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6.1 Safe Recruitment, Selection and Supervision of Staff


This chapter should be read in conjunction with:

Working Together to Safeguard Children

Keeping Children Safe in Education - Statutory guidance for schools and colleges

Statutory Guidance: Disqualification under the Childcare Act 2006

What to do if you're worried a child is being abused - Advice for practitioners (GOV.UK)

Guidance for Safer Working Practice for those Working with Children and Young People in Education Settings

Note: this revised guidance replaces the following documentation:
Keeping children safe in education Part 1: Information for all school and college staff.


In August 2021, this chapter was updated to reflect legal changes following the EU exit, including guidance on checking the past conduct of individuals who have lived or worked overseas (see Section 2, Recruitment).

NOTE: In January 2021, the DfE issued a revised version of KCSIE 2020 with changes strictly limited to those related to the UK leaving the EU.


  1. Introduction
  2. Recruitment
  3. Advertising and Appointing
  4. Disclosure and Barring Service Checks
  5. Supervision and Staff Development

1. Introduction

A range of individual organisations and agencies working with children and families have specific statutory duties to promote the welfare of children and ensure they are protected from harm. These duties, as applied to individual organisations and agencies, are set out in this chapter. Section 11 of the Children's Act 2004 places duties on a range of organisations, agencies and individuals to ensure their functions, and any services that they contract out to others, are discharged having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

In addition to this, it is vital that schools and colleges create a culture of safe recruitment and, as part of that, adopt recruitment procedures that help deter, reject or identify people who might abuse children as set out in statutory guidance Keeping Children Safe in Education. This guidance states safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is defined for the purposes of this guidance as:

  • Protecting children from maltreatment;
  • Preventing impairment of children's health or development;
  • Ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care;
  • Taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.

For the purpose of this procedure these standards should apply to staff and volunteers in all partner organisations, not just educational establishments.

The term 'children' will denote all children and young people under the age of 18 years old.

2. Recruitment

Chapter 2 of Working Together to Safeguard Children states that organisations providing services to children and/or their parents / carers, should have in place a number of arrangements as part of their duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. In relation to safer recruitment, these arrangements include:

  • A culture of listening to children and taking account of their wishes and feelings, both in individual decisions and the development of services;
  • Safe recruitment practices and ongoing safe working practices for individuals whom the organisation or agency permit to work regularly with children, including policies on when to obtain a criminal record check;
  • Appropriate supervision and support for staff, including undertaking safeguarding training; 
  • Creating a culture of safety, equality and protection within the services they provide;
  • Employers are responsible for ensuring that their staff are competent to carry out their responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and creating an environment where staff feel able to raise concerns and feel supported in their safeguarding role; 
  • Staff should be given a mandatory induction, which includes familiarisation with child protection responsibilities and the procedures to be followed if anyone has any concerns about a child's safety or welfare;
  • Organisations and agencies working with children and families should have clear policies for dealing with allegations against people who work with children. Such policies should make a clear distinction between an allegation, a concern about the quality of care or practice or a complaint.

Part 3 of Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance describes in detail those checks that are, or may be, required for any individual working in any capacity at, or visiting, the school or college. Governing bodies and proprietors must act reasonably in making decisions about the suitability of the prospective employee based on checks and evidence, including criminal record checks (Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks), barred list checks and prohibition checks, together with references and interview information.

Note on Overseas Applicants: As part of the DfE revised version of KCSIE 2020 updated in January 2021 to take into account the departure of the UK from the EU, the TRA (Teaching Regulation Agency) Teacher Services system will no longer maintain a list of those teachers who have been sanctioned in EEA member states. This came into effect on 1st January 2021 and therefore with immediate effect candidates from overseas must undergo the same checks as all other staff in schools, including obtaining an enhanced DBS certificate with barred list information. This still applies even if the candidate has never been to the UK.

Checks should also be applied to validate Overseas applicant’s identity and right to work (see Section 3, Advertising and Appointment).

Where an applicant has worked or been resident overseas in the previous 5 years, the employer should obtain a check of the applicant's criminal record from the relevant authority in that country and seek additional information about an applicant's conduct. Not all countries provide this service and advice can be sought from the Disclosure and Barring Service. The application process for criminal records checks or  'Certificates of Good Character' for someone from overseas varies from country to country.  For further information, see GOV.UK - Criminal records checks for overseas applicants. Employers are responsible for ensuring that their staff are competent to carry out their responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and creating an environment where staff feel able to raise concerns and feel supported in their safeguarding role.

3. Advertising and Appointing

Safer practice in recruitment involves giving consideration to child protection and safeguarding issues and promoting the welfare of children at every stage of the process. It starts with the process of planning the recruitment exercise; how and where the post is advertised; ensuring that the advertisement makes clear the organisation's commitment to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. It also requires a consistent and thorough process of obtaining, collating, analysing, and evaluating information from and about applicants.

Governing bodies of maintained schools are required to ensure that at least one of the persons who conducts an interview has completed safer recruitment training. This is also expected practice in all academies, free schools and independent schools. See GOV.UK, Staffing and employment advice for schools.

