How To Become A Tutor: A Guide On Starting A Tuition Business

DBS Checks and Insurance: Your Questions Answered

Safeguarding children’s well-being is essential and many parents and potential tutors ask us about the requirements relating to criminal record checks. Here we will seek to answer the most common questions we are asked relating to this area.

What is a DBS Check?

In 2013, the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) merged with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) to become the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) in England and Wales. Disclosure Scotland similarly offers checks, and all are referred to as DBS checks. DBS checks come in various forms, so it’s worth understanding the differences between them.

DBS Checks are checks which state an individual’s criminal history, as it exists on the date of issue, i.e. if a DBS check is issued on the 12th February 2015 and states that a tutor has no recorded marks on their police record, this means that there are no convictions recorded prior to that date. This does not, therefore, give any indication of any criminal activity since the date of issue. (The DBS Update Service provides a more continual check - read more here)

Types of DBS Checks

1. Basic Disclosure Checks

A Basic Disclosure Check searches the Police National Computer for any Unspent Convictions that the applicant may have on their file. This check is available for individuals to obtain on themselves. A business is able to organise Basic Disclosure Checks on their staff within any industry. This check is currently processed by Disclosure Scotland, however, the DBS has announced that from January 2018 they will process Basic Checks for applicants living and/or working in England and Wales.

2. Standard DBS Checks

A Standard DBS check searches for all Cautions, Warnings, Reprimands and Convictions recorded on an applicant’s file.

3. Enhanced DBS Checks

An Enhanced DBS check searches for all Cautions, Warnings, Reprimands and Convictions and also provides the applicant’s local Police Force the opportunity to disclose any local and relevant notes they may have on file. This is the minimum level of check we accept at Tutorful.

4. Enhanced DBS Checks with List Checks

If an applicant works with children or vulnerable groups and meets the DBS’s eligibility criteria, a barred list search can be included within an Enhanced DBS Check to confirm if an individual is potentially barred from working with either children or adults.

5. Disclosure Scotland - PVG Scheme

Disclosure Scotland also offers a Protecting Vulnerable Groups Scheme which offers a high level of check.

Do you need any specific checks to become a tutor?

To become a tutor in the UK, you do not currently require any formal safeguarding checks. Tutors are effectively employed by the parents of the children they work with, or directly by the students themselves, and, like employing a babysitter or any other service provider, it is entirely up to parents who they choose. That’s why we do not demand that our tutors have DBS checks.

Can parents demand their tutor has a DBS check?

Certainly. Again, as for any other service, parents can specify the checks and qualifications they would like their tutor to have. Here at Tutorful, we clearly state which tutors do and do not have a safeguarding certificate, by applying the ‘I have a DBS check’ badge on the relevant profiles, so parents can make an informed choice about which tutor they would like to employ. Some parents will ask tutors to show them a copy of their DBS certificate at the start of their first lesson.

How do I get a DBS Check?

Individually, you can apply for a Basic Disclosure Check. Individuals cannot directly apply for Enhanced or Standard DBS checks from the Disclosure and Barring Service themselves. Instead, they must go through a listed provider - these are large organisations which process your application. There are various options available online for these services.

Here at Tutorful, we use a partner company and their online system, as we believe that they allow our tutors to complete the required forms quickly and simply. In securing a DBS check, you are also required to secure an identity check, so we can verify you are who you say you are.

There were over 4 million disclosure certificates issued between April 15 and Mar 16 and whilst crucial, DBS Checks are just one part of the solution in keeping children protected from harm and safe in our society.

Over 250,000 people have been stopped from working in roles involving vulnerable groups since the DBS started and everyone has a part to play raising awareness of safeguarding. It’s only by empowering individuals through education to recognise the signs of child abuse and ensuring that they feel confident enough to speak out about indicators of concern they come across, that we will keep our children safe. DBS is key but we all owe to society to play our part too."

Michelle Mellor, Lead Signatory, Personnel Checks


What information is required to gain a DBS Check?

You will be required to provide your basic personal information, proof of ID and proof of address.

Can I get a DBS Check if I have a criminal record?

Yes. A criminal record check is a record of an individual’s criminal history. If you have convictions, the DBS check will list these convictions.

How long does it take to get a DBS Check?

This depends on the level of check you wish to secure. Standard checks are typically processed within 2 weeks, whilst enhanced checks can take much longer as they are sent to local police forces and these forces vary greatly in the speed with which they process them.

How much does a DBS Check cost?

The cost of a DBS check varies, based on which level of check you secure. We only accept the highest level of DBS checks, for which Onfido (our partner company) charge £50 - Tutorful makes no profit in helping our tutors secure these checks, it is merely an additional service we provide to help our tutors and the families with whom they work.

How long are DBS Checks valid for?

Again, there are no hard and fast rules about how long DBS checks are valid for in regards to tuition. To secure our DBS-checked badge, tutors must have a DBS check which has been issued within the last two years at the time of joining our site, and within the last three years at any future point.

What is the DBS Update Service?

Upon receiving your Standard or Enhanced DBS check, you can register for the DBS Update Service. This means that your DBS check does not become time specific and is effectively a rolling check which checks your criminal record at the point at which a search is made by a prospective employer.

Do I have to get a new DBS Check for each new role?

Again, there are no laws regarding this for tuition services. At Tutorful, we accept DBS checks secured through other providers, because the checks are all completed by the Disclosure and Barring Service, so we know that the checks completed are standardised. We require either a colour copy of the DBS certificate or the details of required for us to check against the DBS update service.

What if I have a check completed in another country?

Without wanting to sound like a broken record, there are no laws regarding this in the tuition industry. At Tutorful, we only accept DBS checks issued by the DBS office or Disclosure Scotland, because we are happy that these are stringent checks completed with a high level of diligence. We do not accept safeguarding checks completed abroad, as there is no way for us to be able to verify the nature of the checks completed, and are unfamiliar with the certificates issued.

Do I need to get Insurance?

Whilst there is no legal requirement for tutors to have insurance, it is well worth getting public liability insurance, as this will offer you legal cover should anything go wrong. Depending on your policy, this will cover damages if there is an injury to a student during your sessions or damage to a third party property.

You may also wish to consider professional indemnity insurance, which will cover your legal expenses and the compensation payable if are accused of delivering inadequate advice or services to a client.

A key element of any successful business relationship is trust; to build trust you need transparency. If you are transparent and honest with your clients, you more personable and allow your clients to be more comfortable around you.

Relationships built on this solid foundation are more likely to last longer and increase the chance your client will recommend you by word-of-mouth.

You can build trust before you ever meet your clients. Having your DBS certificate up-to-date, making sure your Public Liability, Professional Indemnity and Employers Liability (where appropriate) insurances all in order will let your potential clients know you're a professional. This initial trust is incredibly important, it will make the early stages of relationship building go by considerably easier.

As an added bonus, since managing a business is stressful enough, having all of your paperwork squared away will be one less thing to keep you up at night."

Andrew Swindlehurst, PPC Protect

Scott Woodley, Co-founder of Tutorful

Scott is a fully qualified primary school teacher who left teaching to set up Tutorful, a site which helps parents and learners find the right tutor for them.

If you are looking to become a tutor, you can easily create a profile with Tutorful. You can set your own price, offer online or face-to-face tuition and begin building your rewarding career in no time.

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