I just received this email from an exam invigilator – in response to my Civitas report on vetting – about the frequent requests he receives for criminal records checks. Some of these requests appear to be motivated by DfE guidance that if a volunteer hasn’t been into school for the previous three months, they be asked to carry out a separate check. All of which shows that requests for repeat vetting continue apace – and that the rules underlying these requests remain confusing and illogical.
‘Since I retired I have been working as an exam invigilator in local secondary schools during the exam seasons. I originally signed up with an agency, who required me to get a CRB check at my own expense, after which I could work in schools who used their services. I applied in 2013 to join the in-house invigilation team of a local school. I was successful but the school said that the CRB check obtained by the agency, although by no means out of date, was “not portable” and they asked me to apply for another one. As they were paying, I did not object and once it came through I was able to work for them, as well as the agency, in April, May and June last year.
‘To my surprise, in October last year I received a letter from the school stating that as I had not been on their premises for 3 months, in order to comply with “safeguarding guidelines” I was required to apply for another DBS check (as it is now called). The reason I had not been to the school since June was that there are no external examinations in July, August and September, so this seemed absurd, but as the form is simple to fill in and the school was paying again I did as they requested. I must assume that the other invigilators had to do the same and as there are about 20 of us this must have cost the school the best part of £1,000. As we are paid just under £9 an hour, it would have been far cheaper to call us all in for a brief “meeting” in September!
‘I now see from your report that there are indeed guidelines for schools which recommend 3-monthly checks for volunteers, but we are paid members of staff and in any case one wonders whether schools are obliged to follow guidelines (not laws) so rigorously. There is also the question of whether the amount of contact invigilators have with individual children really necessitates their being vetted at all, but that is a whole other issue.
‘I worked on mock exams and resits during the winter, so there was no 3-month gap in the spring, but I have not been back since June this year and there may well be another letter in the post soon!’