Schools to face tougher scrutiny of staff vetting after critical report

An Ofsted report has given the education sector a “wake-up call” by slamming its record-keeping on the suitability of school staff to work with children, according to a leading children’s services director.

John Coughlan, vice-president of the Association of Directors of Social Services, said the report could act as a spur to schools and local authorities to improve practice, similar to the tightening up of procedures in the social care sector when the Commission for Social Care Inspection was set up.

He added: “At the beginning of the CSCI process some standards were very vigorous in terms of how you [needed to] manage your recording in a much more specific way.”

Ofsted found that while schools and councils said they had carried out List 99 and Criminal Records Bureau checks on prospective staff, they were often unable to prove they had been completed or when.

Alongside the report, education secretary Alan Johnson said all schools would be required to review their records and Ofsted inspections would check that robust record-keeping was taking place.

He also announced plans to make it mandatory for councils and schools to carry out CRB checks on all overseas applicants for work in education.

The report was commissioned earlier this year by the Department for Education and Skills after it emerged that convicted sex offenders were working in schools.

Roger Singleton, an adviser to the education secretary and the former chief executive of Barnardo’s, said it was vital that schools and councils kept proper records as well as carrying out checks.

Records in the 58 schools covered in the report were “often non-existent” for staff employed before the introduction of the CRB system in 2002. Six supply agencies interviewed for the report said they carried out robust checks, including enhanced CRB checks, on staff they supplied but that staff were rarely asked by schools to provide evidence that checks had taken place.

But John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Schoolshave a right to expect that the supply agency should carry out full checks on all supply staff.”

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