National Safeguarding Standards

A message from Bishop Dagmar, Bishop of Huntingdon and Acting Bishop of Ely

The National Safeguarding Standards are an important additional resource to all local church leaders to help identify and continuously improve on all aspects of our safeguarding work: not as paper exercises with which we need to comply but rather positively, to help us appreciate and affirm what good safeguarding practice looks like as well as making it easier for us to identify areas where further development is necessary.

Therefore, please make sure each Parochial Church Council (PCC), whose members are the Trustees responsible for delivering good standards of safeguarding, is enabled to engage with the materials, and that local church leaders use the Standards to inform their safeguarding planning work.

The Diocesan Safeguarding team also remains available to help support you and answer any questions you may have about making use of these Standards locally.

Thank you for all you do, and may God bless you as we strive to develop further welcoming and life-affirming communities in which we “speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all who are vulnerable” (Proverbs 31:8) and care for one another.


What are the National Safeguarding Standards?

  • The Church of England has been in the process of developing a set of National Safeguarding Standards and an accompanying Quality Assurance Framework since 2020. The aim was to create a mechanism for answering the question "How good is our safeguarding activity?"
  • The National Safeguarding Standards and Quality Assurance Framework were approved by the National Safeguarding Steering Group (NSSG) in July 2023 and first published on 17 October 2023.
  • The Standards and the Quality Assurance Framework will be essential to understand the quality and impact of our safeguarding activities. They also provide a framework that integrates the complexity of all safeguarding activity in the Church.
  • All safeguarding activities will relate to at least one Standard. Therefore, the Standards provide a means of connecting and integrating what might otherwise be disconnected activities. This will help us all to easily communicate our commitment to safeguarding.
  • The Standards do not reinvent what parishes are doing already, they simply build on the core functions already set out in the House of Bishops Policies and Practice Guidance.

What are the Five Standards?

  • 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.
  • Prevention: Church bodies have in place a planned range of measures which together are effective in preventing abuse in their context.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 the following elements.

  • 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.

Helping you work with the Standards through 'Our Church'

  • A commitment has been made to provide a clear methodology to outline what is expected from all church bodies with regards to the Standards. (e.g. how parishes might use and apply the Standards).
  • It is hoped this will help those reading the Standards to have a clearer outline of how each of the ‘What Good Looks Like’ Indicators are relevant to their local context.
  • ‘Our Church’ was therefore produced to help achieve this. It 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'.
  • 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)”

In the ‘Our Parish’ document, this is presented as

“[Our Parish] uses a range of good materials and methods to promote safeguarding to all audiences (e.g., children and young people)”.

  • The reason for this was to ensure that each indicator felt as clear and relatable as possible to the audience using them.
  • The ‘Our Church’ materials can be found on the Church of England website here, with more material also being added over time.

What does this mean for me and my church?

  • Parishes are already required to follow House of Bishops Policy Practice Guidance, so these Standards do not bring in any new requirements to follow.
  • The House of Bishops Policy Practice Guidance leads to the actions that Parishes need to take (such as Risk Assessments and Safer Recruitment etc.), these Standards simply provide the tools to measure the safeguarding activity.
  • The Safeguarding Standards are themselves not the legal requirement, that is delivered through the House of Bishops Policy Practice Guidance. The Standards are a way of helping us to understand how well our actions and practices are meeting the House of Bishops Policy Practice Guidance. This means in most cases you will already be meeting the Standards.
  • The Standards are there to help us see what we are doing well already and what we need to work on.

What should you do next?

  • We would suggest the immediate next steps you take as a church leadership team include the following actions.
  • Following on from this, there are a number of tools available on the National Church of England website you may consider appropriate to your local needs as a consequence of these first actions.

Step One

  • Please start by reading the materials produced introducing and explaining the Standards.  Familiarise yourself with what has been shared on the National Church of England website (clicking here).
  • Don’t forgot to also read what is shared in the “Current resources and tools” and “Frequently asked questions” sections, as these areas provide the further detailed information around what your church can start to do to track its work.

Step Two

  • The National Safeguarding Team is entering a partnership with the parish Safeguarding Dashboard. This will enable the Dashboard to become fully integrated with the Standards, making it easier for parishes to explore them.
  • If your parish is not already using the Safeguarding Dashboard, you are strongly encouraged to do so.
  • If you’re not already using the Safeguarding Dashboard but wish to use it for your church safeguarding, please contact the Diocesan Safeguarding Team.

Step Three

  • With your PCC, undertake a Quality Assurance Self-Audit using the Quality Assessment Self-Audit Tool (an MS Excel file) on the Church of England website here.
  • This is located in the "Standards Self-Audit Tools" section, where there are versions appropriate to your setting, most users should use the "Parish Version".
  • We recommend adding a column into the table so you can make a record of any particular observations you had that led you to provide the score you did. 
  • Use the outcome of the audit to asses where you might wish to make improvements.

Further Resources

As touched on earlier, there are a number of tools being developed by the National Safeguarding Team to help your church, these currently include the following elements, which can accessed on the Church of England website here.

Frequently Asked Questions

The National Church of England team has also answered some of the common questions around the Standards, which include the following questions, which can also be found on the Church of England website here.

Contact the Diocese of Ely Safeguarding Team


Page last updated: Friday 8th March 2024 7:17 AM
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