Safer Recruitment & Selection Policy
This policy and procedure has been produced in line with the ‘Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education’ document which came into force on 1st January 2007 and should be read in conjunction with the guidance given in the document. The policy aims to ensure that safe and fair recruitment and selection is conducted at all times. Making safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children an integral factor in recruitment and selection is an essential part of creating safe environments for children.
References in this policy to a child, children, or children and young people, are references to persons who are under 18 years of age.
The policy reflects:
- the requirements of The Equality Act 2010, aspects of which came into force from 1st October 2010.
- the changes introduced by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) in respect of DBS checks from June 2013.
- the changes to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 as amended in 2013 under which certain specified old and minor convictions and cautions can be filtered.
- Keeping Children Safe in Education – Statutory Guidance for Schools and Colleges (April 2014).
- Changes to the accredited Safer Recruitment Training (workshops and on-line) introduced in September 2014.
- Keeping Children Safe in Education: Childcare Disqualification Requirements – Supplementary Advice of October 2014.
The policy applies to the recruitment and selection of teaching staff including Headteachers, Deputy and Assistant Headteachers, and support staff in schools and academies.
For academies, all reference to Headteacher should, where appropriate, be replaced with Principal/Head of School, and all reference to the Governing Body should, where appropriate, be replaced with the Academy Trust.
This policy has been drawn up following consultation with the recognised trade unions.
The purpose of the policy is to ensure the recruitment of both permanent and temporary (including voluntary) staff is conducted in a fair, effective and economic manner.
To achieve this purpose, those that are responsible for each stage of the recruitment process will demonstrate a professional approach by dealing honestly, efficiently and fairly with all internal and external applicants.
In line with DfE guidance the paragraph below should be included in all advertisements, recruitment websites, candidate information packs, person specifications, job descriptions, competency frameworks, induction training materials:- ‘The School is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and expect all staff and volunteers to share in this commitment. The successful applicant will be required to undertake an Enhanced Disclosure via the DBS’
The following principles are encompassed in this policy:
- To ensure that the safeguarding and welfare of children and young people occurs at each stage of the process.
- All applicants receive fair treatment and a high quality service.
- The job description and person specification are essential tools and will be used throughout the process.
- Employees will be recruited on the knowledge, experience and skills needed for the job.
- Selection will be carried out by a panel with at least two members, except for selection of headteachers/Deputy headteachers where the panel must consist of at least three members. At least one panel member will have undertaken the Safer Recruitment Training.
- Selection should be based on a minimum of a completed application form, shortlisting and interview.
- Regular monitoring and evaluation of the recruitment process should be carried out to assess its effectiveness and the impact on recruitment and retention, equality and diversity.
5. Safer Recruitment Training
Safer Recruitment training provides valuable information on a safer school culture, and advice and guidance to strengthen safeguards against employing unsuitable people in schools. The training will help schools demonstrate that they have effective recruitment and selection processes in place.
It is a requirement that at least one member of the interview panel has completed this training successfully prior to the start of the recruitment process.
Safer Recruitment Training was commissioned by the DfE in response to recommendation 16 of the Bichard Inquiry report (published in June 2004).
From 1st September 2014, Safer Recruitment training will no longer need to be approved by the Secretary of State and the DfE will, therefore, no longer co-ordinate arrangements for accredited training or online training. However, the requirement for at least one member of a recruitment panel to be appropriately trained in line with safeguarding guidance remains.
From October 2014 the on-line Safer Recruitment training will be available through the NSPCC. Schools wishing to access the on-line training can do so at http://www.nspcc.org.uk/what-you-can-do/get-expert-training/safer-recruitment-education-course/Schools HR Co-operative regularly run 1 day face to face Safer Recruitment Workshops delivered by appropriately accredited trainers from within the team. To find out more, schools can contact Bob Charlton on email@example.com or Chris Neale at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Alternatively, Schools can contact the Lucy Faithfull Foundation at http://www.lucyfaithfull.org.uk/safer_recruitment_training.htm to find out what courses are being offered by the Foundation.
6. Local Authority’s entitlement to give advice (community, voluntary controlled, community special and maintained nursery schools)
Under The School Staffing (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013 for community, voluntary controlled, community special and maintained nursery schools, the Local Authority has a statutory right to send a representative to all proceedings relating to the selection of any teacher (including the headteacher and deputy headteacher) and offer advice. If the Local Authority decides to send a representative they must be allowed to attend.
7. Appointment of Headteachers and Deputy Headteachers
The 2002 Education Act requires every school to have a headteacher and limits the number of headteachers at a school to one, although the post may be job shared.
There is no legal obligation for a school to have a deputy or assistant headteacher, or any limit on the number of deputy/assistant headteachers a school may have.
The School Staffing (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013 requires that the governing body of maintained schools:
- Notify the Local Authority in writing of any vacancy for the headteacher and any post for a deputy headteacher which it had identified as one to be filled
- Must advertise any such vacancy or post in such manner as it considers appropriate unless it has good reason not to
- Must appoint a selection panel, consisting of at least three of its members, but not those who are staff governors
- The role of the selection panel is to:
- Select applicants for interview
- Notify the Local Authority, in writing, of the names of the applicants selected for interview for the post of the headteacher
- Where appropriate, recommend one of the interviewed applicants to the governing body for approval
- The Governing Body may wish to seek advice from their linked Local Authority adviser or their External Adviser. Schools HR can provide advice on recruitment process and procedure.
8. Recruitment Process
Adopting a structured recruitment process will:
- Minimise the risk of appointing someone unsuitable
- Ensure the capabilities and conduct of new staff
- Enable the school to ‘track’ the process and ensure all relevant steps are taken
- Ensure written records of procedures are available for future reference if required
8.1 Defining the Need to Recruit
When an employee leaves it is important to spend some time to review the post and consider whether there is really a need for a replacement for ‘like for like’ or whether other alternatives could be available. Therefore when a vacancy occurs consideration should be given to the following key questions:
- What is the purpose of the post?
- Is the post still required?
- Has the job remained the same or have changing work patterns, organisation or technology resulted in changes to the role?
- Could the tasks be carried out differently e.g., could any additional duties, responsibilities or hours be advertised internally to offer advancement or increased hours offered to existing staff
- Is job-sharing appropriate?
