In January, the Department for Education put forward its proposed amendments for this September’s update to Keeping children safe in education (KCSIE).
The proposed changes and potential impact
As expected, the proposed changes continue to take into account the issues that were brought to light by the Everyone’s Invited movement. It is proposed that the term “peer-on-peer” abuse is replaced with “child-on-child” abuse, which adds some clarity to exactly what the guidance relates to.
The biggest change is the proposal that the Department for Education’s guidance document Sexual violence and harassment between children in schools and colleges is moved into part 5 of KCSIE. The impact of this move is that it would alter the status of this document’s advice from that of best practice to that of statutory guidance, meaning that it would become compulsory for schools to follow this advice.
A further proposed change relates to the pre-employment checks that schools are required to undertake as part of the candidate shortlisting process. The proposal is that schools should consider carrying out an online search, including a check of candidates’ social media. The current KCSIE guidance already advises schools to carry out online checks on guest speakers, so this should not be an unfamiliar requirement, and may well be something that schools are already doing as part of their recruitment process.
It is also being proposed that governors and trustees receive safeguarding and child protection training at induction, and that this training is regularly updated. Whilst this is likely something that many schools are already doing, it had previously been a choice rather than compulsory training. This requirement would reinforce the key role governors play in setting the tone for safeguarding in schools.
The proposed changes refer schools to the Department for Education’s Education Against Hate website, which is a useful source of guidance for schools on how to safeguard pupils against radicalisation. The proposals would also provide welcome recognition of the impact of domestic abuse on children, cautioning schools to be alert to the detrimental long-term impact this can have on their health, wellbeing, development and ability to learn.
Have your say
The consultation on the proposed changes closes on 11 March, so any school that would like to have a say on the proposed changes but has not yet done so should act quickly to prepare their submission.