Let your common sense prevail when choosing parent-helpers

13th July 2001 at 01:00
Are we required to run police checks on parent-helpers? Is there any difference between those who come in occasionally to help in class and those who might accompany an overnight trip?

Where circumstances are not covered by LEA regulations or guidance, a school should always act with common sense and prudence.

Any person who is in contact with children in the school on a regular basis, or is placed in charge of them in situations such as an overnight trip, should be fully checked.

In making professional judgments of this sort the safest approach is to assess the risk by asking oneself if all reasonable steps had been taken to fulfil one's duty of care to the pupils.

I HAVE received a letter from a clerk to governors, informing me that her school is proposing to offer a post to one of my staff, subject to the receipt of a satisfactory reference. Would I please send one? Should I?

I certainly would not. This situation is invidious in the extreme. If you write a cool reference, the teacher concerned will know that you have blocked the prospect of promotion. If you write a good one, it is simply confirming a judgment already made by the other school's governors and is therefore pointless.

If the governors were truly interested in your opinion, they should have asked before they interviewed the applicant.

I would reply to the clerk saying exactly that, and adding that your letter should not be taken as indicating any judgment as to the suitability or otherwise of the teacher for the appointment.

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