IMPROVING RECRUITMENT PRACTICES AND SAFEGUARDING CHILDREN – KELLY

PUBLISHED: 10:13 27 January 2006 | UPDATED: 09:30 06 May 2010

EDUCATION Secretary Ruth Kelly has announced an overhaul of the current system by which schools, supply agencies, and other employers vet and approve staff working in schools – to ensure that it is immeasurably strengthened and fundamentally rebalanced to

EDUCATION Secretary Ruth Kelly has announced an overhaul of the current system by which schools, supply agencies, and other employers vet and approve staff working in schools - to ensure that it is immeasurably strengthened and fundamentally rebalanced to ensure that child safety is always the most important factor.

New regulations to be introduced within weeks will ensure that anyone working with children who is convicted or cautioned for sex offences against children will be entered on List 99 and barred from working in schools.

It will also be mandatory for all schools, supply agencies and other employers in the education sector to perform Criminal Records Bureau checks on all newly appointed teachers and school workers.

And ahead of legislation to remove Ministers from the barring process, a panel of police, child protection workers and medical practitioners led by the former head of Barnados, Sir Roger Singleton, will advise on all barring decisions.

A Bill to be introduced next month will integrate and upgrade the current List 99 and Protection of Children Act lists of individuals deemed unsuitable to work with children, with a centralised vetting and barring system run by a statutory body.

Other key elements of the new system will allow:

o barring decisions to be made even where there is simply an application to work with children or vulnerable adults, based on the basis of an individual's criminal history, as well as following referrals from employers and other bodies;

o barring decisions to be updated as soon as any new information becomes available, and employers swiftly notified if an employee is then deemed unsuitable;

o secure access by all employers, including domestic employers such as parents contracting private tutors, to make secure, instant online checks of an applicant's status;

Mrs Kelly said: "Child protection has been a top priority of successive governments, and over the years procedures have been strengthened. It is time however to strengthen them further.

"We need a system where child protection comes first - above all other considerations. It must be a rigorous system drawing on the best expert advice. There must be absolute clarity about who does what. The system must command public confidence and it must be accountable.

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