The Department for Children, Schools & Families (DCSF) has suspended checks on school governors via the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) until further notice. Interim procedures have been put in place for pre-appointment checks on new and re-appointed school governors.
Evidence of Identity will be sought from all candidates making an application to be a school governor. This will usually be done by the school.
Any candidate for a London Diocesan Board (LDBS) school governorship will be asked to complete and sign a Declaration Form. Other categories of governors should expect to do the same. The form seeks a declaration that a candidate is not disqualified from serving as a school governor, and is over 18.
The Checking Process
It is important that prospective governors are checked to ascertain whether they are eligible to serve as a governor, or whether they are ineligible because:
a) they are disqualified from working with children by Section 35 of the Criminal Justice and Court Act 2000; or
b) they contravene one of the disqualification conditions imposed in the school governance regulations.
The Diocese, in line with DCSF advice, is advising its schools, and is itself, reverting to the practice of asking governors to make a formal declaration of any convictions that they have incurred, including any that have become spent under the Rehabilitation Offenders Act, and that they are not otherwise disqualified from serving as a governor.
In addition, all new and re-appointed governors will be checked against the Department’s List 99. This list contains the names, dates of birth and teacher reference numbers of people whose employment has been barred or restricted, either on the grounds of misconduct or for medical reasons. Access to this list is strictly limited to individuals responsible for checking the suitability of applicants. In the case of the LDBS these checks will be done via the relevant Local Authority (LA).
CRB checks for governors (November 2009)
The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act Implementation Team emailed a paper setting out provisions regarding school governors and associated positions under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act on 30 June following the consultation earlier this year.
In short, the paper advised that it has been decided that governing body clerks and associate members will be required to register with the Vetting and Barring Scheme (which will involve an enhanced CRB check) and head teachers will be the appropriate officer to ensure that checks are carried out but they will be able to delegate that task to an appropriate member of staff.
A redraft of the Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education guidance will go out for public consultation in October 2009 with the aim of introducing the revised guidance in March 2010.
Regulated Activity descriptions come into force in October this year. From that point a person commits an offence if they take up a position from which they are barred under the barring list. This will be the Independent Safeguarding Authority's barred list which will be an amalgamation of the existing List 99, POVA, POCA etc. It will also be an offence to knowingly allow a person who is barred to take up a post in a regulated activity.
At the present time - and until November 2010 - the situation re governors' checks is unchanged. They can, as now, be asked to complete the declaration that they are not barred or undergo an enhanced CRB check depending on what the local arrangements are.
Please note that the implementation of the full vetting and barring scheme has been postponed until November 2010. From that date all new and reappointed governors will be under a mandatory requirement to register with the Vetting and Barring Scheme before taking up office and this will involve undergoing an enhanced CRB check. Existing governors will register when they commence a new term of office or take up a position with a different governing body. In this way all governors will be registered by November 2015. Existing governors will be picked up in the 4 year transition period when they come up for reappointment.
New guidance on CRB checks for volunteers (May 2008)
The Cabinet Office has published guidance to help organisations that use volunteers to be clear about when they do and don’t need to carry out Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks on volunteers. The guidance will help cut unnecessary red tape and responds to concerns voiced by the voluntary sector that potential volunteers can be put off if they are asked to undergo a CRB check without good reason. People volunteering or working with children or vulnerable adults are sometimes legally required to have a CRB check.
Where contact with vulnerable people will be limited or perhaps the person has recently been CRB checked for a different role, a decision about clearance must be made. The guidance clearly explains how the check works as part of a proper risk management process. Other safeguards such as interviewing, training and taking references from potential volunteers can also be employed. The Guidance can be downloaded from www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk or to order a hardcopy of the ‘Criminal Record Bureau Checks: Guidance for Volunteering’, please call 0845 015 0010 and quote reference URN 08/Z.