Keeping children safe in education 2020 – what’s changed?


The most recent updates to the Department for Education’s latest ‘Keeping children safe in education’ (KCSIE) guidelines are in effect from 1st of September, with key updates focusing on Covid-19, mental health, child criminal exploitation, child sexual exploitation, GDPR and more.

We advise you to review the full set of guidelines here, but below you’ll find a summary of the main changes from last year’s guidance, and how you can approach them.


Coronavirus is obviously having a huge impact on this year’s guidance. Earlier in the year, the Department for Education (DfE) issued interim guidance on safeguarding in schools during the outbreak which included different approaches schools might take towards safeguarding policies and processes.

Schools should review their safeguarding policies and processes in line with this advice and consider any new or increased risks caused by the developing response to coronavirus – for example risks around online learning, reintroduction of face-to-face contact, and new classroom layouts and staffing arrangements.

Mental health

Greater clarity has been provided in the 2020 guidance about the link between mental health and safeguarding, and the vital role that school staff play in detecting possible problems and supporting good mental and physical wellbeing.

According to the guidelines, school staff are in the perfect position to identify behaviour which may indicate that a child is either experiencing or is in danger of developing mental health problems. Staff should raise any mental health concerns which impact safeguarding with their Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL).

In order to help staff be aware of how experiences like mental health problems and abuse can impact a child’s mental wellbeing, our ‘Safeguarding and child protection’ training courses on the Hays Education Training site offer detailed information on mental health and wellbeing, as well as how to recognise signs of abuse. Check out our Safeguarding Complete package now.

Changes to the role of designated safeguarding lead (DSL)

The most recent guidance also sees an expansion of the DSL’s role to involve an increased level of engagement and coordination with teachers, the leadership team and local authorities to streamline safeguarding and academic support for pupils. The guidance also includes advice designed to best support children working with a social worker and supporting DSLs.

This change in scope for DSLs to engage more members of the leadership team in particular would be aided by our ‘Safeguarding and Child protection Governor training’ course – designed to give governors and senior leaders the information they need to uphold safeguarding and better liaise with DSLs.

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE)

Both CSE and CCE occur where a power imbalance is used to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child into sexual or criminal activity. Whilst KCSIE 2019 referred to these terms, CSE and CCE are explicitly included in the new 2020 guidance as forms of abuse that staff should be aware of and alert to.

Schools should review their safeguarding policies so that CSE and CCE are specifically listed as forms of abuse that staff must look out for. Staff should be made aware of these terms and be given training such as our ‘Safeguarding and Child Protection’ course, which will help them identify CSE and CCE and their impact on a child.

Safer recruitment and transferable risk: knowing when an adult may not be suitable to work with children

The 2020 guidance adds another behavioural trait which may indicate when an adult could become a risk to children. The addition, referred to as ‘transferable risk’, may arise from an incident which has occurred outside of school, not involving children, but could still affect their suitability to work with them. Someone involved in domestic abuse, for example, may not have been in contact with children at home, but may be at risk of triggering violent behaviour at school.

Policies and procedures should include this new type of behaviour and staff should be informed about it so they report any allegations of such behaviour following the appropriate procedure. The guidance also includes new advice on how to handle allegations made against supply teachers and knowing when to involve the police.

To help staff and hiring managers recognise warning signs and undertake due diligence when hiring new staff to an education institution, our ‘Safer Recruitment’ course is invaluable.

Information sharing

The guidance provides further clarity around information sharing in a safeguarding context, highlighting that safeguarding children allows practitioners to share special category personal data without consent where there is good reason to do so. It also links to the Data protection: toolkit for schools’, document which supports schools with data protection activity,
including compliance with GDPR.

For greater understanding of GDPR and other compliance issues, check out our ‘Core Compliance’ training package today.

Other key changes

Other changes to the guidance were made, often to provide greater detail on safeguarding issues. These included updated information about county lines, the impact of domestic abuse on children, updated and additional information on the subject of upskirting, and more detail on the prevention on radicalisation.

This is a whistle-stop summary of some of the changes and updates made to the 2020 ‘Keeping children safe in education’ guidance, but it is not an exhaustive list. The full document can be found here.

For more information on our safeguarding training package, which includes 7 courses and access to tools and resources to help your team stay up-to-date with the latest guidance. Sign up to Safeguarding Complete today, and access comprehensive training for unlimited users for an entire year.