Call for safeguarding review in wake of halt on vetting and barring

18th June 2010 at 01:00
Heads' unions join widespread demands for complete overhaul as new home secretary brands ISA checks `disproportionate'

Heads' leaders have called for a major review of safeguarding rules in schools following the surprise suspension of the controversial vetting and barring scheme earlier this week.

The registration system has been "halted" so the new Government can scale it "back to proportionate, common sense levels", home secretary Theresa May said on Tuesday.

Mrs May said the scheme, due to start on July 26, is "disproportionate and overly burdensome, and that it unduly infringes on civil liberties".

The TES understands that the suspension of the scheme will run for three months. It is expected that the Government's scaling back will mean that school volunteers will not have to register with the ISA.

Heads' unions ASCL and the NAHT have long criticised the bureaucracy and cost associated with vetting and barring, run by the new Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).

The ISA checks would have cost pound;36 per person, but some local authorities were planning to charge a pound;44 administration fee. It has been estimated the costs would have totalled pound;30,000 for every school.

Earlier this year the seven associations representing teachers in England and Wales warned that the new vetting and barring scheme could spell the end of many extra-curricular activities and trips and leave heads drowning in paperwork.

"The safety of children and vulnerable adults is of paramount importance to the new Government. However, it is also vital that we take a measured approach in these matters. We've listened to the criticisms and will respond with a scheme that has been fundamentally remodeled," Mrs May said.

Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Headteachers, said safeguarding was currently a "dog's dinner".

"We welcome this review. There is currently a complete mess because of the amount of multiple checks needed. We've heard of one school gardener who has to get a CRB (criminal records bureau) check in every single place he works, it's ludicrous," he said. "We must address this bureaucracy."

Malcolm Trobe, policy director of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "We all want to see appropriate safeguarding procedures, but vetting and barring was a case of it going overboard. We now need to sit back and reconsider.

"The new system should not be so bureaucratic and costly - with vetting and barring we faced having to spend a lot of time and money for not much gain. It should also hang together with the CRB system."


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