Vetting for school governors made a legal obligation

I have just received an email from a school governor: “I’m a Chair of Governors of a primary school and have been made aware of a new statutory instrument that was laid before Parliament last week, which mandates that all governors of maintained schools have an enhanced criminal records check, regardless of whether they’re undertaking regulated activity or not. Up until now, the decision as to whether to check all governors was down to the LA or body in question, and we did not routinely vet new governors. Despite being known to the school for over a decade, I will be required to undergo a DBS check by September if I want to remain a governor, although I’m minded to refuse.”

This is a step back for the campaign to reclaim trust, and to reduce criminal records checks in cases where people are known to one another in small local organisations. Many school governors are parents of children at the school; they are well known to the school and to other parents. Besides, they generally do not actually meet children in the course of their governing activities, with meetings occurring after school hours when the school is closed.

The government is removing the choice from local authorities and schools of whether or not to check school governors. This prevents local bodies from making decisions on a common-sense basis, according to the person’s role and whether they are known to the school or not.

If any school governors are affected by or thinking of opposing this order, please do get in touch.