School visitors and safeguarding

Last updated: 05 Mar 2021
Introduction

People visit schools for a range of reasons. Health professionals, counsellors, music examiners, building contractors and parents are just some of the people who play an important role in schools and can enhance children and young people’s learning.

Schools need to consider what extra safeguarding measures should be put in place for any adult visitors who are not employed directly by the school (whether paid or unpaid).

Visitors should make sure they comply with the school’s procedures and understand what they need to do to keep children safe.

This page provides safeguarding guidance for schools receiving visitors, as well as for people and organisations visiting schools.

School visitors during coronavirus

Across the UK, schools are able to welcome necessary visitors to support children, such as peripatetic staff, educational psychologists and counsellors. The number of visitors should be kept to a minimum and all adults visiting schools should follow social distancing and other coronavirus protection measures.

> Find out more in our coronavirus briefing for schools

Considerations for schools

Considerations for schools

Policies and procedures

Your school should have a policy and procedures which outline how you will manage visitors. These should work in alignment with your overarching safeguarding policy and procedures.

They should apply to all visitors and you should make sure everyone working or volunteering with visitors in your school understands them. Be aware that individuals may visit your school in different capacities.

You might want to publish your school visitors policy and procedures online and send it to visitors before they arrive so they are prepared.

Your policy and procedures should include:

  • definitions of the types of visitors you might receive and the processes they should follow
  • a process for managing both planned and unplanned visitors
  • vetting, disclosure and barring check requirements for visitors
  • information about how visitors should report any child protection concerns
  • a process for reporting and responding to safeguarding and child protection concerns about a visitor.

Visitors who represent organisations and are self-employed should have their own safeguarding and child protection policy and procedures. You can ask to see these in advance to ensure they meet your schools standards.

Vetting, disclosure and barring checks

Anyone working with children must undergo the necessary vetting and barring checks. If they are undertaking “regulated activity” or “regulated work”, they are required by law to have an enhanced vetting and barring check.

> Read more about regulated activity, vetting, disclosure and barring checks on our safer recruitment page

Statutory guidance in England, Northern Ireland and Wales provides more detailed information on vetting, disclosure and barring checks for school visitors.

> Find out more about key legislation for schools

If you are contracting visitors who are employed by or volunteer with another organisation, statutory guidance states that you do not need to carry out your own vetting and barring checks. However, it’s best practice to get written confirmation that visitors have been recruited according to safer recruitment practices. Make sure you are satisfied that this meets your school’s safeguarding requirements.

It’s best practice to do this in advance to avoid embarrassment and disappointment. Your visitors policy and procedures should clearly explain who is responsible for doing this and how.

Self-employed visitors may not be able to apply directly for their own vetting and barring check. They may ask your school to apply on their behalf. If you agree to this, you will need to check their eligibility and relevant documents.

Visitors without vetting and barring checks

If a visitor hasn’t undertaken the relevant vetting and barring checks, you should make a risk assessment about whether they can still work with children in your school and what measures need to be put in place. It’s best practice never to leave visitors without checks unsupervised.

Code of conduct

Your school should set out how you expect visitors to behave. This should include:

You should have policies and procedures in place to respond to any concerns about a visitor’s behaviour.

> Find out about managing allegations of abuse

Child protection training

Everyone who comes into contact with children and young people should take child protection training to make sure they know how to recognise and respond to child protection concerns.

If someone is visiting your school frequently, consider including them in your regular child protection training.

Our child protection in schools online training course will help visitors feel confident in identifying the possible signs of abuse and neglect and understand the correct procedures for reporting concerns.

During the visit

Identification

When someone visits your school, request and check their identification. Log their name, organisation, who they are visiting and time of arrival and departure.

Give visitors a badge or pass that clearly identifies them as a visitor. This should be visible at all times. Visitors without an identification badge should be politely challenged by school staff.

Unplanned visitors

Make sure reception staff are aware of any visitors you are expecting. Visitors should always make an appointment if possible. Make sure staff know what to do if an unplanned visitor arrives.

Safeguarding arrangements

Give every visitor information about how they should report any safeguarding and child protection concerns. This should include:

  • who the nominated child protection lead is and how to contact them
  • information about whistleblowing.

If a visitor reports a concern, your nominated child protection lead should work with them to make the appropriate referrals to children’s social care.

If visitors will be working one-to-one with a child, make sure you put the necessary safeguarding measures in place.

> Read our practice examples about one-to-one working

> Find out more about lone working

Parents and carers

If parents are visiting your school to attend an event, such as a parents evening, sports day or play, they do not need to undergo vetting and barring checks.

But if parents and carers are acting in a voluntary capacity, for example as a classroom helper or school governor, the school should follow safer recruitment processes.

Checklist for visitors

Checklist for visitors

If you’re visiting a school, you need to make sure everything goes safely and smoothly.

You might visit the same school in different capacities, for example as a parent attending a school play, a volunteer helping out at a school activity or a visiting speaker. The school may ask you to follow different procedures depending on the reason for your visit.

Before your visit

  • Make sure you understand and follow the school’s processes for visitors, whichever capacity you are visiting in.
  • Confirm the date and time of your visit with the school. Make sure you know who to ask for when you arrive.
  • If you’re self-employed or visiting on behalf of an organisation, be prepared to share your safeguarding and child protection policies and procedures in advance. The school will need to check that your safeguarding measures meet their standards.
  • Organisations should provide the school with written confirmation that visitors have been recruited following safer recruitment. This includes confirmation that anyone working or volunteering with children has undergone the relevant vetting and barring checks. The school will need to check these procedures meet their standards.
  • If you are self-employed, it’s best practice to show the school evidence that you have carried out the appropriate vetting and barring checks for self-employed people.
  • If you plan to take photographs of children and young people as part of your work, you must seek prior permission from the school.

Make sure you know how to recognise and respond to any concerns about a child’s safety or welfare.

> Take our Child protection in schools online training course

> Find out more about recognising and responding to abuse

During the visit

  • Be prepared to show identification when you arrive.
  • Follow the school’s code of conduct.
  • Only go into areas of the school you’ve been permitted to enter.
  • You should only be alone with children if the school has given you permission. If you are working one-to-one with a child, make sure you put the appropriate safeguarding measures in place.

If you identify a safeguarding or child protection concern

  • Report it by following both the school’s and your own procedures.
  • Keep a record of your concern.
  • Work with the school to support any ongoing work with that child and their family, including referrals to other agencies.
Further resources

Further resources

Related NSPCC resources

Safeguarding and child protection in schools

Childline

If a child or young person needs confidential help and advice direct them to Childline. Calls to 0800 1111 are free and children can also contact Childline online. You can also download or order Childline posters and wallet cards.

Elearning

Our elearning courses can help you develop your and your visitors’ understanding of how to protect children from abuse.