KCSIE 2023

Sam Preston 9 June 2023 2 min read
KCSIE 2023 feature image

In this latest article, Safeguarding Director Sam Preston shares her personal views on the KCSIE 2023 revisions.

There's little doubt, this year's revisions to Keeping children safe in education (KCSIE) are, well, to be frank, seriously underwhelming, so I'll keep this short. In the main this year DFE policymakers have focussed on aligning the document to other existing DFE policy guidance, with a few additional tweaks here and there.

Sadly opportunities have been missed. There has been no recognition of emerging safeguarding themes, such as patterning which is a really serious problem on the increase in and outside school settings. One can only hope they have been preoccupied with the promised revisions to Working together to safeguard children, long overdue and, given the number of times failing multi-agency working has been cited in serious case reviews, desperately needed.

The KCSIE 2023 revision almost reads dare I say like the results of a bored afternoon's 'office bingo' - just how many times can you insert the term filtering and monitoring into one document? No amount of redirection to the guidance Meeting digital and Technology standards in schools and colleges, published in February, will address the fact that meeting these standards is a big ask, particularly for early years and primary settings.

For example, I'd be willing to bet DSLs with the skills to determine if filtering and monitoring provision robustly safeguards children are rarer than hen’s teeth. Indeed just finding the time for them to liaise with external providers, should schools have the budget to engage one, as the guidance directs is a big ask.

Now I'm not for a minute saying that this isn’t an important area, it really is. In 2022, the education sector experienced a 44% increase in cyber-attacks, with many not regaining the data hijacked, and it is thought to be the sector most likely to be targeted. Educational settings are vulnerable to cyber-attacks mainly because they hold vast amounts of data, have very limited budgets to spend on cyber security and, in most cases, do not employ personnel with the skill set to manage this area. Simply stating that schools are already expected to be meeting these standards , with governance, leadership DSLs fulfilling their stated roles, woefully ignores the difficulties they face in achieving them, yet it's now embedded in statutory guidance.

As I've said, this is an extremely important area but it needs both a knowledgeable skillset and budget to be carried out effectively. So, at the risk of this becoming a rant, I'll stop there. (We will be returning to the subject in future articles!)

In contrast, to end on a positive note, putting my glass-half-full perspective on things, this year's KCSIE does provide an opportunity to seriously embed the guidance practically across all roles. Simply reissuing the parts of the guidance relevant to roles is unlikely to support and challenge practice, so in our update course, we are going further. This year we're actually assessing that knowledge, the understanding and practical application. This will enable leadership to audit how effectively each individual understands their responsibilities and most importantly to direct additional support where it is needed. That way, when schools are asked if governance and staff understand the KCSIE guidance, schools can respond 'Absolutely, and here's the evidence'.

For more details of the SSS Learning KCSIE 2023 update course contact support@ssslearning.co.uk or call us on 029 2059 7000.

Sam Preston

SSS Learning Safeguarding Director