Sunday, 1 May 2011

Safer Recruitment Issues & Interview Questions For Governing Bodies

Safer Recruitment Issues For Governing Bodies

“Schools need to take all reasonable steps to guard against employing people, or engaging with volunteers who may harm children. Safeguarding children must be a priority in every school and incorporating safeguarding measures in the recruitment process is an essential part of that. Children, especially young children, are likely to see anyone who works in a school setting as a safe and trustworthy adult. In that respect they won’t distinguish between paid staff or volunteers, regardless of their roles or if they are full or part time. Therefore the same safeguarding principles must be applied then recruiting to fill any role. Nevertheless it is important to keep issues in perspective as the overwhelming majority of people who work with or support children are safe and trustworthy and have the safety and welfare of children at heart”.
Bichard Report

From 1st January 2010 last year it is a statutory requirement that every appointments panel must have at least one member who has undertaken the Safer Recruitment Training.

Online training is available to all governors via The Children’s Workforce Development Council.

Best practice

All schools are advised to display the Safer Recruitment Certificates for
the Headteacher and the nominated governor. In a prominent place somewhere in the schools entrance foyer. It is also advised that schools place alongside these certificates, photographs and information in respect of who is the “Safeguarding” member of staff and governor.

General principles:

Decide an appropriate recruitment timeline

Recruitment advertising & applicant’s information contain a prominent safeguarding statement making it clear to prospective candidates from the outset that your school

Will implement a rigorous and robust recruitment process that gathers evidence about candidates’ suitability to work with children as well as their suitability for the post in question

Job description is clear & succinct

Person specification is clear, specific & includes safeguarding information

Written references are taken up at the shortlisting stage – 2 references, one of which should be from the current employer – open references or testimonials are not acceptable

The interview panel contains one person who has been trained in safe r

Recruitment practices

Do not recruit any candidate who gives serious cause for concern – reject even if they are the only option recruit staff who support

Safeguarding/Child Protection measures and are aware of how to
safeguard children at school

Implement a tailored induction programme for all new staff and volunteers including –


Ensure that everyone connected to the school knows how to raise concerns
(even whistle blowing) and to whom

Is your school a soft target?

Failing to obtain comprehensive information about a candidate’s background e.g.accepting a CV instead of an application form

Accepting an open reference/testimonial instead of obtaining independent references that answer specific questions in respect of past performance & suitability to work with children

Accepting a candidate’s statements at face value & not carrying out pre-employment checks to verify qualifications, identity etc.

Accepting an incomplete application form (no gaps in chronological education or working history)

During recruitment focusing only on the “job description” and “role” and not considering attitudes towards children

Operating less stringent procedures for non-teaching staff

Inviting Applications: A candidate’s pack should contain:

Application form

Job description

School information

School’s Safeguarding/Child Protection Policy which should contain a detailed statement about

The employment commitment to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children & that any successful candidate will be required to submit to a full CRB check

Requirements for references and legal documentation

Equal opportunities statement

Interview procedure and the selection process which will include an

Assessment of a candidate’s

Suitability to work with children

It should be made clear that candidates may write confidentially to the panel in respect of a past record, any outstanding cases or disqualification etc. in a separate envelope marked confidential along with their application form


Normally two references are sufficient, provided one is the current or most recent employer

If an applicant is not currently working with children but has done so in the past, an additional reference should be obtained from that employer
relatives and friends should be precluded as referees as they are unlikely to be objective and there is no way of verifying the accuracy of such information

References should be sought before the interview so that any gaps may be identified and dealt with at interview – this would be particularly important when interviewing candidates from abroad

It may be useful to establish a reference pro-forma remembering that if an applicant is currently working with children on either a paid or a voluntary basis their current employer

should be asked about:

o Disciplinary offences relating to children, including those where the penalty time has expired

o Whether the applicant has ever been the subject of any Safeguarding/Child
Protection concerns

o The outcome of any enquiry or disciplinary procedure

o A candidate’s performance, history and conduct

o Suitability to the post

o Behaviour management expertise

Referees should be sent a copy of the job description and the person specification

References should be written originals and not “photo copied”

It should be noted that there is no legal requirement to provide a reference, unless so stated in an individuals contract of employment so if a referee refuses to supply a reference try to establish why

The interview have a minimum of two on a panel, three is better
one member should have been trained in safer recruitment practice – from 1st January 2010 this is a statutory requirement

