Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Barred from Your Job for Living with the Wrong Person

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Barred from Your Job for Living with the Wrong Person

Article excerpt

Child safety rules leave dozens of primary teachers suspended

Controversial new child protection rules are causing "chaos" and leading to dozens of primary school staff being wrongly suspended from work, unions have warned.

According to official guidance, staff could face disqualification from their jobs if they share a home with someone who has committed a serious violent or sexual crime, or been banned from working with children. But unions say that confusion over the rules has led to numerous cases where school staff have been erroneously barred from school, with hundreds of others left in "limbo" while their cases are dealt with.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT headteachers' union, said one primary school leader had even left their job in order to prevent family secrets being exposed.

"At the moment we're receiving around a dozen calls a day about this," he said. "It's the number one issue for our members. If a school leader is suspended, it is very visible in the school community and it can be a very unpleasant situation trying to explain it to parents.

"For staff with long, unblemished service to a school, it is an insult; this legislation isn't designed for schools and is causing chaos. Every local authority seems to be using a different interpretation of the rules."

Ben Thomas, a national officer for Unison, which represents school support staff, said the union was aware of more than 300 disqualification cases involving school staff so far. These include one female member who was wrongly suspended because her husband had a history of mental illness.

Another employee was prevented from working because he lived with his son who had received a football banning order, and one woman was disqualified because her daughter had been temporarily removed from her care after running away from home a decade earlier when she was a teenager.

The rules are supposed to apply only to serious cases including murder, rape, manslaughter and indecent assault, as well as grievous and actual bodily harm.

If a member of school staff lives with someone convicted of one of these offences, they must disclose this if they are asked by their employer. The member of staff will then be automatically suspended until they apply to Ofsted for a waiver, which they need in order to return to work. …

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