New Guidance on "Disqualification by Association" rules
The law which governs the rules on "Disqualification by Association" has been in place since 2009. However, there have been many criticisms and claims stating that the Department for Education's (DfE's) guidance on these rules is unclear. This is because until recently, it was not commonly known that these rules applied to schools. The DfE published guidance in October 2014, but in at least two cases, local authorities have interpreted the rules differently.
"Disqualification by Association" rules mean that someone who lives in the same household as a person who is already banned from working with young children could themselves be disqualified. The DfE’s supplementary advice to Keeping Children Safe in Education states that "the requirement to provide the relevant information about a person who lives or works in the same household as them, guards against an individual working with young children who may be under the influence of a person who lives with them and where that person may pose a risk to children i.e. ‘by association’."
A DfE spokesperson has said:
"these are not new requirements and the law has not changed. The disqualification criteria apply to all staff in schools who work in early years and childcare provision, such as breakfast clubs and after-school care, for children up to the age of 8. Schools and governing bodies should use their judgement when deciding which school staff are covered."
Thankfully, the DfE has now issued new guidance last month (Disqualification under the Childcare Act 2006) on who can be "disqualified by association" to clarify the situation. Russell Hobby, NAHT general secretary said:
“NAHT is pleased to see that this now provides clearer and more extensive guidance for schools on where staff should be disqualified ‘by association’ because of an offence committed by someone they live with, and on how staff should be treated while they apply for an Ofsted waiver."
It has now been clarified that only those working in an after-hours capacity with children up to the age of eight, can be barred from working, as long as they live with someone who has been convicted of a relevant offence.
The guidance will be reviewed again in September.