NAHT is very concerned about the implications of the recently published DfE guidance on ‘disqualification by association’. The guidance made it clear that legislation originally designed for nursery staff, disqualifying them from working with young children if they live in the same premises as someone who has been cautioned or convicted of a relevant offence, will also apply to school settings.
NAHT believes that the legislation on which the guidance is based is disproportionate in relation to schools. Schools already have robust safeguarding procedures and this childcare legislation offers no additional relevant protection while significantly increasing the complexity of schools’ recruitment and safeguarding arrangements. It is causing significant staffing issues and the situation is further hindered by conflicting interpretations of the guidance among local authorities.
Ofsted have not helped the situation by publishing new guidance in their Inspecting safeguarding in maintained schools and academies document which states that “ inspectors should ask what steps the school is taking to ensure that it knows that no existing or new staff working in the early or later years, or concerned with the management of such provision, are disqualified.” They emphasise that the categories of staff covered by regulations include staff who: “are directly concerned with the management of such early or later years provision.”, which is their own interpretation of the regulations which extends their reach to all school leaders with early years education or childcare provisions. This can include secondary school staff and leaders where they might have an on site nursery or school clubs for younger children.
Russell Hobby has written to Nicky Morgan asking as a minimum for the Keeping children safe in education guidance to be clarified to provide sound advice that schools can rely on, and that will discourage local authorities from over reacting. Longer term, we have asked for the legislation to be repealed as it is disproportionate to a school setting. Russell’s letter and the response from Nicky Morgan, making a commitment to continuing to discuss this with NAHT, are available below.
NAHT will also be meeting with Ofsted to discuss their guidance and how inspectors should treat the issue, as well as engaging with the Local Government Association try to get more consistency of approach from local authorities.
Members who are disqualified under this legislation can apply to Ofsted for a waiver and should contact NAHT for advice and support in connection with this process.
Further NAHT guidance can be found here.
Page Published: 13/01/2015