The Government has finally published a response to its 2016 consultation on disqualification into amending current rules on disqualification by association. It has decided to remove disqualification by association in schools and non-domestic registered settings from September.
Since February 2015, anyone working in childcare can automatically be disqualified from working with children if someone who lives or works in their household is disqualified – including partners, children, flatmates and lodgers. This is known as ‘disqualification by association’, and it was designed to stop an individual working with young children who may be under influence of a person who lives with them, and who could therefore pose a risk to children.
The Government did not seek to alter the arrangements for childminders, who remain subject to disqualification by association.
In PACEY’s consultation response, we argued that disqualification by association should be retained, but with a new right to make representations to Ofsted before the disqualification takes effect. Whilst we understand the sector’s concerns about the fairness and proportionality of disqualification by association for staff in schools and group settings, we remain concerned that children’s safety could be jeopardised by removing disqualification by association altogether without introducing any significant new safeguards.
The Department for Education has also published revised statutory guidance for schools and non-domestic early years settings about employing staff who have been disqualified from providing childcare.