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Last updated on 3 February 2020
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Learn what belongs on your school's single central record (SCR), your role in monitoring its compliance with safeguarding requirements and when you should – and shouldn't – check the SCR yourself.

Updates to this article

We updated this article in February 2020 to reflect the latest guidance from Ofsted and the Department for Education on how governors should be involved in monitoring the SCR. See the first 3 sections of the article for more information.

Your job is to make sure the SCR is being monitored – not check it yourself

The single central record (SCR) is the central record of the safeguarding checks that have been carried out on all staff and other relevant people. 

We get a lot of questions about how to monitor it, and we know that many governing boards assign a governor – usually the governor with responsibility for safeguarding – to regularly check the SCR themselves to make sure it complies with the requirements under Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE).

But there's a difference between a school leader's role in monitoring the SCR and that of a governor:

  • School leaders: carry out the operational task of physically checking the SCR and making sure all of the relevant boxes are complete and that the document as a whole is up-to-date
  • Governors: are responsible for the strategic task of monitoring that school leaders are keeping up with their statutory duties. They do this by asking the right questions about how complete the record is, how frequently it's reviewed and how it's stored

We know you're concerned about how to evidence your own compliance if you don't check the SCR yourself. Matthew Purves, Deputy Director, Schools for Ofsted released this message to address the confusion:

Matthew Purves on myths around safeguarding

Questions to ask your school leaders to ensure they're monitoring the SCR

  • How and where do we store the SCR? Is it secure?
  • How frequently do you check the SCR?
  • When's the last time you checked the SCR?
  • Have you checked the information recorded on the SCR for errors?
  • Are all new staff recorded?
  • Are current volunteers (for whom a DBS check has been conducted) recorded? (This isn't a requirement under KCSIE but Ofsted will want to see this, as explained in its safeguarding guidance – page 25 and 29)
  • Are all relevant fields on the register completed for each listed person? 

If you’re not satisfied with the answers your school leaders give you, dig down to find out what's preventing full compliance and what you as a governing board can do to make sure your school gets compliant as soon as possible.

When it's appropriate for a governor to check the SCR 

The Department for Education confirmed for us that it would be reasonable for a governor to check the SCR personally where it's identified that safeguarding procedures are not being complied with.

For example, if:

  • As a board, you're concerned that your school isn't complying with safer recruitment requirements or monitoring the SCR closely enough, or
  • The results of an Ofsted inspection or other internal audit identifies SCR compliance as an issue

In this case, it might be appropriate to appoint a governor to check the SCR. If you're asked to do this, this checklist will help you check compliance:

What you need to know about the SCR

As explained above, you shouldn’t ordinarily need to check the SCR yourself. But it’s still worth being aware of what’s on it, so you can feel more informed and confident when discussing it with your school leaders.

Mandatory requirements

Your SCR must record information for:

  • All staff who work at the school (including supply staff and teacher trainees on salaried routes)
  • For independent schools, academies and free schools, all members of the proprietor body (i.e. the members and trustees of the trust in academies and free schools)

It's for schools to decide how long to keep a staff member's details on the SCR, and the Department for Education (DfE) doesn't have official guidance on this. The DfE told us this. 

Where applicable, schools must record: 

  • Identity checks
  • Barred list checks
  • Enhanced DBS checks
  • Prohibition from teaching checks (for those carrying out teaching work)
  • Section 128 checks (for maintained school governors and for those in management positions in an independent school, academy or free school)
  • Further checks on people who've lived or worked outside the UK, including checks for restrictions or sanctions imposed by a European Economic Area (EEA) regulating authority
  • Checks of professional qualifications (for example, qualified teacher status) 
  • Checks to establish individuals' right to work in the UK

In respect of these checks, the SCR must record:

  • Whether each check has been carried out, or a certificate obtained
  • The date on which each check was carried out, or the certificate obtained

For supply staff, schools must also record: 

  • Whether they have written confirmation that the employment business supplying the member of supply staff has carried out the relevant checks and obtained the appropriate certificates
  • Whether any enhanced DBS check certificate has been provided
  • The date that confirmation was received (independent schools, academies, free schools and non-maintained special schools should also include the date on which any certificate was obtained)

Non-mandatory information

Schools are free to record the following, but there's no requirement to: 

  • Who carried out the checks 
  • Individuals' job titles (this gives an indication of their involvement with pupils and which checks they'd need) 
  • Childcare disqualification checks (where applicable)
  • Safeguarding and safer recruitment training dates
  • Any checks carried out on volunteers (including maintained school governors and local governors in trusts), but we recommend these are included

Storing the SCR

The SCR may be kept in paper or electronic form. 

Copies of documents 

Schools don't have to keep copies of DBS certificates in order to fulfil the duty of maintaining the SCR. 

Where a school chooses to retain a copy of the DBS certificate, it shouldn't be retained for longer than 6 months.

They should keep a copy of the other documents used to verify the successful candidate’s identity, right to work and required qualifications for the personnel file.

Requirements for multi-academy trusts and federations

Trusts aren't required to have separate SCRs for each of their schools. However, if your trust maintains one SCR that covers all schools, information should be recorded in such a way that details for each individual school can be provided or accessed separately and easily (for example, to show inspectors).

If the schools in your trust do have separate SCRs, checks on members and trustees should be recorded on each of these.

Inspectors will ask to see your school's SCR early on in an inspection

They'll expect it to be complete and meet statutory requirements. 

If there's a minor administrative error on an SCR, such as the absence of a date on the record that can be easily rectified before the final team meeting, the school will be given a chance to resolve the issue.

Ofsted defines ‘administrative errors’ (paragraph 24) as:

  • Failure to record 1 or 2 dates
  • Individual entries that are illegible
  • 1 or 2 omissions where it's clear that the information is already held by the school, but it has failed to transfer the information over in full to the SCR

Sources

Our associate expert Gulshan Kayembe helped us with the checklist. Gulshan is an independent consultant who has experience of inspecting schools. As a consultant, she provides mentoring for senior leaders and has worked as an external adviser on headteachers’ performance management.

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