Tutoring is a personal service, providing students – often children, with face to face support from tutors, either at home or online. The purpose of this blog post is to take a quick look at the role of DBS checking and explain the position of Superprof, as regards child safety – a leading provider of online tutoring in the United Kingdom.

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) began life in December 2012, replacing the former Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checking service after much debate and politicians huffing and puffing.

Anyone working in education will recognise the importance of DBS checks. These investigations are carried out by the local authorities on behalf of employers who require assurances regarding the legal status of their staff. Self-employed, freelance tutors are currently unable to make individual applications for DBS checks and they are not legally required to be checked. However, there are a number of umbrella companies and The Tutors Association offering DBS checking services.

Employers have the option to request standard checks, including details of spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings. However, the more expensive, enhanced checks include additional information pertinent to specific types of employment.

Get our "do it yourself" guide to online tutoring here.


DBS checks have been deemed essential by educational authorities and independent schools across the UK. However, they are considered a significant privacy intrusion by some human rights campaigners. There have been calls to limit the amount of information available to prospective employers. One high-profile case involved a 21-year-old man who was found guilty of stealing two push bikes at the age of 11. Lawyer Mark Pemberton said, “This is a case where human rights equals common sense. You can’t argue that something you did when you were 11 years old will blight you for the rest of your life.” There have also been instances of inaccurate DBS findings over the last few years.

Another consideration is that DBS certificates are only valid up to the date of issue. Employers have had to carry out regular checks to ensure that their records are up to date. However, the DBS introduced a new update service in 2013. This has given employees the option of paying an annual fee for the continued use of a certificate which can be updated on request. It is particularly helpful for educational workers given the level of concern over child safeguarding.

Are you about to select an online tutoring technique? You may want to find out the best practices for tutors before doing so.

Superprof’s stance

Private tutors who work on a self-employed basis aren’t legally required to provide DBS certificates at present. However, the vast majority of parents would like assurances regarding the legal histories of adults working in this capacity. It’s for this reason that Superprof expects tutors to have a DBS check. We also encourage all our tutors to register with the update service in preparation for ongoing educational work. Our child safety policy is set out clearly here.

To ensure online safety, it is important to conduct some form of check. For instance, you should consider the risks of using Skype for online tutoring before using it.

Online tutoring is, of course, very safe and effective. Apart from DBS checked tutors, we at Superprof record all lessons – for playback by students and tutors. In the event of a complaint, we follow our best practice Child Safety Policy and can playback lessons, and pass them onto the relevant authorities, if appropriate.

As with all risks in life, however, it’s important to retain perspective. The vast majority of tutors are highly professional, conscientious and concerned for the wellbeing of their students. We at Superprof have also gone that extra mile to see to it, that our website is the safest place for your child to be tutored.

Here are tips to become an effective online tutor.

Another article you may want to read is the research findings on online tutoring.








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