Schools: Voluntary Work

Department for Education written question – answered on 14th January 2019.

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Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Conservative, East Worthing and Shoreham

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate he has made on the number of (a) parent and (b) non-parent volunteers in schools who have had safeguarding checks in each of the last 10 years.

Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Conservative, East Worthing and Shoreham

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans he has to exempt parent volunteers from criminal record checks; and whether he has had any discussions with his Australian counterpart on the effectiveness of introducing such a scheme in that country.

Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Conservative, East Worthing and Shoreham

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what information his Department holds on the number of volunteers in schools in each of the last 10 years; and how many of those volunteers are parents.

Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Conservative, East Worthing and Shoreham

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the number of parent volunteers in schools; and whether he plans to reduce obstacles to volunteering in schools.

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

Volunteers play an important role in supporting children in many of our schools. As decisions whether to engage volunteers are made locally by schools, the department does not collect data on the number of volunteers in schools or data on safeguarding checks carried out for volunteers. There is, therefore, no data held on which to base an estimate of safeguarding checks carried out.

The department’s statutory safeguarding guidance ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’, makes clear that any volunteer should not be deployed to work unsupervised with children without appropriate checks. Where schools decide that a DBS criminal record check is appropriate for a volunteer, these can be obtained free of any charge from DBS. There are no plans currently to change these arrangements.

There is a legal requirement for a DBS criminal record check for school governors, which are predominantly volunteer roles, including any parent governors. School governing boards have a key role in providing clarity of vision, and promoting the ethos and direction of the school and setting the school's aims and policies. DBS and other pre-appointment safeguarding checks, provide reassurance to the governing board that an individual is not disqualified from holding office as a governor and is suitable for the position.

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