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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 June 2006, 14:00 GMT 15:00 UK
School checks around the UK
Inspectors in England have criticised the checks in place to ensure school children are protected from potential sex offenders. What safeguards exist around the UK?

ENGLAND

Since May employers have had to obtain "enhanced" Criminal Records Bureau checks for people looking to work in schools for the first time.

This includes information considered relevant by a chief police officer, as well as convictions, charges and cautions.

Heads, governing bodies and local authorities are also expected to follow guidance, including checks of references and the government's List 99 of those judged unsuitable for working with children.

The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill, currently before Parliament, will mean employers who fail to carry out the necessary checks or employ a barred person will face possible jail sentences and fines of up to 5,000

The Department for Education and Skills advises employers to take extra care in assessing overseas candidates, and to seek information about the person's criminal history from their country of origin wherever possible.

Officials are amending regulations to make CRB checks mandatory for all overseas staff, including those who have never lived in the UK.

It is the responsibility of supply agencies to ensure their staff are properly checked and suitable to work with children.

Regulations introduced in 2003 require agencies to take "all other reasonably practicable steps" to confirm applicants are suitable. This should include a CRB check.

The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill will make it a criminal offence for agencies to supply staff without having made appropriate checks.

NORTHERN IRELAND

At least one person on the school's interview panel should have been trained in child protection and both the candidate's suitability to work with children must feature in questions.

Independent written references for the preferred applicant must always be taken up, rather than accepting his or her word.

Before starting work in a school, the chosen applicant must fill in a pre-employment form, where they list previous convictions.

A check by the Criminal Records Office is conducted before the final appointment.

All new staff and volunteers should have an induction that includes appropriate training in the organisation's child protection policy and procedures.

SCOTLAND

Head teachers commit an offence if they employ anyone on the Disqualified from Working with Children List.

Before taking on staff, schools carry out an "enhanced" disclosure check.

This looks at criminal convictions and "soft information" - such as involvement in previous investigations which did not lead to a prosecution - judged by police to be relevant to the post applied for.

If someone applies to be a teacher, there is a further check to see if he or she is on the register kept by the General Teaching Council for Scotland.

A Scottish Executive spokeswoman said "rigorous" safeguards were in place.

WALES

The Assembly Government says employers should confirm the applicant's identity, qualifications, and seek professional and character references and employment history.

The teacher must obtain an "enhanced" disclosure from the Criminal Records Bureau, containing details of any spent and unspent convictions, cautions and warnings recorded by the police.

The check will also reveal whether staff are barred from working with children because of inclusion on a government list, or any information a senior police officer believes makes them unsuitable.

Teachers must be registered with the General Teaching Council for Wales, which now undertakes suitability checks as well as verifying qualifications.


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