The Government Guidance, Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) was updated in May 2024, the final version of which will come into effect in September 2024.

The statutory guidance should be read and followed by:

  • Governing bodies of maintained schools and colleges
  • including maintained nursery schools
  • colleges which includes providers of post-16 Education
  • 16-19 Academies
  • Special Post-16 institutions
  • Independent Training Providers
  • Proprietors of independent schools
  • Including academies, free schools and alternative provision academies
  • Non-maintained special schools
  • Management committees of pupil referral units (PRUs)
  • Senior leadership teams

It is vital that everyone who works in a school or college understands their safeguarding responsibilities to protect the young people and children in their care. Therefore there are sections of KCSIE which must be read and understood by at staff and then sections for the Designated Safeguarding lead (DSL) and the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) and governors. 

Updates to KCSIE Part 1: Safeguarding Information for all Staff

Children Definition updates

One of the main changes is the definition of “Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children” has been updated to reflect the Working Together to Safeguarding Children 2023 guidance. This highlights that the term children refers to anyone under the age of 18. This places emphasis on the fact that exploitation, adultification and teenage relationship abuse does occur for older children. 

This definition now includes the additional points of:

  • Providing help and support to meet the child’s needs as soon as the problem emerges
  • Protecting children from maltreatment, inside or outside the home, including online. 

Early Help

Early help means providing support as soon as a problem emerges at any point in a child’s life, from the foundation years through to the teenage years. 

In this section the Early Help triggers have been revised to reflect that children who have experienced multiple suspensions and are at risk from being permanently excluded could benefit from early help intervention. This highlights the need to recognise potential safeguarding issues alongside any noted behavioral issues and proactively seek early intervention for these children. 

Educators should be on the alert to help children who: 

  • Are frequently missing from education, home or care 
  • Have had multiple suspensions, are at risk of being permanently excluded from schools, colleges and are in alternative provision or a pupil referral unit 
  • Has a parent or carer in custody 

Indicators of Abuse and Neglect

This section has been amended to include exploitation. It also mentions the impact on children who witness or experience domestic abuse including where they see, hear or experience its effects. 

The definition of abuse has also been changed to clarify that it can include children who witness the ill-treatment of others. 

Safeguarding Issues

This section has changed the wording from “deliberately missing education” to “unexplained and/or persistent absence from education” to reflect that the child may not be at fault for their absences. This helps encourage staff to consider the links between absences and potential safeguarding concerns. 

Updates to KCSIE Part 2: The Management of Safeguarding 

Data Protection 

This section now refers to data protection guidance and toolkits for schools. This supports staff, governors and trustees on data protection compliance, policy and processes, data storage and preventing personal data breaches.

Alternative Provision

There has been more emphasis on the roles of legal responsibilities of schools who place their pupils in alternative provisions. It has been specified that schools remain responsible for any pupils who may be placed in alternative provision and should be satisfied that the placement meets the pupil’s needs. 

Children with SEND

In this section the guidance now signposts to the NSPCC’s advice on the safeguarding of children with SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) and deaf/disabled children. There is also added emphasis that these children will require extra support and attention that may differ from children with other needs. 

Children who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Gender Questioning   

It is important to note that this section remains under review, pending the outcome of the gender questioning children guidance consultation and final gender questioning guidance documents being published.

In this section there are several references to the LGBTQ+ community including:

  • Children identifying as being lesbian, gay, or bisexual is not in itself an inherent risk factor for harm, however, they can sometimes be targeted by other children. 
  • In some cases, a child who is perceived by other children to be lesbian, gay, or bisexual (whether they are or not) can be just as vulnerable as children who are. 
  • However, the Cass review identified that caution is necessary for children questioning their gender as there remain many unknowns about the impact of social transition and children may well have wider vulnerabilities; such as complex mental health and psychosocial needs.
  • It is recommended that clinical help and advice is sought for gender questioning children by their parents/carers 
  • In order to support gender questioning children, schools should consider the broad range of individual needs, in partnership with the child’s parents, unless the parents pose a significant harm to the child. Schools should refer to the Guidance for Schools and Colleges in relation to Gender Questioning Children, when deciding how to proceed. 
  • This section also calls to attention the fact that children who lack trusted adults with whom they can be open are more at risk than other children. Therefore it is vital school staff endeavor to reduce additional barriers and create a culture where gender questioning children can share their concerns. 

Updates to KCSIE Part 5: Child-on-Child Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment 

Early Help

This section has been amended to reflect the Working Together to Safeguard Children 2023 guidance, and states that “Early Help is support for children of ALL ages that improves a family’s resilience and outcome or reduces the chance of a problem getting worse.”

Updates to KCSIE Annex B: Further information  

Children and the Court System 

In this section two age-appropriate guides have been included to support children who have to give evidence in court:

Preventing Radicalisation 

A disclaimer has been added that this section is still under review following the new definition of extremism released on March 14th 2024. 

It has been clarified that protecting children from being influenced or involved in terrorism should be part of the schools safeguarding approach, similar to how schools should focus on protecting children from other forms of harm and abuse. 

In this section additional information has also been provided to state that while there is no single way of identifying whether a child is likely to be susceptible to radicalisation into terrorism, there are factors that may indicate concern such as:

  • If the child is low risk, at risk, medium risk or high risk
  • That a child can move quickly between these risk levels
  • Legitimising the use of violence to defend ideology or cause
  • Accessing extremist or terrorist websites, forums and publications
  • Expressing dehumanising views
  • Verbally or physically attacking someone due to their race, religion, sexuality and so on
  • Committing violent acts guided by a violent extremist ideology or group
  • Taking part in any proscribed violent extremist group.

These are only a few examples; view the full list here

Updates to KCSIE Annex C: Role of the Designated Safeguarding Lead 

This section has been updated to provide further guidance about how the DSL should keep detailed, accurate and secure written records of all concerns. This should include a timeline of discussion and decisions made as well as rationale for those decisions. Including when referrals were or were not made to another agency. 

Full KCSIE guidance and updates

In Annex F, at the end of the KCSIE Guidance you can see a table of all changes from September 2023.