Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance has been updated for September to include online searches of candidates in the shortlisting process.
The guidance states that “In addition, as part of the shortlisting process schools and colleges should consider carrying out an online search as part of their due diligence on the shortlisted candidates. This may help identify any incidents or issues that have happened, and are publicly available online, which the school or college might want to explore with the applicant at interview.”
This change in guidance aims to avoid historical events involving a teaching assistant from abroad. It became apparent that after the teaching assistant had been vetted and hired, that the relevant checks at the time did not show up previous offences. This was due to a law in the employee’s country stating that criminal offences committed under the age of 18 were removed from their criminal records after 10 years. The teaching assistant had committed a severe offence involving a child; however, this was not shown up in the checks carried out in the UK. The school followed all the rules and carried out the correct checks however this offence went a miss due to differing rules across countries.
Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance has stated that an online search would have shown up this information. A consultation revealed that most schools were already conducting some form of informal online search of candidates, therefore the guidance now reflects that this search should become part of the process rather than an informal non protocol task. The Department for Education has suggested that schools should use their own executive decision to conclude whether they have enough information to make an informed decision about the candidate’s employability.
When conducting online searches of candidates, it is courtesy to let the candidate know you will be doing this. The FusionHR team have suggested using the following wording on application forms to make applicants aware of this new check:
“KCSiE 2022 Online Searches
Schools are now required, as part of their shortlisting process to carry out an online search as part their due diligence. If shortlisted for the role an appropriate online search will be undertaken on your name(s). Any information given will be treated as confidential and will only be used in relation to the post for which you have applied.
I understand that an online search will be conducted on my name(s) if I am shortlisted for the above role, I am also aware that the school may want to explore anything they find with me at interview stage”
The search must only consider situations and information which may class as a safeguarding issue to children. Great care must be taken to avoid unconscious bias when conducting the searches as this may result in discrimination claims. When following the new guidance, you may find it easier if someone who is not on the interview panel to conduct the search and pass on only the relevant information of concern for consideration. These searches are only to be done at the shortlisting stage and not before. Anything relevant following the online searches can then be discussed at the interview.
Struggling to know where to start with the online searches?
Our team suggests using the candidates first and last name and searching this alongside keywords such as ‘crown court’, ‘magistrates court’ and ‘convicted’. It may also be a good idea to try search shortened versions of the candidate’s name such as ‘Liz’ for ‘Elizabeth’. Any preferred and previous names should also be used in the online search. Overseas candidates must provide a list of all countries they have visited, and the guidance suggests that a search of countries that the candidate has resided in for over 3 months be done. These searches can just be done on any search engine and there is not a requirement to dig into private, personal, and locked social media accounts. The information collected should be available to the public domain on any search engine and website. As an education provider conducting these searches, you should consider whether you have the capacity to conduct these searches in-house or you would like to use an external company. This choice is purely down to the school or college.
It has become apparent that many schools are unsure how far back these searches must go in order to pass due diligence checks within Ofsted’s inspection of the school’s single central record. Ofsted have stated that their inspections would not normally go into that level of detail with due diligence checks. The Ofsted handbook is due to be updated shortly.
Our Managing Director here at Fusion Education People Solutions, Kathryn Birch, states that our vision has always been creating better futures for children. Children’s education and futures are always at the heart of our solutions. That is why FACE-Ed has been created by Safer Recruitment Accredited Trainers and the software complies with Safer Recruitment and Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance. Learn more about FACE-Ed today.
If you’re interested in finding out more about these key changes, why not watch our webinar recording Key changes to Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE). Join Abbie Blogg, one our Accredited Safer Recruitment trainers to learn more and discuss the changes.