Step 3 - Offering employment and pre-employment checks

Once you have your preferred candidate, you must make a conditional offer of employment.

Normally this is done verbally and then confirmed in writing.

To comply with Keeping Children Safe in Education, all offers of employment must be conditional upon satisfactory completion of pre-employment checks.

Even verbal offers are legally binding so make sure you tell the candidate that the offer is conditional on satisfactory completion of all pre-employment checks including references, health and criminal record checking.

When making a verbal offer, discuss:

  • a possible starting date (find out how much notice they need to give to their current employer)
  • starting salary, where there is room for negotiation
  • when they can provide any missing information or documentation that they didn’t bring to the  interview, such as proof of identity, right to work, qualification certificates etc

Once a verbal offer has been made, follow up promptly with a conditional offer letter.

See templates:

The conditional offer letter contains instructions for the successful candidate to forward their P45 to the school when it’s available. If a P45 is not available, candidates are asked to complete HMRC’s Starter Checklist form . Once this form is received by the school it should be sent to payroll.

For maintained schools please send to:

Hampshire County Council
IBC Transaction HR & Pay
1st Floor EII East
Winchester
SO23 8UB

At this point the school will need to assess the candidates suitability for work and carry out pre-employment checks.

How to conduct pre-employment checks

No-one should start work before all pre-employment checks are complete and must not start until at least their identity and right to work in the UK has been verified.

A candidate can start prior to the receipt of a DBS check, however they should not be left unsupervised and a Risk Assessment (docx format, 72Kb) must be carried out, to consider the risks and any measures that can be put in place to mitigate those risks.

Where the person is eligible to be checked against the Children’s Barred List (or, exceptionally in Residential Special Schools, the Adults Barred List), they must not start work until this check has been carried out. This can be done pending receipt of the DBS check.

The following section provides details of the pre-employment checks to be completed:

Application form

A completed application form provides the school with the information they require in order to shortlist a person for interview and acts as an applicant’s signed and dated declaration of their qualifications, skills and experience.  Online forms should always be signed at interview.

The form should show a complete employment history since the individual left full-time education and account for any gaps in employment. Applicants are also required to disclose details of any criminal convictions on the application form.

A fully completed application form must be retained on the personnel file.

Identity

It is vital that schools are certain that the person they intend to employ is the person they claim to be and must see sufficient evidence to satisfy themselves of this.

Photographic evidence that includes a date of birth e.g. passport or driving license is the most suitable form of identification.

If these are not available you should ask to see at least three documents that show the individuals name and address and/or date of birth (e.g. utility bill, paper driving license, birth certificate).

For further guidance on checking identity see www.gov.uk.

A copy of the documents should be kept on the employees file and details recorded on the Single Central record.

Right to work

The Home Office Right to Work checklist shows the acceptable documents to verify an individual's right to work.

List A and List B

These lists outline the document(s) that provide evidence of a person's right to work in the UK. You need view only one original document from either list. You do not need to view document(s) from both lists. Any relevant documentation must be photocopied and retained on the individual's personnel file.

When verifying documents you must check the following:

  • any photographs contained in the document(s) are consistent with the appearance of the employee
  • date of birth is consistent with other documentation
  • expiry dates of any limited leave to enter or remain in the UK have not passed
  • UK Government endorsements (stamps, visa's, etc) to see if the individual is able to do the type of work you are offering
  • satisfy yourself that the documents are genuine and have not been tampered with, and belong to the holder
  • if the individual provides you with two documents that have different names, ask them for a further document to explain this (e.g. marriage certificate, divorce decree, deed poll or statutory declaration).

You must make a clear copy of each document in a format which cannot later be altered, and retain the copy securely: electronically or in hard copy. You must copy and retain:-

  • Passports: any page with the document expiry date, nationality, date of birth, signature, leave expiry date, biometric details and photograph, and any page containing information indicating the holder has an entitlement to enter or remain in the UK and undertake the work in question.
  • All other documents: the document in full, both sides of a Biometric Residence Permit.

If you have correctly carried out the three steps (obtain; check; and copy) you will have an excuse against liability for a civil penalty if the person is found to be working for you illegally. However, you need to know whether you have a continuous or time-limited excuse, as this determines how long it lasts for and if/when you are required to do a follow-up check.

