In recent years, protection of vulnerable people, especially children, has become more prominent in most areas of society. As part of this, the government has introduced DBS checks as a replacement for CRB checks, and many agencies have adopted DBS checks as a requirement for roles in their organizations, including Ofsted.
So what are DBS checks, and which staff members in schools require them?
What Is a DBS Check?
As stated, DBS, or Disclosure and Barring Service checks, replaced the CRB check, or Criminal Record and Background check. DBS checks look at the background of the individual, including both spent and unspent convictions, official cautions, and sex offender notification requirements.
DBS checks will usually be undertaken through an employer or prospective employer, who will then work through an intermediary or umbrella organization such as http://www.carecheck.co.uk/.
Which Staff Need DBS Checks?
As a baseline, it is required that any individual having unsupervised contact with a child or vulnerable person have an enhanced DBS check. This will apply to the vast majority of staff in a school, as they will be engaged in ‘regulated activity’. If an individual has had a break in teaching of less than three months, it is not mandatory to redo their DBS check.
As of March 2016, it is mandatory for school governors to have enhanced DBS clearance prior to their appointment, but this is also applied retroactively, so existing school governors must also have acquired enhanced DBS clearance by September 2016.
Volunteers in schools who are supervised by a staff member do not strictly require DBS checks, but it is reasonable for a school to require that anyone volunteering and working with children have at least a basic DBS check.
The so-called minimum standard is that all staff working with children have an enhanced DBS check, but the minimum standard is not also the maximum. Schools are required to have a safeguarding policy which outlines their processes and requirements. This can go above and beyond the minimum standard, such as by requiring DBS checks to be repeated periodically, typically every three to five years, or requiring volunteers to undergo basic DBS checks. Checks and requirements can also be based on who the individuals are working with, as younger or vulnerable students can reasonably considered to be at higher risk than older pupils.