National Safeguarding Standards

The Church of England has been in the process of developing a set of National Safeguarding Standards and accompanying Quality Assurance Framework, since 2020.

The approved version of the National Safeguarding Standards can be downloaded here.

The Standards and Quality Assurance Framework are essential for the Church to understand the quality and, most importantly, the impact of its safeguarding activity. In addition, the Standards provide a simple construct which integrates the complexity of all safeguarding activity in the Church. All such activities, at all levels across the Church, will relate to at least one Standard. Thus, the Standards provide a means of connecting and integrating what might otherwise be experienced as disconnected activities and also enable the Church to easily communicate its commitment to safeguarding.

The Five Standards are:

  1. Culture, Leadership and Capacity: Church bodies have safe and healthy cultures, effective leadership, resourcing and scrutiny arrangements necessary to deliver high-quality safeguarding practices and outcomes.
  2. Prevention: Church bodies have in place a planned range of measures which together are effective in preventing abuse in their context.
  3. Recognising, Assessing and Managing Risk: Risk assessments, safety plans and associated processes are of a high quality and result in positive outcomes. The assessment and management of risk is underpinned by effective partnership working.
  4. Victims and Survivors: Victims and survivors experience the timeliness and quality of Church bodies' responses to disclosures, and their subsequent support, as positively meeting their needs, including their search for justice and helping their healing process.
  5. Learning, Supervision and Support: All those engaged in safeguarding-related activity in Church bodies receive the type and level of learning, professional development, support and supervision necessary to respond to safeguarding situations, victims and survivors, and respondents, effectively.

Each Standard contains:

  • A statement of the Standard itself.
  • An explanation of why it is important.
  • A series of 'What Good Looks Like' Indicators - these are detailed criteria that show how well a Standard is being achieved.
  • Details of relevant House of Bishops' Guidance and Code, training, resources and tools that can be used to help gather data relevant to the indicators. These are important as they will equip Church bodies with the means to undertake quality assurance work locally, but also in a way that is consistent across other bodies. 

It is not expected that every Church body will be able to meet every indicator overnight. The Standards set out the direction of travel and will enable Church bodies to identify both their strengths and areas for development, which will in turn inform their strategic planning in respect of safeguarding.

The Development of the Standards

The National Safeguarding Standards and Quality Assurance Framework was originally proposed in February 2020. This aimed to create a mechanism for answering the question "How good is our safeguarding activity?".

A series of workshops with dioceses, cathedrals, victims and survivors and parishes led to the creation of the "What Good Looks Like" Indicators that sit within each Standard. This list was then refined, with huge thanks to our Pathfinder dioceses and cathedrals, and the Cathedral Safeguarding Network. 

This refined version of the Standards was then put to a wide-reaching consultation, again seeking the views of dioceses, cathedrals, victims and survivors and parishes. Responses to the Standards were overwhelmingly positive and also helped to develop and tweak them into the structure that they are in presently. If you would like to see the 'National Safeguarding Standards Consultation Report', you can download that here.

The current version of the National Safeguarding Standards and Quality Assurance Framework were approved by the National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG) in July 2023.

'Our Church'

Following the consultation on the National Safeguarding Standards and Quality Assurance Framework in May, a commitment was made to “add a clear methodology to outline what is expected for each context (e.g., dioceses, cathedrals, parishes). This would help the reading of the Standards to be less overwhelming and to give a clearer outline as to how each of the ‘What Good Looks Like’ Indicators are relevant.

‘Our Church’ is a series of documents that highlight what is relevant for each individual context. It is currently broken down into 'Our Parish', 'Our Cathedral', and 'Our Diocese'. Within each of these, the relevant indicators have been tweaked to follow on from a sentence that begins with “Our [Insert Context Here]…”. For example, in the over-arching Standards Document, we see "2.3. A range of good materials and methods are used to promote safeguarding that are suitable for all audiences (e.g., children and young people)”, while in the ‘Our Parish’ document, we see “[Our Parish] uses a range of good materials and methods to promote safeguarding to all audiences (e.g., children and young people)”. The reasoning for this was to ensure that each indicator felt as clear and relatable as possible.

Some of the materials are in the final development stage and should be ready very soon.

Current resources and tools

Some of the tools below are still being tested, so may slightly change between now and January 2024. 

If you have any questions or feedback about the tools and resources or would like to share your own resources and tools, please contact [email protected].

Standards Self-Audit Tools

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are we doing this?
How are the Standards and Quality Assurance Framework used?
How will these align with the new independent audits?
What if we are not meeting all of the 'What Good Looks Like' indicators?
Can I use my own tools and/or resources to measure the Standards?
How does this work link with the parish Safeguarding Dashboards?

Contact us

If you would like to contact us with comments on the Standards, requests for assistance in using or developing resources and tools, or to share resources or tools of your own, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected].