DfE publishes updated version of Keeping Children Safe in Education

The DfE has now released its annual draft update to Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE), with the changes set to come into effect in September 2024. This year’s changes are fairly limited, with a more significant set of changes likely to be introduced next year, following the Government’s recent call for evidence. Many of the updates to KCSIE incorporate the changes that were brought into effect at the end of last year when Working Together To Safeguard Children was updated. The majority of the other changes are technical changes to the wording and to definitions. Set out below are the key changes that schools should be aware of as they prepare for the next academic year.

Exploitation included in terms

KCSIE now uses the term “abuse, neglect and exploitation”, where previously it had simply referred to “abuse and neglect”. This addition of exploitation is a reminder of the fact that children who are groomed into taking part in criminal activity need protection and should be considered victims rather than offenders.

Updated definition of “safeguarding”

The definition of “safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children” has been updated, in line with Working Together To Safeguard Children. The definition now includes “providing help and support to meet the needs of children as soon as problems emerge”. This is a reference to Early Help, and the paragraph relating to Early Help has also been updated to put it in line with Working Together To Safeguard Children.

The widened definition also refers to the need to protect children from maltreatment “whether that is within or outside the home, including online”, with this being a clear reminder to schools of the places where children can be at risk of maltreatment.

Alternative provision

The updated guidance reiterates that where a school places a pupil with an alternative provision provider, the school continues to be responsible for the safeguarding of that pupil and should be satisfied that the placement meets the pupil’s needs. This is not a new obligation, but it is a useful reminder for schools of their obligation to ensure the alternative provision provider is suitable.

Domestic abuse

Last year’s update to KCSIE set out the risk posed to children by domestic abuse. This year’s update builds on that, setting out that domestic abuse can have a harmful impact on a child where they “see, hear or experience” its effects. Whilst this is not a new obligation, this new wording emphasises the need for schools to be alert to the harmful impact of domestic abuse on children who live in homes where they see, hear or experience its effects.

Record keeping

There is a reminder of the need to “keep detailed, accurate, secure written records of all concerns, discussions and decisions made including the rationale for those decisions.” This also includes an obligation to keep such records where a decision was made not to make a referral.  

Unexplainable and/or persistent absences

The updated guidance contains a change in terminology regarding children “deliberately missing education”, which has now been updated to refer to “unexplainable and/or persistent absences from education”. This relates to the fact that schools should not make assumptions regarding a child’s motivations for missing school, and you should be alert to the fact that a child’s absence from school may be an indicator of their involvement in county lines.


The updated guidance also includes some new links for helpful resources:

  • NSPCC advice on “Safeguarding children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)” and “Safeguarding d/Deaf and disabled children and young people”.  
  • Two age appropriate guides to support children who are involved in the court system.
  • Shorespace, which is run by the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, and which provides a safe and anonymous place for young people to get help and support to prevent harmful sexual behaviours.

Next steps for schools

The draft updated guidance is currently for information only, pending publication of the final version. It is also worth adding that the part of KCSIE relating to gender questioning children remains under review, pending the outcome of the gender questioning children guidance consultation and the publication of the final gender questioning guidance documents. Likewise, the preventing radicalisation section remains under review, following the publication of the new definition of “extremism”. Schools should therefore remain alert to the likelihood that there may be some further updates to KCSIE.

In the meantime, in preparation for the updated version of KCSIE coming into effect next term, schools should ensure they familiarise themselves with the changes to the guidance. They should also ensure their safeguarding policies are updated to reflect the latest changes.

How Moore Barlow can help

We regularly advise independent schools on their safeguarding obligations, and you should feel free to get in touch if you would like any advice on all safeguarding and child protection matters.