Highlighting the areas of the KCSIE guidance that schools and settings need to be aware of
Well it’s that time of the year again. As the sun continues to shine, we are hopefully thinking of our summer break and leaving school behind. When we come back to work though, ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ (KCSIE), our statutory guidance document for Safeguarding will have been updated and gone live on the 3rd September. Rather than mean wholesale changes to how we do things in our school or setting, the new guidance reflects the growing range of issues and risks that affect young people in England. What we do in school when something concerning comes to our attention may not change that much, yet the range of issues that we need to be aware of as professionals is definitely growing. It is not my intention to list all the changes of ‘KCSIE 2018’ here, but rather to highlight the areas that all of us in schools and settings need to be aware of.
KCSIE states that:
“Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is everyone’s responsibility. Everyone who comes into contact with children and their families has a role to play. In order to fulfil this responsibility effectively, all professionals should make sure their approach is child-centred. This means that they should consider, at all times, what is in the best interests of the child.”
Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is defined as:
protecting children from maltreatment;
preventing impairment of children’s 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.
Your school or college will probably have in place a range of support that you can offer a child to ensure that they can be kept safe and can achieve their full potential. This support is called ‘early help’ and is designed to ensure emerging potential risks to being safe and achieving their potential can be tackled and prevented from getting worse. While all children may need additional support at some time or other, the new KCSIE sets out clearly that there are some children more vulnerable than others who are most likely to need it. It states:
“Any child may benefit from early help, but all school and college staff should be particularly alert to the potential need for early help for a child who:
is disabled and has specific additional needs;
has special educational needs (whether or not they have a statutory education, health and care plan);
is a young carer;
is showing signs of being drawn in to anti-social or criminal behaviour, including gang involvement and association with organised crime groups
is frequently missing/goes missing from care or from home;
is misusing drugs or alcohol themselves;
is at risk of modern slavery, trafficking or exploitation;
is in a family circumstance presenting challenges for the child, such as substance abuse, adult mental health problems or domestic abuse;
has returned home to their family from care;
is showing early signs of abuse and/or neglect;
is at risk of being radicalised or exploited;
is a privately fostered child.”
All staff in education must read Annex A of KCSIE. The 2016 version listed only 4 key risks that schools, colleges and settings had to be aware of. In the 2018 version there are 11 of them. While we may not teach many (or any) children affected by these risks, they affect a significant number of children nationally and we must be aware of our role in identifying concerns, sharing information and supporting children affected by them.
Children and the court system
Sometimes children are required to give evidence in court and the whole process can be stressful for them and their families. Apart from helping a child understand the court process, schools have reported working with children who have had to be relocated after threats have been made to them and their families.
There are two age appropriate guides to support children for 5-11-year olds and 12-17-year olds.
Making child support arrangements via family courts during separation can be a very stressful time for children. The Ministry of Justice has launched an online child arrangements information tool with clear and concise information on the dispute resolution service.
Children missing from education
Children going missing, particularly repeatedly, can act as a vital warning sign of a range of safeguarding possibilities. This may include abuse and neglect, sexual abuse or exploitation and child criminal exploitation. It may indicate mental health problems, risk of substance abuse, risk of travelling to conflict zones, risk of female genital mutilation or risk of forced marriage. We need to be aware of our school or college’s unauthorised absence and children missing from education procedures and use them to ensure that early intervention can prevent situations getting worse.
Children with family members in prison
Approximately 200,000 children have a parent sent to prison each year. These children are at risk of poor outcomes including poverty, stigma, isolation and poor mental health. One school leader recently likened a child in her primary school losing his mother for 6 years to going through bereavement as she wouldn’t be around until he was 12. NICCO provides information designed to support professionals working with offenders and their children, to help mitigate negative consequences for those children.
Child sexual exploitation (CSE)
Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual.
The multi-agency safeguarding document, ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ was updated in 2017 to reflect how professionals should approach and work with victims of CSE. It said that all school staff should be trained in the possible signs and indicators of CSE as a minimum and they should be made aware that they will work with victims of CSE if they have a career in education. While the high risk age group is 13-17 for CSE, recent information has shown an increased number of potential victims under 13 exploited through live streaming functions in apps such as Snapchat, Kik and others. A significant number of children exploited in this way have been of Primary school age.
There are a number of useful resources that can support you in understanding this issue:
Safeguarding Essentials members have access to a suite of CSE resources including an online training course for staff.
Parents Against Child Exploitation (PACE) provides useful information for parents.
The Centre of expertise on child sexual abuse (CSA) provide research and a directory of support services for CSE.
Barnardos have a whole range of support resources and videos on their website.
