Government may reject Bichard’s key recommendation

Children’s minister Margaret Hodge hinted this week that
the government will abandon plans to register the entire
children’s workforce, a key recommendation of Sir Michael
Bichard’s report, writes Sally

She told a conference in London organised by Community
and the Association of Directors of Social Services that
a central register for the estimated 2.4m people working with
children was a “huge undertaking” that would present
“huge resource and practical issues”.

In his report into the failures that led to Ian Huntley’s
appointment as a school caretaker, published in June, Bichard
recommended that all people working with children should apply to a
registering company who would vet them before they applied for a

Workers would then carry a photocard or licence showing they had
been cleared as fit to work with children (news, page 6, 24

But Hodge said the government was now considering a registration
scheme which would instead list those people who were unsuitable to
work with children.

It is uncertain how such a register would work with the existing
List 99 for education professionals and the Protection of Children
Act List, both of which are already held by the Department for
Education and Skills.

Earlier, head of policy at Children and Family Court Advisory
and Support Service Rory Worthington said there were a number of
potential problems connected to a registration scheme, including

“No-one has talked about the issue of cost. My main
concern is that it is likely to be the applicant [who pays]. A lot
of the people it will cover are in low-paid jobs and it could be a

All parties responsible for implementing Bichard’s
recommendations, including the DfES group working on the central
register, are expected to submit evidence of their progress in

Bichard will reconvene his inquiry in January to review what
work has been carried out.


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