Part 2: The Management of Safeguarding
Part 2 of Keeping Children Safe in Education 2018 (KCSIE) is focused on the responsibilities of governing bodies, proprietors and management committees in the management of safeguarding arrangements. In the new version of the guidance there are a number of important changes that will impact on school/college policies and procedures. Including a section on the new multi-agency safeguarding arrangements, updated guidance on children missing from education, peer on peer abuse and more emphasis on the need for information sharing.
The guidance also clarifies a number of issues affecting the child protection policy and what governors and proprietors should be considering when applying the new guidance to their setting.
Safeguarding Policies and Procedures
The new guidance provides clarification that individual schools and colleges should have their own child protection policy in place. This means that each school or college in a multi-academy trust (MAT) needs to have its own individual policy. This is in addition to any over-arching MAT safeguarding policy.
The policy and procedures must reflect all relevant statutory guidance and also refer to the new locally agreed multi-agency safeguarding arrangements (see below).
The guidance has clarified that the child protection policy should be updated annually (as a minimum) and that it is made available publicly via the school/college website or by some other means. Given that key pieces of government guidance can be introduced on a fairly frequent basis. It is important for the child protection policy to be kept under regular review by governors and proprietors to ensure it is kept up to date.
Some additional information has been inserted into the guidance specifically relating to children missing from education. Governors and proprietors should now put in place appropriate safeguarding responses for these children, especially if there have been repeated occurrences or where there is a risk of abuse and/or neglect. In some cases, schools and colleges may already have procedures in place to cater for children missing from education which may be included in other policies (such as the Attendance Policy).
Governors and proprietors will need to consider the specific safeguarding risks around any absence and be satisfied that sufficient arrangements are in place to manage those issues. The child protection policy cross-references other relevant polices/procedures if necessary.
The guidance also states that where reasonably possible schools and colleges should hold more than one emergency contact number for each pupil or student. This goes beyond the legal minimum, but it is considered good practice to give the school/college additional options to contact a responsible adult when there are concerns about that child’s welfare.
The guidance provides some useful links to the following documents relating to children missing from education:
- DfE School Attendance Guidance
- DfE Statutory Guidance on Children Missing Education
- HM Govt Missing Children and Adults Strategy
The new arrangements for multi-agency working are set out in ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018’. These will be applied from the 29th June 2019 and transition must be completed 29th September 2019. In the meantime, the government have issued ‘Working Together: Transitional Guidance’ to support local authorities in the process and help them to understand the requirements. Governing bodies and proprietors need to be aware that these changes are being implemented and they will have a responsibility under the guidance to understand the local protocols for action and assessment.
The new safeguarding arrangements will be overseen by the ‘three safeguarding partners’ which is made up of the local authority, the police and the clinical commission group (CCG) for that area. The partners will be responsible for setting out how they will be engaging with other agencies. It is expected that all schools and colleges in an area will be named as ‘relevant agencies’ and under a statutory duty to co-operate.
There is a much stronger emphasis on information sharing in both Part 1 and Part 2 of the guidance with a whole new section inserted into Part 2 (Paras 72-80) which sets out the responsibilities for governors and proprietors.
The guidance makes it very clear that information sharing is vital in identifying and tackling all forms of abuse. The 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.
Given the introduction of GDPR and the new Data Protection Act (DPA 2018) earlier in the year these are really important statements that are included in the guidance. Whilst it is clearly essential for practitioners to comply with the data protection rules, that must be balanced with the absolute need to share information when it is necessary.
Governors and proprietors should ensure that there are arrangements in place that set out the process and principles for sharing information within the school/college and with other agencies. This means that any arrangements for sharing safeguarding information will need to be included in any relevant data protection and/or information sharing policies so that the protocols are set out clearly for all members of staff.
The guidance also says that relevant staff should be confident of the processing conditions under the DPA 2018 and GDPR which allows them to store and share information. For Safeguarding Leads and their Deputies, having a good knowledge of how data should be processed and the rules relating to information sharing will help give them that confidence.
There are also specific references to the processing conditions for very sensitive information known as ‘special category personal data’. Under normal circumstances it would not be permissible to process this type of information. However, within the DPA 2018 there is now a specific condition which allows data relating to the ‘safeguarding of children and individuals at risk’ to be processed and which also permits information sharing without consent under certain conditions. This is an important inclusion in DPA 2018 and a positive recognition that practitioners require enabling legislation if they are to share information effectively.
The guidance refers to recent DfE advice: Information Sharing: Advice for Practitioners Providing Safeguarding Services to Children, Young People, Parents and Carers which was published earlier this year and is a very helpful document for any practitioners responsible for managing safeguarding data in schools and colleges. It also provides and excellent overview for governors and proprietors in coming to an understanding of the key principles and the ‘seven golden rules’ for information sharing when shaping policies and procedures.
In addition, the DfE have also recently issued the Data Protection Toolkit for Schools which aims to support schools to better manage data protection given the introduction of GDPR and the DPA 2018. Within the document there are specific references to safeguarding including top tips and a safeguarding myth-busting section.
Peer on Peer Abuse
Allegations of children committing sexual offences against other children have increased by 78% in England and Wales in the last four years
Increasingly, young people are seeking advice in relation to peer on peer sexual abuse and in the last year alone Childline have seen a 29% increase in the number of counselling sessions on this subject alone.
The new guidance makes it very clear that governors and proprietors should ensure that the child protection policy includes procedures to minimise the risk of abuse, how allegations will be managed and how both victims and perpetrators will be supported.
Peer on peer abuse can take many different forms including physical abuse, sexting, initiation rituals (sometimes called ‘hazing’) and sexual violence and sexual harassment between children, which is now included in Part 5 of the new guidance. This provides very detailed guidance on how schools should respond and what should be included in local policies and procedures to support staff when they are having to deal with these challenging and complex events.
For governors and proprietors there are a number of significant changes contained within Part 2 of the guidance which will impact on existing child protection policies and the management of safeguarding, but two major areas stand out. Firstly, the worrying rise of sexual abuse and harassment between children in schools has led to statutory guidance which will have major implications for many establishments. How those policies are implemented ‘on the ground’ and how staff are supported in these situations will be crucial.
Secondly, the implications for schools and colleges on how safeguarding information should be appropriately stored, processed and shared is of critical importance given the introduction of GDPR and the DPA 2018. It is becoming increasingly important for senior leaders and practitioners alike to develop a good understanding of the legislation and the relevant guidance on information sharing given its importance to effective safeguarding. This knowledge not only enables schools to develop good policies, but it also gives confidence to key decision-makers to make the right choices when sharing sensitive data with others.
Written by Mike Glanville, Director of Safeguarding Services