Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) Training: Frequently Asked Questions
Estimated Read Time - 10 minutes
It is essential that Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSLs) in schools and early years settings undergo appropriate training which provides them with the knowledge and skills required to carry out this essential role.
The Education Safeguarding Service provide a range of training opportunities for DSLs working in education provision in Kent, Medway and beyond, and have answered some frequently asked questions to help DSLs understand their roles and responsibilities regarding their own training and development in line with statutory guidance.
Does my school/college/setting need to have a Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL)?
Yes, this is a requirement in line with national educational guidance and legislation.
Early years providers have a duty under section 40 of the Childcare Act 2006 to comply with the welfare requirements of the ‘Early Years Foundation Stage’ (EYFS). Early years providers must ensure they have a practitioner who is designated to take lead responsibility for safeguarding children.
Schools and colleges in England must have regard to the statutory ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ guidance from the Department for Education issued under Section 175 of the Education Act 2002, the Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014, the Non-Maintained Special Schools (England) Regulations 2015, and the Education and Training (Welfare of Children) Act 2021. KCSIE states that every school/college should have a designated safeguarding lead who will provide support to staff to carry out their safeguarding duties and who will liaise closely with other services, such as local authority children’s social care.
Schools and early years providers must also have regard to the government's statutory guidance ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ and to the ‘Prevent duty guidance for England and Wales’.
If I've not accessed DSL training, can I still act as DSL in my school/setting?
No. Annex C of KCSIE states ‘The designated safeguarding lead (and any deputies) should undergo training to provide them with the knowledge and skills required to carry out the role’ and the welfare requirements within the EYFS state ‘The lead practitioner must attend a child protection training course that enables them to identify, understand and respond appropriately to signs of possible abuse and neglect.’
I'm not a member of the leadership team, can I be the lead DSL?
Annex C of KCSIE states that an ‘appropriate senior member of staff from the leadership team’ should be appointed to the role of Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) to take lead responsibility for safeguarding and child protection, including online safety. If you aren’t a member of the leadership team, it may be more appropriate for you to be a deputy DSL rather than the lead DSL as the role carries a significant level of responsibility, and staff should have the appropriate status and authority to carry out the duties of the post.
Whilst the EYFS guidance doesn’t explicitly state that the DSL must be a member of the leadership team, we would still recommend that is the case for the lead DSL due to the level of responsibility the role holds.
How many DSLs should we have?
It is a matter for individual schools and settings as to whether they choose to have one or more deputy designated safeguarding leads. Annex C of KCSIE states that during term time, the designated safeguarding lead (or a deputy) should always be available (during school/college hours) for staff to discuss any safeguarding concerns.
It is a matter for individual settings, working with the designated safeguarding lead, to define what “available” means and whether in exceptional circumstances availability via phone or other media is acceptable. Individual schools/colleges and the DSL should arrange adequate and appropriate cover arrangements for any out of hours/out of term activities.
Most schools and settings find they need a minimum of two DSLs to ensure there is cover in the event of the lead DSL being absent or unavailable, for example when attending DSL refresher training or child protection conferences. Larger schools and settings, or schools and settings with high numbers of children known to services, are likely to require more than one deputy to ensure their is sufficient capacity for the volume of safeguarding activity.
What training do deputy DSLs need?
Deputy DSLs should be trained to the same standard as the DSL.
The lead DSL should ensure they have oversight of the activities undertaken by deputy DSLs; it is important to remember that whilst the activities of the DSL can be delegated to appropriately trained deputies, the ultimate lead responsibility for child protection remains with the DSL and this overall responsibility should not be delegated.
I'm a new DSL, what should my training cover?
Annex C of KCSIE states the designated safeguarding lead and any deputies should undergo training to provide them with the knowledge and skills required to carry out the role. The EYFS states the lead practitioner must attend a child protection training course that enables them to identify, understand and respond appropriately to signs of possible abuse and neglect.
Training should provide new DSLs with a good understanding of their role and ensure they can identify, understand and respond to specific needs that can increase the vulnerability of children, as well as specific harms that can put children at risk.
DSLs should access training which ensures they understand the processes, procedures and responsibilities of other agencies, including the assessment process for providing early help and statutory intervention and local criteria for action. DSL training should explore the local authority children’s social care referral arrangements including the local process for child protection meetings (such as child protection case conferences).
DSLs should take into account any advice from the Local Safeguarding Partners (LSPs) or local authority on appropriate training courses to ensure they are familiar with their local safeguarding partners multi-agency procedures; in Kent this is the Kent Safeguarding Children Multi-Agency Partnership (KSCMP) and in Medway, the Medway Safeguarding Children Partnership (MSCP).
In addition to DSL training, Annex C of KCSIE and the Prevent Duty ‘departmental advice for schools and childcare providers’ guidance suggests that the DSL and any deputies should undertake Prevent awareness training. This is likely to be achieved through standalone training to ensure the DSL is able to provide advice and support to other members of staff on protecting children from the risk of radicalisation. The Educate Against Hate and Kelsi websites have resources and guidance which schools and settings may find helpful.