- Will any review of the role affect the salary?
- Is sufficient funding available?
- Does the Governing Body need to agree any changes or that the post can be advertised?
- Should the new post be permanent or temporary?
8.2 Job Description and Person Specification
If, having considered the factors in 6.1, the decision is to recruit, the next step is to write a job description and person specification if it is a new role, or review the existing job description and person specification if it is an existing role to ensure that they reflect the requirements of the job.
The job description is a list of the responsibilities and tasks to be undertaken by the post holder. It is an effective way of communicating expectations about standards to employees and school management to help ensure effective performance in the job. The document also assists in writing the person specification by identifying the key attributes required to do the job.
Job descriptions for support staff should be evaluated in accordance with the school’s adopted job evaluation scheme. This provides protection against any future claims of unequal pay and ensures fairness and consistency within the workforce. If changes are made to an existing job description it is recommended that the revised job description should be re-evaluated to ensure that the grade reflects the duties of the post.
For teachers Part 7 of the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document 2014 (Contractual Framework for Teachers) defines the professional responsibilities of teachers including headteachers, deputy and assistant headteachers and must be considered when deciding on job descriptions for teachers.
For safeguarding purposes, in addition to the list of the responsibilities and tasks to be undertaken, the job description should include the post holder’s responsibility for promoting and safeguarding the welfare of children and young persons he/she is responsible for, or comes into contact with.
For an example job description template see Appendix 2.
The person specification is essential to the recruitment process as it defines the type of person being sought. It describes the essential and desirable skills, knowledge, qualifications, specific conditions and competences required to undertake the duties of the job description and should state how these will be tested and assessed during the selection process. It must also make reference to the person’s responsibility for the safeguarding and welfare of children.
A badly defined person specification risks the recruitment of someone unsuitable for the post which can be expensive in terms of management time and money, and may not meet the commitment to safeguarding children and young people.
The person specification will be used to:
- inform the advertisement;
- assess applications to shortlist for interview
- plan interview questions and selection tests
- assess applicants and make the final selection
For an example person specification template please see Appendix 2.
8.3 Other Documents
It is also good practice to make sure at the outset that all other materials such as the application form, and information/guidance for applicants that will form part of the recruitment pack sent to prospective applicants is up to date, and clearly sets out the responsibility for the safeguarding and welfare of children.
8.4 Advertising the Vacancy
All advertisements will contain the statement on the safeguarding and welfare of children (Section 3) and that the successful applicant will need to undertake an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.
The main aim of this stage is to attract suitable applicants in the most cost effective way. To help decide on the most effective recruitment method, consideration will need to be given to the nature of the post, the circumstances of the school at the time, the type of person required, budgetary implications.
A succinct summary should be used for an advertisement. The advertisement should reflect the Governing Body’s vision of the school and the kind of applicants governors wish to attract to their school. Appendix 1 gives details of what should be included in an advertisement other relevant information.
Advertising near the school holidays should be avoided because it may ultimately affect the response received because people will be away on holiday and may not see the advert and this may result in the school losing a potentially suitable applicant.
Whenever possible the Appointment Panel will agree dates for short listing and interviews before advertising the post; and the date for interviews should be incorporated into the advertisement and information packs to be sent to applicants to ensure that all applicants have advance notice to make themselves available.
Consideration should also be given at this stage to whether or not applicants can visit the school and whether this is to be offered to applicants prior to making their application or to shortlisted candidates only (see Section 9.2). If applicants are able to visit the school prior to making an application this should be mentioned in the advert together with details of how applicants can arrange a visit.
8.5 Information Pack to Candidates
Information packs to candidates should include the following:
- Covering Letter
- Application Form
- Job description and person specification
- A statement of the terms and conditions relating to the post
- The school’s policy on equal opportunities
- The school’s child protection policy
- Information setting out the extent of the relationship/contact with children and the degree of responsibility for children that the person will have in the position to be filled
- Any other relevant material to attract applicants (e.g., school prospectus)
9. The Selection Process
9.1 Shortlisting Applications
All applications will be treated confidentially and only circulated to those individuals involved in the recruitment process e.g., appointment panel. Other than for the post of headteacher/deputy headteacher, the size of the appointment panel is at the discretion of the Headteacher/Governing Body. It is advisable to have a minimum of two people on the panel, and depending on the seniority of the post it would be reasonable to possibly extend this to three people.
The appointment panel should meet to go through the applications which have been received in response to the advertisement, and select candidates who most closely meet the selection criteria set out in the person specification and invite them to the interview stage of the selection process. Only information provided on the application form and any supporting statement should be used for selecting applicants. Prior knowledge of applicants should not be a factor in the selection process.
Where a candidate is known personally to a member of the selection panel it should be declared before shortlisting takes place. It may then be necessary to change the selection panel to ensure that there is no conflict of interest and that equal opportunities principles are adhered to.
During the shortlisting process, the appointment panel will check to ensure that the application forms are fully completed, the information provided is consistent and does not contain any discrepancies and to identify any gaps in employment. Incomplete applications should not be accepted and, time permitting, should be returned for completion. Any anomalies, discrepancies or gaps in employment should be noted so that they can be taken up at the interview stage if the applicant is shortlisted. In addition, the reasons for a history of repeated changes of employment without any clear career or salary progression, or a mid career move from a permanent post to supply teaching or temporary work, should also be explored and verified.
Where there is disagreement on the suitability of a candidate, this should be openly discussed and consensus reached if possible. If not, there may have to be a vote by the appointment panel members. A representative from Schools HR can be asked to be present to give advice subject to prior agreement.
A shortlisting form should be used to score the applications and record decisions (Appendix 12). Applicants should be compared with consistency against the person specification criteria which can be evidenced from their application. Reasons for not shortlisting an applicant should be recorded and retained for six months to demonstrate how criteria were not met and that discrimination did not take place. Whenever possible, one consolidated and agreed record of the panel’s reasons for selecting or rejecting applicants should be kept on file.
In cases where there is an overwhelming response to the advertisement the closing date for applications should not be brought forward.
9.2 Pre-interview Visits
It is recommended as good practice for the candidates selected for interview to be given an opportunity to tour the school. This needs to be arranged with the co-operation of school staff. Ideally all candidates should visit the school at the same time although it is appreciated that this is not always possible. This is not part of the selection process but will help candidates in assessing whether or not they would wish to take up the post, if offered.
