Tag Archives: advice on supply teaching

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.

Contacting Schools Directly

by Sharon Wood

NuttySupplier for one, is living proof that you don’t necessarily have to work through a supply teacher recruitment agency. Contacting schools directly, she has never even considered using an agency!

Before spending lots of time and energy on contacting schools directly, call the Local Authority and ask what the present situation is. They may only allow supply teachers to work through agencies, as they have no way of dealing with payroll. If they are in charge of their own payroll systems, or have even out-sourced it to a company like Capita, you should be able to go to schools direct.

Contacting schools directly can be worth the leg work for supply teachers.

This can have its pitfalls, predominantly with CRB Checks, but it can be a very well-rewarded activity.

How to go about it?
Have a look here, to see how others have started out on this path, summarised below:
Update your CV and Supporting Statement. Write a covering letter, and copy your current CRB Check. Trawl through the county website’s list of schools and contacts. Call each school you’d be interested in working in, to ask if they’d be interested in seeing your CV with a view to offering you supply work in the future. This is your first opportunity to make an impression, be nice!
Tell them you’ll pop it in the post if they are interested. Don’t post it, hand deliver it! This gives them a chance to put a face to a name and check you out, and you a chance to see if you really do want to work there! It’s also an invaluable trip out and about seeing where these schools are. When you get a call at 8:15am for an 8:30am start, you don’t want to have to be consulting the A-Z!

Where next? There’s a great quick read here on continuing professional development.
Check out our resources area here too.