When she was 38 weeks pregnant, Louisa was told by her employer (a school) that as a result of her husband’s criminal record, she was ‘disqualified by association’ and would be suspended from her job as a teacher until she had applied for, and been granted a waiver, by Ofsted. The school provided her with very little guidance on how to apply or how long the process was likely to take.
At her next antenatal appointment it was noted that her blood glucose levels had spiked which Louisa felt was due to the stress she was under – the prospect of losing her job and quite possibly her house was difficult to deal with at the same time as being pregnant with her first child.
Louisa applied to Ofsted for the waiver but heard nothing until she received three telephone calls from Ofsted whilst she was in the early stages of labour. No message was left and when Louisa called them back, nobody she spoke to could provide her with any information or seemed to know who had been trying to get in touch with her.
The thought of being investigated because she could be deemed to be a danger to children caused Louisa a huge amount of anxiety and she didn’t feel able to discuss it with her doctor or midwife.
Eventually she was contacted by Ofsted and told that she would be required to have a face-to-face meeting with an Ofsted Inspector.
“The Inspector went through such personal and traumatic details with me to make sure that I was safe to work with children. Having this dragged up four years after my husband’s conviction had a massive impact on our marriage and we separated for several months.”
After the meeting Louisa contacted Ofsted many times to find out whether her waiver had been granted but often found herself being passed from person to person without being given any help or information. Eventually, Louisa leant that there had been no need for her to apply for a waiver as she was not one of the teachers covered by the legislation.
“The lack of clarity in the guidelines meant that I needlessly went through the waiver application process during a particularly vulnerable time. The whole process has had a huge effect on mine and my families life”
Commenting on Louisa’s experience, Christopher Stacey, co-director of Unlock, said:
“The DbA requirements have been around for a number of years, and apply to registered childcare provision outside of schools, but it’s only since October 2014 that the DoE has made it clear that these also apply to primary schools, and one aspect that’s received the most attention has been the ‘disqualification by association’ part. However, the lack of clarity about how the system works has meant that many teachers have been suspended from work and asked to apply for waivers when they don’t need them.”
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.