The National Union of Teachers (NUT) has sought to explain “unclear” Department for Education (DfE) advice on who must be barred from working with young children.
The NUT has issued advice to members on the “disqualification by association” rules, which mean that someone living in the same household as a person already banned from working with young children could themselves be disqualified.
It comes after new guidance on the law, which has been in place since 2009, was issued by the DfE in October. The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has called the rules “unclear” and said that until recently it was not commonly known the rules applied to schools and that, in at least two cases, local authorities have interpreted the rules differently.
The rules prevent anyone who meets certain criteria from “providing early years childcare or later years childcare to children who have not attained the age of 8; or being directly concerned in the management of that childcare”.
In the document published by the NUT, the union said: “As a result of recent DfE guidance, many schools and local authorities are approaching teachers and other school staff seeking information about previous convictions and cautions (including reprimands and warnings) of those living within their household.
“The union has initiated a legal challenge as we believe that the DfE guidance misrepresents the relevant legislation and imposes unnecessary obligations on employers and employees. However in addition, some schools and local authorities are misrepresenting the guidance, and are imposing these checks overzealously, in a way not required either by the regulations or guidance.
“This document advises on the impact of the guidance and the steps you can take. Schools are responding differently to the DfE advice, so please speak to your school representative, who will be able to seek support from division secretaries”
The NUT document clarifies that teachers of children under six, or those who are directly involved in the management of such provision, are within the definition of the rules, while teachers of those over six are not. It also says that those who supervise activities for children over the age of five outside school hours may be subject to the rules.
On the matter of volunteers, the union believes “that the Regulations do not require you to volunteer information if you don’t already know and have no reasonable grounds for believing that a person who lives or works in the same household”.
The document also offers advice on filling in declaration forms, applying to Ofsted for waivers and on which offences count in the eyes of the act.
You can view the NUT advice document here.