Vetting

1. What is vetting?

Vetting is governed by the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012 to 2016 and is conducted by the National Vetting Bureau (the Bureau) on behalf of relevant organisations where the employees/members provide services to children and/or vulnerable persons. The Bureau conducts a search and establishes whether or not there are criminal records and or specified information (see question 12 for more information) matching the personal details provided by the applicant on the vetting application form.

The Teaching Council is the relevant organisation for administering vetting for teachers in Ireland. The result of the vetting search, which is known as the vetting disclosure, is provided to the Teaching Council’s authorised liaison person who then makes it available to the teacher and, where appropriate, the school. The teacher may then share the vetting disclosure with employers/potential employers.

Vetting searches are confined to addresses in Ireland and Northern Ireland. However, in some cases, records from an overseas jurisdiction may be disclosed.

2. How do the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012 to 2016 and the Teaching Council Acts 2001 to 2015 affect the vetting of  teachers

Two pieces of legislation have put the vetting requirements for teachers on a statutory basis.

Under the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012 to 2016, the National Vetting Bureau (the Bureau) has been established and has replaced the Garda Central Vetting Unit. The Bureau is responsible for issuing vetting disclosures under the Act’s statutory arrangements.

The Teaching Council Acts 2001 to 2015 established the Teaching Council as the relevant statutory organisation for the vetting of teachers in Ireland.                                                            

Section 12 of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012 to 2016 requires that a school authority must not, other than where certain exemptions apply (which are set out at section 5.3 of Department of Education and Skills Circular 0031/2016 ), commence the employment (whether under contract of employment or otherwise) of an employee to undertake relevant work or activities before the school authority receives a vetting disclosure from the Bureau in respect of that person. This requirement applies in respect of all types of appointment of any duration including full time, part time and substitute positions. Failure by an employer to comply with this statutory requirement will be a criminal offence.

Section 7(2)(ba) of the Teaching Council Acts, 2001 to 2015 allows the Teaching Council to obtain or receive vetting disclosures for the purpose of its role as a relevant organisation, i.e., for registration or Fitness to Teach purposes, or for the purpose of its role as a relevant organisation representing another relevant organisation, i.e., school employers, for the purposes of the vetting procedures under the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012 to 2016.

3. How do I apply for vetting? 

You must apply for vetting via the Teaching Council, which is the relevant organisation responsible for administering vetting for teachers in Ireland. The vetting application process consists of a number of steps, which are explained in the Guide to Applying for Vetting.

4. How do I know if I have been previously vetted by the Council?

All teachers who have been vetted through the Teaching Council will have been issued with either a Teaching Council GCVU vetting result letter (prior to 29 April 2016) or a National Vetting Bureau Disclosure (post 29 April 2016). Registered Teachers can check their previous vetting status by logging on to the My Registration section of the Teaching Council website www.teachingcouncil.ie.   After logging in the teacher can take a screenshot of the screen below and present it to their employer in lieu of the GCVU vetting result letter. Teachers can continue to access their NVB disclosures via the Digitary document portal.

Teachers may have a status of

  • Approved
  • Ratified by Evidence of Character Panel
  • Approved by EOCP (Evidence of Character Panel)
  • Approved by EOCP with Conditions.

Retrospective Vetting image

5. How do I know if I need to be vetted? 

Every teacher requires vetting for registration with the Teaching Council and for new employment in a school.

Registration

Teachers applying for registration are required to be vetted as part of the requisite to be a fit and proper person to be admitted to the register as set out in the Teaching Council Acts 2001 to 2015 (as amended) [link] under section 31(5A) and (5B), and section 9.1(b) and section 13 of the Teaching Council [Registration] Regulations 2016.

Employment

The requirements for teachers applying for vetting for reasons of employment are set out in Department of Education and Skills Circular Letter 0031/2016 and the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012 to 2016.

Retrospective Vetting

Registered teachers who have never previously been vetted through the Teaching Council must apply for vetting as part of their registration renewal process. The Teaching Council are facilitating the retrospective vetting of teachers, which will be carried out as part of teacher's registration renewal process in accordance with Section 33 of the Teaching Council Acts 2001-2015. Further information on Retrospective Vetting is available here.

