Criminal Record Checks In The UK and Ireland For Music Teachers – How To Get Hold Of Your Certificate


The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) prevents unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children. It replaces the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). By a teacher saying that they hold a valid DBS check (or equivalent for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland) this means that they have undergone independent checks to ensure that they are suitable to work with vulnerable groups, including children.

We recommend all music teachers to gain at minimum a Basic Disclosure. It is a mark of professionalism and by holding the relevant certification will increase the numbers of enquiries you will gain as parents take account of such certification when selecting a teacher.

There are different levels of certifications, including a “Basic Disclosure“, “Standard DBS“, “Enhanced DBS“. There are also different certifications for Scotland (Standard Disclosure), Northern Ireland (Access NI) and the Republic of Ireland (Garda Vetting).

You can read more about the Disclosure and Barring Service on the Gov.UK website. To find out more about a specific type of certification please click on the names above which will take you through to a website with more information about that certification. can help facilitate you undertaking certain DBS Certifications – for more information simply get in touch by emailing 
[email protected]

Do I need a DBS Check if I am a music teacher?

When it comes to teaching music, the chances are that a significant proportion of your pupils will be young, eager learners looking to make a start in the instrument of their choosing. And when educating youngsters is concerned, safeguarding is an essential practise. Ensuring the well-being of budding musicians, reassuring parents and guardians and guaranteeing their safety while in your care are a huge part of any music teacher’s practise. But what are the challenges faced when applying for checks? And what are the benefits in your professional life? We have used our experience and that of fellow professionals to give you the best possible advice.

First things first, a criminal record check is absolutely fundamental to giving peace of mind to pupils and their guardians alike. The DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) is the Government-led scheme in the UK to make sure that individuals have no prior criminal convictions, particularly anything related to crimes associated with the young and vulnerable. This service was formerly called the CRB check (Criminal Records Bureau) and is used by employers – typically during the application process – to get a reading of a potential recruit’s criminal history, or lack of one. However, only employers are able to apply for a DBS check, so how do you as a self-employed music teacher get hold of that magic certificate?

There are a few ways. The chances are that if you are working in a school or college then a DBS check will already have been carried out during the application process, paid for by the LEA or relevant body. Likewise, if you are working with a teaching agency then this company may have carried out the relevant checks themselves. If you want to provide parents with security and you do not fit into this bracket, an easy way to apply for a check is via a professional body that you may already be associated with. The Musician’s Union and The Incorporated Society of Musicians both offer services to help you apply for a standard or the more comprehensive DBS Enhanced Disclosure. These applications contain the cost of a typical DBS application, along with an added administrative fee as they are organised by a third party. For an idea of cost, the ISM application is £44 for the check, with an £18 plus VAT fee on top to get the paperwork sorted.

Some teachers with a particular focus on working with younger students at home or in schools may also apply for a DBS Enhanced Disclosure with Barred List (usually at no extra cost). This includes the added info of an Enhanced Disclosure (e.g. Relevant police information) along with access to the list of barred employees. There is also an annual update service available, currently charged at around £13 via your chosen professional body. This ensures that your criminal check is kept up to date and is easily managed, leaving you to worry about how to get your pupils to practise their scales or brush up on their beats.

Of course, these tips apply if you are a music teacher based in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, but what if you are an educator in the Republic of Ireland? The process is much the same for the DBS but is undertaken by the Garda. The National Vetting Bureau carries out checks for employers who are in a position of responsibility with those under the age of eighteen, and if you are employed by a school or learning authority it will all be taken care of. If you are self-employed, again independent bodies can help process your check, and as of 29th April, 2016 this is mandatory. Create is one such organisation who can help, and applications can be tracked online to keep you in the loop of the process.

In all of these cases, criminal checks can take around eight weeks or more. Although the process may seem taxing, the security it affords parents and pupils cannot be underestimated and in some teaching roles it is an absolute necessity. Both the DBS in the UK and National Vetting Bureau in the Republic of Ireland contain information to help you in this application, including the types of documents required and what details you will need to provide. The convenience of applying with a union or organisation and the comprehensive cover afforded is also something to bear in mind. Ultimately having your paperwork in order enables you to focus on doing what you do best – teaching music!

Apply for a Basic Disclosure:

If you have not got any form DBS Certification you can apply for a Basic Disclosure here: (, even as a self-employed music teacher as unlike DBS Checks you do not need to apply through a corporate body or a charity. As the MyGov.Scotland website states “You can apply for a basic disclosure yourself for any reason” as well as be located & teaching anywhere in the UK. The cost of a basic disclosure is £25 and 90% of basic disclosure applications are completed within 14 calendar days (not including postage time). We recommend all professional music teacher to attain a least a Basic Disclosure as good practice.

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Comments (2)


I’m a self employed piano teacher working from home and have been asked to obtain an enhanced DBS check by the Amber Trust. I’m having difficulties finding the information for how I can do this. Can you help?

Kind regards


Hi Vicky,

Thanks for the email – great question. As you know being self-employed gaining an enhanced DBS check is more complex than is should be as the government force all applications to be done through companies – rather than as individuals (you would think the government would be encouraging all applications in any form!).

If the Amber Trust are unable to facilitate the application of your enhanced DBS check for you then you can apply for one yourself via a third party agent like Educate Teacher Training ( There are also other third party agents out their (I have no connection to Educate Teacher Training but found their services useful and their staff polite & professional).

I hope this helps to answer your question. I would love to invite you to become part of the community of teachers by filling out your teaching information here: – we provide advice in regard to a whole range of things to the community, as well as generate students for the teachers.

Kind regards,

Matthew – Founder

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