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Unlock comment: Government announces scrapping of ‘disqualification by association’ in schools

Commenting on today’s news of changes to the childcare disqualification arrangements, Christopher Stacey, co-director of Unlock, said:

“Today’s announcement to scrap the ‘disqualification by association’ rule from schools is long overdue but very welcomed. We’ve been calling for it to be scrapped for nearly 4 years because it did nothing to contribute towards safeguarding in schools. The arrangements were disproportionate, unfair and ineffective.


Yet the fallout should not be underestimated – we know significant numbers of people have been unnecessarily suspended and some have lost their jobs as a result. Only two weeks ago we featured the story of Donna, whose conviction meant her children lost their jobs in schools. These changes will make a huge difference to the families and loved ones of people with convictions.”

In draft guidance published by the Department of Education, it states that “schools should not ask their staff questions about cautions or convictions of someone living or working in their household.” In response to the change, schools should “review their staffing policies and safer recruitment procedures, and make changes accordingly”.

The changes will come into force on the 31st August 2018. The ‘disqualification by association’ element will be removed from schools and other non-domestic settings; it will remain in place for roles such as home-based childminding. We will be updating our practical guidance for individuals and supporting schools to ensure that they properly implement the changes.


  1. Read our submission to the government consultation in 2016
  2. More information about our policy work on ‘disqualification by association’, including case studies of people affected.
  3. 78% of respondents to the government’s consultation felt that the current ‘disqualification by association’ arrangements were unfair and disproportionate to the risk to children. Read the government’s consultation response.


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Debbie Sadler
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