The private tutor market is one of the remaining secret gardens of the education system. But it became slightly less of a mystery earlier this year when the Department for Children, Schools and Families published the results of a research project it had commissioned. And with funding now being made available nationally to allow one-to-one tuition for those who fall behind in maths and English, this sector will become more important in the near future.
Although the research states that 79 per cent of agencies employing tutors carried out Criminal Records Bureau checks on all their tutors, and a further 6 per cent checked some, this left 15 per cent of agencies apparently not carrying out any checks. Overall, one in five agencies was prepared to admit that not all of their tutors were CRB checked.
A parent has a right to know that their child, left alone with an adult, even in their home, is as well protected as society can reasonably achieve. Teachers, governors and even volunteers in schools who have been through the expensive and time-consuming process of gaining clearance from the CRB may wonder why there is such a hole in the system.
Such pre-qualification checks for possible criminal behaviour are even more important because the research report said that parents may not be sufficiently aware to check with tutors or agencies to find out whether they have CRB clearance. No doubt this will be put right when the new safeguarding agency that is a product of the aftermath of the Soham tragedy comes into existence; but should parents have to wait until then?
John Howson is a director of Education Data Surveys, part of TSL Education.