Keeping Children Safe in Education: Key changes and actions for schools

Written by: Elizabeth Rose | Published:
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The updated Keeping Children Safe in Education statutory safeguarding guidance has come into force. Elizabeth Rose looks at what has changed and what we should be doing about it in schools

The statutory guidance document Keeping children safe in education (KCSIE) has been updated and re-released for the new academic year (DfE, 2022).

The consultation for this ran earlier in 2022 and while the draft version has been available for some time, the final version came into force on September 1.

There are important changes to be aware of, and things that will need to change or be modified in policy and procedure to ensure both compliance and good practice.

In this article I will explore some of the key changes and offer guidance as to how schools can adapt to these and implement strategies to ensure safeguarding is on a trajectory of continuous development.

Key aspects of good safeguarding practice

First, some basics. The guidance has been updated to state that: “All staff should be aware that children may not feel ready or know how to tell someone that they are being abused, exploited, or neglected, and/or they may not recognise their experiences as harmful.”

It goes on to discuss reasons why children may not be ready or able to disclose abuse and an important reminder that staff should have a “professional curiosity” and discuss concerns with the designated safeguarding lead (DSL).

This is, and always has been, a key tenet of safeguarding practice of course but it is important to note that this states that “all staff” need to know this and feel confident in spotting signs, so it is advisable to inform them of this again directly.

In addition, the guidance has also been updated to remind schools to reinforce online safety information with parents and to share information about what the school is asking children to do online as a matter of routine.

What to do

  • Consider your safeguarding training. Do you make it clear to staff that safeguarding and child protection is not just about waiting for disclosures but proactively spotting signs and reporting concerns as soon as they appear?
  • Think through how you approach barriers to reporting. How do your systems and structures support children with SEND, those who are LGBT+, or those that speak English as an additional language for example?
  • Ensure that children have a safe space to be open, especially those who are more vulnerable. All children should feel able to talk to a trusted member of staff.
  • Consider your approach to involving parents in all aspects of safeguarding practice as well as in relation to online safety.

Headteacher Update Podcast: Effective safeguarding in schools. This two-part episode offers advice and tips for good safeguarding practice and how we can work to keep children safe. Part one features an interview with the author of this article, Elizabeth Rose, and includes advice on latest trends, best practice, online safety, making referrals, child-on-child incidents and much more (episode from February 2022): Listen for free here.

Preventative education

A new paragraph (paragraph 130) has been added to highlight the importance of preventative education, as well as the requirements for schools around the curriculum.

The key message here is that a safeguarding curriculum is crucial, but this goes hand-in-hand with holistic education that is reinforced through the culture of the school – culture that should take a “zero-tolerance” approach to sexism, misogyny/misandry, homophobia, biphobic, and sexual violence or harassment.

The standalone (previously non-statutory) guidance document Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges has been incorporated into KCSIE making this statutory and this paragraph reflects some of the wording from this document and from Part 5 of KCSIE (Child-on-child sexual violence and harassment).

What to do

  • Review your behaviour policy and ensure that it is fit-for-purpose and underpins the school’s approach to sexual violence, harassment, sexism and discrimination. It will be helpful to use the document Behaviour in schools: Advice for headteachers and school staff (DfE, 2022), which was updated for September 2022.
  • Consider staff training – particularly induction training. Are staff confident to challenge discriminatory behaviour or harassment?
  • Ensure that staff are aware of both reporting systems and how to support children who disclose sexual violence or sexual harassment.


An important new addition is the requirement that governors should receive “appropriate” training for safeguarding and child protection at induction and thereafter.

