Key safeguarding legislation for schools

Last updated: 20 Sep 2018 Topics: Schools

Each nation has its own laws and guidance that sets out the safeguarding responsibilities of schools.


In England, the Department for Education (DfE) provides the key guidance for schools and colleges Keeping children safe in education (DfE, 2018). 

It sets out the legal duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people under the age of 18 in schools and colleges.

Part 1 of the guidance should be read by all school staff.

Schools and colleges must also follow the guidance set out in Working together to safeguard children (DfE, 2018).

The safeguarding duty of schools and colleges is set out in section 175 of the Education Act 2002, the Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014, and the Non-Maintained Special Schools (England) Regulations 2015

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, the key guidance is Safeguarding and child protection in schools - a guide for schools (Department of Education, 2017).

Schools must also follow the guidance, Co-operating to safeguard children and young people in Northern Ireland (Department of Health, 2016).

Article 17 and 18 of the Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 2003 places a statutory duty on Boards of Governors (BoGs) to safeguard and promote the welfare of its pupils and to determine the measures to be taken at the school with a view to protecting pupils from abuse (whether at school or elsewhere).


In Scotland, schools must follow the National guidance for child protection in Scotland (Scottish Government, 2014).


In Wales, schools must follow Keeping learners safe: the role of local authorities, governing bodies and proprietors of independent schools under the Education Act 2002 (Welsh Government, 2012).

Arrangements for safeguarding children are set out in section 175 of the Education Act 2002