School leaders have broadly welcomed the results of a review into the vetting and barring procedures for adults who work with children - but warn the devil may be in the detail.
Speaking in response to the government’s findings from the review of the Vetting and Barring Scheme, the NAHT said it fully embraced the adoption of a more “proportionate” response which based decisions more on common-sense than paranoia but said certain aspects of the proposals needed to be tightened up to avoid misfiring.
For example, the association said definitions covering those described in the findings as having: “regular or close contact with vulnerable groups” needed to be clear.
Russell Hobby, NAHT General Secretary, said: “While we welcome the opportunity for employers to exercise common sense, if there is any ambiguity in definitions and processes, it will be employers who get the blame when things go wrong."
Mr Hobby added: “In any event we are concerned that there is likely to be even greater responsibility thrown on to schools for completing detailed risk assessments and introducing closer monitoring of volunteers.”
The association has also called for:
- greater clarity on the distinction between the phrases “entitled to” and “required to” when obtaining a disclosure, to avoid unnecessary CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) checks being made;
- assurance that the process for making a barring decision complies with article 6 of the Human Rights Act to ensure a fair trial within a reasonable time frame;
- no annual subscription fee or increased fees for disclosures.
Mr Hobby said: “The NAHT has long been concerned about national regulations and locally imposed practices that force schools to be risk averse instead of focussing on the effective management of risk.
“Any scheme that is genuinely proportionate must be welcomed with open arms but until the practical details emerge and the day to day realities become apparent, it is necessary to inject a note of caution.”
Page Published: 16/02/2011