If potential applicants wish to view the school prior to making an application it is necessary to decide a policy that either all requests to visit are met or that no one will be allowed. It is important that all candidates are afforded the same opportunities.
If the post holder will be required to live in tied accommodation, candidates and their partners should be invited to view the accommodation.
The candidates shortlisted for interview should be sent confirmation in writing (Appendix 10) giving adequate notice of the date of interview. It is recommended that at least 7 calendar days’ notice is given. The letter should include:
- Date, time and place of the interview – including a map to show the location together with details of public transport and parking facilities
- Format of the interview and whether any tests/presentations will be involved and what equipment will be made available for the tests/presentations
- Documents the candidates should bring with them e.g., proof of qualifications, identification
- The appointment panel will meet prior to the interview to agree:
- Who will chair the interview
- What questions will be asked, in what order and by whom. Questions should clearly relate to criteria in the person specification. The panel should avoid asking any questions about the applicant’s health prior to making a job offer as the Equality Act 2010 prohibits this unless it is necessary to:
- find out whether an applicant is able to participate in an assessment to test their suitability for the role
- establish whether there is a duty to make reasonable adjustments to enable an applicant to take part in the recruitment process
- establish whether the applicant will be able to carry out function(s) that is intrinsic to the job concerned
- establish if a person has a disability where this is an occupational requirement
The explanatory notes to the Equality Act give the example of ‘an applicant who applies for a job in a warehouse that requires manual lifting and handling of heavy items. As manual handling is a function which is intrinsic to the job, the employer may ask the applicant questions about their health to establish whether or not they are able to do the job (with reasonable adjustments for a disabled applicant, if required).’
The employer would not be permitted to ask the applicant other health questions until they were offered the job.
It will also be possible to ask whether an applicant has a disability that would require reasonable adjustments to be made to the recruitment process. The example given in the explanatory notes to the Equality Act is of ‘an applicant who discloses a speech impairment and asks for the adjustment of more time being allowed for the interview’.
- The panel should also agree the areas which need to be explored with each applicant based on the information provided in their application.
- Which other selection technique(s) will be used to assess experience and competencies identified e.g., presentation, test (See Appendix 5).
- The timeframe for making a decision
- The arrangements for notifying the candidates of the outcome of the interview.
- Who will offer feedback if a candidate requests it and how it will be given (see 9.4).
On the day of the interview it is recommended that the appointment panel should meet well in advance of the first interview to finalise the arrangements for interviews; in addition to the above this may also include:-
- Layout of the room
- Arrangements for escorting applicants to and from the interview room
- Ensuring arrangements are in place if the applicant is to undertake a presentation/test e.g., appropriate equipment is available and set-up appropriately.
- Ensuring arrangements are in place for any documents (Identification, qualifications etc.) to be checked and photocopied
- At the interview the chair of the panel will:-
- Welcome the applicant and introduce the panel
- Explain the format of the interview and its duration.
- Give a brief outline of the school and the job role
Following this the panel will put their questions to the applicant. It is advisable to start off with an open and easy question that will get the candidate to relax e.g., to tell you in general about their career so far. See Appendix 3 for the type of questions recommended at interviews.
During the interview, in addition to assessing and evaluating the applicant’s suitability for the post, the appointment panel should also explore:
- The candidate’s attitude toward children and young people
- The candidate’s motivation to work with children and young people
- The candidate’s ability to form and maintain appropriate relationships and personal boundaries with children and young people
- The candidate’s emotional resilience in working with challenging behaviours and attitudes to the use of authority and maintaining discipline
- The candidate’s ability to support the school’s agenda for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children
- Any gaps in the candidate’s employment history with a view to gaining a complete picture of the their past employment history
- Any concerns or discrepancies arising from the information provided by the candidate
- If they wish to declare anything in light of the requirement for a DBS check and Childcare Disqualification Requirement check
See Appendix 4 for additional guidance on things to be aware of during the interview.
Panel members must take notes to assist in making evidenced judgements, assist with feedback and in case of challenge by an unsuccessful applicant. Under data protection provisions, applicants are able to request copies of the notes taken at the interview relating to their own application.
At the end of the interview the panel will:
- Give applicants the opportunity to ask any questions that they may have
- Explain what will happen next including the timing of the decision or next stage in the event that there is a second interview
- Thank candidates for attending the interview
When all applicants have been interviewed, the panel will discuss each applicant in relation to the person specification, the application form, and the interview performance and any selection test they may have undertaken. The panel will be as objective and fair as possible in order to select the best candidate for the job. It is vital to use a consistent scoring system to measure the standard of answers given against each question and any presentation or test that forms part of the selection process. Weighting is used to acknowledge the importance of certain questions. See Appendix 13 for a recommended Interview Panel Decision template to score the answers.
9.4 Notifying unsuccessful candidates/Giving feedback
It is important to advise applicants who have been unsuccessful as promptly and courteously as
possible. Particular care should be taken with internal applicants.
It is good practice to provide feedback where requested. Constructive feedback informs candidates of their strengths and development needs and enables them to learn from their application. It should encourage skills/experience/technique gaps to be addressed and assist candidates with any future applications for employment with the school.
Feedback must be factual and objective, and explain where the candidate did or did not meet the requirements in the person specification and the key points which influenced the final decision not to appoint them.
Feedback should be given by a member of the interview panel and can be given by telephone discussion, in writing or, for internal applicants, in a meeting.
9.5 Conditional Offer of Employment (Recruitment and Vetting Checks)
It is important to exercise care on any terms and conditions which may be negotiated and agreed upon when making the verbal offer as these will need to be realised and confirmed in the written offer. This may include pay, working pattern etc.
