A Guide To DBS Checks for Independent Schools
As anybody who works in education knows, children’s safeguarding is one of the most important things to get right.
Educational establishments such as schools or nurseries have a moral and legal duty to make sure that the children in their care do not come to harm from individuals working there.
In order to provide good safeguarding, all educational settings, including independent schools, need to run criminal background checks on their staff. In other words, they need to make sure that all employees have a DBS certificate.
This guide will look at DBS checks for independent schools, including how they work and how to apply.
What are independent schools?
Independent schools are often referred to as private schools (or confusingly, public schools by some people). They differ from state schools in the fact that they charge a termly or yearly fee for pupils to attend, rather than receiving government funding. Some independent schools are funded by endowments and gifts or funding from private businesses rather than fees.
In the United Kingdom, independent schools include the following types:
- Boarding schools
- Public schools
- Preparatory schools and pre-preparatory schools
- Special schools – e.g. for SEN pupils.
The hierarchy of an independent school includes the senior management team of headteacher and deputies, and a board of trustees and governors. The government body OFSTED inspects independent schools on a regular basis, in a similar way to state schools.
DBS Checks for independent school staff
Teachers and assistant staff within an independent school are subject to the same safeguarding rules as all schools. Anybody involved in teaching, coaching, training, mentoring, or supervising children on a regular basis are involved in what is known as a ‘regulated activity’. Anybody who works in a role that is defined as a ‘regulated activity’ needs to get an Enhanced DBS Check and barred list check.
An Enhanced DBS Check searches through an individual’s criminal record on the police national computer and returns details of any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, warnings, reprimands, and any police notes that are relevant to the role in question.
A barred list check involves cross-referencing the applicant’s name against a list of people that are banned from ever working with children due to past crimes. It is illegal to appoint somebody in a regulated activity if they are known to be on the children’s barred list.
What is a regulated activity?
A regulated activity is a job task that involves working in direct, unsupervised contact with children or vulnerable adults on a frequent basis.
Regulated activities include:
- Providing personal care.
Most people that work in an independent school are engaged in some kind of regulated activity, so most staff will require an Enhanced DBS Check with barred list check.
An Enhanced DBS Check is required of anybody that is in frequent contact with children, which is defined as being in direct contact with children:
- At least once per week
- More than three days over a 30-day timeframe
- Overnight (2am to 6am).
For staff that come into contact with children less frequently, a lesser criminal background check such as a Section 128 Check, may suffice.
What’s a Section 128 Check?
A Section 128 Check is a criminal background search that cross-references the applicant’s name and detail with a register of people that have been banned from working as a manager of an independent school. A Section 128 can be carried out alongside a full DBS check.
Section 128 checks are typically reserved for people applying for, or already working in, a management role. For example:
- Senior management staff – deputy heads, assistant heads, etc.
- Teaching staff with extra management responsibilities (e.g. head of department)
Find out more about DBS checks
If you have any questions about DBS checks for independent schools or anything else related to DBS checks, then contact us now.