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Last updated on 31 October 2019
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You must carry out specific checks on trustees, members and local governors when they join your trust, including DBS and section 128 checks. Find out the details of the specific checks you need to make across different roles.

What do DBS checks include?

An enhanced DBS check

  • Checks for spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings
  • Asks local police for any additional information that is reasonably considered relevant to the workforce being applied for

An enhanced DBS and barred list check

  • Includes the same enhanced DBS checks as above
  • Also checks whether the person is included on the national DBS ‘barred lists’ of individuals unsuitable for working with children or adults


All academy trustees, local governors and members require: 

  • An enhanced DBS check, and barred list check where they are engaging in regulated activity
  • Section 128 direction check
  • Checks to confirm their identity (including as a part of the DBS check)
  • Checks to confirm their right to work in the UK
  • Any other checks deemed necessary where the trustee has lived or worked outside the UK

This is outlined in paragraph 176 to 179 of Keeping Children Safe in Education. The right to work check requirement is set out in paragraph 20(6)(b) of The Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014

For DBS checks requirements for chairs of trustees, see the section below.

Chair of trustees: DBS requirements

In most cases, before an individual becomes the chair of trustees in an academy or free school, an enhanced DBS check must be made through the DfE. The check must be countersigned by the secretary of state. 

The flowchart below outlines when a DBS check is needed:

DBS check flowchart for new chairs

Where appropriate, the secretary of state will also check the individual against barred list information. It may be necessary to have one if the chair is considered to be working in "regulated activity".

This is explained in paragraphs 169 and 170 of Keeping Children Safe in Education, and in paragraph 20(3)(b) of The Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014.

Rechecks do not need to be through the secretary of state

Some academy trusts have policies which require their chair of trustees to have a DBS recheck after a number of years. 

Only an initial DBS check for the chair of the trust, countersigned by the secretary of state, is required. After this, rechecks through the secretary of state are not required. 

A trust can carry out its own check on the chair if it has a recheck policy. 

This was explained to us by the DfE

Disqualification for failure to provide a disclosure

Trustees and local governors are disqualified from holding office if they fail to obtain a DBS check. This is outlined in articles 78 and 80 of the model articles of association published by the DfE.

A DfE representative confirmed that this does not prevent an individual disqualified in such circumstances from reapplying in the future.

Articles of association may vary. You should check your academy's own articles of association for details of any requirements in place.

How to get the checks


The general application process is:

  • The employer (you, as the academy trust) gets an application form from DBS or an umbrella body (a registered body that gives access to DBS checks)
  • You give the applicant the form to fill in and return to them along with documents proving their identity
  • You send the completed application form to DBS or their umbrella body
  • DBS sends a certificate to the applicant. You then ask the applicant to see the certificate

This is explained on the GOV.UK website.

DBS webpage sets out which identification documents it accepts. At least one of the documents must show the applicant's current address

Section 128

If you carry out an enhanced DBS check with barred list information on an individual (see above), with 'children's workforce independent schools' specified in the parameters, the certificate will detail whether they're subject a section 128 direction.

If you're not carrying out a barred list check, you can carry out section 128 direction checks through the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA). You can do this by logging onto the DfE sign-in service.

Countersigned DBS checks for chairs of trustees

To get a countersigned DBS check:

  • Phone the DBS on 03000 200 190. Ask for a DBS enhanced disclosure application form and quote the DfE's DBS registered body name, 'Department for Education', and reference number, 20881800002. Inform the DBS that as a chair of trustees you’re a volunteer, so they don't apply the charge
  • Complete the DBS enhanced disclosure application form
  • Complete the 'verification of identity' form
  • Complete the DfE enhanced DBS disclosure form for chairs of academy trusts

You'll then need to send the hard copy form to:

DBS coordinator, Floor 5A
Education and Skills Funding Agency
2 St Paul's Place
125 Norfolk Street
Sheffield, S1 2FJ

This is explained in guidance from the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

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