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24 May 2022
By Rebecca Avery

Keeping Children Safe in Education 2022: Online Safety Summary for DSLs and Leaders

On the 20th May 2022 the Department for Education (DfE) published the updated ‘Keeping children safe in education’ (KCSIE) guidance; this guidance was updated and republished ready for implementation from the 1st September 2022. KCSIE is statutory guidance from the DfE and all schools and colleges must have regard to it when carrying out their duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

We encourage Designated Safeguarding Leads and school/college leaders to read KCSIE 2022 in full to ensure they understand the safeguarding requirements from 1st September. To support Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSLs) and Senior Leadership Teams (SLT), the Education Safeguarding Service have created a summary document which explores the online safety specific statements within KCISE 2022 in more depth and highlights any new or updated content. Please note: the summary document was updated in September 2022. 

Following the initial and ongoing response by education settings as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been increased wide-scale use of technology as a tool to facilitate children and young people's learning, socialising and play.  KCSIE 2022 continues to strengthen the important message of online safety being recognised by all schools and colleges as a key safeguarding consideration and provides information and guidance to ensure DSLs and school/colleges leaders can take steps to protect their communities online.

  • Specific online safety content has been added and strengthened in part two to ensure online safety is viewed as part of a school/college’s statutory safeguarding responsibilities.
  • The standalone annex on online safety (Annex D in KCSIE 2021) has been removed and content is now fully integrated in part two and in annex B/C.
  • Peer on peer abuse has been amended to ‘child-on-child’ abuse throughout.
  • Part two has been updated to signpost DSLs and school/college leaders to the DfE ‘Harmful online challenges and online hoaxes’
  • All governors and trustees should receive appropriate online safety information/training as part of their safeguarding and child protection training; this should be received as part of their induction and be regularly updated.
  • Governors/trustees should ensure that the school/college leadership team and relevant staff have an awareness and understanding of the appropriate filtering and monitoring provisions in place, manage them effectively and know how to escalate concerns when identified.
  • New content has been added to part two to recognise the importance of schools/colleges communicating regularly with parents to reinforce the importance of children being safe online.
  • A new paragraph has been added to part three to suggest that as part of the shortlisting process, schools and colleges should consider carrying out an online search as part of their due diligence on shortlisted candidates to help identify any incidents or issues that have happened, and are publicly available online which the school/college might want to explore with applicants at interview.
  • Part five has been re-written to incorporate the previously standalone DfE sexual violence and sexual harassment guidance; it is important DSLs are aware of the additional content now included in part five.
  • Online safety should be considered to be part of your statutory safeguarding responsibilities and requires a whole-school/college approach.
  • Ensure the DSL is recognised as having overall responsibility for online safety and that they access appropriate training and support to enable them to keep up-to-date.
  • Ensure your safeguarding policies (including your child protection policy), education approaches and staff training address the breadth of online safety issues as identified in KCSIE 2022; content, contact, conduct and commerce.
  • Update your child protection (and/or online safety policies if you have a standalone document) and behaviour policies to address online child-on-child abuse and the use of mobile and smart technology on your premises.
  • Ensure your staff behaviour policy specifically covers acceptable use of technologies, including the use of mobile devices, staff/pupil relationships and communications, including the use of social media.
  • Work with curriculum leads (especially RSE leads) to ensure there is a range of opportunities within the curriculum for children to be taught about online safety in a way that is appropriate to their age and needs.
  • Ensure all staff, including governors and trustees are provided with appropriate and up-to-date online safety information and training at induction, and as part of regular child protection training and updates.
  • Ensure all staff are aware of the policies and procedures to follow with regards to responding to online safety concerns, including online child-on-child abuse issues.
  • DSLs should access the UKCIS ‘Sharing nudes and semi-nudes: advice for education settings working with children and young people’ and the DfE ‘Harmful online challenges and online hoaxes’ guidance to ensure they are familiar with its content and when it should be followed.
  • Schools/colleges should ensure appropriate filtering and monitoring approaches are in place which are suitable for the local context and use of technology. The leadership team and relevant staff should have an awareness and understanding of the appropriate filtering and monitoring provisions in place, manage them effectively and know how to escalate concerns when identified.
  • There should be regular and appropriate parental engagement in online safety, and specific concerns should be responded to in line with child protection policies.
  • DSLs should ensure online safety approaches are regularly (at least annually) reviewed.

How the Education Safeguarding Service can support your online safety practice

Specific guidance and information regarding online safety can be found on the Education Safeguarding Service area of our website – this includes links to national guidance and resources and local template policies for schools and settings to adapt.

Our Safeguarding Support Package for Schools is available to schools and colleges in Kent and beyond and contains a number of online safety resources for DSLs and school leaders, including template online safety staff training resources, a specific online safety policy template, and briefings for DSLs.

The Education Safeguarding Service provide a number of training courses, services and standalone products (including an online safety policy toolkit and an official use of social media toolkit - both of which are available to our safeguarding support package members) which can help support schools and colleges update their online safety practice.

Kent education settings can contact the online safety team within the Education Safeguarding Service to discuss available support and training to enable them to fulfil their statutory safeguarding requirements regarding online safety.