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Tag: Disqualification by association -

Why do Ofsted take so long in approving waivers for those who have been disqualified by association?

I’d like to tell you about my disqualification from the primary school that I’ve worked in for the past fifteen years.

In August last year, my 21 year old son was convicted of a sexual offence – arranging to meet a 13 year old girl and sending her explicit photographs. He received a suspended sentence, was put on the Sex Offender Register and told that he had to attend some courses relevant to his offence.

He wasn’t living with us when the offence took place but moved back home just before the court case started.

My family and I were devastated when my son received his conviction. We’re a decent family and have never been in any bother with the police before but the case was all over the local and national newspapers. It was, and still is, the most horrific experience I have ever been through.

As soon as we knew the result of the court case, I approached the Head of my school and explained the situation to her. She was really understanding and told me that the school would support me through this difficult time. It was at this meeting that I learnt about the need to obtain a waiver if I wanted to continue teaching and I immediately applied to Ofsted for one.

I’d always had a very good working relationship with both parents and staff at the school. As well as my teaching role I also managed a breakfast and after school club so I got to know the parents really well. The school told me that whilst I was waiting for my waiver to be approved, I could work from home. I helped with the school accounts, website management and anything else that was easy to do away from the school. This worked well for about three weeks and then the blow came. I was told that Ofsted were not happy about this arrangement and I was asked to return anything that belonged to the school and also told that I was not allowed on school premises. I was totally distraught. This felt like the final nail in my coffin.

The only good thing to come out of this has been that approximately four weeks after his conviction, my son started a new job. A family friend who runs his own business took him on. He knew all about my son’s conviction but was willing to look past it. My son’s doing really well at work and is trying hard to rebuild his life.

I, on the other hand, am still waiting for the results of my waiver. I had a horrific meeting with two women from Ofsted which took place in my own home. They grilled me about my son’s conviction and I had to tell them everything that happened – it was hell. They also asked about safeguarding at school, giving me details of different scenarios and asking me what I would do (it was as if it was my fault that my son’s offence had taken place). They said that they didn’t think I was aware of how serious the situation was because I hadn’t let my Head know as soon as the offence had taken place. As far as I knew, I had nothing to say at that time – my son might not have been found guilty.

We’re now six months on and I still haven’t heard from Ofsted. The Head of my school hasn’t been in touch – I don’t receive emails from her and don’t get invited to anything concerning staff that goes on outside of the school. I’m just totally being blanked. My union who have been representing me really don’t seem to be much use. They’ve told me that they haven’t been through anything like this before and they don’t know what to do. I even sent my union representative the links to Unlock’s website on Disqualification by Association to provide him with more information.

I regularly read the Unlock website and forum – it’s been a great comfort in some dark times. I really don’t think that people realise what impact a conviction has on a person’s family and how much it can affect their day to day life. As much as I loved having some time with my family without having to worry about money when things were very new and raw, I now feel as if I am being alienated. I rarely go out, especially on my own, I feel like I have the conviction and not my son.

I’m on the verge of getting a solicitor to help me as the worry and stress this has caused me and my family is really detrimental. I’m dreading the phone ringing telling me that I need to meet with Ofsted for a decision about my waiver. I really don’t think that I can handle it right now.

If Ofsted need me to have a waiver, then the very least they can do is to deal with the matter quickly or at least keep in contact so that I know what timescales I’m going to be working to.

By Cheryl (name changed to protect identity)


Editors note

We’ve since heard from Cheryl that Ofsted refused her waiver. However she is in the process of appealing their decision and we will keep you updated on her story.

Useful links

The ongoing impact of my husband’s offence – being disqualified by association

Disqualification-by-Association-2When I was 39 weeks pregnant, I was told by my employer (a school) that, as a result of my husband’s criminal record, I was ‘disqualified by association‘ and would be suspended from my job as a teacher until such time as I was granted a waiver which would enable me to continue working. Although I was given forms to complete, I wasn’t given any other information by my local authority or Ofsted. No one seemed to know how to deal with the matter, or how long the process would take.

