Vetting and barring will hurt volunteering

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A fifth of managers and administrators in educational establishments across the country believe that the Government’s new rules on vetting and barring will deter volunteers from helping pupils.

According to a new study, 14% of those surveyed said the Government’s new Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act will deter new volunteers while a further 6% said it will be a significant deterrent to volunteering.

The study also found that 18% of education managers and administrators were not aware of the requirements of the new act. This figure rose to 30% in sixth form colleges and to 43% in universities.

13% were, on average, not concerned by their lack of understanding, rising to 25% in sixth forms and 48% in universities.
25% believe the introduction of vetting and barring regulations will not improve the protection of vulnerable groups as intended by the government. In the independent school sector, 57% believe the new rules will be ineffective.
The Vetting and Barring Scheme was introduced by the Government in October last year. Developed as a response to the Soham murders, the scheme applies to anyone working with children or vulnerable adults and requires them to have a criminal record check. Current estimates suggest that 11 million people will need to be checked by 2015.
Asked about the degree of regulation now being applied to educational establishments 43% said they felt their nursery, school or college was over-regulated.

Commenting on the study results, Steve Wood, Managing Director of Ecclesiastical Insurance said: “We wanted to see how educational establishments were dealing with the new vetting and barring rules because failure to implement them correctly could lead to litigation and significant unexpected costs. While awareness of the requirements is high, particularly in nurseries and schools with younger pupils, there is clearly a significant group of managers, primarily in further education and higher education, who’ve yet to get to grips with the implications of the scheme for their establishment.”

The study was conducted during November 2009 and surveyed a representative sample of 140 British nurseries, state and independent schools, further education and higher education establishments.