Safeguarding in Schools

Schools and colleges have a legal duty to safeguard the children enrolled in their institution. This is a very serious responsibility but one which, sadly, schools do not always live up to.

Please note: we are unfortunately unable to advise clients on a legal aid basis. If you are looking for legal aid, or for general guidance on what actions you can take to protect you or your child’s education rights, you can refer to the Education section of the Citizens Advice website.

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Where a child has been harmed or put at risk due to school safeguarding failures, parents should take action to ensure their child is kept safe from further harm, get the support their child needs for the future and prevent other children being affected in the same way.

Raising issues with a school can be daunting, so it helps to have expert advice and strong practical support. At IBB Law, our educational law specialists are experienced in working with parents and students to raise concerns about safeguarding in schools.

We can advise you on whether a school has likely failed in its safeguarding role, assist you with raising an issue with your child’s school and support you every step of the way towards achieving a positive resolution.

Our education law practice benefits from the expertise of consultant Salima Mawji, who is recognised as one of the country’s leading experts in this highly specialised area of law.

We have helped countless students and parents with school safeguarding concerns, including in relation to matters such as:

We offer a free initial phone consultation with our team to discuss your needs and see how we can help. We then charge for our services on a fixed fee basis, providing certainty over the costs involved. For cases involving child sexual abuse, we are able to offer the popular “no win, no fee” agreement, so you do not have to worry about paying legal costs.

Looking for quick answers about safeguarding in schools? Take a look at our safeguarding in schools FAQs.

For experienced specialist legal help with a concern around school safeguarding, please contact our education law consultant Salima Mawji on 01895 207247 or email salima.mawji@ibblaw.co.uk. For childhood sexual abuse inquires please contact our specialist Partner, Malcolm Underhill on 01895 207972 or malcolm.underhill@ibblaw.co.uk.

Types of school safeguarding issues our education law experts can assist with

Protecting children from bullying is part of a school’s safeguarding responsibility, especially where there is reason to believe a child is suffering or may suffer serious harm. This includes bullying in school and outside school or online.

If you believe your child’s school has not done enough to protect them from bullying, then our school safeguarding solicitors can advise you on your options and help you take action.

Sadly, students can sometimes suffer vary serious abuse at the hands of other students, including violence and sexual assault. This can cause very significant harm, so schools and colleges have a responsibility as part of their safeguarding role to prevent such abuse and take appropriate action where there is reason to believe peer-on-peer abuse has occurred.

Where your child has suffered abuse from a fellow student or students and you believe their educational institution did not do enough to protect them, our experts can step in to help you raise your concerns.

Under the government’s Prevent scheme, schools have a duty to protect students against the risk of being targeted by extremist groups and radicalised. This involves identifying students who are vulnerable to radicalisation or who may have been radicalised and taking steps to protect them.

If your child’s school have failed in their role or if you feel your child has been unfairly targeted by the Prevent scheme due to issues such as discrimination, then it is important to take action. Our team can talk through your situation with you, give you clear advice on whether we think you have grounds for a complaint and work with you to take the right steps for your child.

Where an individual or group have coerced, manipulated or deceived someone under the age of 18 into sexual activity, this is child sexual exploitation. Schools and colleges are required to be vigilant for the risk of child sexual exploitation as part of their safeguarding role.

Should you have a concern that your child has been sexually exploited and you believe their school bears some responsibility due to safeguarding failures, our team are here to help.

If someone creates an emotional connection with a child with the aim of gaining their trust so they can be sexually abused or otherwise exploited, this is known as child grooming. This can happen in person or online and the perpetrator could be a teacher, other member of school staff, fellow student or anyone else of any age or gender. They might be a stranger of someone the child already knows.

Where you have a concern that your child might have been the groomed and you feel their school or college failed to prevent this, we can help. We know how distressing and sensitive these issues can be, so we can provide confidential advice and support to help you decide what to do next and empower you to take action.

Common questions about safeguarding in schools

Schools and colleges have a legal duty to safeguarding and promote the welfare of their students as set out in the government’s ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ statutory guidance.

