Today the Government is launching a public consultation on proposed changes to its Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) statutory guidance. All schools and colleges in England must have regard to this guidance when carrying out their duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
KCSIE sets out the legal duties that schools and colleges must comply with, together with good practice guidance on what schools and colleges should do in order to keep children safe. The guidance is extensive, covering what staff should know and do to safeguard children, the management of safeguarding in schools and colleges, safer recruitment and responding to allegations of abuse against staff.
It is important that this guidance is regularly updated to reflect current concerns and best practice. KCSIE was last updated in September 2016 and the time is right to update this guidance again. The consultation document explains a number of proposed changes to KCSIE. The aim is to help schools and colleges better understand what they are required to do by law and what we strongly advise they should do in order to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
The consultation will last for 10 weeks, closing on 22 February 2018. Following the public consultation, we expect to publish revised guidance, for information, early in the summer term 2018 and for this to come into force in September 2018, at the start of the new school year.
The proposed changes include providing further guidance on sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges. As well as consulting on these changes the government is also today publishing more detailed departmental advice on this issue.
Children and young people must be protected from sexual violence and sexual harassment, and schools and colleges are under a legal duty to safeguard their pupils.
The detailed advice we have published today should help schools and colleges take swift and proportionate action to keep children safe and support victims of abuse.
The advice sets out what sexual violence and sexual harassment look like, the legal responsibilities of schools and colleges and effective safeguarding practice and principles to support schools and colleges in their decision making process when there is a report of sexual violence or sexual harassment.
The issue of sexual violence and sexual harassment in schools was the subject of an inquiry by the Women and Equalities Committee. As part of its response to the Committee’s recommendations, the Department for Education set up an advisory group to review existing departmental guidance, including KCSIE and behaviour and bullying guidance. The Department has worked with the advisory group and other expert stakeholders to draft the advice document and is grateful to them for their contributions.
The consultation document, containing full details of the proposals and inviting responses and the departmental advice can be accessed via gov.uk. Copies of the consultation document and departmental advice will also be placed in the House Libraries.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: