The Teaching Council has begun (January 2017) the process of writing to teachers who have not previously been vetted to inform them of the requirement to be vetted. Letters to teachers will issue on a phased basis, according to year of birth, over the course of this calendar year.
Teachers are advised to apply for vetting when contacted and requested by the Teaching Council in order for registration to be renewed.
Any previously un-vetted teacher who requires a vetting disclosure for the purpose of changing school/employer in the foreseeable future or for the start of the 2017/2018 school year should apply for a vetting disclosure in the normal manner as per Circular 31/2016. These typically include teachers who intend to commence an inter-school job-share; a teacher exchange, sub on career break etc.
Further information on Retrospective Vetting: http://www.teachingcouncil.ie/en/News-Events/Latest-News/Retrospective-Vetting-of-Registered-Teachers.html
The National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act commenced on 29th April 2016. The Act places the vetting of persons undertaking certain work or activities with children or vulnerable adults on a statutory basis for the first time.
The DES has issued Circular 0031/2016 in order to:
(1) Bring to the attention of school authorities the new statutory requirements in respect of Garda vetting which come into effect from 29 April 2016 and the criminal offences that will apply in the event of failure to comply with these requirements.
(2) Outline the practical arrangements that will be in place in respect of the vetting of registered teachers, non-teaching staff and others.
(3) Outline the wider duty of care considerations to be taken into account by school authorities as part of the recruitment/selection process for employees and others.
The Teaching Council will continue to act as a conduit for schools and Education and Training Boards (ETBs) for the purposes of Garda vetting. The relevant diocesan office or school management body will continue to act as a conduit for schools for the purposes of Garda vetting of all other persons. There will be a number of changes to the vetting process which registered teachers, persons applying to be registered as teachers and schools in their role as employers will need to be aware. The more significant changes include:
- The process of applying for vetting and receiving the vetting outcome (disclosure) will be online;
- Applicants for vetting will be required to provide proof of identity; and
- The Teaching Council Garda vetting letters will be replaced by the vetting disclosure being provided via an on-line secure portal;
The DES has compiled a list of 10 key points to note in relation to the commencement of statutory vetting, as follows:
1. From 29 April 2016, the Vetting Act will be commenced and will place statutory vetting obligations on school authorities.
2. The Vetting Act will put in place the National Vetting Bureau (the Bureau) which will replace the Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) and will be responsible for issuing vetting disclosures under the Act’s statutory vetting arrangements.
3. Statutory vetting will, in addition to a check for criminal records, include a check for any relevant "soft information”. "Soft information" referred to as "specified information" in the Vetting Act, is information other than criminal convictions held by An Garda Síochána that leads to a bona-fide belief that a person poses a threat to children or vulnerable persons.
4. From 29 April 2016, it will be a criminal offence, other than in certain limited circumstances, for a school authority to commence the employment of an employee without first obtaining a vetting disclosure from the Bureau in respect of that person. (See section 5 of this circular).
5. It will not be necessary under the Vetting Act to obtain a vetting disclosure from the Bureau prior to employing a teacher as a substitute where the school authority has prior to 29 April 2016 received a copy of the Teaching Council vetting letter in respect of that teacher. (See section 5.3 of the circular).
However, in such cases, school authorities must take into account the wider duty of care considerations set out in section 9 of the circular.
6. From 29 April 2016, it will be a criminal offence, other than in certain limited circumstances, for a school authority to contract, permit or place a person (e.g. contractor, volunteer, sports coach etc.) to undertake relevant work or activities with children or vulnerable persons, without first obtaining a vetting disclosure from the Bureau in respect of that person. (See section 6.4 of the circular)
7. There is no immediate requirement to obtain vetting disclosures in respect of existing employees, volunteers, sports coaches etc. who undertake relevant work or activities in the school under contracts of employment or other arrangements that were in place prior to 29 April 2016. Such persons will however be required to be vetted in due course under the retrospective and re-vetting requirements of the Act (sections 21 and 20 of the Vetting Act respectively). The Department will issue further guidance in this regard.
8. The practice of the Teaching Council providing teachers with a vetting letter will be discontinued from 29 April 2016. From that date vetting disclosures received by the Teaching Council from the Bureau will, subject to the teacher’s consent, be made available electronically to the relevant school authority. (See section 8 of this circular)
9. In cases where no statutory vetting obligation exists (see sections 5.3 and 6.4 of the circular) or where the school authority has met its statutory obligation by receiving a vetting disclosure that has been issued by the Bureau in the past (i.e. not immediately prior to the person commencing the relevant work or activities in the school),a school authority must consider, having regard to its duty of care to its pupils, whether it should seek an up to date vetting disclosure in respect of the person. (See section 9 of this circular)
10. Thorough recruitment procedures, including the checking of references and any gaps in career history, are an essential element of child protection practice. Statutory vetting should not take the place of good recruitment procedures but must be used as part of those procedures (see section 9 of the circular). As an additional safeguard a Statutory Declaration and Form of Undertaking must be completed and provided to the school authority prior to making a teaching or non-teaching appointment of any duration.
All teachers who are being appointed / changing employment (including via the redeployment panels) in a substitute (casual and non-casual), fixed term or permanent position should ensure that they refer to the Circular and FAQs and ensure that they comply fully with the provisions therein in order that there is no delay in their being eligible to be appointed and to commence employment.