15 July 2021


Keeping Children Safe in Education: Proposed Revisions 2021

The Department for Education has published a draft of revised statutory guidance on keeping children safe in education.

This guidance is issued under the Independent School Standards, which ISI inspects against.

Keeping Children Safe in Education 2021 is currently for information only and does not come into force until 1 September 2021.

Schools must continue to use Keeping Children Safe in Education 2020 until then.

A summary of some of the key changes are outlined below:

Part one – Safeguarding information for all staff

There are general revisions made to this part to improve its clarity, including additional detail on child sexual exploitation and child criminal exploitation.

The guidance has also been updated to further increase awareness of peer-on-peer abuse and the importance of staff understanding what it is and responding to concerns about it.

This includes:

- Making clear that staff should expect to see their school approach to peer-on-peer abuse in the child protection policy.

- Making clear it is essential that when they make a report of abuse all victims are reassured that they are being taken seriously and that they will be supported and kept safe.

- Reiterating the importance of raising “any concerns” about a child with the DSL or a deputy.

- Explaining in more detail the risks associated with peer-on-peer online abuse and what this can look like.

- Making clear peer-on-peer abuse can happen outside the school or college. As with all forms of abuse, schools should protect a child who has been harmed or is at risk of harm wherever the abuse may have taken place.

- Highlighting that peer-on-peer abuse can sometime be hidden abuse and that just because there are not reports of it, does not mean it is not happening. it could be the case it is simply not being reported. The updated guidance requires staff to be vigilant and report any concerns.

- Ensuring all safeguarding concerns regarding children should be appropriately recorded.

Part two – The management of safeguarding

There are revisions to the mental health section and signposting to additional support and resources.

There is also more detailed information around online safety, designed to help ensure children are safeguarded from potentially harmful and inappropriate online material.

Furthermore, the guidance has been updated to strengthen what governing bodies and proprietors should be doing to protect children from peer-on-peer abuse and support victims.

This includes:

- Providing more information on reporting mechanisms and setting out that systems should be in place (and they should be well promoted, easily understood and easily accessible) for children to confidently report abuse, knowing their concerns will be treated seriously, express their views and give feedback.

- Explicitly setting out that the whole school and college approach to peer-on-peer abuse should be reflected in the child protection policy, as should the approach to children reporting abuse.

- Reiterating the importance of child protection files being maintained.

- Emphasising the need to consider tailored approaches to teach children about staying safe especially with regard to victims of abuse, vulnerable children and SEND children.

- Emphasising the importance of governing bodies understanding what online peer-on-peer abuse can look like and reflecting as appropriate in their child protection and mobile technology policies.

- Highlighting the importance of governing bodies and proprietors recognising that peer-on-peer abuse can be hidden abuse and even if there are no reports of it, it may still be taking place, just not being reported.

Part three – Safer recruitment

This part now provides details of how schools check the barred list status (in certain circumstances) of individuals engaging in regulated activity, via the Employer Access service administered by the Teaching Regulation Agency.

The updated guidance also provides clarification around Section 128 checks and overseas checks, following removal of the EEA sanction list.

Part four – Allegations of abuse made against teachers and other staff

Part four has been separated into two sections:

- Section one: allegations that may meet the threshold.

- Section two: allegations/concerns that do not meet the threshold i.e. low level concerns.

As a result, section two features information about concerns that do not meet the harm threshold. This includes what a low level concern is, making the link between low level concerns, staff code of conduct and safeguarding policies, and recording and sharing information with relevant parties including whether this information should be included in references.

Part five – Child on child sexual violence and sexual harassment

In response to DfE’s consultation, more information has been added in Part five that is already covered in the stand-alone advice (and in some cases elsewhere in this guidance). For example, on indicators to look out for, on the challenges around identifying and dealing with harmful sexual behaviour and the disproportionate impact on young girls.

Further changes in this part, include:

- Making clear that sexual violence and sexual harassment can happen outside of the school or college premises and online.

- Making clear that there should be a zero tolerance approach to sexual violence and sexual harassment and that it is never acceptable and should not be tolerated.

- Adding a section on dealing with unsubstantiated, unfounded, false or malicious reports.

- Including additional signposting to support schools and colleges in dealing with harmful sexual behaviour.