A Guide to Safer Recruiting in Schools

1-2 minutes

In this blog, you will learn: 

Recruiting safely is of the utmost importance in any organisation, but in schools, it’s more serious and urgent than ever to take extra care and attention when it comes to recruiting. School staff are responsible for the learning and welfare of children, and it’s important to ensure that all the people who work or volunteer in schools are trustworthy.

The recruitment process in schools follows a certain set of mandatory rules as set by the government. Throughout this blog, we delve into what schools need to do to make sure the people who work or volunteer for them are safe to work with children.

What is safer recruitment?

The appointment of staff is an important decision for any school and it is essential that a governing body has the skills to carry out a thorough and effective selection process. At least one person on any selection panel should have completed appropriate safer recruitment training. 

Safer recruitment is a set of practices to help make sure that school staff are suitable to work with children and young people in schools. Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of students is of paramount importance in schools, and the staff must be able to commit to creating a safe and positive environment for children to not only thrive socially and academically.

One critical aspect of this responsibility is the recruitment of staff members who will have direct contact with students. Implementing effective strategies for safer recruiting is essential to maintain a secure learning environment.

What is a Safer Recruitment Policy?

A Safer Recruitment Policy means having appropriate procedures and fair practices in place when it comes to recruiting staff that are suitable to work with children and young people. Ensure that your policy will work alongside your corporate policies and statements and highlight your school’s commitment to comply with regulations and the actions you will take.

The purpose of the policy is to ensure only suitable applicants are hired to work with children and young people, and should include who monitors and checks that staff comply with the safer recruitment regulations.

Strategies for safer recruiting in schools

There are government guidelines that schools are expected to follow in order to safely recruit in schools. Schools have a responsibility to the health and safety and protection of their pupils; and therefore appointed staff need to be appropriately trained in how best to advertise their role to find individuals.

The governing body in a maintained school must ensure when appointing a member of the school workforce “that at least one member of the appointed panel has undertaken appropriate training in how to take account of the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children when recruiting staff.”

Governing bodies should ensure that those involved in the recruitment and employment of staff in schools, and maintained schools and management committees of pupil referral units (PRUs) have completed safer recruitment training. 

Employment checks

According to the Department for Education, when it comes to making appointments, “all governing bodies must take into account the requirements of equalities legislation and best employment practices.”

According to the Department for Education, here is a list of employment checks that must be done to ensure safe recruiting in schools:

  • Check the identity of the candidate.
  • Background checks.
  • Check their right to work in the United Kingdom.
  • Capability procedures.
  • Take up references.
  • Keep a record.


Check the identity of the candidate

It is important that candidates are thoroughly checked and that their identities are verified to ensure that they are suitable to work with children and young people. Prior to an interview, all applicants will be required to provide their identification documentation such as passport or driving licence as proof of their identity and eligibility.

Schools must confirm the identity of a person to ensure that they are who they claim to be by checking for photo ID and a full birth certificate. Any name changes by deed poll or any other means (e.g. marriage, adoption, statutory declaration) must be thoroughly checked and additional identification required as evidence of the change.

Background checks

Thoroughly check candidates suitability to work with children by doing criminal background checks to clarify and verify individuals, whilst following the appropriate local regulation and policies. To check a candidate's criminal record, employees must be Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checked.

DBS checks are a mandatory requirement in schools and are an essential safeguarding tool to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children and young people. Someone looking to work in education would require a DBS check to ensure that they can keep children safe in schools. It is then part of the schools policy to re-check employee’s DBS certificates every three years. 

Check the candidates right to work in the UK

It is important when it comes to hiring school staff to check candidates' right to work in the UK before they are employed. The employer needs to know what types of work they’re allowed to do and how long they can work in the UK for (if there is a time limit).

To check employers, right to work, the hiring manager needs the job applicant’s:

  • Date of birth.
  • Right to work share code (if they have given you their share code)
  • Check the applicant’s original documents are valid and genuine. Make copies of the documents and record the date you made the check.

Capability procedures

Consider asking the candidate’s current employer for details of any capability procedures in the previous 2 years, and the reasons for these. Schools must disclose certain information such as if a Teacher or any employer has been the subject of capability proceedings in the past two years and, if so:

  • The concerns which gave rise to the capability proceedings.
  • The duration of the proceedings.
  • The outcome.

Take up references

In order to clarify or verify a candidate's suitability and explore any concerns, it is important to take up references from the applicant's current or former employer. Contact the candidate's previous employers and professional references to gain insights into their work history, conduct, and suitability for working with students.

When sharing information employers should make sure that they act in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 to ensure that the information is provided fairly and lawfully to prospective employers. Employers’ are responsible for ensuring employees personal details are properly respected. By implementing these strategies, schools can significantly reduce the risk of hiring individuals who may pose a threat to student safety and create a more secure learning environment for all.

Keep a record

Schools are required to keep records of all staff even if they only work for one day, to indicate whether the relevant checks were carried out and the appropriate certificates were obtained. 

The statutory guidance Keeping Children Safe in Education: Statutory Guidance for Schools and Colleges (KCSIE) requires all schools to produce and maintain a Single Central Record of Recruitment and Vetting Checks (SCR).

Governing bodies must ensure that schools keep a single central record detailing the range of checks and the date on which each check was completed or certificate obtained. The minimum information must be recorded to indicate whether all of the suitability checks have been done and that schools are recruiting safely as during an Ofsted Inspection, the inspector will ask to view the record.

Recruiting a Headteacher

When it comes to safely recruiting a Headteacher, maintained schools have greater autonomy in accordance with their funding agreement. When appointing a school leader, governing bodies may confer with the local authority, or their HR provider.

Given the importance of this decision, governing bodies use templates provided by the local authority or the HR provider to ensure they are following the legal process. They may also find it beneficial to secure the services of an experienced professional to assist in the procedure.

Education and SEND recruitment

As a specialist education recruitment agency, we’re experts at supporting schools with their staffing needs as we understand the importance of creating a safe environment in the classroom.

Get in touch with our specialist education recruitment consultant, Jamie Heath on 01772 954200 now to learn more about the education recruitment services available to you.

Education and SEND jobs

If you’re looking for a teaching, support or school facilities job, why not take a look at all the jobs currently available? Alternatively, simply upload your CV to be contacted about upcoming teaching career opportunities.

Meet Jamie Heath

Who is Spencer Clarke Group?

Since 2017, we’ve been reshaping the recruitment industry with our innovation and passion for evoking positive change. We are driven by our commitment to finding candidates the perfect job that has the ability to not only boost their salary, but also improve their mental health, standard of living and better their work life balance. 

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