Keeping children safe in education 2023 updated legislation

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Jordie Black
Updated on:

Whether you’re a school, early years care provider, nursery or other entity involved in the care of children,, keeping them safe should be one of, if not your top priority. 

As a HR function, it's important to adhere to the latest government guidelines and safeguarding policies to ensure the welfare and protection of children in your care.

Not only does this protect the children, but it also helps to build a trusting relationship between the caregivers and the parents, ensuring a safe and nurturing environment for the child's development and learning. Compliance with these regulations is also critical to maintaining your institution's reputation and operational licence.

In this post, we’ll explore:

  • What legislation relevant to the care of children you need to be aware of
  • How to ensure your entire team stays compliant
  • Why technology can aid in the streamlining and automation of effective record keeping
  • How to implement a robust screening process to ensure you know who you’re hiring

The requirement for educational institutions in the UK to maintain a Single Central Record (SCR) arises from the "Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006" and the subsequent amendments and guidance provided by the "Keeping Children Safe in Education" (KCSIE) statutory guidance. These pieces of legislation and guidance set out the legal framework and responsibilities for educational institutions to ensure they safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

Key legislation and guidance:

Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006: This Act was introduced to restrict access to children and vulnerable adults for individuals who might pose a risk, by establishing a vetting system for those working with these groups.

Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE): This is statutory guidance from the Department for Education (DfE) that schools and colleges must follow. It details the processes for managing the safeguarding responsibilities of educational institutions, including the requirement to maintain an up-to-date SCR. The guidance is updated regularly to reflect current laws and best practices in safeguarding.

These documents detail the checks required for different categories of staff and the responsibility of educational institutions to ensure these checks are conducted and recorded appropriately. Compliance with these regulations is inspected by Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills) in England, with equivalent bodies in other UK nations performing similar roles.

It is essential for educational institutions to be familiar with the most current version of the "Keeping Children Safe in Education" guidance, as it outlines the comprehensive requirements for the SCR, including the types of checks to be recorded and the process for conducting them.

A single central record (SCR) is a key document that educational institutions must maintain. It is essentially a detailed record that provides an overview of the vetting checks carried out when hiring staff, including teachers, support staff, and any other individuals who may have contact with children. This record is an important part of an institution's commitment to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, ensuring that all necessary background checks have been completed before an individual is employed.

What should be included in a single central record?

The SCR should include details such as:

  • Identity checks
  • Barred list checks
  • Enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks
  • Prohibition from teaching checks
  • Checks on the right to work in the UK
  • Additional checks for staff who have lived or worked outside the UK
  • Qualification checks for teachers
  • References
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Why is the single central record important?

Safeguarding: The primary importance of the SCR is to ensure the safety and welfare of students by preventing unsuitable individuals from working with children.

Compliance: Maintaining an SCR helps institutions comply with legal and regulatory requirements. It serves as evidence during inspections that the institution has conducted all necessary checks on staff.

Efficiency: Having a centralised record streamlines the process of managing and updating staff records, making it easier to review and audit compliance with safeguarding policies.

Transparency: It provides a transparent system for the institution to demonstrate its commitment to safeguarding, both to inspectors and to the wider school community.

How to implement and maintain a single central record

Implementing and maintaining a single central record (SCR) is a significant step in safeguarding the welfare of children within educational and care settings. Here's how to expand on the initial points for a more detailed approach:

Establish clear guidelines

Develop comprehensive guidelines that outline the procedures for creating, maintaining, and periodically reviewing the SCR. These guidelines should be accessible to all relevant staff members and include specifics on the types of information to be recorded, such as staff qualifications, identity checks, and DBS checks.

Include a clear timetable for review and update cycles, ensuring the SCR remains current with staff changes and new regulatory requirements.

Train your team

Organise regular training sessions for your HR team and other staff members involved in child care or education. These sessions should highlight the importance of the SCR, focusing on its role in safeguarding children and the legal obligations of the institution.

Provide practical training on how to accurately update and manage the SCR, including how to record new information and how to carry out checks on existing entries.

Conduct regular audits

Implement a schedule for regular audits of the SCR to ensure it accurately reflects the current staff situation and complies with all relevant regulations. These audits can help identify any gaps in compliance or areas for improvement.

Audits should be carried out by individuals with an understanding of safeguarding policies and regulations, potentially including external auditors for an unbiased perspective.

Leverage technology

Consider adopting digital platforms or databases specifically designed for managing SCRs. These technologies can streamline the process of updating and accessing records, reduce the risk of human error, and provide secure storage for sensitive information.

Digital solutions often come with features that alert administrators to upcoming deadlines for document renewals or regulatory changes, helping institutions stay compliant with minimal effort.

Highlighting the importance of SCR

Introducing and maintaining an SCR is not just about regulatory compliance; it's about actively contributing to the safety and well-being of children. By ensuring that all staff members are appropriately vetted and qualified, institutions demonstrate their commitment to creating a secure and supportive environment for children to learn and grow.

A well-maintained SCR showcases to parents, regulatory bodies, and the wider community that the institution prioritises child welfare and adheres to the highest standards of recruitment and safeguarding practices. This commitment can enhance the institution's reputation and parents' trust.


Q: What checks are required for the SCR?

A: The SCR must include identity checks, barred list checks, enhanced DBS checks, prohibition from teaching checks, checks on the right to work in the UK, further checks on individuals who have lived or worked outside the UK, and qualification checks for teachers.

Q: How often should the SCR be updated?

A: The SCR should be updated whenever new staff are hired or when existing staff undergo new checks. It's also good practice to regularly review the SCR to ensure compliance with current safeguarding legislation, ideally at least annually.

Q: Who has access to the SCR?

A: Access to the SCR should be limited to those within the institution who have a direct responsibility for safeguarding and HR. During inspections, Ofsted inspectors or equivalent bodies will review the SCR to assess compliance with safeguarding requirements.

Exploring further resources

For a deeper understanding and compliance with SCR requirements, here are some valuable resources:

Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE): This statutory guidance from the Department for Education is crucial for all educational institutions in England. It provides detailed requirements for the SCR and safeguarding practices. View KCSIE Guidance.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS): The DBS offers guidance on the types of checks required for different roles within education. Visit DBS.

Safeguarding Training Centre by The Key: Offers a range of resources, including webinars and articles on effective SCR management and compliance. Explore The Key's Resources.

NSPCC Learning: Provides a wealth of information on safeguarding children in educational settings, including how to maintain an effective SCR. NSPCC Learning.

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