6. Can I start work with a new employer before I receive my vetting disclosure?

Vetting requirements for employment purposes are outlined in section 5 of the Department of Education and Skills Circular 0031/2016.

7. I am a registered teacher. I was previously vetted through the Garda Central Vetting unit. I am seeking/undertaking new employment. Is my vetting result valid under the NVB Act? 

Section 5.3b of Department of Education and Skills Circular 0031/2016 states that there is no requirement under the National Vetting Bureau Act for a school authority to obtain a vetting disclosure from the Bureau in the case of registered teachers who had provided the school authority with a Teaching Council vetting outcome letter prior to 29 April 2016.

As this exemption is primarily concerned with cases where GCVU vetting information is requested and received as part of recruitment processes that are underway but not fully completed at the time the Act is commenced (29 April 2016), it will only be relevant for a short period. You should monitor the Department of Education and Skills website www.education.ie for further information in relation to vetting requirements for employment purposes.

8. What information is revealed on a vetting disclosure? 

National Vetting Bureau (NVB) disclosures are categorized in two ways: Nil disclosures and Trace disclosures.

The Nil vetting disclosures includes:

  • a statement that there is no criminal record or specified information in relation to the person. (see Q.12 for more information on Specified Information)

The (Trace) vetting disclosure includes:

  • particulars of the criminal record (if any) relating to the person, and a statement of the specified information (if any) relating to the person, which the Chief Bureau Officer has determined should be disclosed in accordance with section 15 of the NVB Act.

Certain minor convictions which occurred more than seven years ago and which are deemed spent in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act, 2016 may not be disclosed. (Please see Q16 for more information).

Where appropriate the Teaching Council decides on the relevance of any disclosure made by the Bureau to the teacher’s suitability for registration. The Council’s Evidence of Character Panel assesses such disclosures in the case of persons applying for registration and for registered teachers. Please see Q.18 for further information on the Evidence of Character Process.

9. How long does vetting take? 

The vetting application process consists of a number of steps, which are explained in the Guide to Applying for Vetting

Due to the high volumes of vetting applications being processed at present, the average turnaround time for processing has increased to approximately 4 weeks. It is not possible for the Council to provide status updates for stage 1 of the process, however, once you have completed step two, you can track your application on the NVB website.

10. How will I receive my vetting disclosure (result)?

You will be notified (via the email address that you used for applying for vetting) that your vetting disclosure is available for viewing. Disclosures are issued to teachers through an online system called Digitary. See question 13 for more information on Digitary.

11. How long is vetting valid for? 

All teachers taking up new employment in a school for the first time are required to be vetted by the National Vetting Bureau. The length of time a National Vetting Bureau disclosure will be valid will be a matter for your employer to determine.

12. I am applying for registration and I have lived overseas for more than three years (36 months) after the age of 18. Does vetting cover overseas addresses? 

The National Vetting Bureau currently undertakes vetting on addresses in Ireland and Northern Ireland only. As you are applying for registration and have lived overseas after the age of 18 for a cumulative period of three years (36 months) you must provide a certified copy of police clearance for each country in which you have resided. Certificates must cover the entire period of residence in each country.

Overseas documentation requirements

Registered teachers are not required to provide overseas police clearance certificates as part of the vetting process.

13. What does specified (soft) information mean?

Specified information means information concerning a finding or allegation of harm to another person, which has been recorded by the National Vetting Bureau following an investigation by An Garda Síochána, TUSLA (the Child and Family Agency), the HSE or another specified organisation. The process for the disclosure of specified information by the National Vetting Bureau to the Teaching Council for registration purposes and the school employer for employment purposes is set out in the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012 to 2016. The Chief Bureau Officer must be satisfied that the disclosure is necessary, proportionate and reasonable in the circumstances in order to protect children and vulnerable adults.

The vetting applicant is informed by the National Vetting Bureau of the intention to disclose specified information and has the right to appeal the disclosure to the National Vetting Bureau in accordance with legislative procedures.  