At my next antenatal appointment my midwife noticed that my blood glucose levels had spiked which I imagine was as a result of the stress I was under. The prospect of losing my job and quite possibly my house meant that I felt unable to look after my baby and in this fight or flight mode, I was rejecting my unborn baby.

As a result of my husband’s conviction four years previously, I suffered from post traumatic stress symptoms and paid for private counselling to help me to understand that I was not responsible for what happened and that I was not to blame. As soon as I was disqualified, I immediately took on the blame and all those years of work in therapy were redundant.

The PTSD symptoms I suffered were mainly related to the invasion of my house by the police – I suffered terrible flash backs. The result of my disqualification was to bring all those symptoms back after 4 years, at the most vulnerable time in my life, when I was due to give birth. The disqualification process was like another police investigation for which I was the focus and the invasion of my privacy felt exactly the same as when my husband’s original offence had taken place. I decided that the only option was to start counselling again.

The investigation by Ofsted took weeks and for a lot of the time I heard nothing. Then, whilst on the maternity ward and in the early stages of labour, I was contacted three times on the telephone by Ofsted. They left no message and when I called them back in a blind panic, nobody could give me any information and they didn’t seem to know who had been trying to contact me. The birth of my child was overshadowed by waiting for someone from Ofsted to call me back to let me know if I had a chance of keeping my job and home.

The stress, PTSD and the secrecy surrounding the investigation caused me difficulties in bonding with my new born daughter. I was extremely distressed and the focus of the distress was this investigation. I went to the doctors and was prescribed medication. I felt unable to discuss the reason for my distress with the midwives or health visitors as I felt the fact I was being investigated as to whether I was a danger to children would mean that social services would get involved and also investigate me.

Finally, I was given some information from Ofsted about how the investigation would play out. I was told I needed to have a face to face meeting with an Ofsted Inspector. At five days old, one of my daughters first visitors was an Ofsted Inspector who sat in my home and went through such personal and traumatic details with me to make sure I was safe to be around children.

Having this traumatic event dragged up after 4 years had a massive impact on my marriage. It broke down and we separated. Again, having an impact on my daughter in the first year of her life. Luckily my husband and I believed that our marriage was worth fighting for and went for counselling with Relate.

Ofsted sent me a number of emails to my hotmail account which contained some very sensitive information. They asked me to give them specific details of my husbands offence and I was really worried about the security taking into account the method of contact. They also sent me a letter which apparently had details of his offence contained within it which got lost in the post. Obviously this was a real concern to me especially due to the nature of his offence.

It didn’t matter who I spoke to at Ofsted, nobody at any level seemed to know what was going on or could give me any information. Due to the massive trauma this caused to me and my family and countless others, I feel there needs to be very clear guidance and information for everybody involved. Knowing what was going to happen to me and some idea of time frames would have at least alleviated some of the stress.

I understand that what my husband did was wrong but we have both paid the price for his offence. He was fully investigated by the police and they deemed him not to be a danger to society. We spent a lot of time, effort and money rebuilding our lives to the point where we felt able to have a baby only for this to happen to us.

The thing that is most upsetting is that I did not actually have to go through any of this as I was not one of the teachers covered by this legislation so………. It was simply a lack of clarity in the guidelines which caused this to happen to my family at such a vulnerable time. The whole process has had a huge effect on all areas of mine and my families life. I understand that this legislation is supposed to protect children but it has actually caused harm to my own child at a most critical time of her life and development. Nobody spotted this at the beginning and at no stage has anybody apologised for putting me and my family through this.

By Louisa (name changed to protect identity)



Useful links 

Help us to scrap ‘disqualification by association’: The government are consulting on changes to the childcare disqualification arrangements

Ever since ‘disqualification by association’ (DbA) hit the headlines about 18 months ago, we have been working to try and scrap the regulations that have had a significant and unnecessary impact on the partners of those with a criminal record.

Earlier this month, the Department for Education (DfE) published a consultation with proposals for change. The deadline for responses to the consultation is 1st July 2016.

Find out more about the consultation, details of what we’re doing and how you can help on our information site.



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