On 26 March 2015, the Department for Education published its revised statutory guidance “Keeping children safe in education” (the “new guidance”) which replaces the 2014 guidance of the same title.
What are the differences?
Broadly speaking, the new guidance clarifies and builds upon the obligations imposed by the 2014 guidance, whilst introducing some new information.
Firstly, the remit of the guidance has been widened to include maintained nursery schools, as well as those previously subject to the guidance being: other maintained schools, non-maintained special schools, independent schools (including academies, free schools and alternative provision academies), pupil referral units, further education colleges and sixth form colleges.
In light of recent counter-terrorism legislation1, the new guidance includes a section on preventing radicalisation which refers to the new legal duty imposed on education providers, namely to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism (the “Prevent Duty”). It is anticipated that the new guidance will be further updated once the Prevent Duty is in force, expected to be in July 2015.
The prolific use of social media has also been acknowledged, by a revised section indicating that safeguarding policies should now include information on the use of social media.
Other changes include:
- removal of the term “Local Authority Designated Officer” which has been replaced by “designated officer(s)”;
- new sections on what staff should do if they have concerns about another staff member or about safeguarding practices within the school/college and what should be done in respect of allegations made against other children;
- revised wording/clarification in a number of sections, including when someone is engaging in regulated activity and the legal duty to refer a matter to external agencies;
- an update to the reporting process relating to an allegation of abuse against a Head teacher or the sole proprietor of an independent school;
- details on the DBS Update Service which enables future checks to be carried out to confirm that no new information has been added since an original Disclosure Barring Service check;
- the need for safer recruitment training to cover, as a minimum, the contents of the new guidance. Such training must be undertaken by one member of an appointment panel; and
- a section relating to staff who work in childcare provision or are directly concerned with the management of such provision. Steps now need to be taken to ensure that the individual is not disqualified under the Childcare (Disqualification) Regulations 2009.
Whilst key areas of the guidance have been flagged above, it will be vital for academy leaders to become familiar with its contents as soon as possible and to ensure that all relevant policies and procedures are reviewed for consistentency with the new guidance.