Schools 'hiring without checking backgrounds'

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The Independent Online

Headteachers are so desperate to fill vacancies that they are willing to employ teachers without proper checks on their background, the body representing supply agencies warned yesterday.

Headteachers are so desperate to fill vacancies that they are willing to employ teachers without proper checks on their background, the body representing supply agencies warned yesterday.

Thousands of pupils could be put at risk because some schools hired staff who had not had child abuse or criminal record checks, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) said. Supply agencies had been approached by schools begging them to find them staff even if they had not been vetted and promising not to hold the agency responsible if things went wrong, the confederation said.

All those wanting to work with children have to be cleared against List 99, a secret dossier held by the Department for Education and Skills of people convicted or suspected of child abuse. They must also be checked for a criminal record.

Delays are such that up to 60,000 people are still waiting for inspection by the Criminal Records Bureau.

A spokeswoman for the confederation said she was advising agencies not to give in to the schools' requests. She said: "REC policy is that this should not be done. It is extremely irresponsible and would break both our code of practice and DfES policy."

A senior DfES official privately dismissed the claims as scaremongering. A spokes-woman for the DfES said: "There is no evidence to support that ... We do not allow people to go into schools without background checks."

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