Kelly tightens rules on sex offenders teaching

Anyone convicted or cautioned for a sex offence against a child will be banned from teaching under a tightening of the rules, the education secretary has announced.

Ruth Kelly told MPs she “deeply regretted” the concern caused to parents by the recent stories of sex offenders working in schools. She said she was “determined to lessen their concerns” and overhaul the system.

Kelly also announced that an independent panel, chaired by former Barnardo’s head Sir Roger Singleton, would take over ministers’ role of deciding who is suitable to work with children. The panel will review past cases of ‘partial’ restrictions placed on staff.

Other plans include compulsory Criminal Records Bureau checks for new school staff and supply teachers used by agencies, the creation of a central unit to assess cases, rather than ministers, and a single banning list for people working with children.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation the representative body for supply teacher agencies, welcomed the simplification of the checking regime.

But it raised concerns that there could be substantial backlogs unless the new system is effectively resourced. In addition, the confederation said, it will be crucial to ensure that employers and agencies are effectively carrying out the necessary checks in order to restore confidence in the system.

John Dunn, chair of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation education sector group, said: “Supply teacher agencies have done all they can in the past to vet teachers. However, their judgement was only as good as the information they were provided with. Hopefully the new system will be clearer and easier to use.

“I call on the Department for Education and Skills to consult with us on implementing the new vetting and barring scheme. It is vital that any new system of checks is well resourced and does not result in backlogs.”

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