Keeping children safe in education updates

Last updated: 22 Jul 2021 Topics: Safeguarding children

The Department for Education (DfE) has updated its statutory guidance for schools and colleges.

Keeping children safe in education was published in July 2021 and implemented on 1 September 2021.

Key points relevant for sport and physical activity

Part 1: safeguarding information for all staff

Supporting victims of abuse

Guidance has been added emphasising that all staff should be able to reassure victims of abuse that they are being taken seriously and will be supported.

Online safety

The guidance has been updated to include information from UK Council for Internet Safety (UKCIS, 2020) on sharing nude and semi-nude images and videos.

Child criminal and sexual exploitation

Information has been added to support all staff in understanding and recognising child criminal and sexual exploitation. This highlights the vulnerability of children involved in criminal exploitation which is not always recognised by adults and professionals.

It also emphasises that child sexual exploitation is a form of sexual abuse and can be a one-off occurrence or might happen over time. All children and young people, including 16 and 17-year-olds, can experience child sexual exploitation.

Mental health

Links have been added to resources to help staff support children and young people’s mental health, including DfE guidance on mental health and behaviour in schools (DfE, 2018).

Peer-on-peer abuse

Guidance has been expanded, emphasising that all staff should understand the importance of challenging inappropriate behaviour between children and young people. Staff should also recognise that downplaying inappropriate behaviours as “just banter” can lead to a culture of unacceptable behaviour, an unsafe environment for children and young people and a culture that normalises abuse.

Part 2: the management of safeguarding

Use of school or college premises for non-school or college activities

A section has been added outlining what governing bodies and proprietors should do to ensure children are kept safe if the school or college premises are being used for other activities.

If another organisation is providing services or activities on the site of a school or college, the governing body or proprietor should ensure that appropriate safeguarding and child protection policies and procedures are in place.

Alternative provision

New guidance has been added making it clear that governing bodies and proprietors of alternative provision should be aware of the complex needs of children and young people and the additional risks they might be vulnerable to.

Part 4: Allegations of abuse made against teachers, and other staff including supply teachers and volunteers

Guidance has been separated into two sections. The first covers allegations or concerns that meet the threshold for harm and is largely unchanged from the previous guidance. The second section is new and covers allegations or concerns that don’t meet the threshold.

Concerns that do not meet the harm threshold

Governing bodies and proprietors should have policies and processes in place to deal with low-level concerns and allegations that don’t meet the harm threshold. Staff codes of conduct and safeguarding policies should explain what a low-level concern is and the importance of sharing any concerns.

A low-level concern is any concern that an adult has acted in a way that:

  • is inconsistent with the staff code of conduct, including inappropriate conduct outside of work
  • does not meet the allegations threshold or is not considered serious enough to refer to the local authority designated officer (LADO)

Examples of low-level concerns could include:

  • being over friendly with children
  • having favourites
  • taking photos of children on their mobile phone
  • engaging with a child one-to-one in a secluded area or behind a closed door
  • using inappropriate sexualised, intimidating or offensive language

To help prevent low-level concerns, staff codes of conduct, behaviour policies and safeguarding policies and procedures should be implemented effectively and appropriate action should be taken to deal with any concern.