Eight out of ten say it will do nothing to stop paedophiles accessing children
Thousands of tutors employed by parents to give their children private lessons are set to refuse to register under a controversial new government safeguarding scheme.
A poll published today, carried out for the thetutorpages.com website, shows that nearly three-quarters of self-employed tutors for whom the scheme is voluntary will refuse to register.
The poll also shows tutors believe overwhelmingly that the scheme, designed to protect children and vulnerable adults from potential abuse, will fail to prevent paedophiles from gaining access to children.
The findings come as the Conservatives published their election manifesto, which includes a commitment to scale back the scheme to “common sense levels”.
Up to nine million adults who work with children or vulnerable adults in schools, colleges, crèches, clubs or community centres will have to register from this summer under the new vetting and barring scheme being introduced by the government’s Independent Safeguarding Authority.
Controversially, it will allow the authorities to make checks into people’s background using information kept on police computers and other databases, in addition to records of criminal convictions kept by the Criminal Records Bureau.
However, the scheme will be voluntary for thousands of private tutors, coaches, nannies and babysitters who are self-employed. Typically tutors are recruited by parents to provide one-to-one teaching for their children in their homes. Only those who also work in schools or other formal settings or activities will have to register.
The survey of more than 500 private tutors, carried out for thetutorpages.com, shows overwhelming opposition to the vetting scheme. Key findings include:
74% of self-employed tutors say they will not sign up for the scheme
70% say it is a waste of resources and will be a bureaucratic nightmare to administer
71% say it will create a blanket of suspicion and undermine trust in all adults working with children
68% say it will lead to miscarriages of justice, with innocent people being unfairly barred from working with children and their reputations and careers ruined
76% say there is a real danger that sensitive information will be lost or released in error with the risk that reputations and careers could be seriously damaged
80% believe it is about protecting agencies and schools and will not prevent paedophiles accessing children elsewhere
80% believe it is ‘way over the top’ and needs to be replaced with a simple, common sense vetting system.
The scheme has come under severe criticism from children’s authors, opposition politicians and civil liberties campaigners, including Esther Rantzen and Philip Pullman, author of the best-selling His Dark Materials trilogy.
In a letter sent out to voters last week, the Conservative Party leader David Cameron, promised to review the vetting and barring scheme as part of his campaign to take a stand against the ever-increasing powers of the “big brother” state.
Henry Fagg, director of The Tutor Pages, said: "This survey shows just how strongly tutors feel about this issue. Many already have Criminal Record Bureau certificates and see this extra check as unnecessary, bureaucratic and intrusive and regard the cost of registering - £64 - as a tax on teaching. Very few parents ask to see CRB checks as it is as they prefer to rely on personal recommendations and their own judgement.
"The very fact that the government has decided to exempt self-employed tutors - who regularly go into family homes to provide one-to-one teaching - from having to register in the first place speaks volumes. The reality is that tutors work very closely with parents and have a relationship built on trust. This scheme is in danger of undermining that bond of trust as it breeds the suspicion that every adult who works with children is a potential paedophile."
For more information about the survey or to arrange an interview contact Jeremy Sutcliffe on 07977 184599 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
1. The online poll was carried out for thetutorpages.com by JS Media Services – http://www.jsmediaservices.co.uk/ - during late March and early April. A total of 525 private tutors completed the survey.
2. The Tutor Pages – http://www.thetutorpages.com/ - is a tuition website that allows parents and students to contact private tutors for free.
3. The Conservative Party manifesto makes the following reference to the vetting and barring scheme on page 80: “We believe that people working in positions of trust with children should go through a proper criminal record check. But Labour's new system goes too far. So we will review the criminal records and 'vetting and barring' regime and scale it back to common sense levels.”