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15 January 2018
By Rebecca Avery

DfE Keeping Children Safe in Education 2018 Consultation - What could this means for online safety?

The Department for Education is inviting views on changes to the statutory guidance Keeping children safe in education (KCSIE) and the new non-statutory advice document covering sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges. KCSIE sets out the legal duties that schools and colleges must comply with, together with good practice guidance on how to keep children safe.

In 2016, the DfE updated KCSIE to include a new Annex C, which explored key practice and responsibilities regarding online safety; this was an important step to ensuring online safety is recognised as part of educational setting’s statutory safeguarding responsibilities. The consultation closes on the 22nd February 2018; we encourage all Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSLs) and leaders to access the full consultation document and read the proposed revisions. Educational settings can respond and share views via the survey link. This blog post will highlight the proposed changes or questions which relate to online safety within the KCSIE 2018 consultation.

Annex C: Online Safety

The DfE does not expect to make any further changes to the online safety section (now paragraph 77 in the revised guidance). However they are seeking views (question 5) on whether there is anything more that might improve Annex C; therefore it is possible there will be additions to this section when KCSIE 2018 is published.

Sexual Violence and Harassment Guidance

The updated KCSIE 2018 includes reference to the new sexual violence and harassment between children guidance. Sexual violence and harassment is clearly identified as occurring both on and offline, and the new guidance includes specific references to online sexual harassment and youth produced sexual imagery or 'sexting'. Question 6 and 7 in the consultation survey explores the effectiveness of the new guidance and its inclusion within KCSIE. Specific preventative approaches and clear procedures for responding to on and offline sexual violence and harassment should be reflected within child protection and safeguarding policies and training, to ensure all members of staff are able to respond effectively to concerns and provide suitable educational messages.

Annex B: The Role of the Designated Safeguarding Lead 

The updated KCSIE 2018 guidance is proposing new content regarding training for DSLs. It suggests DSLs need to undergo training which ensures they:

...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 or college;

…can recognise the additional risks that children with SEN and disabilities (SEND) face online, for example, from online bullying, grooming and radicalisation and are confident they have the capability to support SEND children to stay safe online.

Online safety is clearly identified within the role and remit of the DSL; this builds upon the 2016 guidance. Other staff, such as computing, PSHE or IT leads, can support the DSL with online safety (particularly with education or filtering and monitoring expertise), but schools and colleges must ensure that DSLs take overall responsibility for online safety practice and responding to online safety concerns. DSLs may need to access appropriate online safety training and guidance to enable them to demonstrate this. Currently the Education Safeguarding Team provides specific training for DSLs within Kent schools, colleges and early years settings. Please contact the team if you wish to access further information relating to this. Online safety guidance for DSLs and school leaders is available on Kelsi; this also includes specific points to consider with regards to online safety and SEND.

Please note: This post focuses on the proposed changes within KCSIE 2018 regarding online safety. It does not explore changes to the wider safeguarding responsibilities; therefore DSLs should read the full documents available in addition to this content. The final version of KSCIE 2018 may differ to the draft version following the consultation process.  We will publish an updated summary for online safety implications within KCSIE 2018 on the blog when the final document is made available.