Free article: Keeping Children Safe Statutory Guidance

Published: Wednesday, 02 July 2014

This is statutory guidance, which means that schools and colleges (including academies and free schools) must have regard to it. It contains what schools should do and what they must do.

All staff should be made familiar with at least Part 1 of the document. A separate document for staff has been published: Keeping children safe in education: information for all school and college staff.

This guidance replaces Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education which was published in December 2006.

The definition of safeguarding is:

‘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’

The document is available from:

Part 1: Safeguarding information for all staff

What school and college staff should know and do

Where a child is suffering significant harm or is likely to do so then action should be taken to protect the child. Action should be taken to promote the welfare of a child in need of additional support, even if they are not suffering harm or are at immediate risk.

Each school and college should have a designated safeguarding lead.

All school and college staff have a responsibility to:

  • provide a safe environment in which children can learn
  • identify children who may be in need of extra help or who are suffering, or are likely to suffer, significant harm
  • take appropriate action, working with other services as needed
  • work with social workers to take decisions about individual children if asked.

School and college staff should be aware of:

  • systems within their school or college which support safeguarding:
    • child protection policy
    • staff behaviour policy / code of conduct
    • who the designated safeguarding lead is
    • signs of abuse and neglect including sexual abuse or exploitation
    • procedures for dealing with a child who goes missing
  • child protection provided through training – this should be regularly updated.

School and college staff should maintain an attitude of ‘it could happen here’ and always act in the interests of the child.

If staff members have concerns about a child they should raise these with the designated safeguarding lead. However, any member of staff can also raise their concerns to children’s social care directly. If, at any point, there is a risk of immediate and serious harm to a child a referral should be made to social care immediately.

Early help assessments should take place to identify what help a child and family need. These should be undertaken by a lead professional such as a teacher or SENCo.

If a child’s situation is not improving then a member of staff should press for re-consideration. ‘Concerns should always lead to help for the child at some point’.

Poor practice includes:

  • failing to act on and refer the early signs of abuse and neglect
  • poor record-keeping
  • failing to listen to the views of the child
  • failing to reasses concerns when situations do not improve
  • sharing information too slowly
  • lack of challenge to those who appear not to be taking action.

Types of abuse and neglect

They include:

  • abuse
  • physical abuse
  • emotional abuse
  • sexual abuse
  • neglect.

Specific safeguarding issues 

Links are given to more information about:

Part 2: The management of safeguarding

The responsibility of governing bodies and proprietors

Governing bodies and proprietors should:

  • ensure that the school contributes to inter-agency working in line with the statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children 2013:
  • make sure they follow Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) safeguarding arrangements
  • nominate a member of the governing body to liaise with the LA on issues of child protection 
  • ensure there is an effective child protection policy and staff behaviour policy in place and that these are available publicly 

  • appoint a member of staff of the leadership team to take the role of designated safeguard lead and provide child protection training for them every two years
  • consider how children may be taught about safeguarding through the curriculum

  • prevent people who pose a risk of harm from working with children by:
    • checking staff

    • ensuring volunteers are appropriately supervised 

    • having written recruitment and selection policies and procedures in place

    • having procedures in place to handle allegations against members of staff and volunteers

    • ensure that children’s wishes or feelings are taken into account when decisions are made

    • ensure that staff members do not promise confidentiality to the child and always act in the interests of the child

    • ensure that staff have the skills, knowledge and understanding necessary to keep looked-after children safe
      put in place appropriate safeguarding responses to children who go missing from educational settings.

 Governing bodies and proprietors must:

  • ensure they comply with their duties under legislation and have regard for this guidance 
  • make a referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) if a person in a regulated activity has been dismissed or removed due to safeguarding concerns, or would have if they had not resigned
  • ensure that at least one person on any appointment panel has undertaken safer recruitment training
  • appoint a designated teacher to promote the educational achievement of children who are looked after and to make sure they have the appropriate training.

Headteachers and principals should make sure that policies and procedures adopted by governing bodies and proprietors are followed by all staff.

Part 3: Safer recruitment

Recruitment, selection and pre-employment vetting

The majority of staff appointed at a school require criminal record checks (DBS) and barred list checks as they are engaged in a regulated activity.

A regulated activity applies to a person if they:

  • will be responsible on a regular basis in any setting for the care or supervision of children, or
  • will regularly work in a school at times when children are on the premises where the person’s work requires interaction with children.

This does not include where a volunteer regularly teaches or looks after children but is supervised.
DBS checks include:

  • Standard: a check of the Police National Computer (PNC) records of convictions, cautions reprimands and warnings
  • Enhanced: a check of the PNC, plus other information held by the police
  • Enhanced with barred list information: for people working in regulated activity with children.

