ‘should be given time, funding, training, resources and support’ to carry out their role but the need to be available at all times is a much stronger stipulation.
Part 1 of the new guidance has also included a paragraph on information sharing that emphasises the need for staff to share information at an early stage and the fact that it could be critical in keeping children safe. With the recent introduction of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and the new Data Protection Act 2018 some staff may be hesitant about sharing private information for those understandable reasons. However, the guidance clearly states that;
Fears about sharing information must not be allowed to stand in the way of the need to promote the welfare and protect the safety of children
Staff responsible for handling safeguarding data on a regular basis would really benefit from reading the recent guidance: Information Sharing: Advice for Practitioners Providing Safeguarding Services to Children, Young People, Parents and Carers. This guidance was updated in July 2018 and provides an excellent overview for safeguarding practitioners. The guidance sets out the broad principles for sharing information together with the ‘seven golden rules’; these rules summarise the key factors that practitioners need to be thinking about when sharing information and is a very helpful point of reference for staff, especially DSLs and their Deputies.
In addition to this guidance the Department for Education have also just published the latest version of the Data Protection Toolkit for Schools which provides advice on all aspects of data protection within an educational setting. It covers a number of safeguarding specific topics including advice on data retention times, subject access requests and handling the consent issue with data subjects. There is also a very helpful myth-busting guide to sharing safeguarding information.
Annex ‘A’ – Further Information
Annex ‘A’ contains some important information on specific areas of safeguarding in addition to the main body of the guidance. Here is a summary of the new additions since the 2016 guidance:-
- Children and the Court System
Makes reference to the guides that are now in place to support children explaining the process and the special measures that are available.
- Children with Family Members in Prison
Provides a link to the National Information Centre on Children of Offenders (NICCO) and the support that can be provided in those circumstances.
- Child Criminal Exploitation: County Lines
Provides a definition of Child Criminal Exploitation and the need for agencies to refer cases to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) when appropriate.
- Domestic Abuse
Provides a cross-government definition of domestic violence and abuse and summarises the harm that this behaviour can inflict on children. Also provides a number of useful links with more information.
Advice to DSLs and Deputies on relevant points of contact and referral routes within local authorities and the risk factors that may be prevalent. Describes the legal duty on English councils with links to useful factsheets.
- Peer on Peer Abuse
Provides a broad definition of peer on peer abuse which includes (but is not restricted to) bullying, sexual violence and harassment, physical abuse, sexting and initiating/hazing type rituals
- Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment
Provides detailed definitions of sexual violence and sexual harassment and what staff need to be looking out for in relation to this type of activity. Sexual violence and sexual harassment now feature as a separate section altogether in Part 5 of the guidance.
In the next article we will be focusing on Part 2 of KCSIE which deal with the overall management of safeguarding including the responsibility of governing bodies, proprietors and management committees.
If you would like more information you can sign up to our KCSIE webinar on the 19th September at 3.30pm, where Mike Glanville Director of Safeguarding Services will be discussing all the key changes and you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions.