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Reply To: School requesting references prior to a visit

Patricia Ruth Howes

I remember when I worked in NHS and a special school my team visited (physios, OTs and SLTs) were suddenly asked by the new school business manager for paper proof of various things. I didn’t feel I had capacity to respond to this for every school and so got firnly polite and asked the questions and kept asking them. I didn’t want to compromise safety in any way but felt it was process driven. It was. I was initially told it was an OFSTED requirement, so I asked for the specific information underpinning the change. I then explained there was no capacity for this type of admin for every school and every practitioner and we had HR process in the NHS etc. I believe (and it must have been a stroppy day) I said we might need to withdraw service to clinic while we sorted this out .

Learning points were I was glad I challenged, but it took time. There was no OFSTED change in regs it was the new software at the school. No one could show me that OFSTED or anyone else required this information.

NHS HR Dept had an interesting perspective I’d never considered when I checked my actions and sought advice. On the matter of showing DBS certifictates they were not in favour of this and said that people might have a minor conviction which was irrelevant to employment, but it was not appropriate for a school to have that info. The fact that the NHS organisation had checked the employee was what was important.

I re-issued the usual letter about checks and assurances and it settled. I think it was escalated to the Head- the Business Manager was keen to push it to a stand off.

These systems sold to school are not sensitive enough. References at this interval is a an extension of the same trend. I was asked to supply references for a school where I supervise a therapist and just assumed it wasn’t relevant to me and they accepted that.

Of course, with the events above I was in a salaried post and didn’t need to consider personal income in my actions. It was more about my continual frustration with the process taking away from clinical time – and porbably a reason I left the NHS eventually.

Best Wishes,