DBS checks for work experience placements

DBS checks for work experience

Work experience can be defined as short-term (less than 15 working days) experience of employment in the workplace and is usually unpaid -although reasonable expenses may be paid. The purpose of work experience is to gain first-hand knowledge and practice of a working environment and can be particularly useful for young (although not exclusively so) people.

A DBS check is only required for someone undertaking work experience if:

  • they are aged 16 or over
  • a placement will involve regular contact with children or vulnerable adults

If the work experience activity undertaken takes place in a ‘specified place’ such as a school or college, and allows contact with children, this may itself be considered to be 'regulated activity.'

In these cases and where the individual is 16 years of age or over, consideration should be made as to whether a DBS enhanced check should be requested for the person in question.

General work experience in a school

Someone seeking work experience in a school is doing so for their own benefit and so any DBS Check obtained must be on a paid basis.

If a person will always be supervised (within reason) by someone who already has a DBS Check then a DBS check for a work experience applicant will not usually be required.

If a person will be unsupervised and is likely therefore be working in 'Regulated Activity' then a DBS check on that person is likely to be required.

There is not a requirement for the details of someone undertaking work experience to be included on a school’s SCR.

Students aged 16 plus at school, college or university doing work experience as part of their course

It is the responsibility of the School, College, University to ensure that their students are sufficiently DBS checked if they are going to be visiting schools to gain work experience as part of their studies.

The School, College, University will provide a ‘Letter of Assurance’ to the school the student will be visiting to confirm that all the necessary safeguarding vetting checks have been undertaken on them.

Buckinghamshire Council recommends that DBS Checks should be carried out for those aged 16 years and over undertaking work experience in the Early Years environment except where the placement is of a short term nature.  If a DBS Check is not carried out a full risk assessment should be completed which includes all supervisory arrangements that are in place.

Adults who supervise children undertaking two weeks' work experience

Any employer which knowingly lets someone on the DBS Children’s Barred List work in regular activity with a child is committing an offence.  Employers should be confident of their staff’s background before allowing a child to come on work experience.

Anyone who will be supervising a person on work experience could require an Enhanced DBS Check if the person on work experience is under the age of 18 and particularly if a supervisor spends every day or long periods of time alone with that child under age 18.

A school whose pupils are on work experience may ask that a child’s supervisor at an employer obtains a DBS Check.  A school is especially likely to do so if any work experience placement will last at least two weeks.

Schools organising work experience placements should ensure that policies and procedures are in place to protect children from harm.

Barred List checks from the DBS may be required for individuals who supervise a child under the age of 16 on a work experience placement.  The specific circumstances of the work experience, in particular the nature of the supervision and the frequency of the activity being supervised, determine what, if any checks are necessary. 

These considerations would include whether the person providing the teaching, training, instruction or supervision to the child will be:

  • unsupervised
  • providing the teaching/training/instruction frequently (more than three days in a 30 day period, or overnight).

If the person working with the child is unsupervised, and the same person is in frequent contact with the child, the work is likely to be “regulated activity.”  If this is the case, the school could ask the employer providing the work experience to ensure that the person providing the instruction or training is not a barred person.

Schools are not able to request an enhanced DBS check with Barred List Check for staff supervising children aged 16 to 17 on work experience (The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) (Amendment) (England and Wales) Order 2012).


Work Experience - under 18

Miss Black is 16 years’ old and will be working at a school on a one-week work experience placement where she will be supervised in the classroom.  Miss Black is in full-time education at another school and this placement forms part of her course.

  • Because Miss Black is under 18 in full-time education and is undertaking this placement as part of her course, an enhanced DBS check is not required
  • The school should obtain a letter from Miss Black’s Headteacher confirming that Miss Black is a student at his/her school, and that the Headteacher has no causes for concern with regards to Miss Black’s suitability to undertake work experience

Mr Bashir is 15 years’ old and will be working at a school on a two-week work experience placement.  Mr Bashir is in full-time education at a secondary school and this placement forms part of his course.

  • Mr Bashir is under the age of 16 and is therefore not eligible for an enhanced DBS or Barred List Check
  • The school should obtain a letter from Mr Bashir’s Headteacher confirming that Mr Bashir is a student at his/her school and that the Headteacher has no causes for concern with regards to his suitability to undertake work experience.

Work Experience - over 18

Miss Hinds is 19 years’ old, and will be carrying out unpaid work at a school to gain experience in this field.  She will be at the same school every weekday for two weeks; she will be supervised by a teacher when in the classroom working with the children and has been advised not to put herself in an unsupervised situation. She has not come as part of any school or university placement.

  • Miss Hinds will be working intensively but will be closely supervised therefore is not undertaking Regulated Activity.  An enhanced DBS Check is not required but can be obtained on a discretionary basis. The position is not eligible for a barred list check.

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