Edinburgh College fails to vet hundreds of staff

One of Scotland’s largest colleges has been accused of being “grossly negligent” after it emerged that fewer than half its staff have been vetted for working with children and vulnerable adults.

Edinburgh College was formed in October 2012. Picture: Toby Williams

Information obtained under freedom of information legislation shows hundreds of lecturers and support staff at Edinburgh College have not completed Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) checks.

In place since 2011, the scheme helps ensure that those who have regular contact with children and vulnerable adults do not have a history of “harmful behaviour”.

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Edinburgh College was formed in October 2012 through the merger of Telford, Jewel & Esk and Stevenson colleges.

Figures seen by The Scotsman show that only 346 of the college’s 723 support staff and 210 of its 666 teaching staff had completed PVG checks by 10 November.

A source at the college said management had been “grossly negligent in their duty of care”.

Penny Gower, the Educational Institute of Scotland’s (EIS) branch secretary for the college, added: “We’re very concerned about student safety. Unfortunately, this is one of a number of management failings since the merger. We’ve got youngsters and vulnerable adults at the college and management have a legal duty to them to carry these checks out - they’re not there for nothing. Management have taken their eye off the ball.”

Edinburgh College was created by a controversial shake-up of Scotland’s further education sector under former education secretary Mike Russell.

A report published by Audit Scotland earlier this year highlighted a number of concerns about the college, including missed targets and a £1 million deficit for 2013-14.

A spokesman for the college said: “The college is committed to ensuring the wellbeing of all students and staff. A significant number of clients and students who attend the college do not fall into the category of ‘vulnerable groups’. All staff who have joined Edinburgh College since the merger have gone through PVG checks.

“We currently have a process in place to ensure that we are compliant with legislation.”