The Covid-19 pandemic has dominated the news through 2020 and 2021, and it shows no sign of going away as we move into 2022. The new Omicron variant, discovered at the end of 2021, seems to be less serious, but has caused a huge spike in infections, leading to millions of UK workers being asked to isolate when they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive. Worries over lack of staff to run hospitals and schools has led the government to issue appeals to former teachers, asking them to return to the classroom to help out. But can the Disclosure and Barring Service also cope with a spike in applications?
DBS “Ready to Meet Spikes in Demand”
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has stated that the DBS is ready and prepared to meet any increased demand from ex-teachers applying for DBS checks before a return to the classroom. The Education secretary has also offered to release suitably qualified staff working in government departments to help schools stay open. An online portal has been launched where former teachers can register their interest, and then be matched with agencies supplying teachers in their local area.
DBS Checks for Teachers
Teaching is one of the most regulated occupations, with comprehensive and detailed background checks required for anyone who wants to work in the classroom. The appeal for former teachers started before Christmas 2021, with the government appealing for people who had previously worked as a teacher, or who had trained as a teacher but never worked in a classroom to return to the profession.
All teachers require an enhanced DBS check, the most detailed type of check available. An enhanced DBS check will look at both someone’s most recent criminal record, but also at offences and information which the police have on their database from the more distant past, in order to ensure that nobody who poses a danger to children can get into the profession. These detailed checks can take weeks to process, a concern when time is of the essence in keeping schools open. The Education Department also called on the government to as the DBS to give the same priority to teaching applications as they did to NHS applications at the start of the pandemic, and to waive charges for teachers answering their call to return to supply teaching.
DBS Processing Times
The DBS has reassured the Department of Education that plans are in place to ensure that applications are turned around as quickly as possible but has not announced any plans for a fast-track system for education such as the one for healthcare announced in 2020. They did commit to maintaining their current turnaround time, which sees 80% of all enhanced disclosures returned to applicants within 2 weeks. 30% of all DBS checks are completed within one working day. If you are interested in answering the government’s call to return to the classroom, register through the online portal and start the process for your DBS application as soon as possible.