Any offer of employment to the successful candidate is subject to:
- Receipt of at least two satisfactory professional references (see Appendix 6)
- Verification of the candidate’s identity, preferably from current photographic ID and proof of address except where, for exceptional reasons, none is available
- Verification of the candidate’s medical fitness (See Appendix 6)
- Verification of any qualifications required for the post (if not verified at the interview)
- Verification of professional status where required e.g., Registration with the Teaching Agency, QTS status (unless properly exempted)
- A check of the Barred Lists and a satisfactory enhanced DBS check (see Appendix 6)
- For teaching posts verification of successful completion of statutory induction period (applies to those who obtained QTS after 7th May 1999)
- Verification of the candidate’s right to work in the UK (see Appendix 6)
- Check to establish that the person is not subject to a prohibition order or interim prohibition order (applies to appointment of teachers only) (See Appendix 6)
- Childcare Disqualification Requirements check (a signed declaration)
- All checks should be:
- Confirmed in writing
- Documented and retained on the personnel file in an appropriate format
- A record of the checks must also be held centrally in the form of a Single Central Record of checks as required by the Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance (see Appendix 6) and,
- Followed up where they are unsatisfactory or there are discrepancies in the information provided.
9.6 Post Appointment Induction
An induction programme should be in place for new employees and tailored to their needs. The purpose of induction is to:
- Provide training and information about the school’s policies and procedures
- Support individuals in a way that is appropriate for the role for which they have been engaged
- Confirm the conduct expected of staff within the school
- Provide opportunities for the new member of staff to discuss any issues or concerns about their role and responsibilities
- Enable the person’s line manager or mentor to recognise any concerns or issues about the person’s ability or suitability at the outset and address them immediately. For support staff these issues can be identified and hopefully addressed during the probationary period.
- The content and nature of the induction process will vary according to the role and previous experience of the new member of staff, but as far as safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is concerned, the induction programme should include information about:
- Policies and procedures in relation to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children e.g., child protection, anti-bullying, anti-racism, physical intervention or restraint, personal care, internet safety and any local child protection and safeguarding procedures including Guidance for Safer Working Practice for Adults who work with Children and Young People in Education Settings (2009).
- Safe practice and the standards of conduct and behaviour expected of staff and pupils in the establishment. All staff should have sight of Guidance for Safer Working Practice for Adults who work with Children and Young People in Education Settings (2009). Schools are advised to consider asking staff to sign a declaration confirming that they have read and understood the guidance.
- How and with whom any concerns about those issues should be raised
- Other relevant personnel procedures e.g., code of conduct, disciplinary, grievance, capability, sickness absence/attendance, whistle-blowing, Dealing with Allegations of Abuse against Teachers and other Staff etc.
- The programme should also include attendance at child protection training appropriate to the person’s role.
10. Maintaining a Safer Culture
The need for continued awareness of safeguarding issues is crucial. It is important that all staff in the school have appropriate training and induction so that they understand their roles and responsibilities and are confident about carrying them out. It is also important that staff, pupils and parents feel confident that they can raise issues/concerns about the safety and welfare of children, and that they will be listened to and taken seriously. This can be achieved by maintaining an ethos of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and protecting staff which is supported by:
- A clear written statement of the standards of behaviour and the boundaries of appropriate behaviour expected of staff and pupils that is understood and endorsed by all
- Appropriate induction and training
- Regular briefing and discussion of relevant issues
- Provision of relevant material from the framework for PSHE in the curriculum
- A clear reporting system if a pupil, member of staff or other person has concerns about the safety of children
Guidance on Placing an Advert
Information contained in this guidance aims to inform schools of the process to follow when they have a vacancy to advertise.
All vacancies in Schools should be advertised if you wish to make a permanent appointment. For temporary appointments the school may wish to consider advertising the vacancy internally initially.
When writing the advert it should include the following information:
- Name and address of the school
- Job title
- Full Time/Part Time (if part time, number of hours to be worked)
- If Term Time Only, state the number of working weeks
- Salary (this should not be pro-rata)
- Permanent/Fixed Term/Temporary/Casual
- Short description about the school
- Details of the job
- How the applicants can request details about the post
- Where the completed forms are to be returned to
- Closing date (this is usually two weeks from the date the advert appears)
- Interview date, if known.
Placing an advert through Schools HR Co-operative
Schools can request for a vacancy to be advertised using the Schools HR Co-operative Recruitment Service by email providing the text for the advert, job description, person specification and any other information that needs to be included in the application pack to prospective applicants.
Requests to advertise posts for Headteacher, Deputy Headteacher and Assistant Headteacher should be sent to Cassie Akanbi at email@example.com
Requests to advertise other teaching posts and non-teaching posts, should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
The advert will appear on the Schools HR Co-operative website within 1 working day of being received. Adverts received after 12 noon on a Friday will appear on the website by Monday 12 noon.
For schools wishing to place an advert in the national and local press, Schools HR will obtain a quote and arrange the booking on the school’s behalf. The school will be supported in selecting a suitable publication and advertising package.
Job Description & Person Specification Templates
Date Evaluated : ____________________
1. JOB TITLE:
2. POST NUMBER:
6. RESPONSIBLE TO:
7. RESPONSIBLE FOR: Directly:
8. CONTACTS Internal:
9. JOB PURPOSE
(Brief summary of role)
10. MAIN DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
(List as required)
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The Schools HR Co-operative
c/o The John Locke Academy, Bader Way, Uxbridge UB10 0FW
Tel: 01895 717499 Fax: 0872 1113123
Method of Assessment
Line Manager’s signature: …………………......…… Date: ................................
Job Holder’s Signature: ……………………………… Date: ……………………..
Type of Questions Recommended at Interview
Warm Up questions - allows the candidate to relax and to feel confident before the more serious questions, e.g. did you have a good journey? Do not score these questions.
Open questions - allows the candidate to expand on experiences, e.g. tell us briefly about your career to date? Tell us about your experience and main achievements as a manager? Give us an example of when you have managed budgets? There needs to be clarity and consistency as to how these questions will be scored.
Probing questions - provide a follow up to an open question, to assess the candidate on the selection criteria, e.g. when, where, how, why, what? “Why do you think that happened?” or “What do you think caused that?”
Summarising & reflecting questions - confirm your understanding of the candidate's responses where appropriate. Summaries on progress will help to ensure that both parties cover the points they wish to, and understand what has so far been covered. It also helps to keep the discussion relevant and to the point.
Neutral questions – for equalities purposes neutral questions about ability to fulfill job requirements. For example “The job requires you to work a rota of two evenings off two evenings on. Are you able to fulfill this requirement?” Rather than “I see you have two children, who will look after them?” It should be noted that to ask questions about childcare arrangements to both men and women could still be seen as potentially discriminatory to female candidates.
