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Police checks set to be late and expensive

TENS of thousands of pupils could find themselves being taught by student teachers who have not yet undergone criminal record checks.

And many of the students starting their training this September could find the process costing them pound;10 or more.

The Criminal Records Bureau, the new agency which takes over the vetting of people working with children and vulnerable adults from this summer, has been warned to expect a rush of requests for "disclosures" in August and September, as training colleges confirm places with students. In 2000-01, nearly 28,000 people started teacher training.

At the same time, many schools and education authorities will also want to check up on the backgrounds of newly-appointed staff.

A spokesman for the Home Office said: "We will be monitoring the situation in the months running up to the beginning of the bureau's operations, to ensure, as best we can, thatdemand will be met."

But the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, in a briefing note for members, warns that it "may well be some time before applications will be processed for student teachers. Indeed, they may already be in schools before an institution receives a disclosure," it said.

UCET is urging universities to register early as organisations entitled to request checks. Such organisations face a one-off registration fee, expected to be a couple of hundred pounds. The bill for around 80 teacher-training institutions and 150 education authorities to register would run into tens of thousands of pounds.

Some look likely to continue existing policies of paying for individual checks themselves, but some students may find themselves with the bill for their personal check.

For more information: www.crb.gov.uk and www.disclosure.gov.uk or tel: 0870 90 90 81.

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