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Safeguarding in education

Everyone who comes into contact with children and their families has a role to play in safeguarding children. School and college staff have a particularly important role as they have regular contact with children, so are in a good position to be able to identify concerns early that a child may potentially be at risk of or experiencing abuse or neglect.

Section 175 (Section 157 for academies and independent schools) of the Education Act 2002 requires governing bodies of schools and further education colleges (including sixth form colleges) to ensure they safeguard and promote the welfare of children who are either pupils at the school or who are students under 18 years of age attending the further education institution.

The statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children details how schools and colleges should work with social care, the police, health services and other services to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm.

Further statutory guidance specifically for schools is in Keeping Children Safe in Education. A new version is published each year by the Department for Education and it can be found on their website

Governing bodies and proprietors should ensure there is an effective safeguarding and child protection policy in place together with a staff code of conduct, which should include- staff/pupil relationships and communications including the use of social media. All staff (including temporary staff and volunteers) must be provided with these on induction.

The child protection policy should:

  • describe procedures which are in accordance with government guidance;
  • be updated annually;
  • be signed off by the governing body; and
  • be available publicly either via the school or college website or by other means.

Headteachers must ensure that the policies and procedures adopted by governing bodies, particularly concerning referrals of cases of suspected abuse and neglect, are followed by all staff.

The setting’s policy should also pay due regard to the Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth & Southampton (HIPS)  Safeguarding Children Procedures Manual

During Ofsted inspections of early years settings, schools, colleges and other further education and skills providers, Inspectors must evaluate the safeguarding arrangement and the extent to which these are having a positive impact on the safety and welfare of children and learners. Ofsted have produced guidance that sets out the main points that will be considered and this should be read alongside the education inspection framework.

Education settings have a duty under section 175 and 157 of the Education Act 2002 to make arrangements to ensure that their functions are carried out with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children

The Compact Audit is designed as a self-evaluation assessment to help education settings check whether they are compliant with these duties. It can be used as a ‘health check’ to:

  • ensure that statutory requirements for safeguarding and child protection are being complied with
  • evaluate your setting’s safeguarding practice, and discuss any obvious issues arising from this audit in terms of patterns of strength and areas for development in the light of your whole-school/college context
  • develop a robust action plan to address any weaknesses or areas for development which have been identified
  • ensure that key people (including the governing body) have access to sufficient information to enable them to make a judgement about the quality of safeguarding within the school/college
  • ensure your self-evaluation accurately reflects the school’s safeguarding practice
  • assemble evidence of impact of practice for an Ofsted inspection
  • reflect on safeguarding policy and practice in order to strengthen arrangements to safeguarding and promote children’s welfare

The Portsmouth Safeguarding Children Partnership has a duty to ensure that agencies and services in Portsmouth are working effectively to safeguard and promote the welfare of all children in Portsmouth. One way in which the PSCP does this is through the compact audit. So once every two years all education settings in Portsmouth will be required to submit their completed compact audit to the Partnership.

A summary of the learning from these returns is produced, to highlight some of the areas that settings considered to require improvement with the aim of hoping you all can benefit from this feedback.


Each school and college must have at least one designated safeguarding lead who will provide support to staff members to carry out their safeguarding duties and who will liaise closely with other services such as children’s social care. There must be a DSL available at all times, so it is good practice to ensure that there are enough staff trained to carry out this role, to provide the cover advised by statutory guidance.

Training expectations

The DSL (and any deputies) should undergo training to provide them with the knowledge and skills required to carry out the role. This training should be updated at least every two years. The DSL should also undertake Prevent awareness training (KCSiE2023).

In addition to the formal training, DSLs knowledge and skills should be refreshed (this might be via e-bulletins, meeting other DSLs, or simply taking time to read and digest safeguarding developments) at regular intervals as required and at least annually, to allow them to understand and keep up with any developments relevant to their role. (KCSiE2023)

Click here for further information and to access the DSL training record template.

