Case of Sadie – University using ‘disqualification by association’ requirements inappropriately

Sadie had been studying for a teaching qualification at university when details of her new partner’s conviction for a sexual offence were disclosed on the additional information section of her enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service certificate.

On receipt of the certificate, the university immediately contacted her to inform her that it was likely she would be ‘disqualified by association’ (DbA) requirements and would be unable to teach unless she applied for and was granted a waiver by Ofsted.

The university explained to Sadie that if Ofsted did not grant her a waiver then she would be unable to continue with her teaching qualification and her work placement in a local secondary school.

Having already been offered a full time job on completion of her teaching qualification, the prospect of not qualifying threw Sadie’s future career plans into question.

With Unlocks help, Sadie was able to highlight to the university that the ‘disqualification by association’ requirements only applied to those in education and supervised activity with children between the ages of 5 and 8 years. As her placement was in a secondary school, the DbA requirements did not apply to her and there was no reason why she shouldn’t finish the university course.

Despite accepting that Sadie would not be subject to the DbA requirements, the university still considered it necessary for her to sit a criminal records panel in order that they could assess any risk that she posed to her students as a result of her partner’s criminal record.

Sadie said:

“Although the university had policies in place to deal with students who have a criminal record they weren’t sure how to deal with somebody who is ‘associated’ to an individual with a criminal record.”

Commenting on Sadie experience, Christopher Stacey, co-director of Unlock, said:

“The lack of clarity about how the ‘disqualification by association’ requirements work has meant that many universities have assumed that anyone who discloses a partner’s criminal record is required to apply for a waiver without first considering whether the work placements they are attending would mean they’d need one or whether their partners record would prevent them teaching in the future.”

 

Notes about this case

  1. This case relates to Unlock’s policy work on scrapping the ‘Disqualification by association’ regulations that apply to primary schools and other non-domestic childcare settings.
  2. We have practical guidance on Childcare Disqualification Regulations – Primary school teachers, nursery staff and others – ‘Disqualified by association’.
  3. Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.
  4. Other policy cases are listed here.
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