Criminal Record Checks for Initial Teacher Education (ITE) entrants

In response to DfES Circular I/02/57(a) May 2002

The above circular places a requirement on all providers of ITE courses to subject applicants to a criminal record check through the disclosure service operated by the Disclosure Barring Service (DBS). This requirement is effective from 1 September 2002. This circular covers any work in an FE institution or the wider FE sector that involves contact with children under 18. It is also a requirement of any Bursary that this check is carried out. From November 2010 this will be replaced with ISA registration.

The University of Bolton is a Registered Body with the DBS.  An Enhanced Disclosure will usually be provided within 4 weeks of the DBS receiving a correctly completed application form. The DBS Administrator can be contacted via email on h.livesey@bolton.ac.uk  or phone on 01204 903479, she is located within the Student Services and will manage the process of undertaking criminal record checks for ITE entrants.

Information regarding the DBS is sent to all students who have been offered a place on the course by email.  This will include instructions on how to apply and details on how to complete the DBS application form.  All students are required to submit payment of £55 with their DBS application.  Payments can be made via cheque, cash, credit or debit card.  To make a payment by credit or debit card please contact our Financial Services on 01204 903180. 

The University of Bolton will operate the following procedure:

All pre-service applicants (those who are new to teaching and not being paid to teach) must undergo an Enhanced DBS Disclosure through the University of Bolton.

All in-service applicants (those who are currently being paid to teach) will need to provide a letter to the pathway leader from their employer confirming that they have a current DBS disclosure. This letter will need to be provided at or before enrolment.

  • If a candidate is offered a place on the course then it will always be conditional on a satisfactory criminal record check, irrespective of any other conditions.
  • DBS documentation must be completed on, or before, enrolment.
  • The DBS Administrator will send an Enhanced Disclosure application pack to the candidate. The candidate will follow the procedure laid down by Student Services in order to ensure that a disclosure is obtained. Supporting documentation and identification documentation must be provided and must be current.
  • The applicant must provide the enhanced disclosure to the University at student services at which point the disclosure will be scrutinised by lead signatory or by other counter signatories.  In cases where there is clearly no issue for concern then that person can sign off the condition as being met and as long as all other conditions are met they can be made final (unconditional) and the applicant can proceed.
  • In cases where there is a potential problem then the details of the Disclosure will be passed by the DBS  Administrator to the Academic Group Leader who will make a final decision. If a decision cannot be reached the case will be discussed with the Head of Student Services as lead signatory. Where there is a decision to reject a candidate on the basis of their disclosure a consultation will occur with the Associate Director of Marketing.  University policies, where they exist, will be followed in such cases. Concerns regarding the DBS Disclosure from an applicant/student enrolled at a Partner organisation will be discussed with the relevant named contact in the organisation. This will be either the Human Resource manager or the relevant Quality Manager.
  • During training, trainees must also notify the Academic Group Leader - Education and Psychology of any arrest, caution or conviction  that occurs. A decision will be taken, following the relevant procedure, as to whether this may deem them unsuitable for teaching. If information is withheld, training will be terminated.

In order for this system to operate with equality for all applicants there needs to be guidelines as to what constitutes an unacceptable criminal record for entry into teacher training. The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (DBIS) recommend that the following points be considered on an individual basis:

  • The nature of the offence
  • The nature of the appointment, in this case a trainee teacher
  • The time lapsed since the offence occurred; the prospect of rehabilitation must be weighed against the need to protect children.
  • The frequency of offences; a series of offences over a period of time will give more cause for concern than an isolated minor conviction.
  • Making a false declaration, at application stage, regarding the nature or severity of the offence/offences.

Notwithstanding the above we need to be clear on what will definitely preclude someone from entering teacher training and this is shown in the following list which refers to convictions, and is not meant to be exhaustive:

  • Violent offences against the person
  • Sexual offences
  • Drug or drug related offences
  • Substance abuse (including alcohol)
  • An entry on the ISA  list of barred people (List 99)
  • An entry on the ISA barred lists

In all cases the department will refer to the advice contained within the Universities' Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET) document 'Guidance on how Initial Teacher Training Institutions might deal with Applicants Possessing Criminal Records' (UCET, June 2003) and the NCTL ITE requirements guidance. These documents list the 'best practice' in this area of deliberation.

Other offences may preclude an individual if they are considered to pose a threat to the well-being of children (either physically or morally) but these are less easy to define. Such cases will require discussion with relevant staff as described above. A decision may be made to require the candidate to apply to the Teachers' Misconduct Branch, DBIS, Darlington giving details of their criminal records and asking them to advise the candidate whether or not their record would disbar them from entering teaching.  Clearly, this may involve notifying a placement provider of Professional Practice and it will be their decision as to whether or not to continue offering a placement.

Applicants need to note that 'cautions' and spent convictions will appear on an enhanced disclosure and that these may be taken into account when suitability for teacher training is determined.

The university operates a policy of not supplying any information gathered under this process to any third party without the applicant's written permission. Trainees who are accepted onto the course but have convictions which may impact directly on their placement or their future employment may be asked to present their DBS to a nominated person in the placement. In order for DBS disclosures to be shared across the partnership candidates/trainees will need to give permission for the employer's copy of the enhanced disclosure to be passed on within the training partnership. If permission is not given by the trainee then this may result in the placement provider withdrawing their offer of a placement or the placement provider may ask the trainee to complete a further DBS to comply with their own organisational requirements.

Trainees whose DBS clearance is received after their commencement on the course, or after they have started a placement, may be withdrawn from the course if their DBS identifies a conviction which would (according to the procedures above) have barred their entry onto the ITE programme.

Student Services do not participate in the portability scheme for disclosures. The Disclosure document itself will be destroyed 6 months from the date of its issue. The giving of information contained within the Disclosure is a criminal offence unless written permission has been sought from the person to whom it relates.

Please note that there may be changes to the above in line with new government policy.