What is a Section 128 check?

November 6th, 2018 by Jonathan Bazely

A Section 128 check, checks the names of individuals who are barred from taking part in the management of any independent or maintained school. The list is maintained by the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) under the terms of direction from the Secretary of State for Education. On 1st April 2018 NCTL was repurposed, with regulation of the teaching profession passed to the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA), and the other functions moved to the Department for Education (DfE).

How to request a Section 128 check

There are two ways to request a Section 128 check and it will depend on the work being done.

  1. As part of a DBS check – To be included in the DBS process the application must be for an enhanced level check with a check of the child barring list* (i.e. in Regulated Activity with children). The job role entered on to the form must include ‘Independent school’ and be in the child workforce category to trigger this check
  2. Directly using the DfE website (https://teacherservices.education.gov.uk/). Access to this service is available to all educational establishments with an approver status and allows a direct request to the DfE to check an individual.

*The Department for Education wrote to proprietors of all independent schools in June 2015 setting out their requirements, which stated that any management role in the sector was considered to be carrying out Regulated activity with children.

Who can apply for a Section 128 check?

This type of check is only available for those involved in the management of a school and can not be applied to all roles within a school setting. Section 128 checks complement DBS checks by also looking at the parts of someone’s history that may not necessarily be criminal, but would still be worrying. There are different criteria and requirements between the DBS barring decision and terms of direction. The DBS may decide not to bar an individual from working with children however DfE may refer a case to the relevant decision panel to prevent that individual from managing a school. Common examples include:

Someone who undermines mutual respect for those of different faiths may not be charged with a hate crime, but the DfE may not want them associated with the management of a school

An accountant who has breached the code of ethics set out by their professional body by using confidential client information for personal gain hasn’t necessarily committed a crime, but DfE may not want them overseeing a school’s accounts

When is a section 128 direction issued?

A section 128 direction can be issued on specific grounds where the type of conviction, caution, or conduct suggests that the person is unsuitable for the management of a school. These grounds include:

  • Conviction of an offence under military disciplinary proceedings
  • Being found not guilty of an offence by reason of insanity
  • Conduct found to be in breach of professional standards by a professional body

Section 128 directions may also be issued if a person has engaged in conduct that is aimed at undermining:

  • British values
  • Rule of law
  • Individual liberty
  • Mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs

What does it stop someone doing?

People with a section 128 direction can not:

  • 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 academy or free school board that has delegated responsibilities
  • Be a governor or member of the proprietor body of an independent school
  • Sit on the governing board of a maintained school

How can DDC assist with this process?

If you are an existing client of Due Diligence Checking Limited (DDC) and want to request Section 128 checks, please get in touch. We can easily amend the settings on your account to include this check at no extra cost. If you are not a client but want to start processing your Enhanced DBS checks and Section 128 checks for your school, academy or independent school then you can register today, free of charge.