Safer Recruitment in Education is about choosing the right person for the role as well as making sure they are suitable for work involving children. Every school, college or children's club follows a set of best practices when recruiting staff, whether it is for paid or voluntary positions. The set of practices should prevent unsuitable people from being accepted for the role and helps employers to notice anything strange early on in the recruitment process.
By following a set of practices it ensures the same standards are adhered to by everyone who may be responsible for recruiting and that safeguards are not left out. However, it should be a continuous process where educational settings promote a safe culture, follow policies and procedures and raise awareness through staff training.
Laws and policies
During the recruitment of individuals for positions in schools and colleges, recruiting officers have a legal responsibility to ensure dangerous people do not get through to pupils, as detailed in The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act (SVGA) 2006. By having a set of policies it ensures compliance with the law and that measures are in place to allow for safer recruiting. Not only should the recruitment process find suitable candidates that would be an asset, but it should also ensure they are a good fit to work in an educational setting.
Three policies that should be in place are:
- Safer Recruitment - to include measures to prevent unsuitable people from gaining access to pupils
- Equality and Diversity - to provide equal opportunities to all candidates
- Recruitment of ex-offenders - as where work involves contact with children all previous convictions must be declared
The recruitment process
In addition to these policies, there should also be standard forms and procedures used during the recruitment process, of all required roles, to ensure the same standards throughout. At least one member of a recruitment board needs to have been trained in safer recruitment, however, ideally any other people involved in the recruitment process should receive training too.
The challenge is to ensure safe recruitment and there are a number of practices that should be in place to stop the wrong candidates from getting through. Starting with the job description, it should include a reference to the fact that the position involves working with children and the safeguarding responsibilities that come with that. You can also mention the requirement for background checks, which may even deter unsuitable people from applying.
During the interview process as much information as possible needs to be sought to determine the candidate's suitability for working with children, for example by having a set of probing interview questions.
The next stage is to screen candidates carefully. The application process will allow you to collect varied information including past employers, references, life histories, qualifications, right to work in the UK and medical questionnaires. All this information needs to be rigorously checked to assess the suitability of applicants. Furthermore, a DBS check can be used to check a candidate's criminal record. Those people already involved in abuse or disposed to it are extremely difficult to identify from a DBS check alone as they may not have previous convictions, which is why other checks are in place.
Even if you follow best practices an inappropriate appointment could still happen, so using induction and probation for successful applicants could also identify those that may pose a risk of causing children harm.
The importance of training
It is likely that there will already be best practices in place to allow for safer recruitment, however, it should be a continual process striving to reduce the risk of harm to children by staff and volunteers. Following best practices will lead towards creating a culture of safety, in turn meaning a more stringent recruitment process will be followed and inappropriate behaviour from appointed staff spotted at the earliest opportunity. This is just the tip of the iceberg for providing information on safer practices surrounding safer recruitment in education...
iHASCO’s Safer Recruitment in Education course will help anyone involved in recruiting staff in the educational sector to work towards compliance of best practices for safer recruitment. Our course is CPD accredited and takes 50 minutes to complete. Claim your no-obligation free trial to the course today!