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A guide to DBS checks for the education sector

Personnel Checks explains all you need to know about DBS and Children's Barred List checks

Posted by Stephanie Broad | July 22, 2016 | Law, finance, HR

What is the DBS?

The DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) was formed on 1 December 2012 through the merger of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). 

Just as the CRB used to do, the DBS conducts background and criminal record checks on behalf of employers across England and Wales. Once presented with a certificate that reveals if the applicant has a criminal record, the organisation can then make better informed hiring decisions. This is particularly important when hiring people to work with children and vulnerable adults. 

Who needs a DBS check?

We would recommend anyone who is in a position of trust undergoes a DBS check. Basic checks are a public service; they are available to any employer, and they can help to make suitable recruitment decisions. There is not a list of people who can and can’t have one; the only rules are what levels or type of check you qualify for. 

Do I legally have to get a DBS check to work in education?

Although DBS checks are not required by law, Ofsted and the Independent Schools Standards state that all schools must conduct DBS checks on staff. This allows hiring managers to make suitable and safe hiring decisions. 

What kind of DBS check is recommended for those working in education?

There is no particular type of DBS check required in order to work in education. However, we would recommend that employers in these sectors conduct an Enhanced DBS Check on all potential employees, as the nature of the sector involves working primarily with children. An Enhanced Check goes into more depth and allows the employer to also conduct a search of the Children’s Barred List

Enhanced DBS checks 

What does an Enhanced DBS check show?

The Enhanced DBS check is the highest level of check available, therefore it goes into the most level of detail. It reveals if a person has any spent or unspent convictions, warnings, cautions or reprimands on their criminal record. This check also has the option to search the Children or Adult Barred List, which is why it is highly recommended for the education sector, to discover if the applicant should be barred from working with these groups. The applicant’s local police force are also able to disclose other relevant information they hold on the applicant.

How do I apply for an Enhanced DBS check?

For this level of check, employers must apply on behalf of the potential candidate; individuals cannot apply themselves. Once the candidate has completed the application and it has been processed, the certificate will be mailed directly to the applicant. They will be required to present this to their new employer before starting the position. If the DBS check has been completed online, the employer will receive an email from Personnel Checks which states either;

“We can confirm that the certificate contains no information”
This means the check is clear and contains no criminal information.


“We advise that you wait to view the applicants’ certificate to see the results before making a recruitment decision”
This means there is some information on this check about the applicants’ criminal history and the employer should request to see the check in order to make an informed hiring decision.

How long does it take to receive an Enhanced DBS check?

Generally, we find that Enhanced DBS checks can be returned quicker when completed online rather than a paper application. Some checks can be returned to us in as little as 24 hours if there are no queries, whereas some can take a week. Some applications can take longer and there is no guarantee of a turnaround time.

The Children’s Barred List

What is a Children’s Barred List check?

Conducting a check of the Children’s Barred List used to be known as a List 99 check. It is a quick way of finding out whether an individual is barred from working with children. 

A Children’s Barred List check is only available to individuals working with children in the education sector and applies to professions including teachers, tutors and teaching assistants. It is recommended that employers request a check of the Children’s Barred List if the applicant will be teaching, training or supervising children.

If an applicant is found to be listed on the Children’s Barred List, it is illegal to employ them for a role which involves working with children. 

If I perform a Children’s Barred List Check, do I still need a DBS Check?

That is the decision of the employer. If the employer would like to see a full criminal record check, they can organise a DBS check as well as the Children’s Barred List search. A Children’s Barred List check can be carried out at the same time as an Enhanced DBS check. Some employers begin an individual’s employment once the result of the Children’s Barred List search is complete. 

How much does a Children’s Barred List Check cost?

It costs £10.00 + VAT.

Can a DBS check stop you from hiring?

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 states that a potential employer cannot discriminate against an applicant because of their criminal record after a certain amount of time has passed.

If a DBS check is returned and it shows that the applicant has a criminal record to their name, such as a warning, caution, reprimand, spent or unspent conviction, then it is up to the employer to decide whether it is relevant. They will have to take into account the age when the offence was committed and the nature of the crime. 

However, if the applicant is found to be on the Children’s or Adult’s Barred List, then it is against the law for the employer to offer them a position working with children or vulnerable adults. 

Can I pass or fail a DBS Check?

A DBS Check at any level is not a ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ test - the check will show any convictions, cautions, warnings or reprimands. If anything does show up on the criminal record check, the employer is simply required to use their own judgement to decide whether it is relevant to the position or not.

How long is a DBS check valid for?

A DBS check does not expire. The information that shows up on the certificate will be accurate up until the time the check was carried out. Any offences committed after that time will not show up unless a new check is carried out.

Does a DBS check have to be renewed?

There is no law stating that a check must be renewed after a certain amount of time in order for a person to stay in their role and it is the decision of the employer to decide when a check should be renewed. Many of our education clients will renew all of their staff’s checks every three years. 

Will a DBS Check carry over to a new job?

There is also no legal requirement stating that a DBS check only applies to one job. It is up to each employer to decide whether they are satisfied with an applicant’s current DBS check, or whether they would like to conduct a new check under their company name for an up-to-date certificate. 

For employers that regularly conduct DBS checks for their staff, the DBS now runs an Update Service for an annual fee of £13. If an applicant already has a DBS Check, the new employer can log onto the update service to see if there are any changes since their last certificate was issued. If there are, the employer will know to conduct a new DBS Check to see what the change to the criminal record was.

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