25

References for Support Staff - and lack of......

Hi, can I please ask those in the School community how they deal with those people who are unable to supply 2 references.  We have a number of applicants who have been out of the work place for a number of years bringing up their children.

I have a case currently where an individual is able to provide me with one referee where she worked until 2016 (for about 3 years) but nothing prior to that as she has been out of the workplace for 15 years.

I need to confirm a start date as we are so short-staffed  and have everything else in place but our SR policy dictates that we must have 2 references from previous employers.  Can you please let me know what you do in your own Schools.

Thanks

13223 views
  • I know what I'd do. I'd simply employ them with one reference.
    (But then I'm not in a school). Perhaps you ought to ask the board of governors what to do?
  • Can they supply a reference from someone in the community who has known them for a reasonable period of time - maybe the headteacher at their childrens' school?
  • Is it a requirement to have two references? Do you have doubts about the candidate or their first reference? If neither of these apply, can you not employ with one reference?
  • In reply to Sam:

    Thank you all for your responses. It is a requirement to ask for 2 references from previous employment. Schools are very different (as I beginning to find out) in that all the checks need to be as water tight as can be, due to the safeguarding aspect concerning the children.

    I do find it so different as all gaps need to be explored on application forms, DBS needs to be cleared before they start (well in our school anyway) and if they have been working/living abroad for any time we have to request a local certificate of good conduct which can take an age depending on the country concerned.
    recruitment in Schools is not a simple process.

    If anyone has anything to add as to what you do in your own schools it would be really useful. thanks again
  • In reply to Sharon :

    Sharon

    I work in a different field but also have similar restrictions,and a need to get two employment references.

    We would if unable to get two references we will get a personal reference from someone who would be seen as 'upstanding' in the community.

    I am assuming she has been away from the work environment due to childcare, has she volunteered at her childs school, or any local groups who maybe able to help.

    If her time away from the workplace is not childcare, would the reason she was unable to work lead her to dealing with professionals, i.e. Dr's if in a caring capacity?

    Sharon
  • In reply to Sharon :

    I have a risk assessment form for this if you would be interested.
  • In reply to Sam:

    Yes, it is a requirement that Ofsted places on all schools and colleges.
  • In reply to Sharon :

    It's actually called an overseas police check, but well done on your school for requiring them, some schools seem to skip it (despite it being an Ofsted requirement) when they find out the individual can only apply for them in person back in their home country.
  • In reply to Paul:

    Thank you for you all taking the time to respond. So useful to know what other Schools are doing, particularly when relatively new to a School role.
    We do have a risk assessment, thanks Fiona, I guess they are all the same or similar anyway? I just worry when using these as it is ok everyone signing to say they are going to ensure the employee is accompanied at all times and not left alone with the children, in reality, particularly if the certificate /references take an age to come through, it isn't always practical.

    I will remember to use Overseas Police Check as explanation, Certificate of Good Conduct always receives a confused look from potential employees - thanks Paul. I have had a situation where the employee lived in Qatar for 4 years and I am still awaiting the Police Check. She had to go to London to the embassy etc. and I am still waiting for clearance, she has now settled in another role. That was about 6 months ago, so in reality the team could not watch her every move so we had to lose her. What have others done in this case? I guess use a risk assessment but is this not a risk in itself?

    Thanks again
  • In reply to Sharon :

    Hi Sharon

    The guidance says "should" carry out an overseas check, so it is not mandatory. Our MAT does request these and has an RA in place whilst waiting on the checks to come in, but what do you do for those countries that do not provide police checks, for example, Afghanistan? Would you not employ anyone who has lived/worked in that country?

    RE references - I have worked in several vetted industries, and must say, schools take a much more relaxed approach on references. Our MAT implemented a 5 year employment check (be it 1 or 10 employers), 2 personal references who have known the individual for at least 5 years (not a family member or previous employer), any education (university, college etc) or volunteer work references in the last 5 years. Failing that, if someone was not working, we ask if they can go to the job center and confirm period of claiming benefits etc or if their doctor can confirm how long they have been on their books. If an employer does not give a reference we ask for a copy of contracts and/or payslips. My take is a references is to a) check for any known safeguarding issues (which should be on NCTL), and b) check declarations made on an application form.
  • In reply to Kimberly:

    I think you need to re-read the advice, the use of "should" does not mean it's not mandatory, it actually means "you need to do this!" otherwise you will get the situation of someone coming to the UK and has been here for say 4 months who then applies for a job with a school as a TA, and has a clear DBS for their time in the UK, what you didn't know is the person is a convicted paedophile in their home country, currently wanted by police in other countries for offences committed and has fake references. Unlikely? well no because it has actually happened on more than one occassion. There is a reason for Safeguarding!
  • In reply to Kimberly:

    Really helpful, thanks Kimberly,
  • In reply to Paul:

    Completely agree with you Paul, but the guidance doesn't say it's a "must" to carry out these checks (there's many examples of this throughout the guidance). As said, unfortunately some countries do not or cannot provide these checks and we cannot discount those from these countries as candidates.

    Some in the sector do not understand why these checks are needed (I have found agencies a bit of a problem), especially if a DBS is present, and don't even think to look into whether those who hold a UK passport need a check.

    And this 5 year rule that all seem to work to baffles me as there's no reference to a timeframe anywhere in the guidance.

    We have contacted the DfE and Ofsted on these points and no one will commit to us in writing as the wording in the guidance is open for arguement. It is quite worrying given this is all for safeguarding purposes!
  • In reply to Paul:

    Hi Paul thanks for your response. I would have thought though that if someone were to come to our School who has only been in the UK for 4 months we would absolutely insist on a local police check as we don't have the 5 year UK address history.
    My confusions comes with those employees who have lived/worked in the UK for say 10 years and then we apply for the DBS, to be told that a local police check needs to be carried out. I have had a situation this week where the candidate has lived in the UK from the age of 4 (in her 30's) but we were asked to provide a LPC.
  • In reply to Sharon :

    Hi Sharon

    Asked by whom to provide a local police check? - sounds like officious officialdom gone totally bonkers! (As they can and often sadly do)