What do the updated changes to KCSIE mean for school leadership teams?
What is KCSIE?
Keeping Children Safe in Education or KCSIE is the statutory safeguarding guidance issued by the Department for Education, for the colleges and schools in the UK. KCSIE allocates the legal requirements for all colleges and schools in England when executing their duties to promote and safeguard the welfare of children in schools under the age of 18.
The updated version of Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE 2021) came into force in September 2021. The new version guides teachers, headteachers and staff, as well as management committees, proprietors and governing bodies. After the annual review, this whole-school approach was unpicked my various professional bodies. In this article, the implications for these updates, including the annex, will be explained for anyone working in an education setting. You will find many current update webinars through a simple search and we have included one in this article. As always, up-to-date advice should be sought from your safeguarding officer and local authority.
Why is KCSIE revised?
After every few years, the UK government revises the guidance on basis of several factors including governmental changes (such as Brexit), current laws that have been implemented (such as the Coronavirus Act 2020), and latest research findings, so colleges and schools must be aware what preventative measures, behaviour policies and procedures must be introduced to promote the safe environment for children. The term 'safeguarding' has been clearly defined by the KCSiE, that safeguarding is not limited to just 'child protection.' It is a broader term, which applies to the efforts made for the promotion of children welfare and to protect children from risk of harm in an unsafe environment. It is everyone's responsibility to safeguard children.
What is new in Keeping children safe in education (KCSIE) 2021?
In September 2021, The Department for Education (DfE) has refurbished the child protection statutory safeguarding guidance for colleges and schools Keeping children safe in education (KCSIE) in the UK. The outcome of the Ofsted Review of sexual abuse in colleges & schools has also been analyzed throughout.
The recent changes to the Department of Education's Keeping children safe in education (KCSIE) guidance include:
Part 1. Information about safeguarding for each staff: KCSIE now states that child protection policies must also contain procedures to deal with peer on peer abuse. A new paragraph is included to emphasize that children’s social care assessments need to assess where children are being victimized other than their homes. Thus, it is essential that colleges and schools provide as much evidence as they can in their referral process. Especially, there is a change to what each school and college staff needs to look for or should be aware of any form of child abuse and child protection issues including sexual exploitation, peer sexual abuse, child maltreatment, child criminal or peer on peer abuse; physical abuse, mental health concerns; and the risk of sharing of nudes, harmful content, age-inappropriate magazine content and online abuse In child protection.
Part 2. The safeguarding management: This part has some major changes. This includes modifications to highlight the necessity of a whole school and college approach to
- strengthened policies that must be in place;
- Safeguarding leads;
- additional information for independent schools to be included in their child protection policies;
- clarity of power to use and hold the information;
- The need for online safety,
- The importance of what should be taught to the pupils at risk;
- The need for training for staff;
- New paragraphs about elective home education and safeguarding requirements to hire/let the school land.
Part 3. Safer recruitment: According to the Department of Education, the entire Part 3 has been considerably restructured to complement the staff hiring process, but the legal and management responsibility has remained unchanged. The new KCSIE offers various clarifications, including when certain arrangements for child protection must be carried out. Guidance has been provided about verification of a teaching candidate’s identity through their birth certificate.
Part 4. Concerns raised about / Allegations made against staffs, including teaching staffs, other employees and contractors: This part is divided into 2 sections: the first section is for concerns/ allegations meeting the threshold, and the next section is for concerns/allegations that do not meet the threshold (i.e. concerns of low-level). Some examples of low-level concerns are:
- making favourites;
- getting over friendly with children;
- engaging with children behind a closed door or in a secluded area on a one-to-one basis;
- taking children's photographs on their mobile phones;
- using offensive, intimidating or inappropriate sexual images or sexualized language face to face or on the mobile phones.
This part contains additional information and guidance for schools for handling both categories of the unacceptable behaviours allegation.
Part 5: Child on child harassment and sexual violence: This part contains the revised information about managing and responding to a report, and providing support to a victim or the person who has made proclamations. A reminder to colleges and schools has been provided, stating that a child sexual exploitation may result in a range of health concerns including sexual, mental and physical health problems.
Annexes: Updated statutory guidance and information have been included. This contains (at Annex A) a modified compact version of KCSIE Part 1 – Annex A can be given (in place of Part 1) to those who do not work directly with children, if the senior leaders or proprietor want to, Annex A will offer a better basis to promote the safety and welfare of children.
Information regarding additional risk factors has been incorporated to Annex B including:
- Child sexual exploitation (CSE);
- Child criminal exploitation (CCE);
- County lines;
- National referral mechanism and the modern slavery;
- Peer on peer abuse;
- Preventing radicalisation and abuse on children;
- Domestic abuse on basis of Domestic Abuse Act 2021
Further information has been included in Annex C regarding record keeping, information sharing and safe access to records and a child protection file.
Now, Annex D contains a more detailed list of resources for schools to support colleges, schools and carers/parents for the online safety of children.
What is the impact of KCSIE 2021 on schools?
Every school's policies and preventive measures must be revised to include the KCSIE 2021 changes implemented in September 2021.
Schools must ensure that the school staff, as well as school leaders, governing bodies, proprietors and management committees, are compliant and up to date. Schools and colleges must adopt a zero-tolerance approach and improve teaching staff confidence in responding to and identifying warning signs of inappropriate, harmful or any kind of child on child abuse or sexual harassment displayed by young people and children in school premises through arranging child protection training for the staffs.
This is the first time in the history of its publication, that the guidance mentions that KCSIE is now applicable to post-16 education providers, as stated by the Welfare of Children Education and Training Act 2021. Along with the revised KCSIE, the Department of Education has issued a revised edition of the Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Between Children in Schools and Colleges Statutory Requirements on the 1st of September 2021. It contains important safeguarding information, reasonable adjustments and legal responsibilities of schools and colleges and how they must respond to the complaints about sexual harassment and sexual violence, sexual abuse between children, directions on handling signs of peer abuse in schools including peer on peer abuse and sexual exploitation; further details on harassment between children and child sexual and criminal exploitation; a new category of answering to low-level concerns and proclamations; and further direction on online safeguarding and remote education guidance.
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