It’s coming into exam season again. Across the UK, parents who are keen for their children to do their best in their GCSEs, Highers or A-Levels are happy to pay a tutor to reinforce what the children are being taught at school. Unlike teachers who work in a school setting however, there is no requirement for private tutors to have a disclosure check. The National Education Union is calling for change, highlighting cases of teachers who have caused serious harm to children they are tutoring.
Enhanced DBS Checks
Teachers who work in the school system – whether state or private – have an enhanced disclosure check before they start working with children. The enhanced disclosure is the most detailed type of check. During the enhanced disclosure process, the police will look at not only the applicant’s current and unspent criminal record, but also older convictions, cautions and intelligence held about the individual on the police computer. For most teachers, a further check is made against the Barred List, a central register held of people who have been legally blocked from working with children.
A wide variety of people work as private tutors. Many tutors are full or part time teachers in the state sector who are topping up their income with a bit of private work on the side. From a parent’s point of view this is probably the best way of ensuring that your child’s tutor has the right accreditation. If they are working in a school, you can rest assured that they are checked. The difficulty comes with tutors who are not currently employed as teachers and are self-employed. This group of people can only get a basic disclosure, which shows current and unspent convictions and cautions only. This is less detailed than the enhanced disclosure, and there is no legal requirement for tutors to get a DBS certificate at all.
Calls for Changes
The main professional body for tutors, the Tutor’s Association, supports changes to the law which treats private tutors on the same basis as teachers working in schools or colleges. The Association also highlighted that the number of families hiring a tutor is booming, with numbers doubling in a decade. In 2018, a private tutor from Birmingham was jailed after abusing two girls during lessons. Although a disclosure check is no guarantee of future conduct, it is thought that holding tutors to the same standards as other teachers can only be a positive measure.
What Can Parents Do?
Parents who are looking for a tutor for their children can’t ask for enhanced disclosures until there is a change in the legislation. However, there are other checks which they can do. Firstly, it’s always best to get a tutor through word of mouth or recommendation from other parents. Even if your child’s teachers at school can’t tutor themselves, they may be able to recommend a friend who can. Parents shouldn’t be embarrassed to ask about seeing a basic disclosure check either.