The DSL role has two elements:

  1. Child level safeguarding – identifying needs and making decisions for children’s welfare and safety. Knowing Portsmouth practices and processes, including effective knowledge of the Portsmouth Thresholds is essential for making child level decisions.
  2. Safeguarding leadership – driving safeguarding practice and embedding a safeguarding culture in your school. For those new to the DSL or deputy role it is advisable to undertake training which supports the ability to understand and act accordingly to child level safeguarding concerns, PSCP offer 2 training courses to support this:
  • Early help full day training
  • Child protection full day training

To book please visit the PSCP training website

Once these courses are completed, the PSCP offers a range of masterclasses for DSLs and their deputies to embed further good and effective safeguarding knowledge and skills. The masterclasses cover a range of topics to support DSLs to drive safeguarding practice and embed a safeguarding culture in school.

For those DSLs who need to ‘refresh’ safeguarding training please select a range of masterclasses according to your own identified strengths and development areas.

The masterclasses currently available are:

  • Safeguarding children – the national & local picture for DSLs
  • Effective safeguarding conversations
  • Managing allegations – the local authority designated officer (LADO)
  • Exploitation – consider your language and avoid victim blaming
  • Exploitation – assessing risk and sharing intelligence, using the CERAF & CPI

To book you place on these please visit the PSCP Training website here

In addition we currently offer 4 pre-recorded DSL masterclasses:

  • Contacting MASH – getting the right help for children & their families
  • Safeguarding decision making – Portsmouth Thresholds
  • Escalation & Re-think – having the right conversation with the right person at the right time
  • Developing a safeguarding culture – the Portsmouth Compact

To access these please click here

Once you have completed these masterclasses you can download the relevant certificate from the list below:

All masterclasses for DSLs are free of charge from May 2021 until further notice

For further information, to discuss your safeguarding training needs or to enquire about Inset and/or bespoke safeguarding training for your school please contact

The Portsmouth Education Partnership (PEP) brings together all Portsmouth schools and partners to improve attainment and opportunities for all children and young people across the city.

Their website is aimed at giving all those working in education in Portsmouth useful information, support and resources related to all education organisations working in Portsmouth. To share information about relevant resources, support or opportunities email

A child missing from education (CME) is defined by the Department for Education as a child of compulsory school age who is:

  • not on a school roll
  • on the roll of a school but where they have been absent for 10 consecutive days following an agreed leave of absence and no contact has been received from parents/carers.

CME also includes those children who are missing (family whereabouts is unknown) but are usually registered on a school roll or alternative provision. This may include a child who is not at their last known address and either:

  • has not taken up an allocated school place as expected
  • has had 20 or more days of consecutive absence from school without permission/explanation
  • has left school suddenly and destination is unknown

CME can therefore be categorised into 2 groups:

  1. those who are not receiving an education; and
  2. those whose family whereabouts has become unknown.

Governing bodies should put in place appropriate safeguarding responses for children who go missing from education (particularly on repeat occasions), to help identify the risk of abuse and neglect and to help prevent the risks of repeatedly going missing.

Portsmouth local authority has produced CME Guidance for Schools. The purpose of this is to outline both the legislative requirements and operational details for managing this responsibility, so that all parties understand their responsibilities and undertake them consistently and promptly. This will help to minimise disruption to pupil learning and achievement that mobility can cause, and ensure that children’s welfare is safeguarded.  This guidance does not replace any part of the child protection or safeguarding procedures that already exist within the local authority and they should be followed as appropriate.

Anyone concerned that a child is missing education can make a CME referral. This must be done electronically by schools via the Local Authority website – Education – CME form

All other enquiries can be made by emailing the completed professional referral form in the appendices of the CME Guidance to

Being bullied is strongly related to mental ill-health and can children’s overall wellbeing in both the immediate and longer-term.

By law, all state schools must have a behaviour policy in place that includes measures to prevent all forms of bullying among pupils. This policy is decided by the school and all teachers, pupils and parents must be told what it is.

Headteachers also have powers to respond to bullying outside of school premises, and to search for and confiscate items that may have been used to bully or intimidate (The Education and Inspections Act 2006: The Education Act 2011). Portsmouth’s anti-bullying guidance and resource pack for schools provides a comprehensive range of information, resources and contacts to help schools develop effective anti-bullying practices.

Anti-bullying week takes place every year in November. The Anti-Bullying Alliance website features downloadable anti-bullying week resources for schools. Anti-bullying work needs to be ongoing as part of a whole school. Events such as anti-bullying week are a good way to further raise the profile of this work.

