Cost of criminal record vetting is set to soar

23rd November 2007 at 00:00
New teachers and other school workers are likely to be charged about pound;60 each to be approved to start working with children.

Plans for the new vetting scheme for the 11 million people who work with children and vulnerable adults have been published by the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

The Independent Safeguarding Authority will start in January, but schools have until February to comment on who should be barred from working with their pupils.

School staff are already required to pay pound;36 for enhanced criminal record checks. From next year, sources said, they would also have to pay a one-off fee of between pound;20 and pound;25 for membership of the vetting scheme.

Many schools voluntarily pay the criminal record check fee for new staff, but it is unclear whether they will continue to do so once the vetting membership fee is added.

Supply teachers, too, could be asked to pay it themselves.

John Dunford, the Association of School and College Leaders' general secretary, said schools would welcome the new scheme, but not the additional fees as criminal record checks were already a significant expense.

"I think it's entirely likely that schools in straitened circumstances will pass the cost on to the staff member," he said. Plans for the vetting scheme, which are under consultation, do not require employers to pick up the tab.

Martin Pilkington, head of legal services for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said it was vital that proper checks were carried out. But the union would be deeply concerned if individual teachers and support staff were forced to pay. That applied particularly to supply teachers who could pay many times over as they moved round schools. Peter Flannery, managing director of Select Education, said his supply agency would decide who was responsible for paying the fee once the Government had set its level.

With the new vetting scheme going live next autumn, he said teachers were still awaiting information on how they would be affected.

The Government has tightened checks on school workers since the 2002 murders of 10-year-olds Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells by Ian Huntley, a school caretaker in Soham in Cambridgeshire. The authority was set up following last year's row over sex offenders working in schools. From next year, it will vet about 11 million people, including all school staff and volunteers, to determine whether they can be trusted around children.

Kevin Brennan, the children's minister, said the Government wanted the "toughest ever" centralised vetting and barring system to protect vulnerable groups.

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