DfE KCSiE 2020 Draft Guidance: What are the Proposed Changes to Online Safety?

On 25th February 2020, the DfE published new draft guidance for KCSIE 2020. They have opened their consultation process on the proposed changes due to take effect from September 2020.

The guidance outlines the statutory requirements that all schools and colleges must adhere to in respect of their safeguarding duties and promoting the welfare of children.

Why are they proposing changes?

The DfE state that the main aim in proposing changes is to “help schools and colleges better understand what they are required to do by law” and to “strongly advise” what they should do in order to meet their safeguarding responsibilities.

They have split the consultation paper into seven sections which mirrors the structure of KCSiE 2020. School leaders, governing bodies, safeguarding practitioners, DSLs, teaching staff and a range of other stakeholders are invited to submit their feedback on the guidance before the 21st April 2020 at which point the consultation will close.

The DfE plan to implement the new guidance in time September 2020.

What does the KCSiE 2020 draft guidance say about online safety?

In short, the draft KCSiE guidance places much more emphasis on the importance of online safety. It is a document which is reflective of how almost every aspect of safeguarding now should also be considered in an online context.


One of the biggest changes in the KCSIE 2020 draft guidance is that ‘the management of online safety’ topic now actually sits within the main body of the document.

Whereas in KCSiE 2019, Annex C covered the core content around online safety, this has now been moved into Part 2 of the draft KCSiE 2020 guidance. In shifting online safety into a more prominent position, the DfE aim to encourage more schools to adopt it as part of their whole school approach towards safeguarding.

Policies & role of online safety

Content-wise, there a number of subtle changes. The most pertinent relates to how the school’s child protection policy should also reflect the school’s approach to online safety. The guidance states that the most effective online policies should consider the 3Cs (content, contact, conduct) and provide clarity on the use of mobile and smart technology [p.28, para.114].

Furthermore, the guidance states that schools and colleges should ensure that “online safety is a running and interrelated theme” and consider online safety “whilst planning the curriculum, any teacher training, the role and responsibilities of the designated safeguarding lead and any parental engagement.” [p.27, para.112].


Online safety remains a critical part of staff training. However, the guidance does make a subtle amendment in relation to the annual updates that staff should receive in relation to safeguarding and child protection, with updates in online safety now to be included as well [p.7, para.14].

Online abuse

The unforgiving nature of the online world means that safeguarding against online abuse features just as prominently in the new guidance as it does in KCSiE 2019. However, there are a number of proposed changes that help to provide further guidance and clarity around specific online harms.

On page 8 of the new KCSIE 2020 draft guidance, it is recommended that all staff should be aware of the role of technology in safeguarding and wellbeing issues and that online abuse can occur in tandem with face to face abuse [p.8, para.22].

The guidance also includes a new section on Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE), including how activity can be facilitated and/or take place online. [p.10, para.30]. It also expands on peer on peer abuse and initiation/hazing type violence and rituals, which may include an online element [p.12, para.36]

In Part 5, additional context is provided around child on child sexual violence and sexual harassment, including how they may occur both online and offline concurrently or switch/overlap from one to the other [p.377, para.83].

Are you meeting your statutory requirements in online safety?

At National Online Safety, our certified school membership programme has been designed in line with the latest statutory guidance from the DfE. It meets all the online safeguarding requirements as set out by KCSiE 2019 and is updated to reflect any new changes in policy.

To make sure your school is taking the most effective approach to online safety, click here to find out more.

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