From education to employment

Tackling the issue of safeguarding in private tuition

Tim Morris at the 2019’s annual TTA conference

Safeguarding and child protection are, quite rightly, subjects that have attracted a growing amount of airtime – with DBS checking still being at the heart of the conversation. Whilst it cannot provide any guarantee of future behaviour, what the check does do at least is ensure that no one who already has a criminal record can keep it hidden.

However, you may be surprised to learn that not everyone who takes part in activities involving children has to have a valid DBS check in order to do so. Tutoring is one industry that remains, for the most part, unregulated. With the latest Sutton Trust survey revealing that 27% of 11-16year olds have had private tuition in the last 12 months, it’s an issue which The Tutors’ Association (TTA) is tackling head-on. TTA President, Tim Morris, is a vocal advocate for regulation in this area. Since becoming president of the Association in June 2019, it’s something he’s made it his mission to address.

“Historically, tutors may have had the excuse that it is not possible to apply, as an individual, for a DBS check as it has to be done by an organisation on their behalf. But this is no longer acceptable. Independent tutors – as well as agencies and private companies – can all choose to become members of The Tutors’ Association. A DBS check is a mandatory requirement of membership so only those who have a valid DBS check can join the organisation.

“I believe it’s imperative that any parent employing a private tutor should check that the tutor has passed a DBS check. All tutors owe it to the families and to themselves to have done so. At present, the legal status is weak, but the association aims to strengthen that position and give peace of mind to parents. TTA membership needs to become a recognised kitemark for the industry.”

Although there is no legal requirement to have a DBS check renewed, it is down to the employer or organisation to ensure that it is kept up to date. TTA actively support their members in getting a regular update to their DBS, reassuring parents that they are serious about taking action. Tim is proud of the work that the association has achieved so far in this area.

“People are approaching us to see whether a tutor they already have, or are considering, is a TTA member. It’s great to see a shift in attitude towards the profession, by both tutoring professionals who are looking to belong to a professional association and the public who are looking for expert guidance from the profession’s representative body. It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come but we’ve still got a way to go to ensure regulation is in place with regard to this aspect of tutoring. Until then, we’ll keep fighting on behalf of the industry and parents all over the UK.”

Peter Wanless, Chief Executive Officer of the NSPCC, shares the same sentiment: “Children have a right to be educated in safety and parents need to know that every care has been taken to ensure unsuitable people cannot practise as tutors. The rules on applying for criminal record checks need to apply to self-employed tutors just as they do for teachers employed in schools.”

Tim was part of an ITV news report on 25th October 2019 that explored the regulation of the industry, prompting a need for change. 

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