How can I access DSL training through The Education People?
Currently The Education People provide CPD certificated training courses for new Designated Safeguarding Leads in Kent early year settings (including after school provision) and schools/colleges in Kent or Medway.
We offer training for new to post DSLs via face to face or virtual (Zoom) training. Both face to face and virtual DSL training can be booked via the CPD pages.
Our DSL has left and we urgently need a new DSL to be trained, however there are no spaces left on any of the courses in the next few weeks. Who should I contact to discuss possible options?
Please contact the Education Safeguarding Service and/or the CPD helpdesk so we can discuss possible options with you.
How often do DSLs need to 'refresh' their training?
DSL training should be formally updated at least every two years.
How can I access DSL refresher training through The Education People?
Currently the Education People provide refresher training courses for Designated Safeguarding Leads in Kent early year settings (including after school provision) and schools/colleges in Kent or Medway.
We offer refresher training for DSLs via two options; face to face training or E-learning. The face to face option can be booked via the CPD website and our E-learning courses can be purchased through The Education People website.
My DSL training is about to expire and I am not able to book on a face to face course - should I attend a DSL training course instead?
We would encourage you to access our DSLR or EYDSL Refresher E-learning course instead of accessing DSL training as this may be more appropriate to your needs. Our E-learning courses are available immediately after purchase and can be accessed at any time.
Why is The Education People's DSLR E-learning course only valid for one year?
Because E-learning does not allow for delegate interaction, the training is only valid for one year rather than two; the price of the E-learning course is reduced to reflect this additional requirement.
The E-learning course should be taken on an annual basis or can be taken as an interim approach whilst a DSL waits to attend a face to face course.
How long does the DSL Refresher E-learning course take and do I have to complete it in one session?
Our DSLR E-learning takes about two to four hours to complete. You can complete our courses in your own time and if you need to leave a course, click the course exit button (icon in the top right-hand corner of your page) to save your progress. You will need to allow a few moments for CPD to register your progress before closing the window down.
What other training should DSLs access?
Annex C of KCSIE states that DSLs should access training so they:
- understand the assessment process for providing early help and statutory intervention, including local criteria for action and local authority children’s social care referral arrangements
- have a working knowledge of how local authorities conduct a child protection case conference and a child protection review conference and be able to attend and contribute to these effectively when required to do so
- understand the importance of the role the designated safeguarding lead has in providing information and support to local authority children social care in order to safeguard and promote the welfare of children
- understand the lasting impact that adversity and trauma can have, including on children’s behaviour, mental health and wellbeing, and what is needed in responding to this in promoting educational outcomes
- are alert to the specific needs of children in need, those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), those with relevant health conditions and young carers
- understand the importance of information sharing, both within the school/college, and with the safeguarding partners, other agencies, organisations and practitioners
- understand and support the school/college with regards to the requirements of the Prevent duty and are able to provide advice and support to staff on protecting children from the risk of radicalisation
- are able to understand the unique risks associated with online safety and be confident that they have the relevant knowledge and up to date capability required to keep children safe whilst they are online at school/college
- can recognise the additional risks that children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) face online, for example, from online bullying, grooming and radicalisation and are confident they have the capability to support children with SEND to stay safe online
- obtain access to resources and attend any relevant or refresher training courses
- encourage a culture of listening to children and taking account of their wishes and feelings, among all staff, in any measures the school/college may put in place to protect them.
Much of this content is likely to be addressed in initial or refresher DSL training, however in some cases DSLs may need to undertake additional research and training, for example if DSLs access training provided by a national organisation, it is unlikely to cover specific local multiagency procedures.
In addition to formal refresher training, how else can DSLs stay up to date?
In addition to formal refresher training, DSL should ensure that their knowledge and skills are refreshed at regular intervals as required, and at least annually, to allow them to understand and keep up with any developments relevant to their role. This might be via accessing training (for example E-learning, webinars, virtual or face to face training) digital e-bulletins, meeting with other DSLs, or by accessing and reading local and/or national safeguarding information and developments.
What other training and support does the Education Safeguarding Service offer for DSLs?
Our Area Safeguarding Advisors provide advice, support and challenge to Kent education settings via telephone and email, Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.
Local and national information is provided for Kent DSLs through a number of routes including regular virtual DSL catch up meetings for schools – please contact your area safeguarding adviser if your school isn’t already involved.
Other ways DSLs in education settings can keep up-to-date with our communications are:
- accessing the Education Safeguarding Service Child Protection Newsletter
- following the Kent Online Safety Twitter feed
- subscribing to The Education People Blog (watch our helpful 'How To' video).
Our Safeguarding Support Package for Schools is available to schools and colleges in Kent and beyond and contains a number of resources for DSLs and school leaders to help keep you and your school up-to-date, including template staff training resources, policy templates, guidance documents and webinar briefings for DSLs.