Following a series of amends last September, the DfE’s statutory Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance (see tinyurl.com/dfe-kcsie) has now been updated for 2019.
While there aren’t a huge number of changes, there are new references to a number of important safeguarding issues, including upskirting – now a criminal offence – and serious violence. As such, it’s vital for schools to possess knowledge of both these and the other issues that the latest guidance addresses.
The 2018 revision of KCSiE included a section on ‘Multi-agency safeguarding transitional arrangements’, but this entire section has now been removed. This is because when the 2018 revision was being finalised, details of what the new local arrangements would involve were still in a period of transition.
The DfE has since published the guidance document ‘Working Together: Transitional Guidance’ (see tinyurl.com/dfe-wttg) to support the move away from local safeguarding children boards and serious case reviews to a new system of multi-agency arrangements and local and national child safeguarding practice reviews. This will see the involvement of three safeguarding partners – the LA, a clinical commissioning group for an area within the LA, and the chief officer of the local area police. These partners will work together to safeguard and promote the welfare of local children, while identifying and responding to their needs. With the new local arrangements needing to be published by the three safeguarding partners no later than 29th June this year and in place by 29th September, KCSiE 2018’s multi-agency safeguarding arrangements guidance no longer applies.
Safeguarding for all staff
Part one of KCSiE is the section which all staff working within an education setting must read in order to be compliant. To improve the flow of information and ensure that the guidance remains clear and navigable, some areas have been amended:
Since 12th April 2019, upskirting has been a criminal offence in England and Wales. Following its reclassification as a crime, the KCSiE guidance has been updated to include upskirting as an example of peer on peer abuse.
According to KCSiE’s definition, “Upskirting typically involves taking a picture under a person’s clothing without them knowing, with the intention of viewing their genitals or buttocks to obtain sexual gratification, or cause the victim humiliation, distress or alarm.” Under the Voyeurism (Offences) Act 2019, upskirting offenders can be arrested, face up to two years in prison and have their names placed on the sex offenders register.
Dawn Jotham, EduCare’s Development lead for education and pastoral adviser comments: “In KCSiE 2018 we saw a need for schools to adapt and extend their child protection policies to refer to peer on peer abuse. Now there’s an additional requirement to include reference specifically to upskirting. What may seem like harmless fun can have deeper consequences for both the victim and the perpetrator, and everyone should be made aware of this.”
Serious violence has now been added to KCSiE as a specific safeguarding issue, following the introduction of the government’s Serious Violence Strategy in 2018 (see tinyurl.com/gov-svs). While noting that homicides, knife and gun crime account for around 1% of all recorded crime, it identifies such offences as having a significant impact on communities and throughout wider society. KCSiE 2019 hence states that tackling serious crime isn’t simply a law enforcement issue, but one requiring interventions from a range of other areas, including education.
The Serious Violence Strategy’s main areas of focuses include tackling county lines; early intervention and prevention; supporting communities and local partnerships; effective law enforcement and criminal justice response. The latest KCSIE guidance states that, “All staff should be aware of indicators which may signal that children are at risk from, or are involved with serious violent crime. These may include increased absence from school, a change in friendships or relationships with older individuals or groups, a significant decline in performance, signs of self-harm or a significant change in wellbeing, or signs of assault or unexplained injuries.”
In Dawn Jotham’s view, “When a young person begins to show signs of exploitation or vulnerability to exploitation, and are therefore at increased risk from serious violence, we should be able to intervene as early as possible to help reduce the risk factors and increase the protective factors.”
Part two – Management of safeguarding
In this section, a paragraph has been expanded to include the government’s forthcoming PSHE reforms, which will see the teaching of relationships education in all primary schools, and relationships and sex education in all secondary schools, become mandatory as of 2020.
“PSHE will be a focus of change for many schools from September 2020,” says Dawn Jotham. “Schools operating under the DfE will be required to teach PSHE subjects and give due regard to the statutory guidance. PSHE subjects should be taught following the principles of keeping children safe, and prepare children for the world they’re growing up in. The content should always be age appropriate.”
Following the recent launch of Ofsted’s new inspection framework, KCSiE now also cites the way in which “Inspectors will always report on whether or not arrangements for safeguarding children and learners are effective,” with a reference to the regulator’s own guidance for inspectors on inspecting safeguarding.
Paragraph 173 of KCSiE refers to the types of DBS checks required for school governors. This has been extended to include the recommendation that schools carry out a section 128 check. These are used to check the names of individuals who have been barred from being involved in the management or governance of independent schools, academies and free schools, under the terms of a direction made by the Education Secretary. Individuals who are the subject of a Section 128 order are disqualified from being governors. A further paragraph has been added to clarify that enhanced DBS checks aren’t mandatory for Associate members.
Annex A of the guidance has meanwhile been updated to communicate additional information regarding specific forms of abuse and safeguarding issues – it’s important that all education staff working directly with children read this carefully. Finally, KCSiE’s paragraph pertaining to ‘So-called ‘honour-based’ violence’ has been extended to clarify that female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage are both examples of so-called ‘honour-based’ abuse. Dawn Jotham adds, “The government has recently consulted on a proposal to introduce a mandatory reporting duty on forced marriage. If implemented, this will mirror the duty already in place to report known cases of FGM.”
To ensure your organisation is prepared for the new guidance, you’ll need to consider the above and any ways in which your policies, procedures and practices may need to be updated in light of the changes.
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