The one about safer recruitment

Safeguarding Briefing - 11th November 2019

Dear Colleague,

Safer Recruitment, Sex Offenders and Name Changes

Recently the TES and a number of other daily newspapers ran a story about how teachers who are convicted of sexual offences against children are able to change their name and return to work in schools.

Prompted by an email from a Safeguarding Briefing reader, I started to explore how robust education's safer recruitment processes are, and whether it would be possible to return to work as a teacher, after a conviction, by changing their name without being identified.

It is true that people convicted of sexual offences are not prohibited from changing their name, and may be able do that online whilst still in prison. There are two different types of deed poll for an official name change, these are ‘unenrolled’ and 'enrolled' deed polls. In order to obtain a new passport with the new name, the more detailed 'enrolled' deed poll would be needed, applications for these are administered by the Royal Courts of Justice and cost £36.

It is relatively easy to change your name and obtain a new passport, although there are potential hurdles in this. If the name change is to defraud or deceive, this is an offence. Someone who is on licence or under probation is required to inform their probation officer and if they are on the Sex Offenders Register they are required to notify the police within 14 days of the name change. Without being upfront about the name change, if found out, it would lead to being dismissed from a job, possibly recalled to prison, and charged with an offence.

Further information is here:

Implications for schools

I am not a lawyer or a HR professional, but this is what I think.

In order to do the DBS check, a person needs to show ID documents (from Group 1), including either a passport or driving licence, (as noted above this could be in their new name); and two other documents (from Group 2). They also have to declare any previous names (though of course they could decide not to - which is an offence). Addresses are needed from the past five years, and this may show up a previous name, or at least no evidence of someone with the new name having lived there.

The next checks in schools are qualification checks and this is where I think it becomes more difficult to hide a previous name because these certificates can't be changed. Questions should now be asked as to why they didn't enter that previous name on the DBS application form. Although, someone could gain qualifications in a new name, this would certainly need time; another set of DBS checks for enrolment; and a lot of work.

Now we turn to reference checks, these need to match the person's work history and, if we assume the offender's name change is recent, then their previous work history would link to a previous name, or a reference couldn't be provided. If they have served a jail term, that gap would be noticed and need explaining.

If there was a need to go beyond a self-declaration of medical fitness, any enquiries might reveal a previous name, via GP or hospital records.

For teachers, they would also be required to enter their Teacher Reference Number (formerly the DfE Number) on their application form. This would also link to the Teachers' Pension Scheme, where I believe previous names are kept on file.

Finally, a name change doesn't change your national insurance number, so I think there is another potential opportunity to identify a previous name there.

In summary, I think whilst it is theoretically possible for a person to hide a previous name to get employed in a school, it would need an awful lot of subterfuge, cost and time (not least to gain new qualifications). It would be much, much easier to unofficially change your name and then work as a self-employed tutor, run a sports' club or befriend young people in a leisure activity, than hide a previous name via an official (enrolled deed poll) name change and work in a school. Therefore, I think the risk of this is relatively low, as long as the school's safer recruitment checks are robust.

It has been suggested that it would help if schools required sight of an original birth certificate, but this supposes that the person didn't change their name at any other point in their life.

Safeguarding schools and over-flying by drones

NEW Drone Registration Scheme from 30th November 2019

A few days ago, I had an email from a teacher who was concerned that a drone had hovered over their playground for some minutes. This could raise safeguarding issues from a number of perspectives. Coincidentally, from the end of this month new laws come into force that aim to regulate the use of drones, also known as unmanned aerial systems (UAS) or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

From Saturday 30th November 2019, new laws will come into force about the use of drones.

  • Anyone responsible for a drone or unmanned aircraft (including model aircraft) weighing between 250g and 20kg will need to register as an operator. The cost for this will be £9 renewable annually.
  • Anyone flying a drone or unmanned aircraft (including model aircraft) weighing between 250g and 20kg will need to take and pass an online education package. This is free and renewable every three years. Information about the test can be found here:
  • Drones must also be clearly marked with its registration number, which should be large enough to be seen from the ground.

Although there is no legal limit, safe flying is regarded as under 400ft. Drone users should not fly where there are dangers (for example, airfields), hazards (eg, motorways) or areas where there may be privacy risks (for example, schools). You can find your school on this map for drone users here:

The drone code of conduct says that pilots should stay at least 150m from built-up and busy areas, including schools. They should also be in sight of their drone at all times, so it may be possible to identify who is flying it.

Drone Assist App (Free from the AppStore and Google Play)

Drone Assist is a drone safety app from NATS, the UK’s main air traffic control provider, powered by Altitude Angel. Users can see an interactive map of airspace so that they can see areas to avoid or in which extreme caution should be exercised, as well as ground hazards that may pose safety, security or privacy risks when flying a drone. The app shows drone pilots where schools are and should therefore be avoided.

What to do if a drone is spotted over a school and gives cause for concern

As a general rule, unless the drone pilot has permission from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), they should not be flying a camera-equipped unmanned aircraft (drone) within 150m of a ‘congested area’, which includes schools.

If there are any concerns about unmanned aircraft being used around your school, either from a safety or privacy perspective, contact the police on 101, with the drone's registration number if possible.

Drones and data protection (Information Commissioner's Office)

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) recommends that drones with cameras should be operated in a responsible way that respects the privacy of others, as their use may be covered by the Data Protection Act.

The ICO website has tips on responsible use of drones:

  • Let people know before you start recording
  • Consider your surroundings
  • Get to know your camera first
  • Plan your flight
  • Keep you and your drone in view
  • Think before sharing
  • Keep the images safe

Further Information

Download the Drone Code

Flying drones and model aircraft (Civil Aviation Authority)

Registering yourself to use a drone or model aircraft

Poster explaining the law

Poster about how to label your drone

Information Commissioner's Office

Forthcoming Seminars

Seminars can be booked online using the links below, by replying to this email stating the course you wish to attend, or by simply phoning Emma or Hollie at our office on 01223 929269.

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Until next time, keep safe.

Best regards,

Andrew Hall
Specialist Safeguarding Consultant
Success In Schools Ltd.

Telephone: 01223 929269

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