NDNA calls for clarity on nursery staff 'disqualified by association'

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The National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) is calling on the Department for Education (DfE) to make the rules clearer concerning practitioners who live with someone who is disqualified from working with children.

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Under current rules nurser workers sharing a house with someone who is banned from working with children may also be disqualified by association

Under current legislation, an individual living in a household with someone who is disqualified from working with children may also be disqualified by association.

This applies to household members including partners, children, housemates and lodgers.

Providers have a responsibility to ensure members of staff are suitable to work with children and not disqualified.

If they find someone is disqualified, a provider must not allow that person to work with children and dismiss them if disqualification is confirmed and not waived by Ofsted.

However, if a member of staff is unaware they are living with a person/s who is disqualified they are not guilty of an offence. Neither is a provider, unless they knowingly employ someone who is disqualified.

While the rules surrounding disqualification are outlined in the Childcare Act 2006 (section 75), the NDNA says that the terminology used in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) has led to some confusion around disqualification. This is because paragraph 3.4 refers only to the registered provider.

The organisation, which says it has seen an increase in the number of members contacting it about the issue, is calling on the DfE to clearly set out the rules on disqualification within the early years curriculum.

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of the NDNA, said, 'It is important that everyone has access to all the facts in an easy-to-understand format.

'At the moment, providers would need to search through the Childcare Act to find the relevant legislation, which is time-consuming and confusing.

'We would urge the DfE to look at the EYFS and ensure the facts are clear and concise on this vitally important bit of legislation.'

An Ofsted spokesperson said, 'To protect young children, some people are disqualified from providing childcare because they have committed a crime, and that can extend to those who live with them.

'However, Ofsted can waive a person's disqualification in some cases. We take decisions on a case-by-case basis, taking into account issues such as the risks to children and the seriousness of the matter that led to the person being disqualified.'

A DfE spokesperson said, 'We agree that clarity about rules is important, and we were already planning to look at the EYFS in that regard.'

To help dispel confusion about the issue of disqualification, the NDNA has published a new factsheet on staff suitability and disqualification which includes links to the appropriate legislation and guidance on employment law compliance.