While I was away on a break last week, it emerged that Powys County Council has been employing staff, who have contact with children, who haven't been through the proper criminal record checks. I imagine that the Council was more shocked than anyone to discover this. This should never happen of course - but I'm more concerned about the Council's reaction. There shouldn't be any questions to ask a week later - but there are.
The Council may have discovered the problem itself - but why was the information kept secret? I'm told that the matter was brought to public attention by a 'leak'- when it should have been via a Public Statement by the Council Leader. I'm also told that there is a massive 'molehunt' going on within the Council to find out who 'leaked' this information. The 'whistleblower' deserves our grateful thanks. The only response should have been full public disclosure. There should not have been a whistle to blow.
I note from the BBC website that the problem is mainly with peripetetic teachers. The obvious question to be asked is how many of these teachers have been involved in 'one to one' unsupervised lessons? Is the Council going to interview all pupils (and their parents) who may have been in this position?
And then there is the position of school governors, who I underestand should also be subject to some form of checks. I have already been told by two school governors this afternoon that they have not been subject to any checks whatsoever. How common is this? At the very least, this shows a rather casual approach towards the potential for giving unsuitable individuals access to our schools.
I also read that the Minister, Jane Davidson has been vocal in her condemnation. I wonder whether she has contacted all Councils to seek reassurances about compliance with requirements for checks, both with staff and with school governors. Or has she left it to the WLGA? I will contact her office tomorrow to ensure that this issue is being taken as seriously as it should be.