In 2017 Cheryl’s son was convicted of a sexual offence. He received a suspended sentence and was put on the Sex Offenders Register.
Immediately the result of the case was known Cheryl, who was working as a primary school teacher, went to see the head teacher of her school to explain the situation. Although the school were extremely understanding, Cheryl discovered that in order to continue teaching she would need to apply immediately to Ofsted for a waiver. Until she’d received this she would be ‘Disqualified by Association’ (DbA) and would be unable to continue in her current role.
As the school didn’t believe it was necessary to suspend Cheryl, they found her work that she could do from home, for example helping with the school accounts and website management. However, Ofsted informed the school that this arrangement was unacceptable and Cheryl was asked to return anything that belonged to the school to them.
As part of the waiver process, Cheryl was ‘interviewed’ at home by two members of Ofsted staff.
“The Ofsted staff grilled me about my son’s conviction. I had to tell them everything – it was horrific. They asked me about safeguarding, giving me details of different scenarios and asking me how I would deal with it. I felt as though they blamed me for my son’s offending behaviour.”
Ofsted told Cheryl they were concerned that she’d not informed the school as soon as her son was arrested which they believed reflected the fact that she did not appreciate how serious her son’s offence was. Cheryl explained that at the time he was arrested, there was every chance that her son would be found not guilty and she therefore would have had nothing to tell the school.
Cheryl heard nothing more from Ofsted for six months. As the waiver process for anybody ‘Disqualified by Association’ was very new, her Union had little understanding of how they could help her or how long the process would take.
The worry and anxiety for both Cheryl and her family has had a detrimental effect on their health and well-being and Cheryl is now considering appointing a solicitor to take on her case.
“I appreciate that Ofsted want me to have a waiver but the least they can do is to deal with the matter quickly or keep in contact so that I know what timescales I’m going to be working to.”
Commenting on Cheryl’s experience, Christopher Stacey, co-director of Unlock, said:
“The regulations were originally intended to be used in childcare settings where partners and others living in the household may have contact with the individuals being cared for, for example childminders looking after children in their own homes.
Trade unions have been inundated with cases of individuals being asked to apply for waivers and this has clearly been apparent in the length of time it is taking Ofsted to deal with applications.”
Notes about this case
- 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.
- We have practical guidance on Childcare Disqualification Regulations – Primary school teachers, nursery staff and others – ‘Disqualified by association’.
- Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.
- Other policy cases are listed here.