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Safeguarding – new statutory guidance

Our newest contributor, Veale Wasbrough Vizards, a specialist national education law firm with offices in London, Bristol and Birmingham explores the new guidance on safeguarding. This informative piece is guaranteed to be helpful!

The DfE has recently published revised versions of two pieces of statutory guidance, ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ (KCSIE) and ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ (WTTSC), together with the amended departmental advice, ‘What to do if you are worried a child is being abused 2015’.

The changes to KCSIE are described by the DfE as ‘technical’. They reflect other guidance and/or legal requirements that schools must now consider, and also remove some of the inconsistencies in the original version. The main changes and points of interest are:

KCSIE still requires schools to make it clear in their policies and procedures that any member of staff (including volunteers) can make a referral to children’s social care if there is a risk of immediate serious harm to a child. However, it now also emphasises that, although staff can approach children’s social care services directly in exceptional circumstances, they are expected to raise concerns with the school’s designated safeguarding lead in the first instance.

There was some confusion in the original KCSIE as to whether the requirement is to report allegations against staff to the designated safeguarding lead or to the head. The revised guidance clarifies that concerns about a member of staff should be reported to the head or, where the concern involves the head, to the chair of governors.

The guidance no longer refers to the local authority designated officer. LAs are required by WTTSC to take action in relation to allegations against people who work with children in a co-ordinated manner, and should have designated a particular officer to be involved in the management and oversight of such allegations. Schools should seek clarification from their local safeguarding children board and children’s social care to ensure that the current position is reflected in its safeguarding procedures, and that the contact details provided are accurate.

Initial advice is provided on the Prevent duty and Channel partners but more will be forthcoming once the draft statutory guidance is finalised and issued. This guidance will be updated further to reflect the implications of the Prevent duty, which is expected to come into force later in 2015.

KCSIE now expressly requires schools to consider reporting historical abuse allegations to the police.

Child protection files must be transferred securely between schools, separate to the main pupil file, and the DfE now recommends that transferring schools obtain a confirmation of receipt.

Part C of KCSIE relating to host families now expressly notes that “where the parents make the arrangements or take the responsibility for the selection of the host parents themselves, this will be a private matter between the child’s parents and the host parents and in these circumstances the school will not be the regulated activity provider”. This was not included within the previous version of KCSIE but was always our interpretation.

KCSIE now makes reference to carrying out appropriate childcare disqualification checks for those who work in childcare provision and refers schools to the statutory guidance, ‘Disqualification under the Childcare Act 2006’. This confirms that these checks are now an inspection standard for relevant roles.

The guidance on checking volunteers has been slightly revised. Schools are able to obtain a DBS check for most volunteers. As they are available without cost, our advice is that they are obtained wherever possible. Schools would also benefit from requiring those who volunteer regularly to register with the DBS update service, which is also free of charge for volunteers.

The new KCSIE came into force with immediate effect on 27 March 2015. We recommend that schools review their safeguarding and safer recruitment policies and procedures to ensure that they reflect the new wording.
How can TheSchoolBus help? We have up-to-date versions of the policies regarding safeguarding here.

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