Whatever type of school your child attends, one of the main concerns is that they are safe while in the classroom. Many parents who choose to opt out of the state education sector do so because they think the independent sector can offer something different for their child’s education. While it’s true that many independent schools have more flexibility over the curriculum, they still have to stick to minimum standards expected of all schools. This certainly applies when it comes to DBS checks.
What is an Independent School?
The terminology can be complicated, especially as the state sector has seen deregulation in recent years, with new academies and privately-run schools providing education in the state sector. Independent schools might also be called private schools, or confusingly, public schools. What all of these schools have in common is that parents either pay fees for their children to attend, or the child has their fees paid for by a bursary or charitable fund. Most independent schools have children attending during the day and returning home in the evening. A minority of boarding schools have children staying at school all term and returning home for holiday only. Independent schools cater for children aged between 3 and 18 and range from small organisations charging just a few hundred pounds a year in fees through to world-famous public schools where fees can be as much as £45,000 per year.
DBS Checks for Staff
Although schools in the independent sector set their own fees, decide on their own curriculum, and hire their own staff, they must still abide by the basic rules of safeguarding children. Members of staff who are employed as teachers, catering or maintenance staff all need an Enhanced DBS Check in order to work in a school, as this is defined as regulated activity. An enhanced DBS check is the most detailed level of DBS check available, and will look into an applicant’s entire criminal record, not just the most recent offences or cautions.
In addition to requesting an enhanced DBS check on each member of staff in the school, the managing bodies of independent school also request checks of the Barred Lists. These are central registers which have the details of all people who have been formally blocked from working with children. Sometimes, these checks are known as Section 127 checks, in reference to the section of the legislation which lays out the process.
Applicants can’t be employed doing regulated activity such as teaching or being a lifeguard if their name appears on the Barred Lists. Usually, people whose names appear on the Barred list also have a criminal record which would appear on an enhanced DBS check – you don’t have your name put onto a Barring list for a minor misdemeanour. People who are on the Barred Lists can’t get involved in the general management of the school either, or sit on the Board of Governors, even when those roles involve no direct contact with children.