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9 July 2021
By Rebecca Avery

Online Safety and Keeping Children Safe in Education 2021: Summary for DSLs and Leaders

On 6th July 2021 the Department for Education (DfE) published updated ‘Keeping children safe in education’ (KCSIE) guidance ready for implementation from the 1st September 2021. 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.

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been wide-scale increased use of technology as a tool for learning, socialising and play, so online safety must be recognised by schools and colleges as a key safeguarding consideration. The update to KCSIE 2021 strengthens the approaches that DSLs, schools and college leaders are required to implement to ensure they are able to protect their communities online.

We encourage DSLs and school/college leaders to read KCSIE 2021 in full to ensure they understand the safeguarding requirements from 1st September, however the Education Safeguarding Service have created a summary document for Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSLs) and Senior Leadership Teams which explores the new and updated online safety content within KCISE 2021 in more depth.

  • Specific online safety content has been added and strengthened within Part one, Part two and Annex A to ensure online safety is clearly viewed by staff, DSLs and leaders as part of a school and college’s statutory safeguarding responsibilities.
  • The DSL continues to have overall responsibility for online safety; they can be supported by appropriately trained deputies and should liaise with other staff as appropriate, but this responsibility cannot be delegated.
  • DSLs should continue to evidence that they have accessed appropriate training and/or support to ensure they understand the unique risks associated with online safety, can recognise the additional risks learners with SEN and disabilities (SEND) face online, and have the relevant knowledge and up to date capability required to keep children safe online.
  • Online safety content relating to staff training and teaching children about safeguarding has been updated:
    • All staff should continue to be provided with online safety information and training at induction, and the importance of receiving online safety training as part of regular (at least annual) child protection training and updates has been empathised.
    • Children should be taught about online safety, including as part of statutory Relationships and Sex Education (RSE), but schools and colleges should recognise that a one size fits all approach may not be appropriate and a more personalised or contextualised approach for more vulnerable children e.g. victims of abuse and SEND, may be needed.
  • Additional content and guidance relating to peer on peer abuse has been added throughout and part five continues to recognise that child on child sexual violence and sexual harassment can occur online.
  • Schools and colleges should ensure their child protection policy and wider safeguarding policies specifically address online safety, especially with regards to online peer on peer abuse, relationships on social media and the use of mobile and smart technology.
  • KCSIE 2021 now references four areas of risk online within part two: content, contact, conduct and commerce. 2020 referred to content, contact and conduct.
  • Additional content has been included in annex B with regards to cybercrime and the safeguarding implications.
  • Annex D contains updated links to resources which can support schools and colleges in implementing online safety approaches.
  • Online safety is clearly viewed as part of your statutory safeguarding responsibilities and as such requires a whole-school/college approach.
  • Their policies, education approaches and staff training address the breadth of online safety issues as identified in KCSIE 2021; content, contact, conduct and commerce.
  • The child protection (and/or online safety policies if you have a standalone document) and behaviour policies cover online peer on peer abuse including cyberbullying, and the use of mobile and smart technology.
  • The 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.
  • They 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, and in a way that is appropriate to their age and needs.
  • All staff 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.
  • All staff are aware of the policies and procedures to follow with regards to responding to online safety concerns, including online peer on peer abuse issues.
  • The DSL is recognised as having overall responsibility for online safety, they work with other staff as required and access appropriate training and support to enable them to keep up-to-date.
  • There is regular and appropriate parental engagement regarding online safety, and specific concerns involving the community are responded to in line with child protection policies.
  • Appropriate filtering and monitoring approaches are place, which are relevant for the setting’s specific context and technology use.
  • Where required, remote learning is implemented in a safe and secure way.
  • Online safety approaches in place are regularly reviewed and updated as required.
Online Safety Support from the Education Safeguarding Service