Strengthened guidance for schools and colleges on safeguarding

New guidance for schools and colleges on how to keep children safe, including advice on how to support young victims of sexual violence and harassment

The revised Keeping Children Safe in Education statutory guidance now provides additional advice to help school and college staff deal with allegations of child-on-child sexual violence and sexual harassment, following a 10-week public consultation launched in December.

The majority of the responses to the consultation on the guidance, published today (17 May) welcomed the additional advice on how to support victims of this type of ‘peer abuse’ and the new guidance will be applicable to all schools, including primary schools, on how to best support children of all ages.

Minister for Children and Families, Nadhim Zahawi, said:

"Pupils and parents rightly expect schools to be safe places, where children are free to enjoy their time in education without fear of violence or harassment.

"Schools and colleges play an important part in keeping children safe, so it’s right that we take the necessary steps to ensure staff have the guidance and support they need to deal with concerns about a child’s wellbeing."

A large majority (79 per cent) of respondents to the consultation welcomed the changes on how to report or act on safeguarding concerns and the published guidance goes further to outline that staff should take immediate action and speak to the designated safeguard lead if they have a concern about a child’s wellbeing.

The proposal for schools and colleges to hold more than one emergency contact number for pupils, where reasonably possible, received significant support, with 87 per cent of respondents welcoming the move. This gives schools and colleges more options to reach someone when a child is missing from school, as the unknown absence could also be a safeguarding concern.

To further support schools and colleges put effective safeguarding measures in place, the Department for Education has also committed to setting up a working group to consider how online safety advice can be further integrated throughout the statutory guidance.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan, said:

"I welcome the updated education safeguarding guidance and pleased with the inclusion of advice on how to deal with incidents of sexual violence and sexual harassment in schools.

"I’m also glad young carers have been recognised in the wider guidance as needing early help for issues like stress, as Barnardo’s research shows they are often not identified at school."

Association of School and College Leaders parliamentary and inclusion specialist, Anna Cole, said:

"Nothing is more important to schools than the safety and wellbeing of their pupils, and we welcome the new guidance on preventing and dealing with sexual harassment and sexual violence between young people.

"The guidance provides practical and helpful advice to support schools in dealing with matters which are complex and sensitive by their nature. We are pleased that the DfE consulted ASCL in order to gain an understanding of the issues from serving school leaders."

Childnet Chief Executive, Will Gardner, said:

“We welcome this updated Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance which now includes important advice for schools and colleges on sexual violence and harassment.

“Our recent work in Project deSHAME has shown the extent and impact of peer on peer sexual harassment, emphasising the need for schools and colleges to effectively prevent and respond to this pressing issue. We are very pleased that our Youth Advisory Board were able to make their contributions to the guidance and we hope that schools will use this advice and adapt it to the needs of their own school communities.”

The revised statutory guidance, Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE), is published today for information only and will come into effect for schools and colleges on 3 September 2018. Until that point schools and colleges should continue to have regard to KCSIE 2016 Guidance.

Revised departmental advice on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment between Children in Schools and Colleges is also published today, and is available immediately to support schools and colleges.

A number of other minor technical changes have also been made in the statutory guidance which aim to strengthen the guidance and make it clearer for school and college staff to use.