All schools and colleges
There seems to be some confusion over the need for CRB checks when serving police officers or police staff work in schools – some local authorities and schools think they are needed while others do not. What is Ofsted’s position on this?
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?
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?
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?
Is it true that new staff appointed to supervise children in boarding school accommodation can start working as soon as the school has applied for a CRB disclosure certificate? I thought they could not start work until the actual certificate had been received.
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.
Checks for visitors
- 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.
Checking visiting staff
A. Yes, but the requirement depends on the type of staff involved.
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 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:
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.
Police officers and police staff
Q. There seems to be some confusion over the need for CRB checks when serving police officers or police staff work in schools – some local authorities and schools think they are needed while others do not. What is Ofsted’s position on this?
A. Ofsted is not a legislator. Our inspectors are bound by government safeguarding requirements, but Ofsted does not determine what those requirements are. However, in line with the exemption granted by the previous Home Secretary, Ofsted recognises that checks for police officers and police staff are more stringent than those for CRB and that an Enhanced CRB Disclosure is not required in most circumstances.
Police officers and staff who are visiting schools in their professional capacity are only required to produce some form of endorsement of their status and their identity. Their official warrant card or identity card showing the appropriate photographic evidence would be quite sufficient in these circumstances. However, both the police service and Department for Education have previously made it clear that for activities where an individual employed by the police service is acting as an ordinary volunteer (for example going on a residential trip in a personal capacity as a parent or helper) then currently an additional CRB check should be undertaken by the school/individual. This requirement may change as a result of the current more general review of the CRB regime to find a sensible balance in ensuring that children are appropriately safeguarded but that valuable resources are not wasted with unnecessary checks.
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.
The single central register
There is key information about the single central register in Safeguarding children and safer recruitment in education.
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.
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. However, please see the following FAQ on evidence of the right to work in the UK and the requirements of the UK Border Agency.
A. Yes, but they are not Ofsted’s rules. The requirements in relation to the right to work in the UK are set by the UK Border Agency.
The UK Border Agency guidance states that employers should keep a copy of every document that the employee uses to support their right to work in the UK. The copies of the documents should be kept securely for the duration of the individual’s employment and for a further two years after their employment has ceased. By doing this, the UK Border Agency will be able to examine an employer’s right to the excuse, if the agency detects anyone working illegally for that employer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Education number or their membership of the General Teaching Council (GTC).
A. No, although schools have had since April 2007 to complete the the single central register by carrying out the relevant checks and implement the 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A. Possibly, but the requirement depends on the nature of the work done.
A CRB check is not required for students who, as part of their studies, or for their own personal development
- volunteer to work in school
- have a work placement in school.
This could include, for example, mentoring younger children or helping with after-school activities such as drama or sports clubs, or supporting a Duke of Edinburgh Award or Combined Cadet Force.
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.
Q. Is it true that new staff appointed to supervise children in boarding school accommodation can start working as soon as the school has applied for a CRB disclosure certificate? I thought they could not start work until the actual certificate had been received.
A. The national minimum standards for boarding schools were revised in September 2010. These standards apply in England to all mainstream boarding schools, for all age groups of pupil up to 18, and as appropriate to any pupils over the age of 18 who live alongside those who are under 18. The standard relevant to CRB checks for new staff now states:
38.2 With the exception of CRB disclosures, the checks in standard 38.1 must be completed before a person takes up the position. In the case of CRB disclosures, the certificate must be obtained before, or as soon as practicable after, appointment. Until the check is satisfactorily completed, the individual should be appropriately supervised.
The other checks in standard 38.1 are: check of identity against an official document such as a passport or birth certificate; Where the appointee has lived outside the United Kingdom, further checks as are considered appropriate where obtaining a CRB disclosure is not sufficient to establish suitability to work with children (such as a certificate of good conduct from the country or countries they have been living in); check on proof of relevant qualifications; and check of right to work in the UK.
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.
Colleges should continue to monitor the Department for Education website to ensure they are aware of any changes as a result of the current government review of safeguarding. Ofsted will continue to work with the Department for Education to ensure that our safeguarding FAQs are up to date and reflect government requirements.
*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.