What to do

  • Consider what training governors have already had and whether this allows them to “provide strategic challenge to test and assure themselves that the safeguarding policies and procedures in place in schools and colleges are effective”. If not, they will need thorough training, which could be provided by the school or may be available via the local authority or a reputable independent trainer.
  • Even if governors have had training before, there is now a requirement that it is “regularly updated”. Check if governors were trained recently and consider when this will be updated next.
  • Consider if governors are confident on the issue of online safety and understand their responsibilities in relation to assuring appropriate measures to protect children to stay safe online are in place. This includes ensuring that the school or college has appropriate filters and monitoring systems in place, and they need to regularly review the effectiveness of these systems.
  • Check that governors have all read and understood KCSIE 2022.

Peer-on-peer/child-on-child abuse

The terminology used to denote abuse between children has been changed from “peer-on-peer” to “child-on-child” abuse, which better reflects that the issue can affect children of any age and that the victim and perpetrator are not always of the same age.

As well as this change, there new paragraphs stressing that children should understand that the law around child-on-child abuse is there to protect not criminalise them, and a point about the importance of understanding intra-familial harms and support that siblings may require following incidents.

What to do

  • Check that your safer recruitment policy and practice reflects the updated guidance. Seek HR support and advice if you are unsure.
  • Review your procedures for reporting, recording, and sharing low-level concerns to make sure that they are clear, easy to follow, and robust.
  • Ensure that policies are updated with new terminology.

Appropriate adults

It has been made clear in the section detailing the “Role of the DSL” that safeguarding leads should understand the requirement that children may need an “appropriate adult”.

This has been at the forefront of safeguarding discussions since the publication of the “Child Q” safeguarding practice review, following a child being strip-searched on school premises without an appropriate adult present (CHSCP, 2022). I talk more about this case and its implications in my recent Headteacher Update Best Practice Focus entitled Top 10 safeguarding priorities for schools (Rose, 2022).

What to do

  • The DSL should familiarise themselves with PACE Code C – the code of practice for the detention, treatment and questioning of persons by police officers (Home Office, 2020).
  • Read the Searching, screening, and confiscation: Advice for schools document (DfE, 2022), which was updated in July for use from September.
  • Ensure both the safeguarding and behaviour policies are updated with references to the refreshed documents and that training and practice is in line with this.

Other specific issues

Domestic violence: An additional paragraph has been added to Part 1 of the document explaining what domestic abuse is and making it clear that children can be victims of domestic abuse (as per the Domestic Abuse Act 2021). All staff working directly with children will read this section and it is helpful to draw this point out in training too.

Equality and human rights: Several paragraphs have been added to KCSIE detailing school responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010, the Human Rights Act, and the Public Sector Equality Duty. This information has been included as it was part of Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges and these duties were already in place. However, this information feeds into several of the other updates – around minimising discrimination to create a culture of safeguarding, for example, so you may wish to plan in a training session to bring this information to your staff’s attention and reinforce the key messages.

Safer working practice: There are some important updates to safer recruitment and safer working practices. First, the guidance now states that schools should, “consider carrying out an online search as part of their due diligence on the shortlisted candidates”. There is also a change to the reporting processes for low-level concerns about staff – schools able to choose who these are reported to rather than the document stipulating that they should always be reported to the headteacher. For more advice on safer working practice, see my recent article for Headteacher Update (Rose, 2022).


The updates to the document this year are clear and specific, lending themselves well to a self-assessment checklist.

If you are a DSL, it may be helpful to go through the document again, highlight the new sections and make your own list of the requirements to use as a guide to developing practice for the year. This is also useful in evidencing action taken to respond to these important aspects of safeguarding practice.

The world of safeguarding is ever-developing, with new and emerging risks but also greater understanding of how to keep children safe. As discussed above, some of these changes are rooted in learning from where things have gone wrong for children and as such, we all have a clear responsibility to understand the updates, train staff and adapt practice to ensure that we are doing everything we can to keep children safe.

  • Elizabeth Rose is an independent safeguarding consultant and the director of So Safeguarding. She has worked in education for more than 15 years and is a former secondary designated safeguarding lead and local authority safeguarding in education advisor. Visit or follow her @sosafeguarding. Find her previous articles for Headteacher Update via

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