EduPeople by Strictly Education

Who Needs a DBS Check?

Who Needs a DBS Check?


Definition of 'Regulated Activity'

The criteria for determining whether an individual should have an enhanced DBS check undertaken on them is set out in the Safeguarding and Vulnerable Groups Act (SVGA) 2006 as amended by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. The SVGA created the definition of regulated activity (i.e. work that a barred person must not do) in relation to children.

The current definition of regulated activity, as amended by the Protection of Freedoms Act (PoFA) covers the following:

(i) unsupervised activities: teaching, training, instructing, caring for or supervising children, or providing advice/ guidance on well-being, or driving a vehicle only for children;

(ii) work for a limited range of establishments (‘specified places’) e.g. schools, children’s homes, childcare premises, with the opportunity for contact with children, but not including work by supervised volunteers;

(iii) relevant personal care, e.g. washing or dressing; or health care by or supervised by a professional. 

Work under (i) or (ii) above is regulated activity only if done regularly whereas work under (iii) (i.e. relevant personal care) is regulated activity even if only done once.


Definition of 'Regular'

Under the HM Government note on the scope of regulated activity 'regularly' is defined as:

  • once or more a week; or
  • on more than 3 occasions in a 30 day period; or
  • between 2am and 6am and it gives the person the opportunity to have face to face contact with children.


Employees / Unsupervised Volunteers in Schools

Consequently anyone who is an employee of a school (including unsupervised volunteers) must have an enhanced DBS check undertaken on them. Supervised volunteers do not require a DBS check although under the provisions of the SVGA one may still be undertaken but without a check against the Children’s Barred List.


Other Individuals (e.g. Governors, Contractors, Visitors)

For the position in relation to undertaking DBS checks on other categories of individual, e.g. governors please see Checks on Non-Employees.

Does a DBS check expire?

In some sectors, it is regulatory requirement to renew a DBS check after 6 months or 3 years.  However, this requirement does not apply in the education sector and a when a school undertakes a DBS check for an individual it has no official expiry date. The information included in the check will be accurate at the time that it was carried out, and it is at the discretion of each employer to decide when a new DBS check is needed. The statutory guidance document Keeping Children Safe in Education states where an individual is involved in regulated activity and has not had a break of more than three months there is no legal requirement to obtain a new DBS and also details the limited circumstances where schools and colleges will need to carry out new checks on existing staff, these are when:

  • an individual working at the school or college moves from a post that was not regulated activity with children into work which is considered to be regulated activity with children
  • there has been a break in service of 12 weeks or more; or
  • there are concerns about an individual’s suitability to work with children

As Ofsted restart their inspection regime we regularly seeing headlines made where schools that have not been inspected for a number of years have been rated significantly less favourably in their most recent inspection. In some recently produced reports OFSTED has commented unfavourably where schools have chosen not to update DBS checks against the advice of their local authority. Maintained schools should seek guidance from their local authority and should have regard to any best practice guidance issued to them from their local authority around follow up DBS checks.