KCSIE 2021: Legislation and Guidance

On 1st September 2021, a new version of the statutory guidance ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ came into effect. This guidance applies to all schools and colleges in England and is for headteachers, teaching staff, governing bodies, proprietors, and management committees. The guidance sets out the legal duties an establishment must follow to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people under the age of 18 in schools and colleges.

The updates to the guidance can be separated into 5 parts

  1. Safeguarding Information for ALL Staff
  2. The Management of Safeguarding
  3. Safer Recruitment
  4. Allegations and Safeguarding Concerns made against Staff and Contractors
  5. Child on Child Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment

Part 1

Safeguarding Information for ALL Staff

Supporting Victims of Abuse
  • Victims should be taken seriously, kept safe and never be made to feel they have created a problem by reporting.
  • This is an added paragraph. It accentuates the importance of anyone who works with children to be able to make that child feel supported and taken seriously and that they are NEVER causing a problem by making a report.
Mental Health

Additional resources added with links to help staff support children with mental health.

Early Help and Social Care Assessments
  • Important to consider contextual safeguarding in your social care assessments
  • When needed the DSL will take the lead with Early Help, setting up links and liaising with other agencies and supporting with assessments as and when appropriate. Always under review and having in mind that a referral might be necessary if the child’s situation doesn’t improve or gets worse.
Record Keeping

This section has been made clearer on what child protection records should include:

  • a clear and comprehensive summary of the concern;
  • details of how the concern was followed up and resolved;
  • a note of any action taken, decisions reached and the outcome.
Serious Violence

All staff should be aware of the range of risk factors that increase the likelihood of involvement in serious violence,

Risk factors include:

  • being male
  • having been frequently absent or permanently excluded from school
  • having experienced child maltreatment
  • having been involved in offending, such as theft or robbery
Peer-on-Peer Abuse (Child-on-Child)

All staff should understand the importance of challenging inappropriate behaviour between children and young people. Staff should also recognise that downplaying certain behaviours as “just banter” or “boys being boys” can lead to a culture of unacceptable behaviour, an unsafe environment for children and young people and a culture that normalises abuse. Staff should understand that even if there are no reports of peer-on-peer abuse in their school, this doesn’t mean it is not happening.

Child Criminal and Sexual Exploitation (CCE/CSE)

CSE can occur over time or be a one-off occurrence and may happen without the child’s immediate knowledge.

The guidance talks about the indicators of exploitation that are different for boys and girls.

Online Safety

KCSIE has been updated to reflect the latest guidance on sharing nude and semi-nude images and videos published by the UK Council for Internet Safety.

Part 2

The Management of Safeguarding

Whole-School and College Approach to Safeguarding

This highlights that governing bodies and proprietors need to ensure that their school or college has a whole-school approach to safeguarding. Making sure that all processes and policies have child protection at the heart of it all.

When taking action or providing additional services, the feelings of the child should be taken into account. Systems should be in place, and they should be well promoted, easily understood and easily accessible for children and young people to confidently report abuse, knowing their concerns will be treated seriously and knowing they can safely express their views and give feedback.



Safeguarding and Child Protection Policies

Further information has been added on what needs to be included in schools and colleges CP policies:

  • reflects the whole school/college approach to peer on peer abuse (see para 145);
  • reflects reporting systems as set out at paragraph 83;
  • describe procedures which are in accordance with government guidance;
  • refers to locally agreed multi-agency safeguarding arrangements put in place by the safeguarding partners;
  • where appropriate, reflects serious violence. Further advice for schools and colleges is provided in the Home Office’s Preventing youth violence and gang involvement and its Criminal exploitation of children and vulnerable adults: county lines guidance;
Information Sharing

Making it clearer about what schools and colleges have to share, not share, and use to tackle abuse, neglect and promote children’s welfare.

Safeguarding Training

Added guidance on online safety training for all staff and how important it is. This should be interwoven with the schools safeguarding approach.

There has also been added clarity on the requirements to teach safeguarding to children, including online safety.

Online Safety

An effective whole school and college approach to online safety empowers a school or college to protect and educate pupils, students, and staff in their use of technology and establishes mechanisms to identify, intervene in, and escalate any concerns where appropriate.

