On being CRB’ed for schools

In the last week we have had all of our team members CRB’ed for work in one of our favourite local schools. I posted a tweet about this, “Having the whole team CRB’ed for a school. It’s not bureaucracy, it’s belonging” which raised a number of positive comments and also some questions, so I thought I’d explain further. If you work in schools all this will be (should be) obvious, but you never know…

We have a very strong relationship with all the schools that we work with. So far they have been more than happy to have us in on the strength of the CRB checks we have done for our organisation. No activity is undertaken without being under the supervision of a member of staff, though for things like lunchtime groups or Sanctum this doesn’t mean that member of staff is always present. We realise that this is an arrangement based on a strong relationship, positive history and trust on the part of the school, but it is up to them to make this decision. I know of other school workers who have had schools insist that they are CRB checked by the school before they come in to do anything, accompanied or not. I would add that there are schools, and the Sixth Form College, where, rightly, specific members of our team have been CRB’ed for their mentoring and chaplaincy roles.

However, my view of such matters was changed not by a school that wouldn’t otherwise open its doors to us, but by one of the schools where we have always received a warm welcome and been able to do just about everything that counts as responsible schools work for nearly 20 years. There is a huge degree of trust and in many ways we are part of the team there. We are in the process of setting up a new lunch time group (about the fourth one we’ve run over many years) and during preparation for this we recognised that for much of the time we would be working without the direct involvement of a member of staff. As a result we asked that our team be CRB’ed by the school; something to which they gladly agreed. For us this marks a new level of ‘belonging’ within the school as this will create a semi-formal arrangement that gives us greater freedom to work with young people.

I now believe this should be our standard procedure with schools and was in the process of setting up similar arrangements when we learned that Essex County Council have in place a system whereby people CRB’ed for one school can work in other schools under the same CRB. All that is required is that you complete a form and present your Essex CC CRB and photo ID and within about 48 hours the school receives confirmation of your CRB check.

As schools workers we want to work to the highest standards, but there’s always been the issue of CRB checks and the problem that, officially, they are not ‘portable’ (pending some revised Vetting & Barring scheme). The reality appears to be that most schools are prepared to recognise a CRB certificate as though it were portable. Whilst grateful for their flexibility and trust I’ve come to the conclusion that asking the school to CRB us isn’t bowing to bureaucracy, but saying we want to belong, we’re accountable, and we’re here for the long haul.

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