The Association for Language Learning, together with other stakeholders, has raised the matter of DBS checks on host families in school exchanges with the Department for Education. We have received the following statement from the Department for Education.
“We can confirm that the position is that there is no requirement for schools to seek DBS checks against host families ahead of exchange visits – however, they could do so if they wished. While the parents in host families would be seen as undertaking regulated activity, it would not be in a specified place and therefore the requirement for a DBS check will not apply.
To explain in more detail: the policy and legal requirements on specific safeguarding checks for families who will host pupils on exchange visits have not changed. In cases where the school makes the arrangements for the care and accommodation of a child with a host family, including where they engage a company to make the arrangements on their behalf, then the host family would be considered to be in regulated activity and the school would be permitted to carry out DBS checks.
However, because the activity takes place in the home rather than at one of the establishments known as ‘specified places’ there are no regulatory requirements for checks to be undertaken in respect of the families involved. It is for this reason that the Department’s “Keeping Children Safe in Education” guidance states that schools “should” request a DBS certificate with barred list check in respect of host families, which is the recommended position, rather than “must” which would indicate a legal duty that schools must comply with. If schools decide not to carry out these checks, they should satisfy themselves that they are not putting a child at risk and be able to justify the decision if challenged. In cases where the child’s parent(s), or a student themselves, make their own arrangements then this would be a private arrangement and not subject to any DBS checks.”
The Association for Language Learning is working with other partners in the sector to seek further clarification.