DBS Certificates (formerly CRB Checks)

by Sharon Wood

Information on DBS Certificates for supply teachers wishing to undertake work in England. [Please note: I keep this information as up-to-date as time will allow.]

A DBS Certificate is now a legal requirement whether you wish to work as a paid employee in a school, or whether you simply want to volunteer.

Currently, you cannot apply for a DBS Certificate for yourself. An Enhanced Disclosure must be requested by an agency, a Local Authority, or a school (predominantly through their Local Authority).

The DBS Certificate process poses many problems for people wishing to take on supply work.

[If you work through agencies, you will, in most cases, be asked to pay for your own. Working through multiple agencies often means paying for multiple CRB Checks. You must then place the onus on the agencies to find work for you in order to cover the cost of their requested CRB Check! There are some agencies who will accept a CRB Check requested by someone else. It is ultimately the organisation’s decision whether to accept any Enhanced Disclosure that you already hold. They will take into consideration the length of time you have held it for etc., but it is often company policy to have a new CRB Check for each new supply teacher. They can then use this as a selling point to schools.

If you wish to work directly through schools, you need to somehow obtain a CRB Check that the schools will accept before going into your first school. In September 2006, regulations were introduced which means CRB checks can be passed between employment agencies supplying staff to schools (including further education institutions) and schools themselves, so if you have had a check through an agency, they can pass it onto a school on your behalf. You may have a CRB Check from voluntary work that you undertake, from university still, from a previous employment. CRB Checks, although the older they are they less reliable they become, do not have a Use By Date! They are relevant at the time of issue, and have no formal period of validity.

CRB Checks for supply teachers

I have no answer as yet as to how you go about getting a CRB Check for yourself, if you wish to work in schools without going through an agency. Personally, I worked in 13 schools before anyone asked to see my Disclosure. I’d not even thought about it as, unaware of legislation, I thought the CRB Check from the school I had worked in the previous term would cover me. It was in a different county, so didn’t cover me at all. I called my previous employer and requested a copy (unaware), which never arrived, but by then, I was a regular face at many schools. I finally went through the procedure when I accepted a 0.2 temporary position in a school – they had to then request a CRB Check before I could accept the job formally, despite having worked there on supply for over a year already. And yes, it was clear! Phew! ;o)

(The above paragraph is my story. It shouldn’t have happened like that but it did. I have had a complaint that I am being unprofessional by publishing it, almost that I am encouraging schools to take on supply teachers without a care over their CRB Check. I’m not, and I’m not. It’s just my story!)


Information for Teaching Supply Agencies

A plea on behalf of supply teachers everywhere! (Needs checking and updating – page in progress!)

The Portability Framework Guidance, as laid out by the Criminal Records Bureau, has been replaced it seems by this newsletter.

Many supply teachers do not join agencies as they hear about others paying for 6 different CRB Checks with 6 different agencies, where just one would do, then not getting any work from the agencies to help pay the bill!

Some agencies offer to pay for the checks; it is built into their recruitment costs. Others take a proportion out of the first few days of work that the supply teacher undertakes, thus ensuring that it is not wasted money as far as the supply teacher is concerned – if they receive no work from you, then they don’t pay for the Check.]



Criminal Records Bureau – To work as a teacher, you need to hold the higher level ‘Enhanced Disclosure’. Find more information here.

The Times – A letter with notable signatories (including Chris Woodhead and Johnny Ball) regarding the current legislation surrounding CRB Checks.

CRB Checks Petition – CRB Checks are out of date as soon as they go to print. Many people are paying for multiple CRB Checks as organisations are reluctant to accept their portability. People are turning away from voluntary work in their droves as they are required to provide CRB Checks, at around £36 a time. Children and vulnerable adults are suffering through lack of volunteers (see letter to The Times above.)

Where next? There’s a great quick read here on early morning calls
Check out our resources area here too.