DBS Check and Safeguarding Policy
As a former secondary school teacher I fully understand the need for safeguarding policies in schools and other organisations, and always work to comply with the local policies of the school or organisation that have invited me to visit and work with them as a science presenter or historical interpreter.
I am very happy to confirm my identity upon my arrival and wear a visitors badge for the duration of my visit, if required. However, I will not show any evidence of a DBS check.*
Why not? The nature of my work means that DBS checks are not necessary because my normal work is not regulated. As a self-employed person it is not possible for me to get a DBS check for my normal activities. The second paragraph of the DBS Guide to Eligability states:
Individuals and the self-employed cannot apply for a check directly to the DBS.
This means that, unless you are going to offer me a fixed term contract of employment for my visit, it is actually illegal for me to request a DBS check for myself, or for you to ask me to produce one as a condition of my visit. As you are unlikely to do this for a visit lasting just one day (the paperwork will be horrendous), you cannot expect me to show you a DBS check.
One further consequence of the law is that if I am offered work and then, later, that offer is retracted because I will not show you my DBS certificate because the work is not regulated, I am fully within my rights to sue you for damages and loss of earnings, with full support through my Equity union membership, as it is illegal for you to refuse me employment due to my DBS situation when I am not being employed for a regulated activity.
What is a Regulated Activity?
The HM Government Regulated Activity in relation to Children document says the following:
The new definition of regulated activity (i.e. work that a barred person must not do) in relation to children comprises, in summary:
(i) unsupervised activities: teach, train, instruct, care for or supervise children, or provide advice/ guidance on well-being, or drive a vehicle only for children;
(ii) work for a limited range of establishments (‘specified places’), with opportunity for contact: e.g. schools, children’s homes, childcare premises.
Not work by supervised volunteers;
Work under (i) or (ii) is regulated activity only if done regularly
The key here is the word regularly. The same document, on the next page, defines regularly as:
Teaching, training or instruction of children, carried out by the same person frequently (once a week or more often), or on 4 or more days in a 30-day period, or overnight.
This means that none of my normal activities I do at your school or organisation are regulated activities, thus you do not require me to produce a DBS certificate.
Am I a Visitor or Contractor?
There is the possibility of confusion here. Am I a school visitor or am I a contractor paid to provide a service to the school or organisation? The guidance is, again, quite clear on this. The Department for Education document Keeping Children Safe in Education states:
85. Schools and colleges should have arrangements in place with contractors to make sure that the contractor, or any employee of the contractor, working at the school or college has been subject to the appropriate level of DBS check, if any such check is required (for example because the contractor is carrying out teaching or providing some type of care for or supervision of children regularly).
86. Contractors and contractors’ employees for whom an appropriate DBS check has not been undertaken should be supervised if they will have contact with children.
87. If a contractor working at a school or college is self-employed, the school or college should consider obtaining the DBS check, as self-employed people are not able to make an application directly to the DBS on their own account.
88. Schools and colleges should always check the identity of contractors and their staff on arrival at the school or college.
89. Schools and colleges do not have the power to request DBS checks and barred list checks, or ask to see DBS certificates, for visitors (for example children’s’ relatives or other visitors attending a sports day). Headteachers and principals should use their professional judgment about the need to escort or supervise visitors.
This means that, if I am considered a visitor, then it is definitely not required that I produce evidence of a DBS check. If I am considered a contractor, then it is up to the school or organisation if they want to obtain a DBS check for me. In this case it will be at the schools’ or organisations’ own expense. However this time and expense can be avoided by simply making sure that I am properly supervised, according to the professional judgement of the person in charge.
As such, it is also the policy of SV Educational Services that none of our presenters shall be left alone with children during one of our presentations. If the sole teacher or carer must leave the room for any reason, they shall not leave until a suitable replacement has been found. If it is unavoidable that the presenter must be left in the room with children alone, then the presentation will stop and the presenter will accompany the teacher or carer until a suitable replacement can be found. This is to protect the children, teacher and presenter.
Please note, this policy should not be taken as legal advice on DBS checks, as I am not a lawyer. Whether you are another self-employed school visitor, or a school or organisation looking for guidance on this matter, please ensure that you fully research this issue yourself. Links to the relevant documents have been included in the text to help you. Further information about DBS is available through the links on this page or you can find a summary of the Equity guidance for Employers here.
* I do hold an Enhanced DBS check undertaken by Step by Step Education for my work as a supply teacher. I also hold a volunteer Enhanced DBS check undertaken by STEMnet in my role as a STEM Ambassador, and I am subscribed to the DBS Update Service. However, neither of these DBS checks are relevant in my role as representative of SV Educational Services when paid to appear at your school or organisation and you do not have the right to ask to see them.