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What Is Regulated Activity in Schools?

“How do I know what type of DBS checks are required?” is a common question that we get asked by schools.

DBS checks underpin robust Safeguarding within a school and, essentially, the level of checks employees (or prospective employees) require depends on the nature of work they will be carrying out and, more specifically, whether the work is legally defined as ‘regulated activity with children’.

Understanding this legal definition is crucial, and it is important to stay on top of legislative changes. If an individual carries out a form of ‘regulated activity’ and you know (or have reason to believe) an individual is barred, you could face up to five years in prison if they are convicted, in addition to the reputational damage that your school, academy or trust will suffer

Types of DBS checks

Standard, enhanced and enhanced with barred list check are the three main types of DBS checks.

All these checks provide information held on the Police National Computer about an individual’s previous convictions, reprimands and warnings. The enhanced check also informs employers of any approved information held by the police and ought to be released, as judged by the chief policy officer.

In addition to all of the above, the enhanced barred list check provides a final check on whether an individual appears on the children’s barred list, and this check should be carried out on people working (or seeking to work) in ‘regulated activity with children’.

Defining ‘regulated activity’

The full legal definition of ‘regulated activity,’ as set out in Schedule 4 of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 as amended by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, was detailed in the latest revision of the Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) document.

Some activities are only defined as ‘regulated’ if they are undertaken regularly, while other activities are classed as ‘regulated’ regardless of their frequency or supervision, such as residential trips and personal care including toileting, washing, assisting with eating or drinking.

Activities that are only deemed to be ‘regulated activity’ can be split into two categories.

Category A

  • Providing advice or guidance on physical, emotional or educational wellbeing, or;
  • Driving a vehicle only for children, e.g. the school bus on a morning and evening, or;
  • Teaching, training, instructing or supervising children if the person is unsupervised.

Category B

  • Work undertaken for schools and colleges (known as specified places) which provides an opportunity for contact with children; this does not include work undertaken by supervised volunteers.

Work undertaken in both categories is classed as ‘regulated activity’ if it is done regularly, with ‘regularly’ defined as three or more days in a 30 day period.

KCISIE further states that when a school decides to engage a volunteer who will not be in ‘regulated activity’, they must be supervised by someone engaged in ‘regulated activity’. The school must also consider the following to ensure the safety of their children at all times:

  • Supervision must be undertaken regularly and on a day-to-day basis
  • There must be supervision of a person who is engaged in ‘regulated activity’
  • Supervision must be “reasonable in all circumstances to ensure the protection of children.”

If the work is in a specific place such as your school’s premises, paid workers remain in ‘regulated activity’ even if they are supervised.

DBS process: types of checks for volunteers

As before, the type of DBS checks available for volunteers depends on if they will undertake ‘regulated activity with children’ that is unsupervised.

An enhanced DBS check with a barred list check is required for those that will engage in ‘regulated activity,’ and an enhanced DBS check without a barred list check for those that will not (supervised). You can only legally request a barred list check for those who will be engaged in ‘regulated activity.’

Volunteers who are supervised on a regular basis are no longer required to have a full enhanced DBS check with a barred list check, KCSIE states. However, schools should complete a risk assessment and use their professional judgement when deciding whether to obtain an enhanced DBS certificate. Safer recruitment guidance recommends this is the minimum check required.

If a volunteer has not had any checks obtained, they should not be allowed to work in regulated activity.


EPM is this year’s MAT Summit Theatre sponsor. Join them at 11am in the MAT Summit  for their interactive session titled ‘Redefining your People Strategy: Key Considerations for Academies and MATs’.