Questions to be avoided
Closed Questions - These only allow for a “yes” or “no”. e.g. “Do you enjoy your present job?” but should be expanded upon with probing questions.
Leading Questions - These suggest the answer that you want to hear e.g. “I am sure you agree that managing staff can be frustrating and difficult at times?” but can at times be useful to open up topics you are keen to explore.
Multiple Questions - These tend to confuse and complicate issues that are probably best kept separate. For example, “Do you think that we are making progress, if so where do you think we are succeeding, and if not what do you think we should be doing about it?”
Also avoid asking questions about the following:
- marital status / occupation of spouse
- financial status
- number of children, family intentions or childcare arrangements
- ethnic or national background (except where a specific requirement of the post)
- trade union activities (not to be confused with a candidate joining a Union)
- political beliefs
- religious beliefs
- health related questions unless it is to establish whether the applicant will be able to carry out a function that is intrinsic to the job
Additional Guidance on Managing Interviews in the context of Safeguarding
Effective interviewing is a skill that needs to be developed through training. It is a requirement that at least one member of the recruiting panel has attended the Safer Recruitment on-line training.
Your aim should be to ensure the interview is fair and to reach an agreed view on the candidate.
No personal feelings or assumptions should inform the interview or any decisions that are made afterwards.
2. Things to avoid at interviews
The success of a safer recruitment process is dependent on the school’s recognition and consequent rejection of potentially unsuitable applicants before or at the interview.
Any approach that undermines this process (either by failing to focus on behaviour and attitudes or by failing to reject applicants who are unsuitable) is potentially supporting abuse. With this in mind, the recruitment process should guard against the most common errors. These include:
- Focusing solely on academic qualifications/practical skills. This approach will fail to identify unsuitable behaviours.
- Appointing the ‘best of a bad lot’ (though this may be difficult to avoid when the field of applicants is poor) – remember that you do not have to appoint if you consider that none of the candidates are suitable.
- Appointing ‘because there is no one else’.
- Talking rather than listening – talking too much about the job and the school and not questioning the candidate could result in recruiting someone who does not fit the role.
- Using instinct – liking the candidate immediately and not questioning and listening effectively, this could prove costly if the interviewer’s instinct is wrong.
- Failing to study the application form and job description and person specification; this may result in an under or over qualified employee. One may create performance problems and the other may leave within a short time.
- Keeping a closed mind; having an image of exactly the qualities required and not considering any other qualities may result in missing someone special who might enhance the team.
- Missing vital information; staying so rigidly to the questions and failing to probe or even notice any passing comment the candidate may make could result in failing to find what the candidate is really like.
- Not allowing the candidate to ask questions; the type of questions a candidate asks indicate the criteria they want from the job.
- Not putting all the information relating to the candidate together; comparing the assessment forms, interview answers, test results, etc. This is more reliable than using only part of the information available.
- Accepting a short and un-detailed answer and moving on; probe and ask further questions if required.
- Avoid asking questions about a candidates health as The Equality Act forbids employers from asking job applicants health related questions, unless it is for the specified reasons stated under the Act (See Section 9.3)
3. Identifying concerns at interview
Interviewing panels ought to be concerned where the candidate demonstrates:
- Attitudes which attribute adult experience and knowledge to children, especially sexual knowledge or behaviour.
- Disproportionate amount of extra-curricular time spent in activities involving children.
- Personal life/work imbalance, including lack of adult relationships/leisure pursuits.
- Attitudes which appear to underestimate the incidence and impact of sexual abuse.
- An inability to recognise or respect boundaries around physical contact.
- An inability to appreciate or describe the appropriate boundaries of a professional relationship with children or to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate behaviour.
Some of these features may have entirely satisfactory explanations. Others, or combinations of these features may raise concerns. However, not everyone whose responses arouse concern will be a potential abuser. Poorly articulated, hesitant or contradictory responses at interview may cause concern, but such responses may be signs of embarrassment, caution or interview nerves. For example, someone who has never worked with children might find it difficult to think of examples of appropriate and inappropriate behaviour off the cuff or have the vocabulary to discuss the matter freely. To explore and assess an interviewee’s stance on these sensitive issues in the time available during an interview is a challenge and it is important that the subject is dealt with carefully.
Selection Techniques in addition to the Interview
Candidates are asked to make a brief presentation on a given topic within a time limit. Details clearly need to be given to candidates in advance. It is helpful to choose a topic which has direct relevance to a particular school situation or a management issue pertinent to the job in question. It is customary to make an overhead projector, flipcharts and pens available to candidates, if required.
It is usual to follow up the candidates’ presentations with questions from all or some members of the appointment panel. These questions are usually formulated whilst listening to the content of the candidates’ presentation. Candidates should not be asked the same questions since the content of their presentation will differ.
A way of involving more governors and staff (both teaching and support) in the process is to set up short, timed mini-interview panels on particular topics such as:
- Management/staffing issues
- Community involvement including parents
- Curriculum management
Candidates move from one panel to the next. When the round is complete, the panels meet to discuss their findings.
The questions relating to the particular topics are drawn up and agreed by the appointment panel prior to the interview day. Each candidate is asked the same question.
Candidates are given a task to perform which involves team work with other candidates. The panel observes their proceedings and ask questions afterwards. The observers need to be skilled practitioners and in practice this system is rarely used.
Few schools use this system as it requires expert help from trainer practitioners. There is concern at the accuracy or risk of potential discrimination in such tests.
Exercises or Tests
These could include:
- A timed word processing/typing exercise to test for speed and accuracy
- An in-tray exercise to test for the allocation of priorities and how those priorities were justified.
- A finance exercise to check skills required
All these techniques are time consuming and require planning and organisation. It is important to ensure that all candidates are treated equally. Areas under focus should relate to the selection criteria. The panel should prepare questions in advance and have some idea of the points they would expect the candidate to cover in their replies.
Involving pupils in the recruitment and selection process in some way, or observing short listed candidates’ interaction with pupils is common, and recognised as good practice. There are different ways of doing this. For example, candidates for teaching posts might be asked to teach a lesson; short listed candidates might be shown round the school by pupils and a governor or senior member of staff, and/or meet with pupils and staff.
