Disclosure gap closed

Children's Minister Adam Ingram has announced plans to close a loophole in child-protection legislation which meant that adults using schools and colleges when no children were present were still subject to disclosure checks

Elizabeth Buie

Children's Minister Adam Ingram has announced plans to close a loophole in child-protection legislation which meant that adults using schools and colleges when no children were present were still subject to disclosure checks.

The wording of the Protection of Children (Scotland) Act 2003 meant that parent groups and people using schools to teach adult classes, were still deemed to be in child-care positions and therefore had to undergo checks by the Central Registered Body in Scotland.

The Scottish Government has now brought forward a legal amendment which means that these groups will no longer be required to undergo unnecessary checks. If the Scottish Parliament approves the amendment, it will come into force on July 1, 2008.

Mr Ingram, who gave evidence to the education committee last week, said: "Making sure our children are safe in school is always paramount.

"We must ensure child-protection measures are robust, but the current laws - introduced under the last administration - were never intended to restrict the community use of schools."

Parent council members who undertake "pre-planned and rostered" work with children in schools will still have to undergo checks, the committee heard from Moira Oliphant, team leader of the Disqualified from Working with Children List Team.

"If a parent running the school disco, for example, frequently planned that activity, that would be considered a normal duty in a child-care position. If parental involvement in the life of the school and working with children is ad hoc and not pre-planned or rostered, it will not come within the scope of normal duties," she said.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, the body which highlighted the original anomaly, said: "We have been working hard for such a change and we are delighted that common sense has prevailed. It is good that adult groups will be able to use schools without restrictions."

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Elizabeth Buie

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