Child criminal exploitation: county lines
Criminal exploitation of children is a geographically widespread form of harm that is a typical feature of county lines criminal activity: drug networks or gangs groom and exploit children and young people to carry drugs and money from urban areas to suburban and rural areas, market and seaside towns. The key to identifying potential involvement in county lines are missing episodes, when the victim may have been trafficked for the purpose of transporting drugs. County lines run through an established telephone number that people use to buy drugs. Currently, it is estimated that there are 720 county lines up and running in England.
Fearless is a useful website with key information about county lines and the signs to look out for.
Exposure to domestic abuse and/or violence can have a serious, long lasting emotional and psychological impact on children. In some cases, a child may blame themselves for the abuse or may have had to leave the family home as a result. Domestic abuse affecting young people can also occur within their personal relationships, as well as in the context of their home life. Domestic abuse was identified as a factor in 50% of the 389,000 identified cases of Children in Need last year.
Advice on identifying children who are affected by domestic abuse and how they can be helped is available at:
NSPCC – Domestic abuse UK identifying signs and symptoms
Refuge – the effects of domestic violence on children
Safelives – young people and domestic abuse
Being homeless or being at risk of becoming homeless presents a real risk to a child’s welfare. Indicators that a family may be at risk of homelessness include household debt, rent arrears, domestic abuse and anti-social behaviour, as well as the family being asked to leave a property. In most cases school and college staff will be considering homelessness in the context of children who live with their families, and intervention will be on that basis. However, it should also be recognised in some cases 16 and 17 year olds could be living independently from their parents or guardians, for example through their exclusion from the family home, and will require a different level of intervention and support. The department and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government have published joint statutory guidance on the provision of accommodation for 16 and 17 year olds who may be homeless and/or require accommodation here.
So-called ‘honour-based’ violence
Honour based violence includes Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Forced Marriage and Breast Strapping (Ironing).
Safeguarding Essentials members have access to a suite of FGM resources including an online training course for staff along with resources for parents and teaching materials.
This is a statutory duty and you should have received training in your school or college already. Safeguarding Essentials members have access to an anti-radicalisation online training course for staff.
If you would like to learn more about Prevent, the government’s one stop shop website, educateagainsthate.com is a great place to go for questions, resources.
Peer on peer abuse
bullying (including cyber bullying);
Abuse between children under 18 has been expanded to include:
physical abuse such as hitting, kicking, shaking, biting, hair pulling, or otherwise causing physical harm;
sexual violence and sexual harassment;
sexting (also known as youth produced sexual imagery); and
initiation/hazing type violence and rituals.
Many schools and colleges now have a peer on peer abuse policy. Members of staff will need to be clear on your organisation’s:
procedures to minimise the risk of peer on peer abuse;
how allegations of peer on peer abuse will be recorded, investigated and dealt with;
clear processes as to how victims, perpetrators and any other child affected by peer on peer abuse will be supported;
a clear statement that abuse is abuse and should never be tolerated or passed off as “banter”, “just having a laugh” or “part of growing up”;
recognition of the gendered nature of peer on peer abuse (i.e. that it is more likely that girls will be victims and boys perpetrators), but that all peer on peer abuse is unacceptable and will be taken seriously.
Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges
Guidance on sexual and harassment was brought out by the Department for Education in December 2017. This has also now become Part 5 of the new KCSIE guidance. Sexual violence and sexual harassment can occur between two children of any age and sex. It can also occur through a group of children sexually assaulting or sexually harassing a single child or group of children.
We need to:
make it clear that sexual violence and sexual harassment is not acceptable, will never be tolerated and is not an inevitable part of growing up;
not tolerate or dismiss sexual violence or sexual harassment as “banter”, “part of growing up”, “just having a laugh” or “boys being boys”; and
challenge behaviours (potentially criminal in nature), such as grabbing bottoms, breasts and genitalia, flicking bras and lifting up skirts. Dismissing or tolerating such behaviours risks normalising them.
Sexual violence are offences under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 that have been on the increase inside schools and colleges. These include:
Assault by penetration
We need to understand our school or college’s:
Procedures for dealing with any incidents or disclosures
Support for victims
Support for alleged perpetrators during an investigation
Hopefully, this will provide you with some light reading, training or researching as you sit on the beach. Whatever you do, enjoy your summer!
Your thoughts?How do you feel about the proposed changes? How will they impact you and your school? Please share your thoughts using the comments section below.
We would like to thank Michael for his analysis of the impending KCSIE changes. All Safeguarding Essentials and E-safety Support members will have access to an online briefing on the KCSIE guidance which will be made available at the beginning of September.