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Annex A: Safeguarding information for school and college staff

The following is a condensed version of Part one of Keeping children safe in education. It can be provided (instead of Part one) to those staff who do not directly work with children, if the governing body or proprietor think it will provide a better basis for those staff to promote the welfare of and safeguard children.

The role of school and college staff


Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is everyone’s responsibility.

Everyone who comes into contact with children has an important role to play.


School and college staff are particularly important as they are in a position to identify concerns early, provide help for children, promote children’s welfare and prevent concerns from escalating. It is important all staff (including those who do not work directly with children) recognise the important role they play in protecting children.

What school and college staff need to know


For the purposes of safeguarding, a child is anyone under the age of 18. Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is defined for the purposes of this guidance as:

  • Protecting children from maltreatment;
  • Preventing impairment of children’s mental and physical health or development;
  • Ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care; and
  • Taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.

All staff should:

  • Be aware of the systems in their school or college which support safeguarding, and these should be explained to them as part of staff induction. As a minimum this Annex and the child protection policy should be shared with staff at induction;
  • Receive appropriate safeguarding and child protection training (including online safety which, amongst other things, includes an understanding of the expectations, applicable roles and responsibilities in relation to filtering and monitoring) which is regularly updated. In addition, all staff should receive safeguarding and child protection updates (including online safety) (for example, via emails, e- bulletins and staff meetings), as required, and at least annually, to provide them with the skills and knowledge to safeguard children effectively;
  • Know the identity of the designated safeguarding lead (and any deputies) and how to contact them;
  • Know what to do if a child tells them they are being abused or neglected. This includes understanding they should never promise a child that they will not tell anyone else about a report of abuse, as this is unlikely to be in the best interests of the child; and
  • Should be able to reassure all victims that they are being taken seriously and that they will be supported and kept safe. A victim should never be given the impression that they are creating a problem by reporting abuse, sexual violence or sexual harassment, nor should a victim ever be made to feel ashamed for making a report;
  • Should be aware that technology is a significant component in many safeguarding and wellbeing issues. Children are at risk of abuse and other risks online as well as face to face. In many cases abuse and other risks will take place concurrently both online and offline. Children can also abuse other children online, this can take the form of abusive, harassing, and misogynistic/misandrist messages, the non-consensual sharing of indecent images, especially around chat groups, and the sharing of abusive images and pornography, to those who do not want to receive such content.

What school and college staff should look out for

Abuse and neglect


Knowing what to look for is vital to the early identification of abuse and neglect. All staff should be aware of indicators of abuse and neglect, including exploitation, so that they are able to identify cases of children who may be in need of help or protection. Abuse can take place wholly online, or technology may be used to facilitate offline abuse.


If staff are unsure, they should always speak to the designated safeguarding lead (or a deputy).

Forms of abuse and neglect


Abuse: a form of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm or by failing to act to prevent harm. Children may be abused by other children or adults, in a family or in an institutional or community setting by those known to them or, more rarely, by others.


Physical abuse: a form of abuse that may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child.


Emotional abuse: the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to a child that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, although it may occur alone.


Sexual abuse: involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example, rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing. They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse. Sexual abuse can take place online, and technology can be used to facilitate offline abuse. Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Females can also be abusers as can other children. The sexual abuse of children by other children is a specific safeguarding issue (also known as child-on-child abuse) in education and all staff should be aware of it and their school or colleges policy and procedures for dealing with it.


Neglect: the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment); protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger; ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate caregivers); or ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.


All staff should be aware that child sexual and child criminal exploitation are forms of child abuse.

Safeguarding issues


All staff should have an awareness of safeguarding issues that can put children at risk of harm. Behaviours linked to issues such as drug taking and/or alcohol misuse, deliberately missing education, serious violence (including that linked to county lines), radicalisation and consensual and non-consensual sharing of nude and semi-nude images and/or videos [145] (also known as youth produced sexual imagery) put children in danger.

[145] Consensual image sharing, especially between older children of the same age, may require a different response. It might not be abusive – but children still need to know it is illegal- whilst non-consensual is illegal and abusive. UKCIS provides detailed advice about sharing of nudes and semi-nude images and videos.

Child-on-child abuse


All staff should be aware that children can abuse other children at any age (often referred to as child-on-child abuse). And that it can happen both inside and outside of school or college and online. It is important that all staff recognise the indicators and signs of abuse and know how to identify it and respond to reports.


All staff should be clear as to the school or college’s policy and procedures with regards to child-on-child abuse. Child-on-child abuse is most likely to include, but may not be limited to:

  • Bullying (including cyberbullying, prejudice-based and discriminatory bullying);
  • Abuse in intimate personal relationships between children (sometimes known as ‘teenage relationship abuse’);
  • Physical abuse which can include hitting, kicking, shaking, biting, hair pulling, or otherwise causing physical harm;
  • Sexual violence, such as rape, assault by penetration and sexual assault;
  • Sexual harassment, such as sexual comments, remarks, jokes and online sexual harassment.

What school and college staff should do if they have concerns about a child


Staff working with children should maintain an attitude of ‘it could happen here’ where safeguarding is concerned. When concerned about the welfare of a child, staff should always act in the best interests of the child.


Staff should not assume a colleague or another professional will take action and share information that might be critical in keeping children safe.


If staff have any concerns about a child’s welfare, they should act on them immediately. They should follow their school or college’s child protection policy and speak to the designated safeguarding lead (or a deputy). In the absence of the designated safeguarding lead (or a deputy) staff should speak to a member of the school or college’s senior leadership team.


The designated safeguarding lead (or a deputy) will generally lead on next steps, including who else, if anyone, in the school or college should be informed and whether to pass a concern to local authority children’s social care and/or the police. In some instances, staff may be expected to support the local authority children social care assessment process. If this is the case, the designated safeguarding lead (or a deputy) will support them.

Why is all of this important?


It is important for children to receive the right help at the right time to address safeguarding risks and prevent issues escalating and to promote children’s welfare. Research and serious case reviews have repeatedly shown the dangers of failing to take effective and immediate action. Examples of poor practice includes failing to act on and refer the early signs of abuse and neglect.

What school and college staff should do if they have a safeguarding concern or an allegation about another staff member who may pose a risk of harm to children


If staff have a safeguarding concern or an allegation is made about another member of staff (including supply staff, contractors, volunteers, and visitors) harming or posing a risk of harm to children, they should speak to the headteacher or principal (unless it relates to the headteacher or principal, in which case they should speak to the chair of governors, chair of the management committee, or the proprietor of an independent school).

What school or college staff should do if they have concerns about safeguarding practices within the school or college


All staff and volunteers should feel able to raise concerns about poor or unsafe practice and potential failures in the school’s or college’s safeguarding regime and know that such concerns will be taken seriously by the senior leadership team.


Appropriate whistleblowing procedures should be in place for concerns to be raised with the school’s or college’s senior leadership team.


Where staff feel unable to raise an issue with their employer or feel that their genuine safeguarding concerns are not being addressed NSPCC whistleblowing advice line is available. Staff can call 0800028 0285 – 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM, Monday to Friday and email Alternatively, staff can write to: National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), Weston House, 42 Curtain Road, London EC2A 3NH.