Minister to look at governor checks

EDUCATION minister Charles Clarke today promised to look at the law after The Evening Star exposed school governor legal loopholes.Teachers, headteachers, classroom assistants, dinner ladies and caretakers are all checked by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) before being given work at schools.

EDUCATION minister Charles Clarke today promised to look at the law after The Evening Star exposed school governor legal loopholes.

Teachers, headteachers, classroom assistants, dinner ladies and caretakers are all checked by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) before being given work at schools.

But, bafflingly, school governors are not. The disturbing legal loophole was exposed after disgraced councillor David Smith admitted downloading child porn.

Smith was serving as a governor at Langer Primary School in Felixstowe – and still could be if he had accepted a police caution without a court appearance.


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Mr Clarke said he was not in a position to speak specifically about Smith, but he promised a closer look at it and the system as a whole.

He said: "I didn't know about this case and am not prepared to comment on it.

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"However, I will look at that particular case you are talking about and the more general implications of it – and then look at them too."

Ipswich MP Chris Mole said he was pleased Mr Clarke had decided to examine the issue more closely.

He said: "There's always a difficult balance to strike between encouraging ordinary members of the public to come forward to serve and putting barriers in the way to do that.

"But I would have thought that on top of the number of checks it probably would inconvenience things too much to add governors to that list.

"Schools might find it a bit of a nuisance to process the paperwork, especially when one governor resigns and another comes in. But in practice, it might be worth checking.

"I would be pleased if Charles Clarke would take a look at it and do a risk analysis."

N Do you think school governors should be subject to criminal record checks? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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