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04/05/2010
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All schools and colleges

Is Ofsted asking for more than the legal requirements?

Are Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks required for all visitors or volunteers to schools and colleges?

Is written confirmation required that all recruitment and vetting checks have been carried out on individuals who come in to a college or school from an outside agency?

Does the new Vetting and Barring Scheme include governors with regard to CRB clearance?

I run a childcare course for students aged 16–18 who have regular work placements in schools and nurseries as part of the course. I apply for Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks for all the students at the start of the course; some of the work placement providers allow the students to start their placement before the checks are completed, but others do not. Who is right?

Who should be included on the single central register?

Should schools and colleges retain documents that are evidence of identity? Previous advice indicated that schools and colleges should destroy this information.

Do schools and colleges have to include the unique reference numbers for staff appointed before 2007?

CRB checks only came into being in March 2002 – is there a need to undertake CRB checks for staff employed before March 2002, if they have not changed jobs and there are no concerns?

Is there still a need for a three-year rolling programme of CRB checks?

Who can enter the information on the single central register?

Does the single central register record the date when the CRB or List 99* check was carried out and who carried out check? Is it necessary to also record the date when the CRB disclosure certificate was evidenced at the school?

Whose name should appear as the person who carried out the check?

What will be the requirements to satisfy Ofsted inspections (from October 2010) that an individual has been checked to ensure that they are registered with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA)? Will it be enough to note the details of ISA registration number and the date registered on the single central register?

How detailed should the record of qualifications be? Do we now have to record the actual qualification held – Certificate in Education and so on? If so, do we have to go back and enter this information for all existing staff members?

What physical evidence do teachers need to provide to prove they that they are qualified to teach – for example, do they need to produce their original certificates or diplomas?

Will a school be judged inadequate because of minor administrative errors on its single central register?

Will a school be judged inadequate if there is a footpath running through a playing field used by pupils?

Will a school be judged inadequate because its perimeter fence has holes or is too low?

Will a school be judged inadequate because inspectors were offered coffee before their identities were checked?

Will a school be judged inadequate if it allows parents to drop off and collect nursery children from their classrooms?

Do sixth form students employed in their own school have to be CRB checked?

Do governors in sixth form or further education colleges have to be CRB checked before they can start work?

 

 

Legal requirements

Q. Is Ofsted asking for more than the legal requirements?

A. No, Ofsted is not asking for more than the law requires or statutory guidance strongly recommends. Ofsted inspects to the legislation and government guidance, and is not asking for anything more.

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Checks for visitors

Q. Are Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks required for all visitors or volunteers to schools and colleges?

  • Visitors Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks are not required for visitors. Visitors do not have unsupervised access to children.
  • Volunteers Checks are required for those who have regular and unsupervised access to children and young people.

However, schools and colleges have been advised by CRB and in Safeguarding children and safer recruitment in education that a robust risk assessment should take place first. Schools and colleges should be able to provide such risk assessments and be able to explain the rationale for those who have been checked and those who have not. The key test is ‘frequent’ or ‘intensive’ contact with learners. The definition of ‘frequent’ and ‘intensive’ was clarified in December 2009 by Sir Roger Singleton and the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families – see the Department for Children, Schools and Families news story.

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Checking visiting staff

Q. Is written confirmation required that all recruitment and vetting checks have been carried out on individuals who come in to a college or school from an outside agency?

A. Yes, but the requirement depends on the type of staff involved.

Visiting staff

Visiting staff who do not have unsupervised access to children and young people – such as initial teacher education mentors and tutors – do not require a CRB check. The normal risk assessment that applies to all visitors should be quite sufficient.

Visiting staff who do have unsupervised access to children and young people – such as educational psychologists, social workers, supply teachers, trainee teachers, nurses, sports coaches, MOD personnel and inspectors – should be CRB checked by their 'providing' organisation: the supply agency, the university, primary care trust, local authority and so on.

It is sufficient, for schools and colleges to seek written confirmation that appropriate checks, including CRB checks have been carried out and by whom – most commonly the relevant human resources department (it is not necessary to specify a named individual) – and to confirm the identify of these visitors. It is not necessary (or practicable) to require a date for such checks unless the providing organisation supplies a list of named individual supply staff.

Contracted staff

Contracted staff that come into regular contact with children and young people – such as cleaning, caretaking and kitchen staff – should be included on the single central register (the next set of FAQs covers the single central register); as in the case of agency supply staff, written assurances from the providing organisation – for example, the local authority – or copies of contracts referring to staff who have access to children are sufficient proof that the relevant checks have been undertaken. There is no need for schools and colleges to repeat these checks.

This requirement is usually included in the contract that schools, colleges and/or local authorities will have set up. Therefore a letter or copy of a contract that states that an agency or contractor has carried out all appropriate checks, including CRB checks, is sufficient.