Decide all questions in advance and don’t veer from these unless it is requesting confirmation, clarification or further detail on a point e.g. gaps in employment history have all relevant paperwork to hand

Apply the same interview practice with all interviewees including internal candidates

Make notes on each candidate’s responses and record your impressions

Avoid telephone interviews –for overseas candidates consider the option of video conferencing

Explore discrepancies between information provided by a candidate and that of a referee

Confirm the candidate understands that an offer of employment will depend upon successful legal, medical and CRB checks i.e. identity, professional status etc. - ask if a candidate has anything they wish to declare

Bad interview practice would be to:

1. Make assumptions

2. Ask convoluted questions

3. Use complex jargon

4. Lead a candidate in a particular direction

5. Talk too much yourself

6. Let a candidate “sidetrack the process”

7. Accept short, un-detailed answers

8. Avoid hypothetical questions – try to relate to actual experiences

Possible Safeguarding Questions

1. What attracted you to teaching / this post / this school?

2. How do you think your own childhood may have influenced your practice
with students/pupils?

3. Tell us about a teacher that made an impact on you and why do you think that was?

4. What motivates you to work with young people?

5. Tell us about your interests outside work?

6. What do you think are the professional challenges facing teachers today?

7. Give an e.g. of where you had to deal with bullying behaviour between pupils. What did you do? What made it successful/ What could you have done better?

8. Young people develop crushes / like physical contact how would/do you deal with this?

9. What would you do if you were concerned about a colleague’s behaviour towards children?

10. Give an example of how you have managed poor pupil behaviour?

11. Give an example of when you have had to respond to challenging pupil behaviour? How did it affect you? How did you cope with the aftermath?

12. When do you think it is appropriate to physically intervene in a situation involving young people?

13. What makes a school “safe and caring”?

14. What policies are important to support a safe school environment?

15. What are staff’s responsibilities in protecting children?

16. How do you define an appropriate teacher/school secretary/site agent or caretaker/learning support assistant/parent helper/lunchtime supervisor?

17. Give an example of what you would consider to be appropriate/inappropriate behaviour?

Recruitment panels should be concerned where any candidate demonstrates:

Attitudes which attribute adult experience & knowledge to children, specially sexual knowledge or behaviour a disproportionate amount of time to extra-curricular activities with children

Personal/life balance, including the paucity of adult relationships/leisure pursuits

Attitudes which appear to underestimate the incidence and impact of sexual abuse

An inability to recognise or respect boundaries with regards to physical contact

Inability to describe appropriate boundaries of a professional relationship with children or to distinguish between appropriate or inappropriate behaviour

Children and adults are equal in every sense – ignoring disparities of power and authority

An inability to recognise the inherent vulnerability of children from a troubled or disadvantaged background

A tendency to view children & young people in idealised or romanticised terms dogmatic, autocratic, arrogant or over-confident attitude

*some of these may have entirely satisfactory explanations; others may raise serious concerns as not everyone whose responses cause concern will be a potential abuser. They may just be poorly articulated, hesitant or a sign of “interview nerves”

Recruiting from overseas

CRB checks should be completed unless it is verified that a candidate has not previously lived in the UK. Here a CRB check serves no purpose. Instead you should request :

o Confirmation of the right to work in the UK – original documents only

o Confirmation of qualifications - original documents only

o A certificate of “good conduct” from the candidate’s home police force

General considerations:

Schools have a duty to inform their LA and other schools, where necessary, to prevent unsuitable personnel from working with children. They have a statutory duty to make reports to the teachers’ misconduct team at the DCSF is serious matters are uncovered.

Where any candidate is discovered to have given false information regarding their criminal past whether that be previous convictions, cautions, bind-overs or outstanding cases, their relationship to existing employees including Councillors or governors, referees, this can result ino
their application being rejected

o summary dismissal if the applicant was appointed

o possible referral to the teachers’ misconduct team

New staff should:

Sign a code of conduct

Be given a staff handbook

Be observed and given feedback

Be given a mentor

Familiarise themselves with safeguarding policies e.g.

o CP

o Anti-bullying

o Racism

o Physical intervention

o Inclusion

o Internet safety

o Intimate care

o Whistle blowing

Be given the name of the designat
ed teacher for Safeguarding/Child Protection

Copy of personnel procedures relating to

o staff absence

o disciplinary procedures

o capability procedures

Advice & all credits go to Lis Scott from Central Bedfordshire Council Website linked below

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