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Safer recruitment: role of the governing board
Your board needs to make sure safer recruitment procedures are carried out in your school. Understand what those procedures are and download our safer recruitment checklist to make sure you're compliant.
Ensure safer recruitment procedures are applied
As a governing board, you're responsible for ensuring safer recruitment measures are in place, regardless of what type of school you're in.
In maintained schools, this responsibility can't be delegated and must remain with the full governing board as explained on page 74 of the Governance Handbook.
Academy trusts are free to decide which functions they delegate. However, it's still the trust's responsibility to make sure the delegated functions are carried out. This is also in paragraph 74 of the Governance Handbook.
How this works in practice
Although governors can't delegate the responsibility for oversight of safer recruitment procedures, you can and should delegate the operational tasks to school staff.
Operational tasks could include obtaining Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certificates or requesting references, for example. The exception to this would be for headteacher and deputy headteacher appointments, where the chair of the selection panel would usually do the reference request.
Governors also have responsibility for ensuring there is an ongoing culture of vigilance throughout the school. Ask some key questions:
- How do we know our safer recruitment procedures are robust?
- Is our single central record up-to-date and accurate?
- Have people who are regularly involved in recruitment undertaken safer recruitment training (for example, the senior leadership team)?
2 of our associate education experts, Ray Harris and Jacqueline Baker, explained this to us.
Download our safer recruitment checklist
We've created a checklist with the statutory safer recruitment tasks that governors must ensure schools carry out. It's based on the Department for Education's (DfE's) statutory safeguarding guidance, Keeping Children Safe in Education.
Have a suitably trained person on each appointment panel
Governing boards in maintained schools must ensure that at least 1 person on any appointment panel has had safer recruitment training. It doesn't have to be a governor, but governors who take safer recruitment training will be useful if your board needs to recruit a headteacher or a regular member of the appointment panel can't attend an interview.
In academies, it's good practice for appointment panel members to be trained.
This is explained in our article on statutory requirements for safer recruitment training.
We have a safer recruitment e-Learning course on Safeguarding Training Centre from The Key, which you can take if your school has access to the full package. Ask your headteacher or designated safeguarding lead (DSL) for more information, and try a demo here.
Check new staff have had the required checks
Governing boards and academy trusts are responsible for making sure that all new staff have all necessary DBS checks, including enhanced checks where relevant.
Read more in our article on DBS checks for school staff.
Maintained schools will usually make the request for the DBS certificates/checks through their local authority (LA), which acts as an umbrella body for the DBS.
Academy trusts will have their own umbrella body arrangements.
Ensure that your school:
- Requests information about previous employment history and scrutinise this
- Takes up references directly from the applicant's current or former employer
- Considers asking the candidate's current employer for details of any capability history in the last 2 years and the reasons for this
- Carries out additional checks if the applicant has lived outside the UK, and obtains an overseas criminal record check or a certificate of good conduct from the relevant embassy or police force where possible
- Checks potential employees have the right to work in the UK
Governing boards and academy trusts should also "reassure themselves that mechanisms are in place within the school to check that any person employed to teach has the required teaching qualifications, has successfully completed any statutory induction required and is not prohibited by the secretary of state from carrying out teaching work". Your school can use the Teacher Services system for this.
The information in this section is taken from section 6.5.3 of the Governance Handbook.
Monitor the single central record
Schools must keep a single central record (SCR), listing all staff and detailing the checks that have been carried out.
Read our guidance on governors' role in monitoring the SCR, and download our monitoring checklist.
Ray Harris is a national leader of governance, and has previously worked as a school improvement officer.
Jacqueline Baker is an education consultant who specialises in senior leadership recruitment. She supports schools through the recruitment process and helps them develop leadership capacity. Jacqueline also has experience as a chair of a governing body.
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