We’ve just had a letter from our children’s school about volunteering. It is a very good government school at which parents are very involved in fundraising and managing after school activities. Apparently a lot of parents have shown an interest in volunteering at the school. My understanding is that these are people who would like to help in some way, probably mainly in the classroom. The letter states that this interest “coincides with new guidelines from our Human Resources Department… Accordingly we are now obliged to :
Request that you complete an application form
Invite you for interview
Request completion of a Criminal Conviction Form
Take two references
Put you through Enhanced Disclosure checks if necessary”
I know that we do have to be careful around children, but this just seems ridiculous. These are parents of children at the school who would just like to help. They don’t want a job. They’re not going to get paid. There may be some who could become troublesome but, I suspect, most just want to help with odd jobs at the direction of classroom teachers. I can think of very few, if any, reasons why the school shouldn’t be clamouring for this kind of volunteering rather than making these people jump through hoops as if the school is doing them some kind of favour. I appreciate that these rules are probably not actually coming from the school itself, but we really should be trying to stamp out these ridiculous processes that achieve very little and if anything discourage exactly the type of things that we should be encouraging in our society.
It’s possible that there are very good reasons for these rules and maybe the school (or some other local school) has had a problems with overzealous parents, but I haven’t heard anything to suggest that this is the case. My wife is also quite heavily involved with the parent’s council and apparently these types of processes are creeping in all over the place. It seems likely that it will become harder to get people to help with activities at the school, either because they haven’t completed all the necessary paperwork or because they don’t have the time or can’t be bothered. Since the parents raise quite a substantial amount of money every year, this could be, ultimately, quite damaging.