Safeguarding

19 07 2014

As a primary school teacher who visits more than 100 separate schools every year I totally understand the importance of safeguarding.

I am very happy to confirm my identity on arrival at your school. I am very happy to wear a visitors badge. I will not, however, show any evidence of a DBS (or CRB, PVG, etc) check.

Why not? The nature of the work I do means checks are not necessary because the work is not regulated. As a self-employed science show presenter there’s no way for me to get a check. In fact because my work is not regulated neither you nor I can even request the DBS make a check.

The vast majority of schools I visit realise this. The vast majority of schools are happy with a quick look at my ID. (In fact, a lot of schools consider even that unnecessary as they have invited me to attend, on a specific day, to do a specific job). Unfortunately, maybe 1 in 150 schools don’t understand what is required of them, both by law and by Ofsted, and insist I show some evidence of a check.

THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN IN 2014. IN JULY 2015 A NEW DOCUMENT WAS PRODUCED THAT FURTHER CLARIFIES THE SITUATION. I HAVE ADDED THE RELEVANT SECTIONS FROM THIS NEW DOCUMENT TO THE END OF THIS POST. 

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Ofsted could not be clearer on this issue. Google ‘CRB checks for visitors’ and you’ll find this:

DBS checks are not required for visitors. Visitors do not have unsupervised access to children.
Ofsted- Safeguarding Children

Further on in the same document it states:

Visitors who will only have contact with children on an ad hoc or irregular basis for short periods of time are not eligible for DBS checks and schools and colleges will not be entitled to request them.
Ofsted- Safeguarding Children
(ad hoc: created or done for a particular purpose as necessary)

So why do some schools think it’s necessary? Ofsted has the answer for this too- mythology:

Given the high priority afforded to the safety of children and young people and the considerable media interest in Ofsted’s role in protecting children, almost inevitably ‘scare stories’ emerge from time to time about the inspection of safeguarding.

The key word for both inspectors and providers in the area of safeguarding is ‘reasonable’, and it is around the interpretation of ‘reasonable’ that a mythology has emerged. The record can be set straight. Ofsted does not require schools to build walls around play areas; it does not expect schools to seek Criminal Records Bureau checks on casual visitors to schools, including parents; it does not judge a school to be inadequate because of minor administrative errors, or because an inspector’s ID was not checked. Ofsted does not try to ‘catch schools out’.
Ofsted Safeguarding in schools- Best Practice

There is a misconception held by some schools that seeing evidence of a third party check (ie: one not taken out by themselves or their umbrella body) is a useful exercise. In fact, as it says on the Government’s DBS web page:

the decision made by a Chief Police Officer to disclose information on a CRB/DBS certificate was made based on the position for which the criminal record check was originally applied for; you cannot assume that no other intelligence would be disclosed for a different position.
Criminal records checks: Guidance for employers

and

the applicant’s criminal record or other relevant information may have changed since its issue.
Criminal records checks: Guidance for employers

What this means is that there is no point asking to see a visitor’s 3rd-party CRB/DBS certificate because you have no idea why that check had been issued in the first place. To put it bluntly, the fact someone can show you a certificate is meaningless if your organisation (or your umbrella organisation) hasn’t carried out the check.

But this is irrelevant. If someone like me is coming in to your school to do one or two days of shows for groups of children accompanied by their teacher there is absolutely no reason for you to see or me to produce evidence of a check:

the key criterion [for a check] is the opportunity for regular and unsupervised access to children.
Ofsted- Safeguarding Children

This is what is called a regulated activity. There is no way visiting a school to perform science shows could be considered a regulated activity. A regulated activity would be the unsupervised:

teaching, training or instruction of children, carried out by the same person frequently (once a week or more often), or on 4 or more days in a 30-day period, or overnight.
Regulated Activity in relation to Children: scope Factual note by HM Government

I am not a lawyer and this should be in no way taken as legal advice but I would invite other science presenters, teachers or senior managers in school to use this information freely.

It can be really awkward when people misguidedly ask for evidence of checks when I arrive at a school and it’s nicer if the issue is dealt with beforehand.

Due to the nature of what you have employed me to do I can’t provide you with a check and there is no need to do so. To repeat, Ofsted couldn’t be clearer on the matter:

Visitors who will only have contact with children on an ad hoc or irregular basis for short periods of time are not eligible for DBS checks and schools and colleges will not be entitled to request them.
Ofsted- Safeguarding Children

UPDATE:

In July 2015 the UK government published “Keeping Children Safe in Education“. Here are the relevant sections from this document:

The DBS cannot provide barred list information on any individual, including volunteers, who are not engaging in regulated activity. [Section 67]

The definition of “regulated activity” has not changed and is the same as described above. As my work is neither regular nor unsupervised it is not considered regulated.

Further on in the document it confirms:

Schools and colleges may obtain an enhanced DBS certificate (not including barred list information), for volunteers who are not engaging in regulated activity, but have the opportunity to come into contact with children on a regular basis, e.g. supervised volunteers (see paragraph 88 for supervision). Employers are not legally permitted to request barred list information on a volunteer who, because they are supervised, is not in regulated activity. [85]

As the work a school asks me to do would never entail my coming into contact with children “on a regular basis” there is no requirement for the school to obtain a DBS certificate.

Finally it states:

Schools and colleges do not have the power to request DBS checks and barred list checks, or ask to see DBS certificates, for visitors. Headteachers and principals should use their professional judgment about the need to escort or supervise visitors. [95]

As a visitor to a school I am very happy to cooperate with any requirements the Headteacher or principle deems suitable regarding supervision.

I hope this article and the update is useful. Please feel free to copy and share this if you want.

ADVERTS MIGHT FILLOW THIS POST. I HAVE NO CONTROL AND RECEIVE NO MONEY FROM THESE.

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3 responses

21 07 2014
Liz Lister

Have tweeted a link – useful stuff!

21 07 2014
scienceviking

Reblogged this on SV Educational Services and commented:
I’ve not had this problem yet with Cumbrian schools, who all seem to take a common sense approach to safeguarding. As a secondary school science teacher who does occasional supply work I also have an up to date DBS certificate and I am registered with the DBS update service. But, as as a science presenter and historical interpreter I don’t need to show you the evidence for this when I visit a school for a science or history day. Here’s the facts about why from The Science Presenter.

21 07 2014
scienceviking

Thanks for this. I’ve not come across this problem yet, thankfully, but it’s great to have all the info in one place.

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