Tags: Governors | Headteacher | School Governance | School Governor | School Leadership & Management

Criminal record checks are to be made mandatory for all newly appointed school employees as part of the tightening up of vetting procedures in the wake of the recent controversy over sex offenders being cleared to work in education.

The existing DfES guidance on preventing unsuitable people from working with children, although widely followed, only has the status of ‘strongly recommended’. The education secretary, Ruth Kelly, has also promised to introduce new legislation in February that will bring together the names of people barred from working with children under the Protection of Children Act with those in her department’s own List 99. The final decision on who is placed on such a barring list will be removed from ministers and given to a new statutory body of independent experts. As an interim measure, Ruth Kelly has set up a panel of independent experts, to be chaired by former Barnardo’s chief executive Roger Singleton, which will oversee the current List 99 process.

She also said that anyone either cautioned for or convicted of a sexual offence would be barred from working with children, whether or not they were on the sex offenders’ register.

It was not immediately clear how the new rules would apply to volunteers, which left governors to wait for details to be published for consultation in order to find out how much they themselves will be affected.

When the CRB vetting system was introduced in September 2002, new or reappointed governors were required to have a standard disclosure. However, this requirement was rapidly suspended as the CRB struggled to cope with the volume of applications. Two years later, the DfES confirmed that it would not be reintroduced.

Prospective governors must now sign a declaration that they are not disqualified from serving on any grounds, including criminal convictions, and support this with a List 99 check to confirm that they are not barred or restricted by the DfES. However, clerks can request that a serving governor obtains a CRB disclosure if he or she is ‘giving cause for concern’.

This article first appeared in School Governor Update – Feb 2006

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