Any offer of appointment made to a successful candidate, including one who has lived or worked abroad, must be conditional on satisfactory completion of the necessary pre-employment checks.

When appointing new staff, schools and colleges must (subject to paragraph 138 in Keeping Children Safe in Education, Part three: Safer recruitment):

  • Verify a candidate's identity. Identification checking guidelines can be found on the GOV.UK website;
  • Obtain (via the applicant) an enhanced DBS certificate (including barred list information, for those who will be engaging in regulated activity;
  • Obtain a separate barred list check if an individual will start work in regulated activity before the DBS certificate is available;
  • Verify the candidate's mental and physical fitness to carry out their work responsibilities. A job applicant can be asked relevant questions about disability and health in order to establish whether they have the physical and mental capacity for the specific role;
  • Verify the person's right to work in the UK. If there is uncertainty about whether an individual needs permission to work in the UK, then prospective employers, or volunteer managers, should follow advice on the GOV.UK website;
  • If the person has lived or worked outside the UK, make any further checks the school or college consider appropriate (see paragraph 156); and
  • Verify professional qualifications, as appropriate. The Teacher Services' system should be used to verify any award of qualified teacher status (QTS), and the completion of teacher induction or probation.

In addition:

  • Schools must ensure that a candidate to be employed to carry out teaching work is not subject to a prohibition order issued by the Secretary of State (see footnote 55 for college requirements), or any sanction or restriction imposed (that remains current) by the GTCE before its abolition in March 2012; and
  • Independent schools, including academies and free schools, must check that a person taking up a management position as described in paragraph 129 is not subject to a section 128 direction made by the Secretary of State.

Schools should undertake a risk assessment and use their professional judgement and experience to decide whether volunteers require an enhanced DBS check.

Staff should be given a mandatory induction, which covers a number of key safeguarding issues including familiarisation with child protection responsibilities, the procedures to be followed if anyone has any concerns about a child's safety or welfare and the staff code of conduct.

4. Disclosure and Barring Service Checks

In considering asking a person to apply for a standard or enhanced DBS check, an employer is legally responsible for making sure the job role is eligible. This should be done before countersigning each DBS application form.

To determine which level of check a role is eligible for, refer to the DBS Eligibility Guidance.

Statutory Guidance Keeping Children Safe in Education sets out detailed provisions on checks and levels of supervision for staff, volunteers, contractors and visitors in educational establishments.

Three types of DBS checks are referred to in this guidance (see Annex G for more information):

  • Standard: this provides information about convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings held on the Police National Computer (PNC), regardless or not of whether they are spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. The law allows for certain old and minor matters to be filtered out;
  • Enhanced: this provides the same information as a standard check, plus any approved information held by the police which a chief officer reasonably believes to be relevant and considers ought to be disclosed; and
  • Enhanced with barred list check: where people are working or seeking to work in regulated activity with children, this allows an additional check to be made as to whether the person appears on the children's barred list.

A more detailed description of the three types of DBS checks is provided on the DBS website.

4.1 Childcare Disqualification

For staff who work in childcare provision or who are directly concerned with the management of such provision, appropriate checks must be carried out to ensure that individuals are not disqualified under the Childcare (Disqualification) and Childcare (Early Years Provision Free of Charge) (Extended Entitlement) (Amendment) Regulations 2018. Further information on the staff to whom these Regulations apply, the checks that should be carried out, and the recording of those checks can be found in  Statutory Guidance: Disqualification under the Childcare Act 2006.

These 2018 Regulations remove 'disqualification by association' (living in the same household where another person who is disqualified lives or is employed) for individuals working in childcare in non-domestic settings (e.g. schools and nurseries). Disqualification by association continues to apply for individuals providing and working in childcare in domestic settings (e.g. where childcare is provided in a childminder's home).

The arrangements continue to disqualify individuals working in domestic and non-domestic settings if they themselves have been found to have committed a relevant offence.

5. Supervision and Staff Development

All professionals working in the area of child protection should receive advice and support from peers, managers or named and designated professionals, as appropriate to role and responsibility.

For many practitioners involved in day to day work with children and families formal supervision with an identified manager is important to promoting good standards of practice and to supporting individual staff members.

The purpose of the practitioner-supervisor relationship should be to:

  • Support those professionals working directly with children and families;
  • Ensure that plans are followed or amended as appropriate;
  • Ensure that LSCP policy and procedures and the organisation's own policies and procedures are adhered to;
  • Ensure that action in line with planning, policy and procedures is consistent with agreed timescales;
  • Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the practitioner, and assist in the development of practice skills either personally or by ensuring that appropriate training is made available, and attended as appropriate by practitioner and supervisor;
  • Be available to provide advice and endorse decisions as appropriate in the child protection process;
  • The supervision of staff working directly with children must include the supervisor reading, reviewing and signing the case file at regular intervals, as agreed within the organisations policy;
  • When allocating work to a practitioner, the supervisor must ensure that the practitioner has the necessary training, experience and time to deal with the case properly and is clear what action is required and how that action will be reviewed and supervised.