Essential tips for those in governance roles

Sam Preston 20 March 2023 3 min read
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The role of governance in schools, academies & colleges is to ensure that the organisation is carrying out all its safeguarding duties and is doing so effectively. In this article Sam Preston provides some essential tips for those in governance roles.

Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) places greater emphasis on governance taking the 'strategic leadership' responsibility' for safeguarding arrangements. KCSIE Paragraph 78 states that governance must:

  • Ensure that safeguarding arrangements comply with their duties under legislation;
  • Have regard to KCSIE;
  • Ensure policies, procedures and training in their setting is effective and complies with the law at all times.

There are 4 main elements to this role:

  1. Policies
  2. Monitoring
  3. Review
  4. Reporting


It's the role of governors, with the school's leadership team, to develop and ratify a Safeguarding and Child Protection policy. These may be separate policies or combined into one document but whatever format they must set out the organisation's position and positive action in respect of general practice standards and to protect against or manage thematic abuse e.g. of child-on-child abuse, radicalisation, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, honour-based abuse, sexual and criminal exploitation.

Governance should, again with the school's leadership team, ratify a policy on the handling of allegations of abuse by members of staff, ensuring that all staff are fully aware of the procedures. Additionally, they must ensure the organisation has a Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL)- this is a statutory role as directed in the Children's Act 2004 which states that organisations must have a 'named person' who is responsible for safeguarding within the school.

Furthermore, governance should ratify policy to ensure safer recruitment procedures are implemented. This will ensure that procedures, such as vetting and barring, are detailed, in place and adhered to. It is also a governance responsibility to ensure all staff receive child protection training as part of the induction process and details of this should be expressed within Safeguarding and Child Protection policy.

KCSIE states that Governing bodies and proprietors should have a senior board level (or equivalent) lead to take leadership responsibility for their school's or college's safeguarding arrangements. The Competency Framework for Governance (2018) identifies the importance of safeguarding and how governors/trustees should be clear about their responsibilities. The Framework states that 'someone' on the board should know the requirements relating to safeguarding, and that 'everyone'should know their duties. Essentially this means that everyone should understand safeguarding, but the named person should have a more in-depth detailed knowledge. Governance should appoint a named governor or trustee for safeguarding and child protection.

Finally, Safeguarding and Child Protection policy should ensure that safeguarding is firmly embedded throughout all other policies, for example SEND, Use of Force to Control/Restrain, Online/e-Safety, Behaviour, Health & Safety, Educational Visits and GDPR.


Once policies are in place, then governance need to monitor their efficacy. Under Section 175 of the Education Act 2002 governing bodies are required to carry out an annual review of the setting's policies and procedures and to provide information to the Local Authority about how the duties set out in the guidance have been discharged. A similar duty applies to proprietors of independent schools (including academies/free schools) under Section 157 of the same Act.

Conducting regular safeguarding audits will help governance to monitor and ensure policy and practice is effective. Safeguarding has a wide remit and an effective audit process is not a tick box exercise. The process should not only identify if processes are in place but how effectively they are working i.e., the impact. Ideally the audit should offer a tracking process so governance can measure on-going progress and completion of tasks.

The audit should monitor:

  • Policy - to ensure it is effective and meets legislative requirements;
  • Recruitment, vetting & barring processes;
  • Maintenance of the Single Central Record;
  • Training (including induction and ongoing professional development of staff and those in specialist roles e.g., DSLs, Deputy DSLs, SENCOs);
  • Health & Safety (including general site safety, risk assessment, Personal Emergency Egress Plans (PEEPs), Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH), Asbestos management, testing e.g., Legionella);
  • Risk Assessments (including site, equipment, curriculum activities, educational and residential visits);
  • The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR);
  • ICT Acceptable Use;
  • Online/e-Safety;
  • Administration of medication;
  • Safeguarding related curriculum content;
  • Multi-agency curriculum delivery;
  • Service Level Agreements (which set the safeguarding parameters for work undertaken by contractors and service providers e.g., clubs & activities).


These monitoring audits also enable governance to review safeguarding arrangements to ensure that policy and practice both adhere to the latest statutory and advisory requirements thereby directing best practice. This includes immediate unscheduled review of policies following the occurrence of a serious incident.


he outcomes of monitoring and reviews must be reported. A safeguarding report should be submitted at least annually to the Board so that they can monitor compliance with the requirements of the Education Act 2002 and identify areas for improvement beyond minimum statutory requirements.

The report must not contain details about individual pupils but should provide sufficient information for the board to enable it to make a judgement about the quality of safeguarding within the setting. Where weaknesses are evident, the body should ensure that these are addressed within the School Improvement Plan, and that progress toward achieving the desired outcomes is regularly monitored. It is good practice for the named governor for safeguarding to undertake monitoring across the year to enable them to be in a position to validate and confirm the contents of the report/s.

In summary, governance statutory duties to ensure robust safeguarding duties are being fulfilled is an annual cycle of policy, monitoring, reviewing and reporting- all crucial to driving and maintaining best practice standards.

Looking for in-depth safeguarding training? Check out our Safeguarding for Governors and Trustees and Safeguarding for Named Governors courses.

Sam Preston

SSS Learning Safeguarding Director

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