Where children are being asked to learn online at home the Department has provided advice to support schools and colleges do so safely: safeguarding in schools colleges and other providers and safeguarding and remote education. The NSPCC and PSHE Association also provide helpful advice:

When thinking about safeguarding the governing body and proprietors need to consider the schools/college filtering and monitoring system. Governing bodies and proprietors should consider the age range of their children, the number of children, how often they access the IT system and the proportionality of costs vs risks.

Peer-on-Peer Abuse

Schools and colleges child protection policies need to have:

  • a statement which makes clear there should be a zero-tolerance approach to abuse, and it should never be passed off as “banter”, “just having a laugh”, “part of growing up” or “boys being boys” as this can lead to a culture of unacceptable behaviours and an unsafe environment for children;
  • A system that allows children to report concerns
  • a recognition that even if there are no reported cases of peer on peer abuse, such abuse may still be taking place and is simply not being reported;
Use of your Premises for Non-School/College Activities

Added information that is your school or college has services or activities and they are run by your own staff then your own policies apply. If it is run by an outside agent then you must ensure that appropriate safeguarding and child protection policies/procedures are in place and robust.

Alternative Provision

The cohort of pupils in Alternative Provision often have complex needs, it is important that governing bodies and proprietors of these settings are aware of the additional risk of harm that their pupils may be vulnerable to.

The Department has issued two pieces of statutory guidance to which commissioners of Alternative Provision should have regard:


Elective Home Education

Many home educated children have an overwhelmingly positive learning experience. We would expect the parents’ decision to home educate to be made with their child’s best education at the heart of the decision. However, this is not the case for all, and home education can mean some children are less visible to the services that are there to keep them safe and supported in line with their needs.

Where a parent/carer has expressed their intention to remove a child from school with a view to educating at home, we recommend that LAs, schools, and other key professionals work together to coordinate a meeting with parents/carers where possible. Ideally, this would be before a final decision has been made, to ensure the parents/carers have considered what is in the best interests of each child. This is particularly important where a child has SEND, is vulnerable, and/or has a social worker.

Mental Health Support

The Department has published advice and guidance on Preventing and Tackling Bullying, Mental Health and Behavior in Schools (which may also be useful for colleges). The Mental Health and Behavior in Schools guidance sets out how schools and colleges can help prevent mental health problems by promoting resilience as part of an integrated, whole-school/college approach to social and emotional wellbeing, which is tailored to the needs of their pupils.

Schools can also appoint a mental health lead, but this is not statutory.

Part 3

Safer Recruitment

Post 16 Education

Safeguarding provisions extended to providers of post-16 education.

The Education and Training (Welfare of Children) Act 2021 extended safeguarding provisions to providers of post 16 Education; 16-19 Academies, Special Post-16 institutions and Independent Training Providers. Some safer recruitment regulations do not apply to these providers and as such, some of the “musts” for colleges do not apply to them.

These checks are an essential part of safeguarding, carried out to help employers check the suitability of candidates. Therefore, the providers set out above should carry out these pre-appointment checks.

Pre-appointment checks

Verify a candidate’s identity, it is important to be sure that the person is who they claim to be, this includes being aware of the potential for individuals changing their name.

Best practice is checking the name on their birth certificate, where this is available.

Barred List Checks

Barred lists need to be checked (and also only used) when:

  • you have an Early Careers Teacher and you are waiting for their DBS with the inclusion of an enhanced certificate with barred list information
  • or when a person has worked in a school but has not been at that school for more than 3 months
Section 128 Directions

Added information on when a section 128 direction will be disclosed when an enhanced DBS check with children’s barred list information is requested, provided that ‘child workforce independent schools’ is specified on the application form as the position applied for. Where a person is not eligible for a children’s barred list check but will be working in a management position in an independent school, a section 128 check should be carried out using the TRA’s Employer Access service.

Part 4

Allegations and Safeguarding Concerns made against staff and contractors

Low-Level Concerns

A low-level concern is any concern, no matter how small, and even if no more than causing a sense of unease or a ‘nagging doubt’.

Examples of low-level concerns:

  • Being over-friendly with children
  • Having favourites
  • Engaging with a child one to one in a secluded area
  • Using inappropriate sexualised, intimidating or offensive language

Low-level concerns should have policies and processes put in place by the governing body or proprietors. Both safeguarding policies and staff codes of conduct should have these explicitly laid out in them and how important it is to share these concerns.

It also states the importance of making all staff have the understanding and ability to share concerns and that the school or college has to have the means of reporting them.

