New school governance legislation has been introduced by the Department for Education which requires that, from September 2016, all school governors in England must have enhanced DBS checks. These are referred to as criminal record disclosure and barring service checks in the legislation.
The change has been enacted through the new School Governance (Constitution and Federations) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 and school governors must make sure they do not overlook the implications.
The amendment regulations require that:
- From 1 April 2016, all maintained school governing bodies should apply for an enhanced criminal records certificate for any newly appointed governor within 21 days of appointment;
- By 1 September 2016, the number of parent governors on the governing bodies of federations should be two.
Enhanced criminal record checks have not previously been mandatory for maintained school governors. This amendment to the 2012 Constitution Regulations has been designed to provide reassurance to governing bodies that an individual is not disqualified from holding a place in office as a governor due to criminal convictions.
How do enhanced DBS checks affect a governor’s application process?
For governors who do not currently hold an enhanced DBS certificate a new application will need to be submitted within 21 days of their appointment or election. Failure by a governor to comply with the timescales will render them disqualified from holding a place in office.
The chair of governors/trustees is ultimately responsible for ensuring the necessary checks are undertaken however, the vice chair or head teacher may assume this responsibility on behalf of the chair. In both cases the procedures and record keeping may be delegated to the school administrator or head teacher as appropriate.
If a governor already has a certificate they will simply need to provide a copy to the chair or vice chair/head teacher for consideration. Where a DBS check is processed by the school, then the administrator will be notified when it has been processed.
What does this mean for maintained schools?
Enhanced criminal record checks were previously not mandatory for maintained school governors. However when it comes to academies the funding agreements require that, in a single academy all governors must be checked and that in a multi academy trust the directors/trustees must be checked (members of the local governing bodies do not have to be, but can be). The new regulations bring the arrangements in the maintained sector into line with the requirements that are in place for academies.
Many school governors in maintained schools will no doubt already hold an enhanced DBS certificate. However, this legislation has been introduced to improve the regulatory framework for maintained school governance and to provide reassurance to the governing body.
For more information on enhanced DBS checks, please contact our Education team on 0161 475 7676.