On 6th July 2021, the Department of Education (DfE) published an updated version of Keeping children safe in education (KCSIE) 2021. It is worth noting, however, that this version is currently 'for information' and does not come into force until 1 September 2021. Schools and colleges must continue to use ‘Keeping children safe in education 2020’ until then.

A few of the key changes are summarised below:

Significantly, KCSIE has now been extended to also apply to providers of post 16 education, as set out in the Education and Training (Welfare of Children) Act 2021.

Unsurprisingly, one of the key changes to the KCSIE guidance is around peer-on-peer sexual abuse in schools (a link to our recent e-briefing on this matter can be found here). The updated guidance makes it clear that incidents of sexual violence and sexual harassment should be taken seriously. Paragraph 18 of KCSIE makes it clear that victims should be taken seriously, kept safe and never be made to feel like they are creating a problem for reporting abuse, sexual violence or sexual harassment. Paragraph 49 also includes examples of the forms that peer-on-peer abuse may take.

In addition, the updated KCSIE emphasises that a 'whole school and college' approach should be taken in relation to safeguarding, and paragraph 85 includes details of what an effective child protection policy should look like and what should be included as a minimum.

The updated KCSIE guidance should be read alongside the updated guidance on "sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges". Please note, however, that as with the KCSIE updated guidance, this guidance does not come into force until 1 September 2021 and schools and colleges must continue to use the 2018 version until then.

It will be important for schools and colleges to clearly understand their safeguarding obligations and consider how best expectations are communicated to staff. It is also important to consider their current safeguarding policies and procedures, and where necessary, make the amendments required. There may also be additional training needs identified in order to ensure that the training staff receive, including online safety training, is integrated, aligned and considered as part of the whole school or college safeguarding approach.

Please contact me, or another member of the regulatory team at Anthony Collins Solicitors, at regulatoryteam@anthonycollins.com, for more information or for advice in relation to any safeguarding queries you may have.