Concern over the violent teachers still in classrooms

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The Independent Online

Teachers with convictions for violence are being allowed to continue working in schools for up to two years, Britain's biggest education recruitment agency warned yesterday.

Teachers with convictions for violence are being allowed to continue working in schools for up to two years, Britain's biggest education recruitment agency warned yesterday.

The head of Select Education, which supplies staff to 16,000 schools and colleges, is demanding urgent action to tighten child-protection procedures. Bob Wicks, its chief executive, said: "This is a serious problem which could have tragic consequences. We have worrying cases where there has been a failure to include an individual on List 99 [the list held by the Department for Education and Skills of those barred from working with children], even though there are very clear reasons to do so. This means they could still be working with children."

The Department for Education and Skills said it had ordered an urgent review of the way it dealt with cases, in the light of the Bichard report into the Soham schoolgirl murders.

The agency cited one case of a teacher who had been convicted of assaulting two pupils in May 2002 but had still not been placed on the list. "We do not know whether there has yet to be a decision whether to place him on the list or whether it has been decided to keep him off it," a spokeswoman said.

Other cases raised by the agency included teachers seeking work although they faced criminal proceedings. They have not been placed on the list.

Mr Wicks has written to David Miliband, the School Standards minister, urging the DfES to follow the practice of the Department of Health under which people can be placed on its Protection of Children Act list pending investigation.

He said: "There is a systemic weakness in the List 99 process which can only lead to a loss of confidence. It is important that the system is far more robust and we hope the Bichard report proposals, which include setting up a single registration body, may be the answer."

Under the List 99 procedure, the Secretary of State for Education decides whether an individual should be placed on the list. Those listed automatically include people found guilty of sexual offences involving a child under 16; those found guilty of murder or possession of indecent photographs of children; those subject to a court disqualification order barring them from working with children, and anyone whose name is on the Protection of Children Act list. In other cases, the decision on whether to place a person on the list is at the discretion of the Secretary of State.

The spokeswoman for the DfES added: "To reach a balanced decision on each case, it may be necessary to obtain information from a number of sources, and individuals are given the opportunity to make representations."

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