DBS checks in education
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We may think of schools as churches of learning, communities in which children study their ABCs and prepare for the wider world.
But the reality is, they are much more than that.
Schools are legally and morally required to provide protection for youngsters — failure to do so could have devastating consequences, for both the children and the school.
A large part of that is making sure schools do not hire anyone who poses a risk to their children.
As a recent government report stated: “It is vital that schools and colleges create a culture of safe recruitment and, as part of that, adopt recruitment procedures that help deter, reject or identify people who might abuse children”.
Schools are required by Ofsted to do extensive background checks on potential hires by carrying out DBS checks.
Let’s take a look at what a DBS check is and why they are so important in education…
What is a DBS check?
If you’re unaware of the term, a Disclosure and Barring Service check, better known as a DBS check, is a way for employers to review the criminal record of someone applying for a job.
There are four types of checks available:
- A basic check, to highlight any unspent convictions and conditional cautions
- A standard check, which highlights spent and unspent convictions plus cautions, reprimands and final warnings
- An enhanced check, which includes the same information as a standard check plus any info held by local police considered relevant to the role
- An enhanced check with barred lists, which includes everything an enhanced check shows plus whether the applicant is barred from carrying out the role
DBS checks, although just one part of the recruitment process, are an essential tool in making sure schools hire the right people.
It’s also worth noting that many schools also regularly renew their DBS checks (every three years or so) to keep up their on-going commitment to protect the children in their care.
Which staff need a DBS check?
Most people hired to work in a school will need the most rigorous check, namely the enhanced DBS check with a confirmation they are not on the barred list to work with children.
That is because they will be engaging in — what is known as — regulated activity with children.
Regulated activity can be summarised as:
- Regularly teaching, training, instructing, caring for or supervising children in school or college
- Working (both paid or unpaid) regularly in a school or college where that work could mean an opportunity for contact with children
Anyone who engages in
Are there any exceptions?
While the vast majority of a school’s employees will need to undergo an enhanced check with a check of the barred list, there may be some staff that do not require this level of check
That’s because the employee’s work needs to be done “regularly” for it to be regulated, so infrequent visits may not demand a full check.
For example, while a school governor is required to have an enhanced DBS check, they only need to have a barred list check if they also engage in regulated activity with children.
What if a potential employee has convictions or cautions?
Just because a DBS check has revealed a potential hire has a criminal record, that doesn’t mean they are automatically barred from working in the school.
Minor convictions are often not considered serious enough to stop someone from getting a job with children. However, if a serious crime is uncovered, then that certainly could be a bar to entry.
The point of taking a DBS check is to make sure the school does not hire anyone who could pose a risk to children.
Applicants should declare all convictions and cautions to the school they are applying to.
Conclusion: The importance of DBS checks in education
As we have seen, schools are not just a building in which children come to learn the sciences or study another language, they are also a place in which youngsters should be protected from the risk.
A major part of ensuring a school is a safe haven is making sure the right people are hired, those with the best interests of the children in their hearts.
Safer Recruitment training course
We are sharing this content to support the update of our Safer Recruitment training course. The course has been updated to benefit from the latest available online learning technologies and to ensure all statistics, terminology and references to statutory guidance are up-to-date. We regularly amend and update our courses in this way to ensure they remain of the highest quality.
Anyone who has completed the previous version of Safer Recruitment will still be compliant.
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This course on safer recruitment looks at what you need to do to safeguard children, young people and vulnerable adults from unsuitable people who might apply to join your organisation.Read more
This four module course delivers four CPD hours and comprehensively covers:
- the four key stages of the recruitment process
- pre-recruitment planning and what must be in place before you advertise your post
- rejecting candidates and meeting the right ones
- obtaining the correct checks and references, including what's required from a DBS check
- post-recruitment activities, including observation and supervision.
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