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What are Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks?


DBS checks provide details of an individual's criminal record and, for certain roles, information held by the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) and local police intelligence. They are used to enable organisations to recruit suitable staff and make licensing decisions, and play an essential role in the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults.


Who should be asked to apply for a disclosure?


The DBS check is only a small part of the recruitment process.  You must ensure that you carry out other recruitment checks including reference checks, right to work in the UK and identity checks before completing a disclosure.  The applicant must also accept your conditional offer of employment before a DBS check is requested. As a school or Academy you are required to maintain a Single Central Record of recruitment checks.

School employees – All those directly employed by Schools and Academies in paid positions are required to obtain an enhanced disclosure.  Exceptions to this are those who have been continuously employed (or with a break of not more than three months) within the education sector prior to March 2002.

Volunteers – All volunteers with frequent or intensive contact with children must obtain an enhanced disclosure.  This contact can be as little as one hour a week, four days or more in a month, or overnight such as a one-off residential trip.  Volunteers undertaking other one-off contact are not eligible for Disclosures, such as helping on sports day, and adequate supervision must be in place.

School Governors are not generally required to have a Disclosure unless they also undertake voluntary duties in School that meet the frequent or intensive definition above.  Academies are required to ensure that all their Governors obtain a DBS Disclosure.  

Agency staff – The Agency is responsible for ensuring all recruitment checks have been undertaken and the School/Academy must be provided, by the Agency, with a copy of any Disclosure that contains information, in advance of the worker being supplied.

Staff of contractors – The Contractor is responsible for carrying out recruitment checks on staff they are placing in Schools or Academies for e.g. cleaning and catering.  The School/Academy needs to obtain confirmation from the contractor that all checks have been satisfactorily completed.  This does not extend to Contractors working outside of the School/Academy premises e.g. builders or performing occasional maintenance e.g. plumbers.


It is an offence to employ, in a School or Academy, an individual who is barred from working with children.  A check against the ISA barred list will be requested as part of the DBS Disclosure but, to avoid having to wait for the Disclosure to be issued, SPS will undertake a separate, immediate check against the barred list upon receipt of the completed Disclosure application if requested by the School or Academy. If an appropriate barred list check has been undertaken and clearance received, the applicant can then commence employment with adequate supervision if the Head Teacher wants them to start work ahead of the full Disclosure being issued.


How long does a DBS check take to process?

Once the online application form is sent off the disclosure typically takes 5 days to be returned by the DBS.