Recruitment and Vetting Checks
1. The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (Amendment) Order 2013 also referred to as the Exceptions Order 1975 (2013)
The amendments to the above legislation provide that certain spent convictions and cautions are ‘protected’ and are not subject to disclosure to employers, and will therefore not appear on a DBS Certificate, and cannot be taken into account when making decisions about a person’s employment.
An adult (over 18 at the time of the offence) conviction will be removed from a DBS Certificate if:
- 11 years have elapsed since the date of conviction; and
- it is the person’s only offence, and
- it did not result in a custodial sentence
Even then, it will only be removed if it does not appear on the list of offences which will never be removed from a Certificate. If a person has more than one offence, then details of all their convictions will always be included.
An adult caution will be removed after 6 years have elapsed since the date of the caution – and if it does not appear on the list of offences relevant to safeguarding.
For those under 18 at the time of the offence:
The same rules apply as for adult convictions, except that the elapsed time period is 5.5 years.
The same rules apply as for adult cautions, except that the elapsed time period is 2 years.
Employers can only ask applicants to provide details of convictions and cautions that the employer is legally entitled to know. If an employer takes into account a conviction or caution that is not disclosed on the DBS Certificate they will be acting unlawfully under the legislation.
DBS encourage employers to include the paragraph below in their standard application forms:
The Amendment to the Exceptions Order 1975 (2013) provide that certain spent convictions and cautions are ‘protected’ and are not subject to disclosure to employers, and cannot be taken into account.
Guidance on criteria on the filtering of these cautions and convictions can be found on the Disclosure and Barring Service website
DBS advise that the Ministry of Justice suggest that employers when asking applicants about previous criminal offences should use the following question on their application forms:
‘Do you have any convictions, cautions, reprimands or final warnings that are not “protected” as defined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (as amended in 2013)
2. Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check
Persons who will have regular unsupervised contact with children must have a satisfactory enhanced DBS check with a check of the ‘Barred List’.
With effect from 17th June 2013 the DBS stopped issuing a copy of the DBS Certificate to registered bodies. As a result registered bodies are unable to notify the school of the results of a DBS check. Instead schools need to ask the applicant for sight of their DBS Certificate. It is advisable that the applicant is made aware of this at the time when they are asked to complete a DBS Application Form.
Schools are currently able to track progress of the DBS application and will therefore know when the status is complete. If the applicant fails to provide their DBS Certificate to the school within 7 days of the completion date, they should be reminded to bring their DBS Certificate to the school and the implications of failing to do this. A model letter is provided at Appendix 14 that can be given to the employee where they have failed to produce a DBS Certificate, without an acceptable reason, following the reminders. Schools should seek advice from Schools HR where the person fails to provide their DBS Certificate.
You need to be aware that applicants can now dispute the information which may appear on their DBS Certificate before it is seen by their current or prospective employers, where this may be the case there may be a delay in the applicant providing the school with their DBS Certificate.
Further information about the DBS is available at https://www.gov.uk/disclosure-barring-service-check/overview
The applicant’s offer of employment will remain subject to a satisfactory DBS check until such time when the school has had sight of their DBS Certificate and it is satisfactory to the school.
If the DBS Certificate reveals information that a candidate has not disclosed in the course of the selection process advice should be sought from Schools HR. If any conviction information appearing on the DBS Certificate is different from the information supplied by the candidate on their original job application they should be asked for an explanation. (It may be that the candidate may have forgotten or incorrectly remembered information on convictions they have because they occurred a long time ago or the applicant was young when the offences occurred). If a judgement is reached that the applicant deliberately falsified the information supplied on the job application, this can be taken into account when considering whether the job offer should be withdrawn.
3. Prohibition Order/Interim Prohibition Order Check
Section 141B of the Education Act 2002 provides the Secretary of State with a power to investigate, where an allegation is referred to the Secretary of State, that a person may be guilty of unacceptable professional conduct or conduct which brings the profession into disrepute or has been convicted to a relevant criminal offence. Section 141B(2) of the Education Act 2002 provides that where the Secretary of State finds on investigation that there is a case to answer, the Secretary of State must decide whether to make a prohibition order in respect of that person.
The School Staffing (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013 came into force on 1st September 2013. Changes to the Regulations require that with effect from 2nd September 2013 schools:
- must check that any teacher to be appointed is not a person who is subject to a prohibition order or interim prohibition order.
- must record in a register whether a check has been made that the person is not subject to a prohibition order or interim prohibition order.
- must get confirmation from any teacher supply agency whether a check was made to establish that the person is not subject to a prohibition order or interim prohibition order.
Information on factors relating to decisions leading to the prohibition of teachers from the teaching profession is available at http://www.education.gov.uk/aboutdfe/advice/f00213941/teacher-misconduct-prohibition
Schools can check the list of teachers who have been prohibited from teaching via the Department of Education’s Employer Access service which is a free service available for schools. In the event that you do not have access to this service you can apply to use the Employer Access service by emailing email@example.com with your school name and address together with the school’s DfE number and the headteacher’s name and email address.
Schools should carry out this check as part of their recruitment and vetting checks and record it on their Single Central Record.
4. Childcare Disqualification Requirements
The Childcare (Disqualification) Regulations 2009 prohibits anyone who is disqualified themselves under the Regulations, or who lives in the same household as a disqualified person, from working in a relevant setting, including in schools.
The supplementary guidance to Keeping Children Safe in Education 2014 issued by the DfE can be found at:
This supplementary advice details a requirement for childcare disqualification checks to be carried out on relevant staff working in schools.
All new appointments in relevant settings, including schools, must be required to complete a declaration prior to commencing work.
Please refer to the model guidance available on the Schools HR Co-operative website on checks required under the Childcare Disqualification Requirements.
It is recommended that schools record this check on their Single Central Record.
The purpose of seeking references is to obtain objective and factual information to support appointment decisions. They should always be sought and obtained directly from the referee.
Generally, references or testimonials provided by the candidate, or open references and testimonials, i.e., ‘To Whom it May Concern’ should not be accepted.
All requests for references should seek objective verifiable information and not subjective opinion. The use of a reference pro forma (Appendix 9) can help achieve that. For an example of a model Reference Request letter see Appendix 10. A copy of the job description and person specification for the post must be included with all reference requests.
