Any checks required to be allowed as a parent helper at a primary?

(26 Posts)
ReceptionMum Wed 17-Feb-16 11:28:20

Could those with experience advise please whether any checks (police etc) are required before you are allowed as a parent helper at a primary school?

Could you help me with links to find the details on how this volunteering works?

My DD starts YR this Sept and I'm planning to volunteer as a helper so trying to plan ahead.

Also, do you commit to the time you offered on a termly basis or for the entire year or is there any commitment at all? I work 3 days, so I'm currently thinking I could/should "donate" a couple of hour on my 2 days off. However, I have got a 2 yo DS to look after on those days (so I will depend on Granny's commitments as well) plus may need to change the days I work. So, ideally I would try to avoid any long term commitments, if possible.

Many thanks

madamginger Wed 17-Feb-16 11:36:11

I had to have an enhanced dbs check to help at my dc school,
I'm on the PTA and only help at events, discos and the like. I don't commit to regular hours as such but as and when I'm needed

RainbowDashed Wed 17-Feb-16 11:38:47

Yup, you'll need a DBS check. I had one to listen to readers, and another to be on the playgroup committee.

I'm sure the school could be flexible dependent on your other commitments/childcare issues - the one I helped out at was grateful for any time that could be offered. I did a couple of hours once a week, but couldn't do every week.

SalmonMaki Wed 17-Feb-16 11:41:07

Do check with your DD's school (especially the reception teacher come September), at our primary they were happy to have parents come in to help with art or to listen to kids reading for example. Another local school had specific mornings throughout the term when they welcomed parents in to school to help out. It would depend on your school's needs / system.

Many schools are grateful and welcoming of any parental help and engagement, they might offer you any time throughout the day that suits you.

Also at our school they tended to do literacy in the mornings first thing, so if I was volunteering to listen to readers, I would have to go into school right after registration. I volunteered an hour a week for several years.

Our primary also did CRB checks for the parents (or whatever the current equivalent is), school paid for it, we just had to fill in a form.

ReceptionMum Wed 17-Feb-16 11:50:54

Many thanks for your answers.

I take it that I cannot apply in advance as an individual (and "have it ready when/where needed"); the school will have to apply, am I right?

admission Wed 17-Feb-16 15:12:14

No, all DBS checks are carried out by the school which you would be volunteering at. Though after you have one, there are now ways of it counting at more than one venue.

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeG0es Wed 17-Feb-16 15:31:21

They don't take that long to come through and it may be easier to wait a few weeks before volunteering to let your DC settle in without seeing you around. My DCs school like a mixture of regular and ad-hoc volunteers, for the ad-hoc I spoke to the teacher and found out which days of the week they could use someone, then when I was free I woukd just stick my head round the door in the morning to see if they would like me in that day. That was in my own DCs class, some schools only let you help in other classes though.

BertPuttocks Wed 17-Feb-16 15:39:07

My DBS came through in less than 2 weeks, so it shouldn't be a long wait once they start the process.

At our school they prefer you not to be in your own child's class. They match parents up with a teacher and then let them make their own arrangements. You would be expected to phone and let them know if you weren't able to make a pre-arranged time though.

LilacSpunkMonkey Wed 17-Feb-16 15:43:36

Yes, please don't be one of those parents who only offers because they want to be in their own child's class. It's unfair for your child to have you hovering around them all day and it's unfair on the rest of the class knowing that 'Emma's Mummy' is here. It really changes the dynamic of a class when a parent volunteers in there.

I've done lots of volunteering and now work in a school myself. I have three children who were all in the same primary school for two years. During that time I didn't do any volunteering in their classes, I went elsewhere. Older children don't want Mum around anyway grin

lougle Wed 17-Feb-16 15:45:14

Current guidance is that schools only need to DBS check if the helper will be alone with children. So general classroom help, reading in the presence of a member of staff, helping on school trips when paired with a staff member, helping on a local walk around, etc., do not require a DBS check.

RockinHippy Wed 17-Feb-16 15:46:00

In my DDs old primary school, no checks were needed unless you were working on your own with DCs. So if you were helping out in class with teachers/TAs present, no check was needed. If you were working with DCs on your own, 1-1 guided reading, running an after school club etc etc, then you needed to have a DBS check, which the school arranged. I really enjoyed setting up & running an after school club, here, they were crying out for new clubs, so it seemed the best use of the time I could give.

They are very flexible as far as your time goes, as you are volunteering, so don't worry too much about that, it will depend on what you do.

Finola1step Wed 17-Feb-16 15:53:48

In my dc's school, all parent helpers have to have a current DBS check. As well as sign a code of conduct.

My ds is in Y3 and I volunteer in his class on a weekly basis. Some mums do a share so alternate the same morning. And yes, it is exclusively mums who volunteer on a regular basis.