Schools must also follow anti-discrimination law. This means staff must act to prevent discrimination, harassment and victimisation within the school. The Ethnic Minority Achievement Service (EMAS) has produced a small Prejudicial Language and Behaviour Toolkit for schools. This pan-Hampshire resource can be used when monitoring and reporting prejudicial comments and/or incidents, as well as to support school self-evaluation in this area. The anti-bullying pack contains guidance on preventing and responding to homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, and we have also produced Trans Inclusion Guidance for Schools and Colleges.

The Department for Education has produced:

Sexual violence and sexual harassment can occur between two or more children of any age and sex, from primary through to secondary stage and into college. It can occur also through a group of children sexually assaulting or sexually harassing a single child or group of children.

Schools and colleges should respond to all signs, reports and concerns of child-on-child sexual violence and sexual harassment, including those that have happened outside of the school or college premises, and/or online. For guidance on how to do this, please refer to part 5 of Keeping Children Safe in Education 2023. You may also find it helpful to refer to the HIPS Harmful Sexual Behaviour procedure.


Children with Learning Difficulties and/or Disabilities

The Portsmouth SEND Local Offer details the information, support and services that Portsmouth City Council expects to be available in our local area for children and young people aged 0-25 with special educational needs and or a disability (SEND).

Checklist of safeguarding questions governors and trustees might find useful

School Governors and Trustees are responsible for ensuring that schools fulfil their responsibilities in respect of safeguarding children. The role of the Safeguarding Children Governor is to ensure the safeguarding agenda is embedded in the ethos of your school.

As well as reviewing the Compact Audit annually in the Governor’s meeting as a measurement of the school’s safeguarding arrangements, governors and trustees are entitled to ask the same sort of questions posed by Ofsted. Here is a list of some suggested questions you may find helpful to ask.

Online Safety

Beware of Lurking Trolls is a campaign designed to help protect children from online harm. With the aim of building digital resilience among 7-11 year olds, we’ve developed a vibrant children’s book, Peril of the Possessed Pets, a website full of fun resources and information for children and adults, as well as a host of resources to support teaching around online safety. As you know, the challenge in safeguarding children online is increasingly difficult and the dangers they face are growing and changing. This campaign uses an army of troll characters to explore a range of issues children may encounter online including:

  • Bullying and the impact of our own behaviour towards others
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Crime and exploitation
  • Online impersonation and grooming
  • Radicalisation
  • Propaganda and fake news.

The Cyber Ambassador Scheme is a free cyber safety education and support scheme for primary schools, secondary schools, and colleges, developed by the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Youth Commission. The scheme follows a peer-led approach by skilling-up a small number of students in education settings on key online safety issues. These informed students then pass on their learning and offer helpful support to their peers promoting good digital citizenship and civility.

  • Peer-led: Written and delivered by young people for young people, harnessing the power of peer influence to enact positive change
  • Sustainable: Free and flexible for schools – a low cost way for schools to embed cyber safety education in their settings for years to come
  • Independent: Run by the public sector with industry partners, endorsed by the PCC, and informed by up-to-date police insights

To find out more or sign up, please email the scheme co-ordinators.

Guidance on Tackling Knife Crime

Hampshire Constabulary has devised some guidance for schools & colleges detailing how you can get involved and develop ways to reduce and prevent knife crime – consisting of advice, ideas and lesson resources. The guidance aims to support you with exploring steps you could consider implementing to tackle knife crime and reduce the threat and risk of harm posed to young people and the community.

Sexual consent awareness campaign for Prom & social events

The risk of peer on peer sexual assault is increased in social situations where young people may consume alcohol and/or recreational drugs. Although school proms do not permit consumption of alcohol, it is well known that many students will attend after parties. In recognition of this risk, a poster campaign to raise awareness of consent has been created by Hampshire Constabulary to remind students of the consent and staying safe. The pack consists of a series of posters to be used by schools in the lead up to prom and to liaise with the prom venue for permission to display in areas such as toilets and cloakrooms. The full selection of posters can be accessed on the safe4me website.

You must have read the following of your setting’s policies:

  • Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy.
  • Behaviour Policy.
  • Staff Behaviour Policy (also known as the Code of conduct)
  • The setting’s response to children who go missing from education (likely to be part of your setting’s attendance policy)

Worried about a child – If you are concerned that a child or young person has suffered harm, neglect or abuse, please contact Portsmouth Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)

If a child is at immediate risk of harm, call the Police on 999