CARELESS; EXCLUSIVE School caretakers and cleaners aren't checked with sex offenders' list.
SCHOOL caretakers and cleaners are not compulsorily vetted to root out paedophiles, the Government admitted yesterday.
Ruth Kelly's Department of Education only "recommends" that headteachers check them against the sex offenders register.
The shock revelation comes despite calls for change after Soham child killer Ian Huntley got a school caretaker's job.
Former nursery school owner Charles Kaylow said: "The dangers are obvious in terms of the people who could slip through the net like Huntley. The fact that there is still no mandatory checks on caretakers after Soham beggars belief."
The information came to light after Mr Kaylow asked the Department of Education about police checks on staff.
Ex-Education Minister Margaret Hodge wrote back in 2000 saying caretakers and others who work on school premises "may" be vetted.
Mr Kaylow, 44, who ran Woodside pre-school nursery in Walton-le- Dale, Preston, for 10 years, said: "I think it is appalling."
Education Secretary Ms Kelly will deliver a make or break statement to Parliament on Thursday about why a number of paedophiles were cleared for teaching.
Tony Blair is worried that MPs' support for Ms Kelly's school reforms will now collapse.
And, in another damaging development, she has been accused of misleading Parliament last week. She said anyone on her department's List 99 would be barred from working in schools for life.
But within days it was revealed that she personally cleared William Gibson, on the list after indecently assaulting a 15-year-old.
Yesterday her department, asked why staff checks were not always done in the wake of Soham, replied: "We recommend it as good practice but it is not mandatory. Heads are the employers and we would expect them to be responsible but we are not passing the buck."
Lib Dem education spokesman Ed Davey said: "Eighteen months after the inquiry into how Ian Huntley was allowed to work with children called for urgent reforms, it is very troubling that there still aren't proper checks on caretaker and casual staff at schools.
"In the light of last week's revelations, most people will find the current vetting procedures astonishing and deeply worrying."
The Prime Minister's spokesman said: "We all understand why people want speed in dealing with this issue but I think it's important that we reassure the country that individual cases, difficult cases, have been looked at in the review.
"But also, more importantly, that the whole process about how decisions are made is looked at."
The Tories stepped up pressure for an independent review into Ms Kelly's blunders.
UNDER PRESSURE: Ruth Kelly yesterday Picture: REUTERS