Ofsted has admitted than more than half of workers who applied for a waiver to ‘disqualification by association’ rules are still waiting to hear the outcome.
The inspectorate said that 147 of the 259 applications from school staff were still under consideration at the time of this article’s publication. So far just 17 have been approved.
Schools Week was led to believe by Ofsted that the total number of applications applied solely to teachers, as reported in today’s front page story, but a spokesperson today clarified that fewer than 20 per cent of applications were from teachers.
Concerns about the confusing nature of disqualification by association rules were raised last year after the Department for Education issued a guidance note provoking new interest in them.
Previously, it was understood that childminders and early years workers living with someone convicted of a violent or sexual crime may themselves face disqualification; the DfE guidance, however, emphasised that it also applied to schools.
Unison’s head of education and children’s services Jon Richards has previously raised concerns about the confusion. Learning of today’s clarification, he said: “From the time this advice was issued it has been unclear, and this confusion with Ofsted just shows that this has been a complete and utter mess from the start.”
Ofsted are seeking to clear the backlog of applications, but cannot say how long this will take given that each varies in complexity.
Their spokesperson said: “Ofsted has seen an increase in waiver applications following the publication of updated government guidance on disqualification in October 2014. Our own guidance and procedure for processing applications remains unchanged.
“While we process all applications as quickly as possible, we must also investigate each application thoroughly before making a decision to grant a waiver. This can often take time, particularly in more serious or complex cases.
“We appreciate the inconvenience this may cause to some staff affected. However, parents and carers would expect us to take all necessary steps to ensure that children are safeguarded.
“We will do all we can to minimise delays while ensuring that all applications are dealt with properly.”