The Equality Act forbids employers from asking job applicants health related questions before an offer of employment is made unless it is for the specified reasons stated under the Act (See Section 9.4). To comply with requirements of the Equality Act 2010 and to avoid any claims from unsuccessful candidates for not being selected on health grounds, it is recommended that references are requested for the successful candidate only, and only after an offer of employment is made.
The offer of employment will be subject to receipt of two satisfactory references.
On receipt, references should be checked to ensure that all specific questions have been answered satisfactorily. Any areas giving concern should be explored with either the referee or the applicant. If any question has not been answered or the reference is vague or unspecific, the referee should be contacted to seek clarification. The referee’s responses should be recorded and, if necessary, discussed with the applicant.
The information given in the reference should also be compared with the application form to ensure consistency with the information provided by the applicant on the form. Any discrepancy in the information should be taken up with the applicant.
Any information about past disciplinary action or allegations should be considered in the circumstances of the individual case and advice should be sought from Schools HR.
6. Right to Work in the UK
Schools must ensure that any prospective employee is entitled to work in the UK. There are heavy penalties, up to £10,000, for employers who employ illegal workers.
A copy of the documentation used to verify the person’s right to work in the UK should be retained on file during the person’s employment with the school and for 2 years after the person stops working at the school.
For advice and guidance on things to be aware when carrying out this check including the type of documents that may be accepted for this check please see www.gov.uk
For information about Sponsor Licence and sponsoring migrant workers please see http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/visas-immigration/working/
7. Medical Health Checks
Anyone appointed to a post involving regular contact with children or young people must be medically fit. It is a statutory responsibility for employers to satisfy themselves that individuals have the appropriate level of physical and mental fitness prior to confirming an offer of employment.
Assessing a person’s ability to carry out the duties of a job can be an important selection tool. Pre-employment medical checks should be seen as a way of:
- Screening candidates in – not screening them out
- Identifying any risks to the prospective employee, colleagues or clients
- Identifying any support needed by the prospective employee to do the job effectively
- Identifying any disability issues and the requirement for reasonable adjustments
- Identifying any potential attendance problems
- Providing a base-line of health for future reference
Schools can arrange for pre-employment medical checks to be carried out by their occupational health service.
8. Single Central Record of Recruitment and Vetting Checks
The Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education guidance states that schools must keep and maintain a Single Central Record of any recruitment and vetting checks which have been undertaken.
Schools must have a record of the following people:
- All staff (including supply staff) who are employed to work at the school; and
- All others who work in regular contact with children in the school, including volunteers; and
- for academies and free schools, all members of the proprietor body
Generally, the information to be recorded on these individuals is whether or not the following checks have been carried out or certificates obtained, and the date on which the checks were completed:
- an identity check;
- a barred list check;
- an enhanced DBS check;
- a prohibition from teaching check;
- Childcare Disqualification Requirement check;
- further checks on people living or working outside the UK;
- a check of professional qualifications required for the job; and
- a check to establish the person’s right to work in the UK
An example of the Single Central Record can be found in the guidance under paragraph 4.54 of the Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education guidance (2007). This has been replicated in an excel format posted on Schools HR’s Safeguarding web pages Please note that this reflects the minimum information which must be recorded.
Schools may wish to record other recruitment and vetting checks on the single central record such as medical clearance, employment references etc. An enhanced template has also been provided on our Safeguarding pages which can be used or amended to suit the needs of the school providing the minimum information requirements have been recorded.
Both templates can be found on our Schools HR Safeguarding web pages by clicking on the link below or copying and pasting the address into your web browser:
9. Photocopying and Retention of Documents
In accordance with the guidance issued by the Border & Immigration Agency in February 2008 ‘Prevention of Illegal Working’, all documents related to the person’s entitlement to work in the UK should be photocopied and retained whilst the person is employed at the school and for a further two years after he/she has left employment with the school.
All other documents should be retained in accordance with Data Protection guidelines.
Copies of all applications and any notes relating to shortlisting and interview decisions must be retained for at least 6 months. In the event of a legal challenge from an unsuccessful applicant, these documents must not be destroyed until the case is resolved.
Safer Recruitment - Risk Assessment and Checking Processes
It is good, safe practice to only allow someone to start working with children and young people once a satisfactory DBS check and all other clearances have been received. However, it is acknowledged that in some situations this may not be possible. If a school decides to allow someone to begin working with children and young people before all satisfactory checks have been received, as assessment must be made of the risks and steps put in place to minimise the risks. This form is only for use in these exceptional cases and should be completed by the senior manager and be retained on the employee’s personal file indefinitely.
Enter title of post to be filled here
Comment as necessary below
1. Do the duties of the post involve unsupervised access to children and young people? Yes No
2. Are there duties that can meaningfully be performed that do not involve direct contact with children and young people? Yes No
3. Can additional supervision be put in place so that the person is not working alone with children and young people? Yes No
4. Have at least 2 satisfactory references been received including one from last employer? Yes No
5. Have the references been checked with the referees and any issues clarified? Yes No
6. Is there one reference which is satisfactory, relates to a post involving work with children and young people, and covers 2 years? Yes No
7. Has there been a break in employment since last employed? Yes No
8. Has this been satisfactorily explained by the candidate? Yes No
9. Were there any concerns/issues explored at interview that have not been satisfactorily addressed? (e.g., frequent moves of employment, unexplained gaps, concerns about responses to questions). Please provide details. Yes No
10. If cautions/convictions have been declared, have these been satisfactorily explained by the candidate? Yes No
11. Has advice been sought if there are any concerns about the employee’s background? Yes No
12. Other comments/risk management strategies
Taking into account the nature of the job (potential risk of harm to children) and the information available about the candidate, is the level of risk sufficiently low to support a decision to allow the employee to start work before a satisfactory DBS Check has been received?
Signed by Headteacher/Chair of Governors: _________________________________
Reference Request Form
Your co-operation in completing this reference form would be appreciated. Please note that the information you provide is subject to the Data Protection Act.
The School is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and expects all its staff and volunteers to share in this commitment.