Part 5

Child on Child sexual violence and sexual harassment

Responding to a Report

An additional paragraph has been added about how hard children find it to verbalise their abuse so staff must be able to know and notice signs and behaviors that might indicate abuse.

Managing a Report

Importance of regular reviews to identify patterns of inappropriate behaviour. An additional paragraph highlighting the importance of looking for patterns of concerns regularly.

Unsubstantiated, Unfounded, False or Malicious Reports

Investigate why a malicious allegation has been made and see if that child/family are in need of additional support.

Safeguarding and Supporting the Victim

The needs and wishes of the victim are paramount and it is important to understand that the victim will likely need more support after a sexual assault, such as; physical, mental, sexual problems and unwanted pregnancy. Staff need to be aware of this.

Safeguarding and Supporting Children and Young People who have Displayed Harmful Sexual Behaviour

Additional links have been made for more resources to support school staff deal with and manage harmful sexual behaviour.

Annex B

Further Information

Child Abduction

The unauthorised removal or retention of a minor from a parent or anyone with legal responsibility for a child



Criminal activity committed using computers and/or the internet. It is either ‘cyber-enabled or ‘cyber dependent.


The Domestic Abuse Act 2021

Introduces a statutory definition of domestic abuse ad recognises the impact on children, as victims in their own right.

  • Additional advice on identifying children who are affected by domestic abuse and how they can be helped is available at:
  • NSPCC- UK domestic-abuse Signs Symptoms Effects
  • Refuge what is domestic violence/effects of domestic violence on children
  • Safelives: young people and domestic abuse.
  • Domestic abuse: specialist sources of support - GOV.UK ( (includes information for adult victims, young people facing abuse in their own relationships and parents experiencing child to parent violence/abuse) 130
  • Home : Operation Encompass (includes information for schools on the impact of domestic abuse on children)

Annex C

Role of the Designated Safeguarding Lead

Working with Others

Act as a source of support and point of contact with safeguarding partners. 

  • Working with the headteacher and relevant strategic leads
  • taking lead responsibility for promoting educational outcomes by knowing the welfare, safeguarding and child protection issues that children in need are experiencing, or have experienced
  • identifying the impact that these issues might be having on children’s attendance, engagement and achievement at school or college
Information Sharing and Managing the Child Protection File

In addition to the child protection file, the designated safeguarding lead should also consider if it would be appropriate to share any additional information with the new school or college in advance of a child leaving to help them put in place the right support to safeguard this child and to help the child thrive in the school or college.

For example, information that would allow the new school or college to continue supporting children who have had a social worker and been victims of abuse and have that support in place for when the child arrives.

Understanding the Views of the Child

Develop a culture of listening to children and reduce barriers to facilitate communication.

It is important that children feel heard and understood. Therefore, designated safeguarding leads should be supported in developing knowledge and skills to:

  • encourage a culture of listening to children and taking account of their wishes and feelings, among all staff, and in any measures, the school or college may put in place to protect them; and, 149
  • understand the difficulties that children may have in approaching staff about their circumstances and consider how to build trusted relationships that facilitate communication.

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KCSIE Resources

KCSIE Staff Handbook

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Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) have updated their guidance, which came into effect on September 1st, 2021. We invite all involved in safeguarding to download our KCSIE 2021 handbook, which compiles all the new changes and updates you need, along with details of the solutions we offer that can help you to create a total safeguarding culture within your establishment. .

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KCSIE 2021 Governor Handbook

KCSIE 2021 Governor Handbook

Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) have updated their guidance, which came into effect on September 1st, 2021. We invite all Governors to download our KCSIE 2021 Governor handbook, which compiles all the new changes and updates you need, along with details of the solutions we offer that can help you to create a total safeguarding culture within your establishment.

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Your Free KCSIE 2021 Staff Poster

Your Free KCSIE 2021 Staff Poster

Part 1 of the Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) guidance must be read and understood by all members of staff, governors, or volunteers. To help we have compiled all the new changes and updates you need into a handy poster that can be put in your staff room, to help your colleagues digest the new guidance and for future reference.

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Low-Level Concerns Leaflet

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To help you and your colleagues to digest the 2021 part 4 KCSIE guidance on low-level concerns and allegations against staff, we have compiled the updates and changes into this useful leaflet that can be put in your staff room or circulated to staff members.

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