Government scraps “disqualification by association” rule

Early years practitioners will no longer have an automatic ban from working with children due to their living arrangements.


The Government announced today its conclusions as a result of a consultation on disqualification arrangements in schools and childcare settings.

NDNA and the early years sector have argued for many years that the blanket ban on practitioners who lived in the same house as certain offenders being able to work with children was unfair and also confusing.

The consultation set out three options in its consultation document:

Option 1 - remove disqualification by association in schools and non-domestic registered settings 
Option 2 -
retain disqualification by association, but introduce a new right to make representations to Ofsted before the disqualification takes effect 
Option 3 - retain disqualification by association, but reduce its scope and introduce a new right to make representations to Ofsted before the disqualification takes effect

The government will support option 1 which was chosen by the majority of respondents who thought the measure was disproportionate to the risk to children. 

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA, said: “We welcome the Government’s clarity on this issue and are pleased it has listened to the early years sector.

“The existing rules about disqualification by association were very complicated and unclear. We first highlighted this to the Department for Education a number of years ago and developed resources to help nurseries manage this issue.

“Nurseries must have robust safeguarding procedures which should ensure that all children are safe while any practitioners whose household arrangements are looked into carefully remain in situ.”

Changes to the Disqualification under the Childcare Act 2006 are being prepared and expected to be implemented from September 2018. 

The response document also states: “We will support employers in this important area by strengthening our statutory guidance to address the changes we are making to the legislation. The guidance will reinforce the importance of existing safeguarding policies, including the requirements on all employers to conduct safer recruitment checks, as required by our Keeping children safe in education statutory guidance. 

“It will also encourage employers to consider whether their policies are clear about the expectations they place on staff, including where their relationships and associations outside of the workplace may have implications for the safeguarding of children. Our aim is to help employers create the right culture and environment, so they can safeguard their employees’ welfare and help them manage children’s safety.”

Childcare provided on domestic premises will still be subject to the disqualification by association arrangements. 

See the full response here.