My DD is in Reception and the have a no parents in for most of the first term. The then ask for help in the run up to Xmas for baking, making decorations etc. They then have a few parents to help with book changing and cooking. But its less regular than in other parts of the school.

I think it is great that you want to help. But don't be surprised if the school want to see how your DD settles first. Or asks you to help in another class.

ReceptionMum Wed 17-Feb-16 16:05:46

Many thanks to all for your comments. I will wait until we know in April which school we are in and then I will go from there.

LilacSpunkMonkey,
No, I wasn't even thinking it would be possible to help in my DD's class (and I do not think it is right either). However, I must admit, I still hope that by doing something for the school I will, one way or another, help my daughter - e.g. doing something they would otherwise have to pay from PTA funds

BigGreenOlives Wed 17-Feb-16 16:08:30

DBS, online child protection course, confidentiality agreement, receipt of policies.

Pengweng Wed 17-Feb-16 16:42:02

The school completed a DBS check for me; it took about 3 weeks to come back. I do two mornings a week (6 hours total) and generally help out the students who are struggling with whatever work we are doing at the minute.
I also had a health and safety briefing and got told who the child protection person was in case any child told me something i needed to report, and got a copy of school policies.
The school checks every three months if you are happy to continue or if you want to move classroom, change days etc.

mouldycheesefan Wed 17-Feb-16 16:47:31

No check in our school just read booklet and sign it. Op normally they ask for helpers in September and it's very informal.

mouldycheesefan Wed 17-Feb-16 16:48:35

I do help in dds class. I listen to readers. Other parents help with art or science. Lots help in trips. I did me trip that was enough! Also done lots for PTA.

MrsHathaway Wed 17-Feb-16 16:52:52

Ours get a DBS check for everyone. It means that once you're a helper they can ask you to join a school trip, or hear a single child read, or whatever, without needing to check if you're checked.

We help in our own children's classes if it's ad hoc but the regular volunteers tend to help in another class. As it happens I've only once had one of my children in my group, and that was on an external trip. I find it easier because I already know their names, but it is a bit weird to know how good your child's friends are at reading/multiplication!

SueLawleyandNicholasWitchell Wed 17-Feb-16 16:53:13

DBS checks can take a lot longer to come through in August/ September as schools have to have a DBS applied for within 8 weeks of teachers etc starting, so these are often prioritised.

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeG0es Wed 17-Feb-16 17:39:34

In my DCs school it is normal to volunteer in your DCs class, as it's only about an hour a week and nearly always outside the classroom (reading in the library or shared art area) it can't be affecting the dynamics much if at all. My DS was always happy for me to be there even in year 6 and DD in year 5 now is the same, although I only do it once or twice a year now.

SelfRaisingFlour Wed 17-Feb-16 21:37:59

We have a DBS check done by the school. It was done online and it came through within a few days.

At our school you never help in your own child's class. I just listen to the weaker readers for a couple of hours in the same class once a week.

I just tell the teacher (or email her) if I can't make a session for whatever reason and she will tell me if there's a reason that I shouldn't come in (school trips, workshops, assembly practices etc).

Foxyloxy1plus1 Wed 17-Feb-16 22:29:59

I'm doing a 'safer recruiting' course and volunteers should apply and be interviewed in the same way as a salaried staff member. Certainly, DBS is the absolute minimum that is to be expected.
Pounce you are accepted, you discuss a mutually convenient day/time.

catkind Wed 17-Feb-16 23:31:54

Our school have a system in place, they send out a letter a couple of weeks in asking for volunteers, the coordinator then contacts people to arrange sessions so all the classes get a fair share of help. I don't think they'd have wanted us any sooner anyway, they mostly use volunteers for reading and they would still have been settling into new classes and finding out their levels.
We did do a DBS check and a safeguarding training session, but school were quite relaxed about starting volunteering before they were finished. (Volunteers here are never alone with kids anyway.)
I am volunteering for the same session all year. Before younger one was in preschool DH found it worked better to just volunteer for irregular things like helping on outings or special events, school had a bank of DBS-checked volunteers to call on for things like that.

catkind Wed 17-Feb-16 23:40:20

In short - depends on your school's systems, how they use volunteers, and what you wanted to volunteer for. Just ask though, they're hardly going to complain at offers of free help!

Ferguson Thu 18-Feb-16 17:28:05

I started as a 'parent helper' supporting 'readers', one day a week for five years, and added Yr6 Friday gardening activities, and I ran an after-school Keyboard club with a few Yr6 children.

In other schools I became employed as a TA for twelve years, before returning to voluntary support after retirement age. One of my first 'readers' turned up seventeen years later when she was on her final year of Teacher Training; our roles were reversed as SHE needed to direct ME in the classroom!

Any special skills or knowledge can be useful in schools - sports, drama, music, arts & crafts, advanced computer skills, etc.

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