If the documents that you have checked and copied are from:

  • List A: You have a continuous statutory excuse for the full duration of the person's employment with you. You are not required to carry out any repeat right to work checks on the individual.
  • List B (Group 1): You have a time-limited statutory excuse which expires when the person's permission to be in the UK and undertake the work in question expires. You should carry out a follow-up check when the document evidencing their permission to work expires.
  • List B (Group 2): You have a time-limited statutory excuse which expires 6 months from the date specified in the Positive Verification Notice. This means you should carry out a follow-up check when this notice expires.

For further guidance please see the Home Office Website

Childrens barred list

To be eligible to request a check of the Children’s Barred List a person must be working in regulated activity. It is an offence to request a check of the barred lists for a role that is not eligible for one.

A flow chart (pdf format, 198Kb) is available to assist schools in determining whether or not an individual is in regulated activity.

Regulated activity is defined as:

  1. Teaching, training, instructing, caring for (see (3) below) or supervising children if the person is unsupervised, or providing advice or guidance on well-being, or driving a vehicle only for children, or
  2. Work for a limited range of establishments (known as ‘specified places’, which include schools and colleges), with the opportunity for contact with children, but not including work done by supervised volunteers– see separate guidance below on ‘supervision’ criteria for volunteers; or
  3. Relevant personal care or health care provided under the supervision of a health care a professional:
  • personal care includes helping a child, for reasons of age, illness or disability, with eating or drinking, or in connection with toileting, washing, bathing and dressing;
  • health care means care for children provided by, or under the direction or supervision of, a regulated health care professional.

Work under (1) or (2) is regulated activity only if done “regularly”, and regularly is defined as

  • frequently (once a week or more often) or
  • intensively (on 4 or more days in a 30 day period), or
  • overnight (between 2 - 6 am) even once, and with an opportunity for face-to-face contact with children

Work under (3) is always considered to be regulated activity, even if only done once.

How do I conduct the check?

If the applicant is eligible for a Children’s Barred List check, this should be requested when applying for an Enhanced DBS (criminal record) check. This can be done by selecting ‘Children’s Barred List check’ when initiating an online DBS application

If, exceptionally, the school needs the applicant to start work before the DBS disclosure has been received, a separate (standalone) check of the Children’s Barred List should be requested ONLY where eligibility to undertake the check has been determined by the school. The applicant must be subject to supervision until the DBS disclosure is received - please contact the DBS support team in the IBC for more information.

DBS checks

Hampshire IBC now process all DBS checks on behalf of Oxfordshire County Council.

To request a DBS Check complete the DBS Check Initiation Form

For further information see the DBS page

With effect from 17 June 2013, the DBS will only issue DBS certificates to the applicant – the employer will not receive a copy. The school must ask the applicant to bring in their original disclosure certificate so that the relevant details can be recorded on the Single Central record.

Overseas Criminal Record Check

Overseas Criminal Record checks are required for roles that are eligible for DBS checks and where the individual has spent over three months abroad (in one country), within the last five years and they were over age 16.

The individual is responsible for applying for this check. See GOV.UK Criminal records checks for overseas applicants for information on how to apply.

Overseas clearance issued before the individual came to the UK may be accepted.

Academic and Professional Qualifications

Schools must verify that a potential employee has achieved the qualifications that they claim in their application by viewing each original qualification or a properly certified copy of those documents.

If a candidate achieved their qualifications overseas they will need to contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC) who will be able to confirm equivalence of qualifications obtained overseas.

For teachers, if an employer is in any doubt about the authenticity of a qualification, they can check with the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL). The NCTL, as part of their Employee Access Service, can provide schools with confirmation of whether their teachers hold QTS.

Teacher status checks

Teacher Services should be used before appointing a teacher to check for:

  • the award of QTS (Qualified Teacher Status)
  • completion of teacher induction
  • prohibitions, sanctions and restrictions that might prevent the individual from taking part in certain activities or working in specific positions
  • Restrictions on teachers from EEA member states

Teacher checks can be carried out by logging in to the Dfe Secure Access Service. The school will need to be registered to use the Employer Access Service.

Print outs of the checks should be retained on the personnel file.  

