We all need to work together to safeguard children, by ensuring that there is a robust and effective safeguarding culture. Safeguarding has a wide remit and goes beyond the boundaries of the nursery, school and college gates. Safeguarding in a school environment means that we are:

  • protecting children and young people from any kind of maltreatment
  • preventing the impairment of a child or young person’s mental health, physical health or development
  • ensuring that children and young people grow up in circumstances which are consistent with the provision of safe and effective care
  • taking action at the right time to enable all children and young people to have the best outcomes

Those in governance have a pivotal and strategic role to play in ensuring that there is an ethos of effective safeguarding and a whole school approach. Governors, just as for all staff must understand and follow the concept of ‘it could happen here’. 

Essential reading, key guidance and helpful websites

Promoting a safeguarding culture
It is vital that governing bodies and proprietors create a culture that safeguards and promotes the welfare of children in their school or college.
Promoting a safeguarding culture
It is essential that all staff understand the importance of challenging inappropriate behaviours between peers...
Promoting a safeguarding culture
Downplaying certain behaviours, for example dismissing sexual harassment as "just banter", "just having a laugh", "part of growing up" or "boys being boys" can lead to a culture of unacceptable behaviours...
Promoting a safeguarding culture
... it is important that school and college leaders create the right culture and environment so that staff feel comfortable to discuss matters... which may have implications for the safeguarding of children.
Promoting a safeguarding culture
As part of their whole school approach to safeguarding, schools and colleges should ensure that they promote an open and transparent culture in which all concerns about all adults working in or on behalf of the school or college... are dealt with promptly and appropriately.
Promoting a safeguarding culture
Encourage a culture of listening to children and taking account of their wishes and feelings, among all staff, in any measures the school college may put in place to protect them.
Promoting a safeguarding culture
Encourage a culture of listening to children and taking account of their wishes and feelings, among all staff, in any measures the school college may put in place to protect them.

Statutory duties

When the word ‘must’ is used it means this is a statutory requirement, when the word ‘should’ is used, governing boards (proprietor for academies and independent schools) ‘must’ have regard for statutory guidance.  The statutory guidance for schools and colleges (and maintained nurseries) that must be adhered to is Keeping Children Safe in Education which is normally updated annually and the multi-agency guidance  Working Together to Safeguard Children

Keeping Children Safe in Education

All governors and trustees must have read and understood in full the statutory guidance Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) and all revisions. KCSIE informs school policies and procedures and must be at the heart of safeguarding practices in schools. KCSIE should be read alongside Working Together to Safeguard Children and departmental advisory documents:

Governance is strategic, not operational, however, it is important that those responsible for leading schools and colleges have full regard for their statutory duties relating to the governance of safeguarding. It is important to remember that governors have no right or remit to know about individual cases of concern. 

Governing bodies and proprietors should ensure there policies and procedures in place in order for appropriate action to be taken in a timely manner to safeguard and promote children’s welfare (KCSIE). Safeguarding policies should be reviewed annually and be publicly available find out more here, a model Norfolk safeguarding policy is available here.

Designated Safeguarding Lead

The designated safeguarding lead (DSL) has overall responsibility for safeguarding in a setting, the role is of significant importance for safeguarding children in a school or college. The DSL role holder must be on the senior leadership team, in many cases the role is held by the headteacher or principal. As stated below, the role should be explicit in the job description of the role holder. The term DSL can also be used for deputy DSL’s who have to be trained to the same standard as the DSL. However, the DSL lead responsibility should not be delegated. Board’s should ensure that the alternate or deputy DSL also has this role expressed in their job description. 
Governing bodies and proprietors should ensure an appropriate senior member of staff, from the school or college leadership team, is appointed to the role of designated safeguarding lead. The designated safeguarding lead should take lead responsibility for safeguarding and child protection (including online safety). This should be explicit in the role holder’s job description. (KCSIE annex C). 
Annex C (KCSIE) explains further the role requirements including availability; managing referrals; working with others; information sharing and child protection; raising awareness and training; understanding the views of children and holding and sharing information. 

