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KCSIE - Best practice for safe recruitment in education

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It is essential for schools, academies and colleges to follow the guidelines on Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE). This article follows on from the previous feature which highlighted the importance of safeguarding, changes to KCSIE and the potential impact on Ofsted results and will specifically focus on the background checks required for safeguarding in education.

In recent years, numerous stories have highlighted the importance of undertaking thorough background checks on employees who will be working with children.

This piece will detail the information that must be included in the single central record and explain the recent updates to KCSIE. 

The guidance states that a single central record (SCR) should be used to log all background checks completed prior to hiring members of staff, including details of DBS checks.

The SCR document must be kept up-to-date and maintained, audited and reviewed regularly.

The record should include details for all members of staff employees including supply staff and teacher trainees.

Staff brought into the school from other companies, contract staff (such as cleaners and caterers), governors, trustees and any volunteers who are involved in regulated activity should also be checked and included in the SCR. 

The SCR should include the following details: 

  • an identity check
  • a barred list check
  • an enhanced DBS check/certificate
  • a prohibition from teaching check
  • a check for a section 128 direction (for management positions in independent schools including academies and free schools)
  • further checks on people living or working outside the UK
  • a check of professional qualifications
  • a check to establish the person’s right to work in the UK

Changes to KCSIE

Although not required in the single central record, it is stated in the latest KCSIE guidance that, during the recruitment stage, schools ‘should’ carry out an online search of shortlisted candidates prior to the interview.

This guidance means that schools should be carrying out these checks unless a reason not to do so can be justified.

Any decision not to undertake the checks should be documented and inspectors will need to be satisfied that there has been compliance with KCSIE in the recruitment process. 

How to carry out the online search

The purpose of the online search is to look for any incidents or issues that could suggest that the candidate is unsuitable to work with children; this should be done prior to the interview, so that any issues can be discussed with the candidate.

The search should be carried out by someone who is not part of the decision-making process to eliminate bias.

Schools should develop their own procedures to carry out the search; for example, ensuring the same sites are searched, a similar amount of time is spent on each search and that the search extends back the same amount of time to keep checks consistent and fair and prevent them from becoming excessive.

Minimising the risks 

Undertaking online searches can come with a number of risks; for example, during the process of the online search, personal information is likely to be uncovered such as the age, gender and ethnicity of the candidate.

This may lead the school to be more susceptible to accusations of discrimination, whether conscious or unconscious.

To minimise this risk, it is important that the checks are carried out by someone outside of the decision-making process and only relevant information is shared by them.

There is also a risk of failing to comply with data protection laws, making it important to ensure only publicly available information is being searched and that candidates are given information about how their personal data is collected and used as well as for how long it will be held. 

It is also important to note that candidates have a right to request access to the personal data that is collected.

Any information collected in the online search should be well documented and schools should be prepared to share this with the candidate if necessary.

Appropriate training should be in place to ensure all staff understand the purpose of online searches and how to deal with them from a data protection and equality viewpoint.

Verifile, a supplier on CPC’s HR, Payroll and Employee Screening Services Framework, can undertake all of the screening checks required on the single central record (SCR), including criminal record checks, DBS checks, right to work and section 128.

Their tool only returns information that is relevant to the predetermined risks, therefore, remaining compliant with GDPR and eliminating any conscious or unconscious bias.

These outsourced services are available on the framework through lots 4 and 5.

Lot 4 on the framework focuses on Employee Screening Services, including identity and social media checks.

Lot 5 meanwhile focuses on DBS and criminal record checks.

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