Summary of key changes to Keeping children safe in education

Changes to statutory child protection guidance for schools in England published by the Department for Education

Update September 2016


The Department for Education has published an updated version of the statutory guidance Keeping children safe in education which revises and replaces the 2015 guidance. This came into force for schools on 5 September 2016.

Updates were published in May 2016 and again in September 2016.

The September additions cover sexting and missing children.

The changes from May 2016 highlighted the importance of regular safeguarding training and the need to keep up to date with the latest safeguarding knowledge and information. There was also an emphasis on strengthening the processes around online safety, responding to female genital mutilation (FGM) and the teaching of safeguarding issues, with wording changing from ‘should consider’ to ‘should ensure’.

Read a brief summary below outlining the changes from the 2015 guidance including the latest revisions in September 2016 or download our detailed briefing (PDF) for a full analysis of differences.

Early help

  • All school staff should be aware of the early help process and understand their role to take timely action to help a child if they have a safeguarding concern.

Staff training

  • In addition to all staff attending safeguarding and child protection training, it is recommended that they should receive updates via email or staff meetings to keep their skills and knowledge up to date.

Reporting concerns

  • There is new advice on what to do if there are concerns about a head teacher who is also the sole proprietor of an independent school. Concerns should be reported to the designated officer at the local authority. Sources of additional information and advice regarding whistleblowing have also been added, including a link to advice on whistleblowing and the NSPCC Whistleblowing Advice Line.
  • Reporting female genital mutilation (FGM) is now a mandatory requirement for teachers.

Children missing from education

  • Governing bodies should put in place appropriate safeguarding responses to children who go missing from education, particularly on repeat occasions, to help identify the risk of abuse and neglect.

The role of the designated safeguarding lead

  • The designated safeguarding lead should be a senior member of staff from the leadership team.
  • Schools can decide whether or not they appoint more than one deputy to the designated safeguarding lead. They must be trained up to the same standard.

Inter-agency working

  • The importance of data sharing between agencies is highlighted and that data protection fears should not stand in the way of information sharing.
  • Sexual exploitation is specifically mentioned as requiring inter-agency working.

Online safety

  • Online safety has been given a new sub-heading to highlight its importance.
  • A new paragraph has been added highlighting the need for appropriate filters and monitoring systems to be put in place.
  • Stronger wording is used: Schools "should ensure" rather than "should consider" that online safety is included in relevant lessons.

Peer on peer abuse

  • Peer on peer abuse is included as something all staff should be aware of.
  • Sexting is specifically mentioned as a form of peer on peer abuse and schools should ensure that their approach to it is clearly reflected in their child protection policy. 

Looked after children

  • All school staff should have an awareness of looked after children and should receive appropriate training to deal with concerns.
  • It is clarified that the designated teacher role is only a requirement for maintained schools and academies.
  • There is more detail about the role of the virtual head, how they will use the pupil premium and their relationship to the designated teacher.

Children with special educational needs and disabilities

  • New heading and paragraph has been added to highlight that children with special education needs (SEN) face additional safeguarding challenges.
  • Under section 128 of the Education and Skills Act 2008 those in management roles at independent schools, academies and free schools need to have an additional check to ensure they are not prohibited from teaching. This is in addition to a disclosure and barring service (DBS) check.
  • There is information about the new Teacher Services system - a database that can be used prior to appointing a teacher to check for prohibitions, sanctions and restrictions that might prevent the individual from taking part in certain activities or working in specific positions.
  • Governors in maintained schools are required to have an enhanced DBS check.

Download our detailed briefing

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Information and advice for professionals

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Safeguarding in Education Self-Assessment Tool (ESAT)

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