Some organisations have taken a similar approach to the one Ofsted uses for its own staff; a link to their website where they explain their position regarding CRB and employment checks. This is perfectly adequate. In these circumstances, it is not reasonable or practicable to expect dates or names of those who did the checking. To see an example on the Ofsted website, please visit:

www.ofsted.gov.uk/Ofsted-home/About-us/Our-partners

Part-time staff

Part-time staff may use the same CRB check for two or more posts as long as they are at a similar level and the school or college has satisfied itself about their veracity and appropriateness. This might include, for example, a teacher employed part time for planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) or supply cover in one school and as a classroom assistant in another.

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Q. Does the new Vetting and Barring Scheme include governors with regard to CRB clearance?

A. From November 2010, under the Vetting and Barring Scheme (arising out of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006), new governors will have to be registered with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) before they take up their posts. However, the current position is that unless governors have significant direct access with learners – usually those who are also employed in some regular capacity that is voluntary or otherwise – they will not have to have a CRB check. It is up to the school/college itself to risk assess the situation and decide if/how it wants to take a check forward. However, some schools/colleges decide to carry out CRB checks as good practice, but this is not a current requirement.

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Student work placements

Q. I run a childcare course for students aged 16-18 who have regular work placements in schools and nurseries as part of the course. I apply for CRB checks for all the students at the start of the course; some of the work placement providers allow the students to start their placement before the checks are completed, but others do not. Who is right?

A. This depends on how the students are working while on placement.

As long as the placement provider – for example a school or nursery – can ensure that the students are supervised at all times, it is permissible for them to start their placements pending the completion of the CRB check. However, if the school or nursery cannot provide this level of supervision, they are entitled to ask for the completed CRB check before the placement starts.

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The single central register

There is key information about the single central register in Safeguarding children and safer recruitment in education.

Q. Who should be included on the single central register?

A. Safeguarding children and safer recruitment in education makes it clear in paragraphs 4.49 and 4.50 which staff schools and colleges should list on the single central register.

Below is a summary of the two paragraphs.

Schools and further education colleges [but no other education or training providers] must keep and maintain a single central register of recruitment and vetting checks on the following people:

  • all staff who are employed to work at the school, and those staff in further education colleges providing education
  • all staff who are employed as supply staff to the school or as supply staff providing education to the further education college, whether employed directly by the school, further education college or local authority or through an agency [checks required in respect of agency staff are described in the 'Is written confirmation required...' FAQ above]
  • all others who have been chosen by the school or further education college to work in regular contact with children; this will cover volunteers, governors who also work as volunteers within the school or further education college
  • people brought into the school or further education college to provide additional teaching or instruction for pupils but who are not staff members; for example, a specialist sports coach or artist.

It does not include peripatetic staff supplied by the local authority who are entered as recommended in the local authority’s single central register.

For all visitors not included on the single central register, schools and colleges should require them to sign in. Where unsupervised access to children is likely – for example, visiting local authority staff – schools and colleges should check their proof of identity.

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Q. Should schools and colleges retain documents that are evidence of identity? Previous advice indicated that schools and colleges should destroy this information.

A. This advice is correct.

Schools and colleges do not have to retain documents that are evidence of identity, once these documents have been verified and the single central register includes the name of the person who did so.

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Q. Do schools and colleges have to include the unique reference numbers for staff appointed before 2007?

A. This depends on the circumstances.

Schools and colleges are required to have full records on all relevant staff, including those in post on 1 January 2007.

If these have not been recorded previously, it is the school/college’s responsibility to ask for unique reference numbers from staff appointed before 1 January 2007, but who were in post on 1 January 2007.

However, not all staff in post on 1 January 2007 required a CRB check. Further details on this are given below.

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Q. CRB checks only came into being in March 2002 – is there a need to undertake CRB checks for staff employed before March 2002, if they have not changed jobs and there are no concerns?

A. No, staff recruited before March 2002 and who have continuity of service – that is, no break longer than three months – are not required by current guidance to have CRB checks. However, there is a requirement for all these longer-serving staff who work with children and young people to have been checked against List 99*.

In general, schools and colleges are required to carry out the checks that were relevant at the time the appointment was made.

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Q. Is there still a need for a three-year rolling programme of CRB checks?

A. Ofsted's expectations are the legal minimum standard; three-yearly checks are not required by law for staff in schools or in colleges and are therefore unnecessary, but may be a matter for local policy. Further checks are not required for any staff, unless the person has a break in service of more than three months. Although some schools, colleges and local authorities will still operate a policy of repeating checks periodically, this is not required by law.

However, three-yearly checks are required of staff in fostering services and adoption services, and for agency staff.

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Q. Who can enter the information on the single central register?

A. This information can be entered by whoever the school/college/organisation identifies as responsible for doing so. In order to verify that they have checked the employee’s or volunteer’s details, each entry must show the name of the person making the check, the position held and the date when the check was completed.

