Keeping Children Safe in Education – what’s changing for FE

Education and Training Foundation National Head of Safeguarding and Prevent Isabelle King looks at the changes in the new version of the Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) guidance and what they mean for the Further Education and Training sector.

In May 2022, the Department for Education (DfE) introduced the new draft of the Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSiE) guidance, which takes effect in September 2022. Regulated providers in the FE and Training sector MUST follow this guidance to ensure compliance with OFSTED.

The document now has an additional 13 pages, mainly because it has brought together several pieces of guidance, including that on sexual harassment, which previously stood alone.

This blog summarises the core changes in the new version, but it should not be regarded as an exhaustive list of all that is new.

Pupil data transfer time constraints added

The revised guidance features new text that stipulates a definitive timeframe for the transfer of files when young people leave school. It is featured on page 32 in paragraph 121.

The new guidance states:

“Where children leave the school or college, the designated safeguarding lead should ensure their child protection file is transferred to the new college/provider as soon as possible, and within 5 days for an in-year transfer or within the first 5 days of the start of a new term to allow the new college/provider to have support in place for when the child arrives.”

The timelines are new to the guidance, so should be discussed with feeder schools ASAP and processes put in place for the transfer of information from September, as it does mean it will impact on the current Year 11 pupils awaiting confirmed destinations based on their GCSE grades.

This might cause problems, especially if you are taking students from a variety of schools. The challenge here is also the number of young people who change their minds after results come out. This also applies to ITPs, so again, work will need to be put in place to ensure that good communication between schools and ITPs is in place from September onwards.

Appropriate adults during police investigations

A small, but very important, change has been made in the section under the ‘working with others’ subheading in the annexed information at the of the new guidance on page 162. One of the bullet points now states that:

“[DSLs should]…liaise with the headteacher or principal to inform him or her of issues – especially ongoing enquiries under section 47 of the Children Act 1989 and police investigations. This should include being aware of the requirement for children to have an Appropriate Adult. Further information can be found in the Statutory guidance – PACE Code C 2019.”

PACE – the Police and Criminal Evidence Act – Code C 2019 details the role of a person (usually a parent, guardian or social worker) acting as the ‘appropriate adult’ when a student is questioned or detained by the police.

It sets out an expectation that the appropriate adult will “support, advise and assist” the young person, as well as observing “whether the police are acting properly and fairly to respect [the young person’s] rights and entitlements, and inform an officer of the rank of inspector or above if they consider that they are not”.

Consideration should be given, through advance planning, to what would happen if this happened in your college, who the appropriate adults would be, whether they require any training, and what protocols and procedures would need to be put in place.

New staff and online checks

KCSIE now includes recommendations for potential new staff to be subject to a ‘digital screening’ process prior to them being interviewed. This was an area that received heavy feedback from the FE and Training sector, which felt this request was fraught with difficulties.

Nonetheless, page 53, paragraph 220, states:

“As part of the shortlisting process, schools and colleges should consider carrying out an online search as part of their due diligence on the shortlisted candidates. This may help identify any incidents or issues that have happened, and are publicly available online, which the school or college might want to explore with the applicant at interview.”

Although these searches are clearly not compulsory, the instruction that they “should consider” carrying them out suggests that doing so could become normal in job applications in the education sector. And such searches can be helpful of course – if you’re seeking to recruit people with ‘lived experiences’, an individual’s social media can provide useful evidence of their suitability. If you are going to carry out such searches, it is important to think about the legal and ethical status of doing so.

Things you need to consider are the GDPR implications of checking people’s social media – how you will let them know you are processing that data, what your legal basis is, how long you would store it for, etc. Remember that you can only process data that is relevant to the position, and you need to be sure that you get that information without also processing data that you have no lawful basis to process.

You should also remember that carrying out searches of this kind opens recruiters up to potential litigation around unconscious bias, so we recommend you develop a clear checklist and train your staff to recruit in an open and transparent way. Additionally, you need to consider who makes judgements in terms of social media material.

Partner at legal firm Browne Jacobson Dai Durbridge advises schools on safeguarding matters and writes very informative blogs for his company’s website. You may also have heard him speaking at or chairing conferences. Dai has written a really useful article to help us understand the new requirement in KCSIE to carry out online searches for shortlisted candidates. You can read the article here.

Safeguarding training for all governors

A new paragraph on the responsibility of all governors to receive safeguarding training has been included in the revised guidance. It features in the ‘Part two: The management of safeguarding’ section on page 23. It states:

“Governing bodies and proprietors should ensure that all governors and trustees receive appropriate safeguarding and child protection (including online) training at induction.

“This training should equip them with the knowledge to provide strategic challenge to test and assure themselves that the safeguarding policies and procedures in place in schools and colleges are effective and support the delivery of a robust whole school approach to safeguarding. Their training should be regularly updated.”

Anyone interested in accessing the ETF’s Governance and Trustees Safeguarding Modules should email:

Wording change: from “peer-on-peer” to “child-on-child”

Throughout the guidance, changes have been made so that references to “peer-on-peer” abuse are replaced with “child-on-child” abuse. This will ensure that the one term is used and prevent further confusion around who is being referred to. All guidance, policies and processes should now be altered to reflect this change.

A new focus on ‘early intervention’

What was referred to as “early help” in the 2021 KCSIE guidance, has been renamed “early help assessment” in the new version. Additionally, section two on page 98 – “Concerns and/or allegations that do not meet the harm threshold” – has been restructured, with a new paragraph (422) including a stipulation that schools should have policies and processes to deal with “[A]ny concerns (including allegations) which do not meet the harm threshold, referred to in this guidance as ‘low-level’ concerns”.

These changes indicate a closer focus on record keeping around low-level concerns, and training should be altered, giving better guidance for all staff.

Prevent update

On page 33 – in the ‘opportunities to teach safeguarding’ section – a paragraph has been included that describes how the new relationship and sexual health education (RSHE) curriculum will help prepare students for life in modern Britain.

It explains the role the RSHE curriculum will play in helping schools with their role in preventative education, and covers a raft of issues under the following text:

“Preventative education is most effective in the context of a whole-school or college approach that prepares pupils and students for life in modern Britain and creates a culture of zero tolerance for sexism, misogyny/misandry, homophobia, biphobic and sexual violence/harassment… These will be underpinned by the school/college’s behaviour policy and pastoral support system, as well as by a planned programme of evidence-based RSHE delivered in regularly timetabled lessons and reinforced throughout the whole curriculum.”

In addition, there is a new link to Educate Against Hate, which shares signs of radicalisation. These are intended to help teachers inform themselves, so that they are better able to identify students who may be becoming radicalised.

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