KCSIE 2022 – Safer Recruitment and Online Searches

In this blog, our Head of Community Vikkey Chaffe discusses the new recruitment recommendation, outlined in Keeping Children Safe in Education, that ‘schools should consider online searches as part of their due diligence checks on shortlisted candidates.’

Keeping Children Safe in Education 2022

There were several updates in the statutory guidance, KCSIE, which came into effect in September 2022. One of the biggest changes was that of safer recruitment, and the introduction of internet searches for prospective candidates.

The guidance states:
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.

The Government Guidance, which forms the legal duties all schools in England must follow, uses both ‘must’ be followed and ‘should’ be followed throughout:

We use the terms “must” and “should” throughout the guidance. We use the term “must” when the person in question is legally required to do something and “should” when the advice set out should be followed unless there is good reason not to.

Internet searches fall under the ‘should’ category and as the guidance states, must be followed, unless there is a good reason not to. An organisation does not need a person's consent to carry out Google, social media or other online searches of a person. These searches should be performed as part of your safeguarding due diligence, to prevent and deter those individuals who are not suitable for working with children or young adults. Any online searches should be used to identify any incidents or issues that may have happened and are publicly available to view online.

"The focus of any online search should be “incidents or issues” that may cause concern regarding a candidate’s suitability to work with children. This may include, for example, offensive or inappropriate behaviour or language, drug or alcohol misuse, inappropriate images, discriminatory behaviour, and any other information that may raise concern as to an applicant’s suitability to work with children." - Harrison Clark Rickerbys Law 

These checks should be done on applicants that have been shortlisted only, and not on everyone that has applied for the post. They should be carried out before the interview so that any questions that arise as a result could be addressed during the interview process.

In the guidance, it doesn’t specifically name who should be the one to carry out these interviews but with the focus of unconscious biased, we recommend someone who isn’t involved in the interview process. If you have a Human Resources Department, it should be them who undertakes these checks as they will understand the process and any surrounding data protection laws.

However, if you don’t have a HR department, a member of your team should be given the correct training so that they might carry out the checks. You can also assign these checks to a third party online digital onboarding platforms, but you must have confidence in their own policies around data protection laws and ensure they do not go beyond the parameters set out by KCSIE.

What are you looking for?

There isn’t anything very clear within the guidance, other than looking for information that is publicly online. That would seem to mean that it should be information that could be found on a search engine. When searching, try to combine the person’s name with their location or current workplace, this will help to ensure that you are checking the correct person. You also must be sure that your searches aren’t excessive or take a substantial amount of time, it must be proportionate, ensuring every candidate search has an equal time spend. Ensure policies and processes are clear and followed for each recruitment process and that a template is in place, so that every candidate has the same report generated.

Sentry, For Safer Recruitment

Sentry for Safer Recruitment, from The Safeguarding Company provides an easy to follow workflow for all of the critical recruitment checks that schools need to complete before appointing someone as a member of staff, volunteer or school governor. Download the Sentry brochure

Posted Date

27th February 2023

Vikkey Chaffe
Head of Community Relations

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