14. Is the Teaching Council required to notify specified information to the National Vetting Bureau?

As a scheduled organisation the Teaching Council is required, according to Section 19 of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012 to 2016 to notify specified information to the National Vetting Bureau, where, following an investigation, inquiry or regulatory process it has a genuine concern that the person who is the subject of that investigation, inquiry or regulatory process, may—

(a) harm any child or vulnerable person,

(b) cause any child or vulnerable person to be harmed,

(c) put any child or vulnerable person at risk of harm,

(d) attempt to harm any child or vulnerable person, or

(e) incite another person to harm any child or vulnerable person,

The person concerned is informed by the Teaching Council of the fact of the genuine concern and of the Council’s intention to notify the Bureau of it.

Please see the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012 to 2016 for further information on Section 19 of that Act.

15. What is the Teaching Council's secure online vetting facility (Digitary)?

 The Teaching Council will issue your vetting disclosure (vetting result) through a secure online portal provided by a company called Digitary. Digitary is a web-based solution that enables institutions to securely issue official documents online.

Teachers can access their vetting result via a secure web portal. From there, they can share the vetting result online with third parties in a controlled and audited manner. The third parties (e.g., the employer), can authenticate shared documents with the permission of the document owner, i.e., the teacher. This facility enables the Teaching Council to:-

  • issue secure, authentic electronic documents
  • provide a secure electronic platform to allow you to share your vetting result with third parties and
  • have 24/7 access to your vetting result.

The online solution is a highly secure, interoperable and extensible electronic document solution. It uses XML Advanced Electronic Signatures (XAdES) and FIPS 140-3 level 3 certified cryptographic tokens to produce Qualified Electronic Signatures under the EU Digital Signature Directive 1999/EC/93.

Further information on the online solution is available here

16. Can I refuse to be vetted? 

At present you must be vetted in the following circumstances:-

When applying for registration with the Teaching Council or;

taking up employment in a school in which you have not previously been employed.

Registered teachers who have never previously been vetted through the Teaching Council must apply for vetting as part of their registration renewal process when requested to do so by the Council. Only teachers who have a current registration status with the Teaching Council are eligible to receive a salary paid by the State. Further information on Retrospective Vetting is available here.

17. Is there a fee for vetting

There is no fee for vetting.

18. Do I have to disclose all convictions?

Where an application for a vetting disclosure is being submitted to the Bureau you are required to provide details of all convictions as pat of the application, except for convictions to which section 14A of the NVB Acts applies. More information can be found here. If you are unsure of your standing in relation to a particular offence please seek the appropriate legal advice.

19. On whose behalf does the Teaching Council apply for vetting?

When an individual is seeking vetting for the purposes of registration, the Council applies for vetting on its own behalf with the consent of the teacher/applicant.

If an individual is seeking vetting for employment purposes the Teaching Council applies for vetting in its role as a ‘relevant organisation’ on behalf of a recognised school/employer with the consent of the teacher for the purposes of the vetting procedures under the National Vetting Bureau Act. This means that the Council must make the vetting disclosure available to the school/employer on request.

20. What are the steps involved in the evidence of character process?

If a Trace Disclosure is received by the Teaching Council from the National Vetting Bureau, then the registered teacher concerned may be subject to the Council's Evidence of Character Process under Section 33 of the Teaching Council Act 2001-2015.

1. The teacher is informed by letter that their case is being put forward for consideration by the Evidence of Character Panel and further information in the form of a personal account of the circumstances pertaining to the disclosure as well as character and employment references are requested from the teacher by the Panel. The Panel may seek additional information at their discretion.

2. When the Panel is satisfied that it has sufficient information, the Panel makes a decision on the teacher's case. The Panel can decide to grant registration, grant registration subject to a condition or refuse to grant registration. The teacher is advised of the Panel’s decision in writing within 21 days of the decision.

3. If the Panel refuses to grant registration or grants registration subject to a condition, the teacher can appeal and request a Review of Decision and Oral hearing. On receipt of the Panel’s decision, the Registration Committee Review Group considers the report of the Panel, any further submissions from the teacher and the case presented at the Oral hearing.

4. If the Registration Committee Group refuses registration or allows registration with conditions, the teacher may appeal to the High Court within 21 days of the date of service of a notice of the Council’s decision. The High Court can confirm/vary/annul the Council’s decision.

5. The Council may, having regard to the information contained in the vetting disclosure of a registered teacher where it is satisfied that it is in the public interest to do so, apply to the High Court under section 47 for an order that during the period specified in the order, his/her registration shall be suspended.