Scrutiny of those working with children

 
The Childcare Act 2006 and the subsequent Childcare (Disqualification) Regulations 2009, bar people with certain convictions, mainly relating to sexual offences, from working with pupils in education institution.
 
The legislation also disqualifies those who live in the same premises as people with such convictions. The laws catch both before and after school provisions provided by educational institutions. It does not, however, include education or supervised activities for children above reception age during school hours.  
 
In a recent case, the Supreme Court was asked to consider a decision of the Upper Employment Tribunal relating to a head teacher’s dismissal. The head teacher had worked in education for over 20 years and had, until this case, a clean record. Both the Tribunal and the Court heard that the head teacher was in a close relationship with an individual who was convicted of making indecent images of children. Both the head teacher and the individual in question did not share the same home, but they did have a joint bank account and the head teacher was a named driver on the individual’s car insurance policy. The Court and the Tribunal heard that the head teacher took up her role as head teacher around 7 months after the arrest of the individual for the aforementioned offence. The head teacher did not inform the school governors of the arrangement. The head teacher claimed that she had sought the advice of various people, including a police officer, with such advice being that she did not need to disclose the information.  
 
The Supreme Court agreed with both the Employment Tribunal and the Court of Appeal that the head teacher had a duty to “advise, assist and inform” the governing body of the school in the fulfilment of her safeguarding responsibilities. The relationship between the two individuals meant that there was at least potential for an enhanced risk to the pupils of the school. Disclosure was necessary to allow the governing body to consider what protective steps were required.  
 
Should you wish to discuss the implications of this case with an education law solicitor, please contact Thomas Emmett on 01245 543847 or alternatively you can email Thomas at thomas.emmett@birkettlong.co.uk.
The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.