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Q. Does the single central register record the date when the CRB or List 99* check was carried out and who carried out check? Is it necessary to also record the date when the CRB disclosure certificate was evidenced at the school?

A. The single central register should show:

  • the date on which each check was completed, or the relevant certificate obtained
  • who carried out the check, that is the person in the school/organisation with overall responsibility for this.

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Q. Whose name should appear as the person who carried out the check?

A. The name of the individual who was given the responsibility of checking the identity documents and completing Section X on the CRB Disclosure application.

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Q. What will be the requirements to satisfy Ofsted inspections (from October 2010) that an individual has been checked to ensure that they are registered with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA)? Will it be enough to note the details of ISA registration number and the date registered on the single central register?

A. Ofsted inspects to government legislation and statutory guidance. The key guidance for such checks is Safeguarding children and safer recruitment in education. The Department for Children, Schools and Families is currently revising this document prior to a formal consultation. The final document will outline the exact requirements; Ofsted cannot speculate on what these will be.

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Q. How detailed should the record of qualifications be? Do we now have to record the actual qualification held – Certificate in Education and so on? If so, do we have to go back and enter this information for all existing staff members?

A. It is sufficient for the single central register to record that the teacher holds Qualified Teacher Status and the teacher reference number against staff names where appropriate, with the name and position of the person who checked this.

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Q. What physical evidence do teachers need to provide to prove they that they are qualified to teach – for example, do they need to produce their original certificates or diplomas?

A. This is a matter for the employer to determine, but there are a number of 'proofs' that could provide this assurance. Certainly, original certificates or diplomas are acceptable, as is evidence of the teacher's Department for Children, Schools and Families number or their membership of the General Teaching Council (GTC).

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Schools

Q. Will a school be judged inadequate because of minor administrative errors on its single central register?

A. No, although schools have had two and half years in which to carry out the relevant checks and implement the single central register. Inspectors will give schools the opportunity to correct minor administrative errors, such a missing date, by the end of the inspection. Ofsted has published a definition of minor administrative errors in the Briefing for section 5 inspectors on safeguarding children (this is in the zip file available from the supplementary guidance and resources page) and in the November 2009 edition of Schools and inspection.

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Q. Will a school be judged inadequate if there is a footpath running through a playing field used by pupils?

A. No, but it is important that the school has carefully assessed and mitigated the potential risks and taught pupils to be aware of them.

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Q. Will a school be judged inadequate because its perimeter fence has holes or is too low?

A. No school has been found to be inadequate solely due to site boundary issues such as holes in the fence. But once again it is important that the school has assessed and mitigated any risks and made sure that pupils are aware of them.

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Q. Will a school be judged inadequate because inspectors were offered coffee before their identities were checked?

A. No and there is no record that this has happened, but it is important that inspectors’ identities are checked in the same way as those of other visitors to the school.

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Q. Will a school be judged inadequate if it allows parents to drop off and collect nursery children from their classrooms?

A. No, provided, of course, that school staff are present and know the parents. This arrangement can help to build relationships between schools and families and make a positive contribution to safeguarding.

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Q. Do sixth form students employed in their own school have to be CRB checked?

A. Yes, but the requirement depends on the nature of the work done.

A CRB check is not required for students who

  • volunteer to work in school

or

  • have a work placement in school

as part of their studies, or for their own personal development; for example, mentoring younger children or helping with after-school activities such as drama or sports clubs,

This applies both to their own school and to other schools, such as feeder primary schools.

However, if a school pays some of its students to work – for example, as cleaners or lunch-time supervisors – these students become part of the school workforce; they are, therefore, subject to the same workforce regulations as any other school employee. Unless these students are working in school at a time when there are no other children at all on the premises, they will need to be CRB checked.

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Colleges

Q. Do governors in sixth form or further education colleges have to be CRB checked before they can start work?

A. This question has already been covered in an FAQ for learning and skills providers, but is further elaborated here.

There is currently no requirement for governors in a sixth form or further education college to be CRB checked. As Section 4.58 of Safeguarding children and safer recruitment in education makes clear: individuals who are not wholly or mainly engaged in caring for, training, supervising or being solely in charge of under 18-year-olds only require an enhanced CRB check should a risk assessment give cause for concern. All others should be asked to sign a declaration confirming their suitability to fulfil the role.

The position will change as the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 and registration with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) take effect through the period 2010 to 2015. A revised version of Safeguarding children and safer recruitment in education is being prepared for publication by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) early in 2010. This is likely to make some changes to these requirements. Colleges should continue to monitor the DCSF website to ensure they are aware of these. Ofsted will continue to work with the DCSF to ensure that our safeguarding FAQs are up to date and reflect government requirements.

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*On 12 October 2009, the three current barred lists (List 99, Proceeds of Crime Act and Protection of Vulnerable Adults scheme) were replaced by two new barred lists administered by the Independent Safeguarding Authority: the Children’s List and the Vulnerable Adults’ List.