A large part of Ofsted’s role is ensuring that children are kept safe in the establishments it regulates. As such, Ofsted has specific requirements around DBS checks in education.

DBS checks in education are designed to prevent unsuitable candidates from entering the workforce and having access to children and young people.

The following guide explains our interpretation of Ofsted’s requirements for DBS checks in educational establishments.

DBS checks in education: Safe recruitment

Ofsted requires that recruitment practices in schools and nurseries meet a certain standard of safety. Their recruitment procedures should help deter, identify or reject people who might pose a risk to children.

DBS checks are a key part of determining a prospective employee’s suitability to work in a school, college or nursery.

Engaging in regulated activity with children

The majority of staff in a school, college or nursery will require an enhanced DBS check with a check of the children’s barred list, because they will be engaging in regulated activity with children.

The children’s barred list is a list of people who have been barred from working with children. It’s an offence to employ someone to work in a school or nursery if they are on this list.

In summary, a person will be engaging in regulated activity if they do any of the following as part of their role:

  • Teach, train, instruct, care for or supervise children on a regular basis in a school or college
  • Carry out paid, or unsupervised unpaid, work regularly in a school or college where that work provides an opportunity for contact with children
  • Engage in intimate or personal care or overnight activity, even if this happens only once

Employees working at after school clubs are also likely to fall into this category, and will therefore require an enhanced check with a check of the barred list.

Employees not engaging in regulated activity

Employees who won’t be engaging in regulated activity will still be required to have an enhanced DBS check.

All employees in schools, colleges and nurseries must have an enhanced DBS check because they’ll have the opportunity for regular contact with children.

This also applies to contractors who have the opportunity for contact with children but work under a temporary or occasional contract.

What about volunteers?

Any volunteer who engages in regulated activity as part of their volunteer role should also have an enhanced DBS check with a check of the children’s barred list.

If a volunteer will be supervised at all times by someone in regulated activity – for example, a volunteer reading with a child while a teacher is present – then the volunteer won’t be engaging in regulated activity themselves.

In these cases, the volunteer will only require an enhanced check without barred list information.

What about school governors?

In 2016 the government issued new legislation making it compulsory for all school governors to have enhanced DBS checks.

Governors would only need to have a barred list check if they will also engage in regulated activity in addition to their governance duties.

How often should DBS checks in education be renewed?

It’s best practice to renew DBS checks periodically. Many schools, colleges and nurseries renew DBS checks every three years as part of their commitment to safe recruitment, however this is always dependant on the governing body of the organisation – in this instance, Ofsted

DBS checks in education: A summary

DBS checks in education are a vital safeguarding tool that helps to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children and young people.

To sum up: the majority of staff working in schools, colleges and nurseries will require an enhanced DBS check with a check of the children’s barred list.

Those not engaging in regulated activity will need an enhanced check, but won’t be eligible for a barred list check.

You can find more detailed information in the government’s publication ‘Keeping children safe in education’ – or please do get in touch with us if you have any questions.

Our blogs are advisory in nature and reflect M G Care Executive Limited trading as uCheck's current thinking about best and common practice in the subjects discussed.

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