Safeguarding in the Ofsted Inspection Handbook

"All schools should have a culture of safeguarding"

"If schools do not have adequate processes in place, it is likely that safeguarding will be considered ineffective "

Para 343/358 - School inspection handbook, Ofsted

What does Ofsted say about inspecting safeguarding?

Three key Ofsted documents relate to safeguarding - this page focuses on the safeguarding elements of the Ofsted Inspection Handbook. You may also wish to refer to the Education Inspection Framework and Inspecting safeguarding in early years, education and skills (all about safeguarding so worth reading in its entirety).

Remember that Keeping Children Safe in Education and other statutory documents listed there (e.g. Working Together) should be your primary safeguarding guides, and although we make suggestions here, you should at all times aim for a culture of safeguarding, not follow a tickbox approach.

This page shows a selection (not exahustive - trying to pick out things that are less obvious and not already covered on our Inspection videos page) of safeguarding-related excerpts from the Ofsted Inspection Handbook. For each screenshot we have added highlights, reflective questions and resources to support your journey to keeping children safer. Simply scroll through the themes or click a heading here ➡️

Culture of safeguarding


  • What makes a culture of safeguarding?

  • What steps have you taken to develop a culture of safeguarding at your school?

  • How can you show it is embedded holistically as part of a whole school approach and not just a tickbox exercise?

  • How have you collected evidence of this?


Sexual harassment, abuse or violence


  • How can you be sure that ALL staff have an understanding of and know how to respond to online child sexual abuse - including adult offending and child on child abuse?

  • Are you confident that your school have a zero tolerance approach?

  • How have you updated staff on recent changes to guidance in this area - including the incorporation of the previous sexual violence and harassment guidance into KCSIE?

  • Do you provide ongoing opportunities to build staff confidence through training CPD?


Relationships, health and sex education (RSHE / RSE / PSHE)


  • What steps have you taken to ensure staff are confident in delivering statutory RSHE in line with DfE guidance?

  • How have you captured pupil voice and responded to concerns to ensure pupils:

  • Feel safe and listened to?

  • Have an understanding of the Equalities Act and protected characteristics?

  • Are aware of reporting channels, both at school and beyond?

  • Can you evidence that your governor(s) are strategically challenging safeguarding across the school?


Behaviour and attitudes


  • What steps have you taken to ensure staff are confident to challenge child on child abuse and not dismiss discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment as banter?

  • How is this reflected in your policies? Can you show that policy reflects (and informs) practice?

  • Can you demonstrate that all pupils have signed an updated AUP? ...and staff, volunteers, governors?

  • Are your pupils confident that inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated - is this message consistent across the curriculum and in practice?




  • Do DSL, SEND and curriculum teams meet to discuss the particular vulnerabilities of pupils with SEND, both in general and for the specifics of learners in your school?

  • How does safeguarding provision within the curriculum (most likely RSHE) ensure it meets the specific needs of learners with SEND?

  • Are learners with SEND in your school more trusting of strangers or otherwise more suceptible to grooming? If so, what mitigations can you put in place?

  • Are parents involved in discussing safeguarding issues? Equally, do pupils with SEND have routes other than via parents to disclose which are accessible to them?


Personal development


  • What steps have you taken to ensure pupils understand British values and that these are fostered in your school and reflected in classroom practice and beyond?

  • Have you asked your local authority for the most current counter-terrorism local profile (CTLP) to help assess the risk within your local area of children being drawn into terrorism or supporting for extremist ideas?

  • Are these risks addressed in your curriculum (and policies, and are they addressed in a similar way?) in an age-appropriate way?

  • Do you have procedures in place to assess pupil’s understanding of risk, both online and offline, as well as where to get support? Are they reviewed regularly?

  • What steps have you taken to promote critical thinking online and encourage pupil dialogue and understanding around extremist behaviour and techniques used for persuasion?




  • Especially in the light of KCSIE 2022, are you offering governors safeguarding training (and checking they attend) that is strategic and helps them to carry out their roles?

  • Have they all read KCSIE 2022 and are they aware of the updates?

  • Have governors read the relevant sections of the Governance Handbook that relate to safeguarding?

  • Is safeguarding addressed at all governor committee meetings?

  • Does your safeguarding governor meet regularly with the DSL and have more training to enable the role and related conversations?


Grade descriptors - from outstanding to inadequate

Finally, for a helpful overview of over the indicators of an outstanding, good, RI or inadequate school when it comes to safeguarding, it would be helpful to scroll through the grade descriptors for all four ratings within the Handbook to see the characteristics which you would want to embody or avoid. Self-review questions for these would be as simple as "Which describes us best?" and "Where is the evidence to demonstrate this?"

Other mentions of safeguarding

There are many other mentions of safeguarding (131) in the handbook that we have not covered here - as we tried to focus on less well-known areas. KCSIE should of course be your priority in terms of managing safeguarding, but you may wish to search all safeguarding mentions within the Inspection Handbook yourself to see what jumps out to you, whether related to the information inspectors want to see on the day before starting, regarding the SCR, systems in place, child protection referral information and much more.

Meanwhile, why not return to the video page to see clips of a school's experience of the safeguarding elements of a recent Ofsted inspection or give us some feedback on this page.