The DfE has published a consultation on proposed revisions to statutory guidance for schools and colleges on keeping children safe in education, to come into effect from September 2016. Responses are due by 16 February 2016.
Schools and colleges must now ensure that staff not only read but also understand at least Part 1, which provides background and detailed information on what they should know, what they should look out for, and what they should do if they have a concern regarding a child, a staff member or safeguarding practices.
There should be no room for doubt about the individual responsibility of every member of staff when it comes to safeguarding children.
Part 2 sets out the responsibilities of the governing body, proprietor and management committee of a school or college, and is therefore also targeted at senior leaders who will be responsible for day-to-day management of safeguarding.
Changes here mostly relate to changing emphasis in wording, so that all schools are doing what it is assumed the majority of schools are already doing.
The consultation seeks to test both that assumption and whether the changes will have the desired effect without imposing unnecessary burdens.
Schools should have an overarching safeguarding policy and, under that, various other policies, such as a child protection policy.
Clarity has been provided around cover arrangements for the role of ‘designated safeguarding lead’, and the requirement for training every two years has been changed to regular training, as appropriate and when required, but at least annually.
Similarly there is a requirement that all staff have safeguarding training at least annually.
A new section has been added to cover the importance of online safety, focusing on protecting children from harmful and inappropriate material, including pornography, self-harm sites and extremist material.
Although the majority of schools and colleges keep their children safe online already, there will now be a requirement in the statutory guidance to ensure appropriate filtering and monitoring.
Governing bodies and proprieties will now have to ensure that children are taught about safeguarding, rather than simply considering it.
The National Association of Headteachers has said that making personal, social, health and economics (PSHE) compulsory would free up the appropriate time to address this important issue.