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Child protection and safeguarding in schools


The issue of keeping children safe in education remains extremely prominent. Whether you are facing an allegation made against a member of staff; handling a disclosure of abuse from a pupil; discharging your legal duty to refer conduct to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) or managing press interest in safeguarding stories; the importance of ensuring your pupils are safe and are seen to be safe cannot be underestimated.

Everyone who comes into contact with children has a role to play in the safeguarding of them. As a school or academy, you are in a crucial position and play a key part in providing help for children and preventing any issues from escalating. From teachers and teaching assistants, to playground attendants and afterschool activity staff, each person should have children’s wellbeing at the forefront of everything they do.

What is safeguarding in schools?

Child protection and safeguarding in schools are often used interchangeably, but in fact child protection is one aspect of safeguarding. Safeguarding is defined as the protecting of children from maltreatment, ensuring children grow up in an environment consistent with the provision of safe and effective care and taking appropriate action to enable children to have the best outcomes. Child protection focuses on protecting children who are suffering from, or are at danger of suffering from significant harm.

Safeguarding in schools works most effectively when all aspects are integrated and used together. High quality training for your staff is paramount to ensure everyone knows what to do and to do it consistently across the establishment.

Every school or trust should have at least one designated safeguarding lead who will provide support to other staff members to ensure they can carry out their child protection and safeguarding duties effectively, and who can liaise closely with other services such as social care, health and the police.

Other key aspects of child protection and safeguarding include online safety and cyber bullying and how to manage this.

Cyberbullying in schools and the law

Cyberbullying is any form of bullying that is carried out through the use of an electronic device such as a computer, laptop, smartphone, tablet or games console. This means that bullying is now far more widespread and reaches further than the playground.

Unfortunately with the 24/7 nature of this form of bullying it can be more difficult to manage and react to; and with 7% of children aged 10 to 15 reported to have experienced cyberbullying in a recent survey by the Department for Education, it’s important to put preventative measures in place and ensure your teachers are trained and advised appropriately.

While there is no legal definition of cyberbullying within UK law, there are a number of existing laws that can be applied to cases of cyberbullying in schools, such as the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, the Malicious Communications Act 1988 and the Defamation Act 2013.

How Browne Jacobson can help with safeguarding in schools

Our expert lawyers can provide you with support on all aspects of safeguarding in schools to help ensure you are discharging your safeguarding duties. As well as providing urgent advice and support when child protection and safeguarding issues occur, we can also help you draft your safeguarding policy, train your staff, prepare for inspection and deal with non-urgent safeguarding issues such as parental requests for disclosure of safeguarding files.

As recognised experts in the field, we can also keep you up-to-date with new legal duties and help you deal with growing areas of safeguarding concern, such as radicalisation and extremism, child sexual exploitation, forced marriage and FGM.

Let our experts help and guide you through the ins and outs of keeping children safe in education and support your school or academy through any child protection issues or concerns you may have.

How can we help?

For expert legal advice on any child protection and safeguarding issues, please contact Dai Durbridge.

Did you know?

We offer a range of legal advice products for schools and academies that are fixed-fee, annual support services which provide you with immediate access to specialist advice when you need it most. For more information please visit our quickcall product and our MAT partner plus product.

What we do...

  • Advising you on managing allegations against staff and working with the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO).
  • Support you at strategy meetings and drafting statements for the press, parent and pupils.
  • Helping you handle disclosures of abuse and obtaining consent or overriding lack of consent.
  • Discharging your legal duty to refer staff conduct to the DBS.
  • Advising you and helping you manage risk for information disclosed on a DBS check.
  • Advising and supporting you on discharging your duties on complex safeguarding issues - including child sexual exploitation, extremism, FGM and forced marriage.
  • Recognised as national leaders for safeguarding in education.

Don’t take our word for it:

"Browne Jacobson have taken the time to understand our needs and preferred approach," one impressed client remarks, adding: "They are always accessible and we’ve never had to wait for a response, email or return call."

Chambers 2022

"I can unreservedly trust them to handle sensitive and difficult matters," one client remarks, adding: "Their advice and support is pragmatic and I would highly recommend them."

Chambers 2021

The team have been exceptional. They have been understanding, reassuring and knowledgeable. I can't emphasise how valuable their support has been at both a practical and an emotional level.

Chambers 2019

Recent experience

Related resources

Legal updates

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse: A guide for schools and trusts

Following the recent report of the findings from The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, we’ve now published some practical guidance to support schools and trusts.



The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse - A guide for schools and trusts

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse was established in March 2015. We now have its report. As you would expect with such a broad scope, the report is long and makes a number of far-reaching recommendations. In this article, Dai Durbridge highlights seven of the 20 recommendations, sets out how they could impact on schools and suggests what steps to take now.



How to carry out the KCSiE online checks FAQs

There is (understandably) some confusion about the steps schools and trusts need to take to discharge the new online check duty set out in paragraph 220 of KCSIE. I can’t completely clarify all of it for you, but I can help you find a sensible route through. These FAQs are a good place to start.


Legal updates

Understanding the Appropriate Adult expectation

One of three significant changes to Keeping Children Safe in Education 2022 is a new expectation that Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSLs) should be aware of the requirement for children to have an Appropriate Adult. The guidance says nothing more than that, but the DfE has updated the Searching, Screening and Confiscation Advice to include a new section on strip searches. In this briefing I explain how to meet this new requirement and help you understand what steps you need to take when involving the police in pupil searches.


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