Delay in criminal checks for school staff leads to fears over safety

The Criminal Records Bureau has come under fire from teaching
unions amid fears that nurseries and schools could be forced to
compromise their standards and put children at risk by employing
staff who have not been properly checked.

At last week’s Professional Association of Teachers conference, a
motion calling for the CRB to “reassure” schools and nurseries that
it was resolving its difficulties was carried unanimously.

The teachers’ motion said the delays were also forcing some nursery
workers and teachers to leave the profession, and causing staff
shortages that could see some day nurseries close.

To try and overcome the problem, the Department for Education and
Skills has advised schools employing new staff to revert to “List
99” checks, which record the criminal offences and unprofessional
behaviour of teachers.

This would enable head teachers to legally employ new teachers,
before enhanced CRB checks – which could reveal additional relevant
information – are completed.

The Professional Association of Teachers said it was already aware
of some schools and nurseries requesting staff who were not yet
cleared, and of others giving supply agencies written disclaimers
to protect them from legal action if a supply teacher who had
passed a List 99 check was later found to be unsuitable under the
enhanced CRB check.

But the association described this practice as “totally

The National Union of Teachers said it would seek compensation for
teachers who had been waiting months for police checks if the CRB
wasn’t meeting its service targets by the start of the new school

The NUT has written to the DfES warning that unless the delay in
processing CRB checks was sorted out by early September it would
expect the government to pay for the loss of earnings incurred by
teachers unable to work until checks come through.

The NUT’s senior solicitor Graham Clayton said the CRB had given an
assurance that it would be meetings its targets – turning around 90
per cent of all enhanced checks within three weeks – by the end of

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