School terms are wrapping up all over England and Wales, and many governors will be thinking about stepping down and letting someone else take over the responsibility. School governors have an important role to fulfil in overseeing the management of the school by setting policy and dealing with issues such as recruitment and complaints. If you’re considering getting involved, here’s what you need to know about DBS checks for school governors.


Who Can Be a Governor?

Schools require at least seven people on their board of governors. Some of these people will be parents or teachers at the school, others are members of the public with a general interest in education or the community. The only requirement to serve as a governor is that you are over the age of 18. Being a governor is a voluntary position and is therefore unpaid, but governors may be able to claim back expenses for travel or loss of earnings in some situations.

Governors are the supervisory body for the day-to-day management of the school and give advice and make decisions on things like staffing, overall school strategy, and management of the budget. Their role is to support the Head teacher and staff to ensure the school is properly run, and that all pupils receive the best standard of education possible.


DBS Checks and Governors

In 2016, the government changed the rules to require governors in all schools to apply for an enhanced DBS check. Before this, governors were just asked to disclose any criminal record they may have, without any formal checks being carried out. The governor must apply for the check within three weeks of them starting their new role.

An enhanced DBS check is the most detailed level of background check available. This level of checking looks at the individual’s current criminal record as well as any offences or cautions which may be in their more distant history. Police also have the right to disclose any intelligence which they hold, and file and feel is relevant to the position the person is applying for, such as arrests or warnings. It doesn’t mean though that someone with a minor record will be blocked from volunteering as a governor. New DBS checks will not have to be done on teachers and other staff already working within the school who have already been checked. The legislation leaves it up to individual schools to decide how often these checks should be repeated, and this is usually a period of between three to five years.


Getting Your DBS Check

Anyone applying for a governor role should expect to receive plenty of assistance with completing their DBS application. Hundreds of checks like this are carried out every year by local authorities, and in the private sector, schools generally have one main point of contact for applications. It usually takes a few weeks for the completed certificate to arrive in the post, but as long as the application is made within 21 days of becoming a governor, the individual can start attending meetings right away.