Application for the post of:
Date of Employment: From: To:
Current Job Title:
Please state the main duties and responsibilities of the candidate’s current post:
Please comment on the suitability of the candidate to the position applied for. You should include the candidate’s current knowledge compared to that required for this post, personal attributes and potential to develop in this role. A job description and person specification for the post is attached to help you provide a comprehensive assessment. (Please continue on a separate sheet if required)
Would you re-employ the candidate? Yes No
If No, please provide details:
Are you aware of any reason why the candidate should not be employed? Yes No
If Yes, please provide details:
Why did this candidate leave your employment?
How long have you known this candidate and in what capacity?
In what capacity?
How many days sickness absence did the candidate take in the last two years?
How many periods of sickness were taken during the last two years?
(Please exclude any pregnancy related sickness absence)
Was there any disciplinary action taken against the candidate? Yes No
If Yes, please provide details. Please include:
- Details of any disciplinary procedures the candidate has been subject to in which the disciplinary sanction is current;
- Details of any disciplinary procedures the candidate has been subject to involving issues related to the safety and welfare of children or young people, including any in which the disciplinary sanction has expired, and the outcome of those; and,
- Details of any allegations or concerns that have been raised about the candidate that relate to the safety and welfare of children or young people or behaviour towards children or young people, and the outcome of those concerns e.g. whether the allegations or concerns were investigated, the conclusion reached, and how the matter was resolved.
Has the candidate been the subject of formal Capability proceedings within the last two years?
If Yes, please provide details of the concerns, duration of the proceedings and their outcome.
Do you know of ANY reason why this applicant may not be suitable to work with children or young people:
If Yes, please provide details:
NB: Please ensure that the reference is accurate and does not contain any material misstatement or omission. The person appointing may contact you if clarification is required on any aspect of the reference. Relevant factual content of the reference may be discussed with the candidate.
Relationship to Candidate (e.g., Manager)
Please return the completed reference to:
<< Name and address >>
Reference Request Letter
Reference Request for (enter name of applicant)
The above named has been offered the post of (Job Title) with this school and has given us your name as a referee.
I would be grateful if you would complete the enclosed Reference Request Form and return it to me as soon as possible. The Reference Request Form has been designed to follow the DfE recommendations for staff required to work with children. I would be obliged if you could complete all sections of the form.
To assist you I enclose a copy of the Job Description and Person Specification for the post applied for which details the nature and demands of the job.
Information provided by you will only be used for the purposes of recruitment and selection and will be held in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.
Should you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact me.
Invitation to Interview Letter
Application for the post of (Job Title)
Following your application for the above post I am pleased to invite you to attend an interview on (date).
Your interview will take place at (time) and will be held at (address). Directions to the venue are enclosed for your information. On arrival please report to Reception and ask for (name)
The purpose of the interview is to assess your suitability for the above post and to give the panel and yourself an opportunity to gain further information before making a successful appointment. It is also an opportunity to seek clarification on the information which you have provided on the application form and accompanying information. The interview will also assess your suitability to work with children and will include questions relating to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.
Enter details of any other assessment which the candidate will be required to undertake i.e., presentation, test etc.
The Interview Panel will comprise of:
Panel Member 1: (Name and their post title)
Panel Member 2: (Name and their post title)
Panel Member 3: (Name and their post title)
The interview will take place as follows:
Enter details of the format of the interview e.g.
<Time> Presentation 15 minutes
<Time> Questions from Panel on Presentation 15 minutes
<Time> Panel Interview 45 minutes
The interview questions have been structured around the person specification and job description which have already been sent to you. I enclose a copy for your information.
Please bring with you the originals of (list the documents you require the applicant to bring with them to the interview) for inspection.
The post is subject to an Enhanced DBS Check and it will be necessary to complete an application form for a Disclosure. Please bring documentary evidence of your identity suitable for such a check. A DBS application form and guidance booklet are enclosed. Please complete the form and bring it with you to the interview.
I would be grateful if you could contact (name on telephone number) to confirm your attendance at the interview and if you should have any questions/queries relating to the selection process he/she will be happy to help you. Please also inform him/her if you have a disability and would like for any reasonable adjustments to be made.
(enter details if you wish to the applicant to claim interview expenses)
I look forward to meeting you on (date)
Page 35 of 39
Letter to unsuccessful candidates
Application for the post of (Job Title)
I thank you for attending the interview on (date) and regret to inform you that you have not been successful on this occasion.
(state briefly reasons for decision)
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your interest in the post at the school and to wish you every success in the future.
Appendix 12 SHORTLISTING GRID
Job Title:________________________________________________________ Interview Date(s):_____________________________________________
Scoring : Does not meet criteria = 0 : Partially (under 50%) meets criteria = 1 : Partially (Over 50%) meets criteria = 2 : Fully meets criteria = 3
Weighting: x 1 Standard significance x 2 Enhanced Significance x 3 High Significance
Names of Short Listing Panel: (1)_______________________________ (2)______________________________ (3)_______________________________
Selection Criteria (from person specification)
Chair of Panel: Name: ______________________________ Signature: _____________________________ Date: _________________________
Appendix 13 INTERVIEW PANEL DECISION FORM
Job Title: __________________________________________________________ Interview Date(s): _____________________________________________
Scoring: Does not meet criteria = 0 : Partially (under 50%) meets criteria = 1 : Partially (over 50%) meets criteria = 2 : Fully meets criteria = 3
Weighting: x 1 Standard significance x 2 Enhanced significance x 3 High significance
Names of Interviewing Panel: (1)_______________________________ (2)______________________________ (3)_______________________________
Name of Candidate Appointed: …………………………………………………… Grade ………………………………………………………
Chair of Panel: Name: ______________________________ Signature: _____________________________ Date: _________________________
Failure to provide a DBS Certificate
As you are aware your employment as (title of post) is conditional on your having a DBS Check and the outcome of such a DBS check being satisfactory to the school. This is a statutory requirement for those whose work involves regular unsupervised contact with children and without which employment cannot continue.
On checking the progress of your DBS application it is noted that this was completed on (date) and it is my understanding that you would have received your DBS Certificate within (number of days) of this date. You have since been reminded on (number) occasions to let the school have sight of your DBS Certificate but have not done so.
Under the circumstances I am writing to inform you that unless the school has sight of your DBS Certificate by (enter date) I will have no alternative but to commence proceedings to terminate your employment with the school.