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Teaching Union calls for DBS checks on Tutors

The National Education Union (NEU), the country’s biggest teaching union has said private tutors should face criminal record checks to prevent blacklisted teachers from changing career to work with children.

According to a recent survey, the Sutton Trust charity say the use of home tuition has doubled in a decade, with a quarter of secondary school pupils supplementing their lessons with private help. One in three children said the extra tuition away from the classroom was to assist with their GSCE exams.

It was discovered that pupils in London were more likely to have received private tuition than the rest of the country, with two in five pupils from the capital having had tuition at some stage.

The Tutors’ Association estimates that about a million people work as tutors, a tenth of them full time. Unlike school teachers, tutors are not required to undergo DBS checks, which determine whether they have any criminal convictions or bans on working with children. The National Education Union said it was time to properly regulate the multibillion-pound industry.

Teachers must undergo an enhanced level DBS check, which is the highest level of check and shows full details of a criminal record, including cautions, warnings, reprimands, spent and unspent convictions. It can also search the children and vulnerable adults ‘barred list’ to see if the applicant is prohibited from working with these groups.

Currently, if a self-employed tutor wanted to apply for a check on themselves, they would be eligible for a basic DBS check only, which searches for any unspent convictions on an individual's criminal history. This is also the case for parents wanting to apply for a check on a tutor they plan to employ.

Ian March, from the NEU, told BBC News: “It's absolutely vital that the government makes sure everyone who works as a tutor has a DBS check as people may work as a private tutor when they've been barred from working in other teaching environments.”

The Tutors’ Association, which is the UK's only professional body for tutors and tuition companies, backed the call for a change in the law. Adam Muckle, president of the association, commented: "The Tutors' Association asks all its members to have DBS checks as well as checking their academic qualifications".

"Our tutors also have references and testimonials as well as being signed up to a code of conduct."

Minister for Children and Families, Nadhim Zahawi said: "Nothing is more important than the safety of children and if parents decide to employ a private tutor for their children they should assure themselves of a tutor's suitability beforehand.

"There are a range of checks parents can carry out, including checking the outcomes of the teacher misconduct panel hearings to see if a private tutor has been prohibited from teaching."

Apply and find out more about the levels of DBS checks on our website alternatively, we offer specific information for private tutors here.

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