For all of us as educationalists, safeguarding is the number one priority. Recent developments, including the emergence of the ‘Everyone’s Invited’ website, demonstrate that as a sector there is still a lot to do to protect everyone. Indeed, this, together with a small but deeply concerning number of teacher misconduct cases relating to safeguarding or other issues over the last couple of months, has shown that we must all play our part in protecting pupils and staff, as well as the overall reputation of institutions that do such incredible work. The consequences of not getting this right are just unimaginable.
As experts in recruitment, we at Satis Education are committed to playing our part in this, by never letting up on ensuring a thorough and robust recruitment process for every single role at any level. Whilst recruitment is absolutely about attracting the widest and most talented pool of candidates to posts, it is also about careful process and due-diligence too. Trusts, schools, leaders, staff, parents and pupils fundamentally depend on this and often benefit greatly and gain peace of mind from expert advice in getting it right.
Not only do we put safeguarding at the heart of all we do, we also work to support trusts and schools to do the same during the recruitment process. That includes the obvious, such as supporting schools to manage DBS and careful referencing. It also includes putting safeguarding at the heart of the interview and assessment process, ensuring the candidates’ commitment and understanding in this area. We are now also doing a degree of additional background checks beyond the obvious, in partnership with trusts and schools, through reviewing the outcomes recent teacher misconduct hearings, ESFA reports on leadership and governance, and media articles.
Risks increase of course at a time when staff turnover may be high and where there are other pressures on leaders and teachers with management responsibility (particularly during the pandemic). Leaders must not lose their focus on this fundamental area, despite the pressures.
Indeed, when it comes to recruitment itself, at a challenging time when it’s harder to attract to leadership posts and when the premium on attracting top talent has never been higher, we must approach this together with a laser-eyed focus on safeguarding and due diligence. This isn’t something that should be compromised for a swifter or more financially efficient recruitment process. It should be thorough and done in partnership with experts, representing one of the most important investments you will make as a trust and/or school. It’s simply too high stakes not to.
Helen Stevenson is Director of Satis Education – a sector-leading executive recruitment agency.
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