The applicant receives a DBS certificate.

It is important to note: ‘If a school or college allows an individual to start work in regulated activity before the DBS certificate is available then they should ensure that the individual is appropriately supervised and that all other checks, including a separate barred list check, have been completed.’

Schools must not allow an individual who is barred to carry out any form of regulated activity.

Pre-appointment checks

An offer of appointment must be conditional upon satisfactory completion of pre-employment checks. These include:

  • verifying a candidate’s identity
  • obtaining a certificate for an enhanced DBS check with a barred list information
  • ensuring that a teacher is not subject to a prohibition order
  • verifying the candidate’s mental and physical fitness
  • verifying the person’s right to work in the UK
  • verifying professional qualifications.

There is no requirement to obtain an enhanced DBS if in the three months prior to beginning work, he/she has worked in a school in England which brought them into regular contact with children or in any post in a school since 2006.

A school can still request an enhanced DBS with barred list information but not for anyone working in the school who is not in regulated activity. For a person who isn’t in regulated activity the school can request an enhanced DBS check without a barred list check.

Employers should always ask for written information about previous employment history and check that it is not contradictory or incomplete.

References should always be obtained directly from the referee.

Single central record

Schools must keep a single central record. It must include the following checks:

  • an identity check
  • a barred list check
  • an enhanced DBS check
  • a prohibition form teacher check
  • further checks on people living or working outside the UK
  • a check of professional qualifications
  • a check to establish the person’s right to work in the UK.

Schools do not have to keep copies of DBS certificates.

Schools must obtain written notification from any agency that the organisation has carried out the checks and must check the identity of the person presenting themselves for work.


Under no circumstances should an unchecked volunteer be left unsupervised.

If new volunteers will be working unsupervised with children in a regulated activity an enhanced DBS certificate with barred list check must be obtained.

If a volunteer is not in a regulated activity the school should complete a risk assessment and use their professional judgement to decide whether to seek an enhanced DBS check.

Work experience

Barred list checks by the DBS might be required on some people who supervise a child under the age of 16 on work experience. This will depend upon whether the contact is unsupervised and the level of frequency i.e. if it is at least once a week or on more than three days in a 30-day period, or overnight.

Part 4: Allegations of abuse made against teachers and other staff

Employers have a duty of care to their employees and where an allegation is made they must ensure that there is effective support with a named contact if they are suspended.

Suspensions should not be automatic and employers should consider other alternatives first. If suspension is considered to be necessary written confirmation should be dispatched within one working day.

The Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) should be informed of all allegations. The ‘case manager’ – usually the headteacher or chair of governors – should immediately discuss the allegation with the LADO.

This might lead to a decision that no further action will take place.

The accused person should be informed as soon as possible after discussion with the LADO about the accusation. As much information as possible should be provided.

A strategy discussion might be needed and further investigation might follow. Cases should be resolved as quickly as possible and allegations investigated as a priority.

  • Those cases where it is clear immediately that the allegation is unsubstantiated should be resolved within one week.
  • 80% of cases should be resolved within one month.
  • 90% within three months.
  • No case should take longer than 12 months.

The LADO has overall responsibility for oversight of the procedures for dealing with the allegation. #

The outcomes of an investigation might be any of the following.

  • Substantiated: there is sufficient evidence to prove the allegation.
  • Malicious: there is sufficient evidence to disprove the allegations and there has been a deliberate act to deceive.
  • False: there is sufficient evidence to disprove the allegations.
  • Unsubstantiated: there is insufficient evidence to either prove or disprove the allegation. 

The investigation will normally be carried out by a senior member of the school’s staff. In some cases an independent investigation might be needed.

The Education Act 2011 means that material must not be published that may lead to the identification of a teacher who has been accused until they are charged with an offence.

The case manager should take advice from the LADO, police and children’s social care services about what information can be shared and how to manage press interest.

The accused person should be given an opportunity to answer the allegation and make representations.

Details of allegations that were malicious should be removed from personnel records and will not be used in references. All other allegations should be recorded including:

  • summary of the allegation
  • how it was followed up and resolved
  • a note of action taken and decisions reached.

Where someone has been suspended and on the conclusion of the case they are to return to work, consideration should be given to the best way to do this. A phased return might be appropriate and/or a mentor might be provided.

If the allegation is unsubstantiated or malicious there should be consideration of whether the child is in need of support from other services. It might also be considered whether disciplinary action should be taken if the allegation was malicious.

Further information

Further information is provided in the Annexes about:

  • the role of the designated safeguarding lead
    • managing referrals
    • training
    • raising awareness
  • boarding schools and children’s homes
  • children staying with host families
  • regulated activities and examples
  • disclosure and barring service checks.

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