What schools and colleges in England need to do and resources to support you
The statutory guidance Keeping children safe in education 2021 includes new guidance for schools and colleges in England on dealing with low-level concerns about the behaviour of teachers, other staff, volunteers and contractors (Department for Education (DfE), 2021).
We’ve summarised what the guidance says schools and colleges need to have in place.
What is a low-level concern?
A low-level concern is any concern that an adult has acted in a way that:
- is inconsistent with the staff code of conduct, including inappropriate conduct outside of work
- doesn’t meet the threshold of harm or is not considered serious enough for the school or college to refer to the local authority.
Low-level concerns are part of a spectrum of behaviour. This includes:
- inadvertent or thoughtless behaviour
- behaviour that might be considered inappropriate depending on the circumstances
- behaviour which is intended to enable abuse.
Examples of such behaviour could include:
- being over friendly with children
- having favourites
- adults taking photographs of children on their mobile phone
- engaging with a child on a one-to-one basis in a secluded area or behind a closed door
- using inappropriate sexualised, intimidating or offensive language.
Why do schools need to respond to low-level concerns?
Having clear procedures for responding to low-level concerns is part of creating a school culture of openness and trust. It helps ensure that adults consistently model the school’s values and helps keep children safe. It will also protect adults working in school from potential false allegations or misunderstandings.
What do schools and colleges need to do?
Schools should have a low-level concerns policy and procedures. These should be part of your school’s overall safeguarding and child protection policies and procedures. It should be closely linked to the code of conduct for staff and volunteers.
There should be clear processes in place for sharing and responding to any concerns about an adult’s behaviour, no matter how small. A concern can still be significant even if it does not meet the threshold of harm.
Schools should ensure adults understand:
- what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate behaviour
- what a low-level concern is
- the importance of sharing low-level concerns
- how to report any concerns
- the process for recording, reviewing and responding to concerns.
Information and resources to support you
Behaviour codes for staff and volunteers
Download example codes of conduct for staff, volunteers, other adults, children and young people and find out more about what how to manage inappropriate behaviour.
Appropriate online behaviour for adults working with children
Learn more about creating a safe environment online.
Appropriate behaviour for people working on their own with children
Find out what safeguarding measures you need to consider when working on your own with children whether you are a contractor, lone worker or self-employed.
Managing allegations against someone who works or volunteers with children
Best practice for managing allegations of abuse against someone who works or volunteers with children.
Keeping children safe in education (KCSIE) 2021: summary of changes
Read our briefing outlining the latest changes to the guidance, including responding to low-level concerns and allegations.