Aspects of this duty include:

  • Protecting children from maltreatment
  • Preventing any impairment of children’s health or development
  • Making sure children are growing up in circumstances that give them safe and effective care at home, in school and in the community
  • Enabling children to achieve the best outcomes for their lives

A school is more than just a place where children are educated – it is where they grow and develop into adults. Any harm to a child’s physical or emotional wellbeing can seriously affect them, both in the short term and in later life. Proper safeguarding in schools is, therefore, critical to ensure children are able to achieve the best possible outcomes for their lives.

Safeguarding and child protection in schools are closely linked but describe different parts of the process of looking after children’s wellbeing.

Safeguarding generally refers to the policies and practices a school has in place to protect and promote children’s safety and wellbeing. Child protection is part of safeguarding and refers to activity taken to protect specific children who are suffering significant harm or at risk of suffering such harm.

Schools and colleges are required to have appropriate processes in place across a number of areas in relation to safeguarding, including:

Staff recruitment – Staff must provide a Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) Check to show that there is no evidence that they are not safe to work with children. All new staff must provide a DBS check and most schools and colleges require staff to have a new DBS check every 3-5 years.

Staff safeguarding training – New staff must have safeguarding training and existing staff must regularly redo this training, usually every 3 years. If statutory guidance changes, all staff must have appropriate training to notify them of these changes and any new requirements.

School security – Schools and colleges must have proper security procedures and systems such as fencing and gates to stop unauthorised people entering school grounds, CCTV and child collection policies. Security measures must also be in place for school computer systems to prevent unauthorised access and any risk to confidential information held.

Student attendance monitoring – Students’ attendance must be monitored and appropriate action taken if a student misses an excessive amount of school time. Details of any ‘students missing from education’ must be communicated promptly to the relevant local authority.

Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) – Every school and college must have a Designated Safeguarding Lead responsible for ensuring safeguarding policies are followed. The role of a DSL includes:

  • Drawing up safeguarding policies
  • Enforcing safeguarding policies
  • Acting as the first point-of-call for staff with safeguarding concerns
  • Recognising any safeguarding issues that arise
  • Working with families to address potential safeguarding issues
  • Making appropriate referrals to social services

Teachers are required to have safeguarding training so they can spot potential safeguarding issues. They have a legal duty to report any such issues or safeguarding concerns they have to the school’s Designated Safeguarding Lead.

Teachers are on the frontline when it comes to safeguarding, so any errors or negligence on their part can have very serious consequences for children at risk of harm.

If you have a concern or complaint and safeguarding in your child’s school or college, you will need to follow the school’s complaints procedure.


In the first instance, you would normally need to raise your concerns with the school’s Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL). If you are unhappy with their response, you may need to refer the matter to the school’s governing body.

If you feel your concerns have not been appropriately addressed, you may need to refer the matter to Ofsted, which has ultimately responsibility for monitoring safeguarding in schools.

In some cases, there may also be the potential for a compensation claim against a school that has failed in its safeguarding roles. Our claims team has extensive experience in this area, having acting for a number of clients in claims related to safeguarding generally,  child abuse in schools and child abuse in boarding schools.

Our school safeguarding legal advice fees

We offer a brief free initial phone consultation with our experts. If we believe we can help, we will then carry out a more in-depth fixed fee consultation.

Should you wish to proceed, we will provide a realistic cost estimate for dealing with your matter. Any billable work carried out will always be agreed with you in advance, giving you complete certainty and transparency over the costs involved.

The exact cost of our services will depend on the nature of your problem, including the amount of time and level of expertise needed to support you effectively. We will be happy to discuss this with you when you contact our team.

For childhood sexual abuse inquires please contact our specialist Partner Malcolm Underhill on 01895 207972 or malcolm.underhill@ibblaw.co.uk.

Malcolm and his team are frequently able to offer the popular “no win, no fee” agreement, so that you do not have to worry about paying any legal costs to start a claim.

Making a child abuse compensation claim can enable your child to obtain access to specialist private treatment.

For more information on our education law pricing, please get in touch.

Get clear legal advice and support for school safeguarding concerns

The information given here is intended for general information purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice.

For experienced specialist legal help with a concern around school safeguarding, please contact our education law consultant Salima Mawji on 01895 207247 or email salima.mawji@ibblaw.co.uk.






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