Safeguarding Link Governor

Governing boards should have a member of the board (they must not be a member of staff) take strategic leadership responsibility for their school’s or college’s safeguarding arrangements. This governor should be a senior member of the board such as the Chair, Vice-Chair or equivalent. 
KCSIE sets out that an individual on the governing body should take strategic leadership responsibility for the organisation’s wider safeguarding
arrangements (and the Prevent duty should be seen as part of the wider safeguarding obligation). It is important that this governor or academy trustee receives appropriate safeguarding training to undertake this role. However, it is best practice if everyone on the board has training about safeguarding, to make sure they have the knowledge and information needed to perform their functions, understand their responsibilities and assure themselves that their own organisation’s safeguarding arrangements are robust. (Governance Handbook).
Understanding safeguarding is important for all governors but particularly for the safeguarding link governor, it is important that this governor has sufficient understanding to challenge the DSL effectively, whilst also championing effective and robust safeguarding. A safeguarding compliance checklist for governors is available to support this role.

Norfolk Safeguarding Children Partnership (NSCP)

There are three statutory safeguarding partners: Local Authority, Police and Clinical Commissioning Group. The three safeguarding partners should agree on ways to co-ordinate their safeguarding services; act as a strategic leadership group in supporting and engaging others; and implement local and national learning including from serious child safeguarding incidents. Read more about NSCP here.

Final word

Safeguarding is extensive and can feel overwhelming to anyone new to the role, we would recommend that you seek support if you have any concerns through your DSL, through your governance professional or governance support networks. You can also sign up to safeguarding newsletters. We would recommend that you use the audit tools to support your monitoring work and if something isn’t right or you are not sure about something always ask or raise a challenge.  

Key terminology

Child Protection vs Safeguarding 

Safeguarding is the policies and practices in place to keep children safe whereas child protection encompasses the practices that are there to protect children who are suffering from or are likely to suffer significant harm.

Safer Recruitment

Governing boards must ensure that at least one board member has undertaken safer recruitment training. A robust recruitment and DBS checks policies should be in place with strong practices in place to deter and prevent people unsuitable of working or volunteering with children.

Single Central Record (SCR)

The Single Central Record must be maintained and must be accurate, checked and monitored. The latest format must also be used. Safeguarding link governors in Norfolk are expected to actively check the accuracy of the SCR. SCR monitoring should be part of the safeguarding link role.

Peer on peer abuse

Peer on peer or child on child abuse can happen at any age or sex, in and out of school and also online. This can include bullying; physical; abuse in personal relationships and initiation or hazing violence or rituals.

Sexual violence and sexual harassment

Peer on peer or child on child abuse also includes sexual violence and harassment and it can happen at any age or sex, in and out of school and also online.  This can include bullying; physical; abuse in personal relationships. Ofsted’s review of sexual abuse in schools showed how prevalent the issue is. 

Online Safety

Online or e-safety should safeguard children from four areas of risk: content – exposure to illegal, inappropriate or harmful content; contact – harmful online interactions; conduct – personal online behaviour that increases or causes harm; commerce –  online gambling, phishing, financial scams and inappropriate advertising. An annual review of the approach to online safety is recommended. 

Allegations made against staff

Schools and colleges should have their own procedures for dealing with concerns and/or allegations against those working in or on behalf of schools and colleges (KCSIE). This is combined within the NCC model safeguarding policy.

Family Support Process (FSP)

Schools have an important role in assessment to help a child and their family. This is a child-centred approach to Working Together to Safeguard Children, however there must be consent from the family. The FSP process then involves the early help process, which encompasses a wide range of additional services to support a child at risk of poor outcomes. 

Record keeping and Chronology

Record keeping for all concerns should be recorded, many schools use digital record keeping software such as CPOMS and My Concern. Records should include a clear summary, details of the concern and any actions, decisions and follow ups. This should be kept in chronological order to support safeguarding and any future concerns. 

Safeguarding SEF

Norfolk schools should update their Safeguarding Self Evaluation which is available via the My School portal. The self review tool allows the assessment of the effectiveness of current safeguarding and child protection practices. Norfolk Safeguarding provide learning via MI sheets about SEF audits. 


Governing boards must have due regard to the need to prevent children and young people from being drawn into terrorism, this is the Prevent Duty.

Where to find more information…

Safeguarding blogs

Being ‘that’ safeguarding governor

My governance journey started in 2016, up until 2019 I had not ventured much into the world of safeguarding, it felt too big, too weighty and beyond my skills. The more I have researched, learnt and worked as a safeguarding governor, the more I have realised that it is essential for all governors.

Read More »
Colourful graphic with outline of people all connected by cogs, wording what is a safeguarding culture?