Recruitment checks: cheat sheet

Do you know your DBS check from your section 128? Barred list check from prohibition from teaching? Learn the difference between the key recruitment checks, and why they're important.

Last reviewed on 20 June 2023
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 34370
  1. DBS
  2. Barred list
  3. Prohibition from teaching 
  4. Childcare disqualification
  5. Section 128
  6. Get this information as a download
The 2024 version of Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) has been published, but doesn't come into force until 1 September.

There are minimal changes, and our summary will let you know what to expect.

We will update this article to be ready for the new school year. To receive a notification when this happens, select ‘save for later’ at the top of the article.

Here's a quick guide to help you understand how some of the key recruitment checks fit together to provide a holistic view of a candidate. You can also download this information as a printable cheat sheet at the end of this article, in case you want to keep it handy.

In practice, it'll probably be your headteacher or HR team that'll take care of recruitment checks for new staff (and most likely your school business manager or HR or admin team if you're appointing a new head). But as your board has overall responsibility for making sure safer recruitment procedures are applied in your school, it's important to be familiar with them.


What is it?

An enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check is a check on someone's criminal record.

It includes:

  • Spent and unspent convictions
  • Cautions
  • Reprimands
  • Final warnings

It also includes any other information local police deem relevant to working in a school. 

Enhanced DBS checks don't include a barred list check unless you specify that you need one – see the section below for more on this.

Why do we need it?

DBS checks help your school:

  • Determine whether someone has committed offences that suggest they aren't suitable for a role
  • Determine whether someone is allowed to work with children (through the barred list)
  • Comply with childcare disqualification requirements (more on this below)

Your school will need to do DBS checks on:

  • Staff members employed by the school
  • Contractors
  • Volunteers (in some circumstances)
  • Governors (in maintained schools)
  • Members, trustees and local governors (in academies)

Read our articles on DBS checks for school staffacademy trustees, members and local governors and maintained school governors for more on when a DBS check is required.

Barred list

What is it?

The DBS maintains lists of people who are barred from working with children and vulnerable adults.

A barred list check looks at whether someone is included on the barred list relevant to your setting. In most schools, this will be the children's barred list. 

Why do we need it?

Barred list checks must be carried out on anyone at your school who:

  • Is engaging in regulated activity
  • Has worked in a post in a school or college that brought them into regular contact with children or young people which ended 3 months or less before they were appointed 

Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) 2023 defines 'regulated activity' on pages 60 to 62. Alternatively, see our articles linked to above for more information on this. 

It's an offence to employ someone to carry out regulated activity if they're on the barred list. 

Because only certain kinds of convictions automatically lead to barring, a serious offence listed on a DBS certificate doesn't necessarily mean that person is barred. Your school needs to conduct both checks on relevant people to make sure it's compliant. 

Prohibition from teaching 

What is it?

A prohibition from teaching check shows whether a teacher:

  • Is prohibited from teaching (permanently or temporarily)
  • Is subject to sanctions or restrictions (these usually prevent a teacher from working in maintained schools, according to the Teaching Regulation Agency)

The Teacher Services tool that enables schools to do this check also shows whether a teacher:

  • Has the right qualifications for the role
  • Has qualified teacher status (QTS)
  • Failed probation or induction
  • Was subject to a misconduct investigation that did not result in a prohibition order

Why do we need it?

Your school is required to conduct prohibition from teaching checks on any member of staff appointed to carry out teaching work (as per paragraphs 232, 253 and 254 of KCSIE 2023). 

Teachers in maintained schools and non-maintained special schools must have QTS. Checking also makes sure you comply with this requirement.

A key aspect of this check is to do with professional misconduct and suitability, so it helps with making a fully informed decision about whether someone is right for your school.

Childcare disqualification

What is it?

A check to make sure that people who've committed relevant offences aren't:

  • Providing childcare or education to children in the early years (including reception classes), or managing such childcare or education
  • Providing before or after-school care to children under the age of 8, or managing such provision

Find more information about childcare disqualification in our other article. 

Why do we need it?

It's an offence to employ someone in a relevant role if they're disqualified.

Childcare disqualification information isn't noted on a DBS certificate in the same way as barring information, and not every offence that leads to childcare disqualification will necessarily lead to barring. So you won't know if someone is disqualified unless your school does a separate check. 

Section 128

What is it?

A section 128 check identifies people who are subject to a section 128 direction. 

People with a section 128 direction can't:

  • Hold a management position in an academy, free school or independent school (as an employee)
  • Be an academy or free school trustee or member
  • Be a governor on any governing body in an academy, free school or independent school that retains or has been delegated any management responsibilities
  • Be a governor or member of the proprietor body of an independent school
  • Be a governor of a maintained school

Why do we need it?

Academy trusts must conduct a section 128 check on:

  • Academy staff engaged in management positions
  • Academy trust members and trustees
  • Individuals who sit on committees or local governing bodies with delegated responsibilities

KCSIE also says maintained schools should carry out these checks on their governors. However, we recommend your school treats this as a 'must', because a section 128 direction prohibits a person from being a governor.

See our article on section 128 checks to find out how these complement DBS checks

Get this information as a download

Here's a printable version of the information above, to keep to hand if you need it:

Download: recruitment checks cheat sheet DOCX, 518.3 KB

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