Edinburgh Local

Safeguarding and Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme

”Safeguarding” can often bring child protection to mind but, in fact, can mean making sure that anyone who comes into contact with what you’re doing does not experience harm as a result.

There will be certain legal responsibilities that need to be fulfilled, such as making sure people have PVG (Protection of Vulnerable Groups) scheme membership when working or volunteering with children or protected adults.

The PVG scheme ensures that people whose behaviour makes them unsuitable to working with children, young people and protected adults are not able to do so. A ‘protected adult’ is someone who cannot look out for their own wellbeing, property, rights of interests. Even if you are not directly working with a child or protected adult, you may still need a PVG if you are going to be in a position which requires a high degree of trust and which affects these groups (e.g. trustee of a charity for children).

PVG (Protection of Vulnerable Groups) scheme

There are certain times when you can work or volunteer with a child or protected adult and do not need a PVG. For example, if you are going on a school visit, a teacher should always be present. This means you will not be in sole charge of the young people, and the teacher will have a PVG, so you do not have to have one yourself. However, the school may still insist, especially as, in practice, a teacher may need to pop out of the classroom while you are present.

If school engagement is not a core part of your job/studies and you are in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths) field, then the PVG check can be done for free through STEM Ambassadors.

STEM Ambassadors


If you are doing any other type of work or volunteering with protected people as part of your role at the University, the relevant HR team will need to arrange this:


If you are working or volunteering with protected individuals via an external organisation, that organisation is responsible for arranging your PVG. That organisation will also normally pay for it but some organisations, such as charities, are able to get free PVG checks for free.

However, you want to aim higher than merely fulfilling legal obligations like the PVG scheme, as harm is still possible while being within the law. The safeguarding measures you need will depend on your work. The reality is that best practice around some aspects of safeguarding may still be dynamic, such as digital engagement with school pupils.

There is a wealth of safeguarding knowledge among colleagues in all different parts of the University. If you need help, a good first place to ask is the Edinburgh Community Engagement Forum.

The Edinburgh Community Engagement Forum

Alternatively, you can contact the Community Team who will try and help, or put you in touch with someone you can:

The Community Team



You may also find the SCVO’s comprehensive safeguarding overview useful:

SCVO resources on safeguarding