Criminal record checks loophole for private tutors must close

All self-employed tutors must be required to get criminal record check

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We're urging the Government to close a loophole that could leave thousands of privately-taught children at risk of harm, by making criminal record checks compulsory for all private tutors.

Around 1 in 4 children receive extra, out-of-school tuition. But there is no legal requirement on the thousands of self-employed private tutors in the UK to undergo a criminal record check which would reveal details of any child sex offences.

Without a compulsory criminal record check parents are left in the dark about the risk self-employed tutors may pose to their children.

If they are supplied by an agency tutors would be checked by their employer, but if they are self-employed the same level of checking would not necessarily be undertaken.

This is in stark contrast to jobs such as accountants, vets and even traffic wardens, whose work does not involve children but still require a basic criminal record check on entry to the profession.


Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief ExecutivePeter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, said:
"Clearly the vast majority of private tutors are not child abusers, but the current legal loophole makes it an ideal scenario for any predatory adult seeking to harm children.

"It's absurd that you need a basic criminal record check to issue a parking fine, calculate finances, or treat animals, but not if you're a self-employed tutor working with children. We want all tutors teaching children to be required to undergo a criminal record check - just as anyone driving a car needs to have a driving licence.

"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."

Our advice for parents

We recommend that parents take steps to check that tutors are suitable until the government addresses this issue. Parents should:

  • use tutors through reputable agencies
  • carry out their own reference checks and speak to previous employers
  • interview prospective tutors to minimise the risk to their children.

Parents should also make sure that their children understand how to keep themselves safe from abuse, for example by teaching them the Underwear Rule.

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References

  1. Ipsos-Mori (2015) Private tuition polling 2015