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keeping children safe in education

A summary of the Keeping Children Safe in Education 2020 updates

8th July 2020

Keeping Children Safe in Education 2020

Last week, the government published an updated draft of the Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance, which is due to come into effect on the 1st September 2020. This comes just one year after the 2019 update and includes a number of key changes. We understand schools are required to read this guidance at the beginning of each academic year, and this blog highlights the key changes to look out for.

1) The definition of safeguarding

The first key change that has been made to the guidance is the definition of safeguarding. Safeguarding has now been expanded to specifically mention the mental health of children, alongside the physical health. Student mental health and wellbeing is a key concern for schools following COVID-19 and lockdown has left many children struggling with loneliness, social isolation and anxiety.  As school begin to return come September, it is crucial that staff consider how and when these mental health factors become a safeguarding concern to identify.  The new definition of safeguarding is as follows:

”Protecting children from maltreatment; preventing impairment of children’s mental and physical health or development; ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care; and taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.”

Additional paragraphs have been included to the guidance to help school staff link mental health concerns with safeguarding. The paragraph reads:

“All staff should also be aware that mental health problems can, in some cases, be an indicator that a child has suffered or is at risk of suffering abuse, neglect or exploitation. Only appropriately trained professionals should attempt to make a diagnosis of a mental health problem. Staff however, are well placed to observe children day-to-day and identify those whose behaviour suggests that they may be experiencing a mental health problem or be at risk of developing one. Where children have suffered abuse and neglect, or other potentially traumatic adverse childhood experiences, this can have a lasting impact throughout childhood, adolescence and into adulthood. It is key that staff are aware of how these children’s experiences, can impact on their mental health, behaviour and education.”

Furthermore, this new section identifies that schools and colleges have an important role in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of pupils. The legislation states that governing bodies and proprietors should ensure they have clear systems and processes in place for identifying possible mental health problems, including routes to escalate and clear referral and accountability systems. It was also stated that training for senior mental health leads, will be available to all state funded schools and colleges by 2025, to help introduce or develop their whole school or college approach to mental health.

There is also rewording around extra-familiar harm. All references to contextual safeguarding have been removed, but there is emphasis on how children may be vulnerable to multiple harms including (but not limited to) sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation, and serious youth violence.

2) Allegations to include supply staff

Allegations about staff are widened to include supply staff, highlighting that schools hold a responsibility to fully explore concerns about supply staff. The guidance says “whilst schools and colleges are not the employer of supply teachers, they should ensure allegations are dealt with properly. In no circumstances should a school or college decide to cease to use a supply teacher due to safeguarding concerns, without finding out the facts and liaising with the local authority designated officer (LADO) to determine a suitable outcome.” The guidance also provides information on how to deal with allegations about supply teachers.

3) Keeping students safe during remote learning

As many students, excluding vulnerable children and key workers, are learning from home, updates have been made clear on how to support keeping children safe online when they are remote learning. The department has provided advice to support schools and colleges do so safely. You can read this below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-safeguarding-in-schools-colleges-and-other-providers/coronavirus-covid-19-safeguarding-in-schools-colleges-and-other-providers

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/safeguarding-and-remote-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19

4) Designated safeguarding lead to work with partners and agencies

The designated safeguarding lead and any deputies should liaise with the three safeguarding partners and work with other agencies in line with Working Together to Safeguard Children.

There is a link to the National Police Chief’s Council guidance on when to call the police to ensure calls are appropriate and timely. It also aims to help designated safeguarding leads to understand what to expect when they do.

5) Children potentially at greater risk of harm

This section has been updated to reflect the needs of children with a social worker and is designed to support designated safeguarding leads and schools to be able to best support these children to do well, in line with the evidence from the children in need review (part 48 in KCSiE 2020).

6) Child criminal exploitation and county lines

Child criminal exploitation (CCE) and county lines have been separated into two sections. The wording around County Lines has been revised and improved. The text reflects the individual and the gang activity. It identifies the indicators of CCE and the imbalance of power. In addition, there has been a rewording of the child sexual exploitation section.

How can you ensure you comply with Keeping Children Safe in Education 2020?

As mentioned throughout the guidance, having appropriate policies, processes and systems in place to support Keeping Children Safe in Education is important. Schools need to be able to identify safeguarding concerns and escalate these accordingly. At Impero, we believe all schools should have these resources in place, irrespective of budget or circumstance, which is why Impero Back:drop our digital safeguarding solution is free for all schools, forever. Learn more here: https://www.imperosoftware.com/uk/impero-backdrop/

Read the full Keeping Children Safe in Education 2020 guidance here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/892394/Keeping_children_safe_in_education_2020.pdf

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