Inspection day, by any standards, is bound to cause some nervousness. But one thing nobody needs to worry about is checking whether inspectors have a criminal record. That’s because every inspector has been through the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks.
Recently it’s been brought to our attention that some schools have asked inspectors, before starting the inspection, to sign a declaration that they have had no convictions in the past year and that no one in their household has any convictions either.
It is possible that this happened because schools may have misinterpreted the requirements in relation to disqualification under the Disqualification under the Childcare Act 2006.
These requirements are to do with the employment, by schools, of staff who may have been disqualified from providing childcare. They don’t apply to inspectors who are there to discharge a statutory function, under the Education Act 2005, and their DBS check suffices. Section 10 of the Education Act 2005 gives inspectors a power of entry to a school to conduct an inspection.
What’s in a check?
DBS checks are designed to protect children and vulnerable groups. They help prevent anyone who may pose a known risk from gaining access to them through their work.
Ofsted takes its safeguarding responsibilities very seriously. Everyone applying for a role at Ofsted, which involves direct contact with children and vulnerable groups, or access to sensitive or personal information about children, is DBS checked. This doesn’t just apply to inspectors, but other Ofsted employees, who may, for instance, be accompanying an inspector out in the field. Ofsted routinely carries out enhanced checks, which is the highest level of checking.
This policy applies to all Ofsted employees and workers, including fixed term, temporary and seconded staff. This includes Ofsted Inspectors as well as Her Majesty’s Inspectors. And Ofsted doesn’t accept any DBS checks which have been sought by another employer.
On 17 June 2013 the DBS Update Service was launched. Ofsted requires all inspectors, and other staff, to annually renew their subscription, online, to the Update Service. The Update Service then keeps Ofsted notified of any changes relating to criminal records – and a status check can be carried out at any time, for free.
Schools can be reassured that safeguarding is at the forefront of inspection and schools do not need to ask for further checks.
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