Childcare Disqualification Requirements Guidance
Schools / Academies most likely to be affected are: Junior, Primary, Infants and Combined Schools / Academies that have children under age 8
You may be aware of the concerns expressed across the country about the guidance from the DfE (see appendix 1). In particular, this guidance requires employers to suspend members of staff (meeting certain criteria) when they live in the same household as someone who has been barred or has committed certain other listed offences.
This guidance made obvious sense when applied to those using their own home for child care purposes, but its intended extension to other activity with children under the age of 8 is causing understandable anxiety in some schools. Schools can advise the individuals to apply to Ofsted for a waiver, but the disqualification guidance requires the suspension of the member of staff whilst waiting for the waiver from Ofsted. This guidance contradicts LSCB safeguarding allegations management guidance, which encourages a local risk assessment to inform any decisions about suspending a member of staff. Local Authorities, LSCBs, and unions, have raised concerns with the DfE and we are told that revised guidance will be produced later this month, following a short consultation period.
As an interim arrangement whilst we are awaiting further clarification and guidance from the DfE, these are the recommended next steps.
1) Each relevant staff member in relevant settings as defined in appendix 1 must be asked to complete a declaration confirming that s/he is not disqualified.
2) A school / Academy should contact the LADO immediately if it becomes aware of anyone at a school / Academy (including volunteers) who is or may be disqualified; and the school must notify OFSTED within 14 days.
3) All new appointments in relevant settings in schools / Academies will be required to complete a Declaration prior to commencing work and DBS Certificates that contain information should be checked with reference to the list of relevant offences in the Regulations.
4) Relevant schools / Academies must ensure that any external agencies providing relevant staff carry out those checks prior to placing those staff in a school / Academy. A relevant school / Academy may wish to obtain a signed Declaration Form directly from a relevant agency staff member / contractor if there are likely to be any significant delays in obtaining appropriate confirmation from an agency / organisation.
5) Schools / Academies will need to set a short deadline for the return of Declaration Forms – one week is probably reasonable in most circumstances. Where a member of staff does not complete and return a Declaration Form then appropriate advice should be sought from HR. Ultimately, action may need to be taken to remove that person from working with children covered by the Regulations.
6) We have been informed that more detailed advice and clarification around the application of these Regulations will be published in due course. We shall let you know the details of that advice when it is published. Inevitably, with changes of this kind further modifications are likely to be required as information becomes clearer.
7) In the meantime, we are sorry for any disruption that may be caused by the implementation of these changes.
8) Please contact your HR Service if you have any questions or queries about the introduction of the changes.
9) There are a range of Declaration Forms in circulation and we would recommend using one that does not deviate from the DfE’s guidance (see appendix 2)