Please also see the government guidance on Teacher status checks: information for employers

Qualified Teacher status and Induction standards

Anybody appointed or engaged to teach in a maintained school or non-maintained special school in England must be a qualified teacher and must have satisfactorily completed the induction period and met the induction standards.

QTLS holders who have full professional status with (are a member of) the IfL are recognised as qualified teachers, and should be treated as such for the purposes of pre-employment checks.

You will either need to see original (or certified copies) of the QTS certificate  and Induction Certificate or a print-out of the DfE Secure Access service confirmation and retain copies on the personnel file.

National College for Teaching and Leadership prohibited list

The NCTL holds a list of all those teachers who have been prohibited from teaching. This may be a temporary or permanent prohibition order issued by the NCTL themselves, or may be a suspension or conditional order imposed by the GTCE (prior to its abolition) that is still current.

Restrictions on teachers from EEA member states

From 18 January 2016, restrictions or sanctions on teachers that have been imposed by teaching profession regulators of other EEA member states will be viewable on the DfE Secure Access system. This will be in the form of a separate list on the system.

If the individual does NOT appear on the list – record this on the school’s Single Central Record.

If the individual DOES appear on the list – see below.

What to do if a potential new teacher appears on the list:

Whilst such a restriction/sanction does not currently prevent the person from taking up a teaching position, as part of normal pre-employment checks and to determine their suitability for the position in the school, schools should obtain further information about the circumstances leading to this decision. Schools should contact the EEA regulator responsible for the decision to obtain more information about the reasons for imposing the sanction/restriction. In such a case, please contact the Education Personnel Service for advice. Where a decision is made to employ the individual please inform NCTL immediately, including the date they will begin work, by emailing Misconduct.Teacher@education.gsi.gov.uk or calling 0207 593 5393.

Prohibition from management check - free schools and academies only

Prohibition from management in independent schools including academies and free schools – Section 128 Barring Direction

The revised version of Keeping Children Safe in Education advises independent schools, including academies and free schools, that individuals engaged in ‘management roles’ must be subject to an additional pre-employment check to make sure they are not prohibited from taking part in the management of the school.

Whilst we understand that this requirement comes from the Education and Skills Act 2008 and therefore is not a new requirement, it has not previously appeared in the required pre-employment checks for staff in Keeping Children Safe in Education. Furthermore, we are also aware that until last year no mechanism existed for schools to be able to carry out this additional pre-employment check.

What is a Section 128 Barring Direction?

A Section 128 Direction prohibits or restricts a person from taking part in the management of an independent school, including academies and free schools. A person who is prohibited is unable to participate in any management of this type of school.

Who is covered by this check?

The scope of ‘management roles’ includes:

  • a management position as an employee e.g. Headteacher or Principal; Deputy/Assistant Headteacher; or
  • a trustee of an academy or free school trust; or
  • a governor or member of a proprietor body for an independent school; or
  • a governor on any governing body in an independent school, academy or free school that retains or has been delegated any management responsibilities.

Classroom teachers and support staff are not covered by this legislation.

How can the check be carried out?

A check for a Section 128 Direction can be carried out using the NCTL’s ‘Teacher Services’ system, following the steps below:

  1. Log into the NCTL Teacher Services (Secure Access) system. If you do not have a login, go to the ‘First time here’ link on the Secure Access login page.
  2. Select ‘Teacher Services - Employers'
  3. Select ‘Section 128 Barring Directions’ – this will take you to a list of names and details of individuals who are subject to a Section 128 Barring Direction
  4. Review the list for the name of the individual you are checking
  5. If the individual does not appear on the list – record this on the pre-employment checklist under section 11C and the school’s Single Central Record
  6. If the individual does appear on the list – contact EPS for further advice.

Where an Enhanced DBS certificate has been obtained, and this included a check of the Children’s Barred List, the certificate will also detail whether the individual is subject to a Section 128 Direction. In these circumstances, a separate check using the Teacher Services system does not need to be carried out. Instead steps 5 and 6 should be followed above.

Action to be taken by all academies and free schools:

New appointments:

When appointing an applicant to a management position, you must check that the person is not subject to a Section 128 Barring Direction.

Existing staff:

Where a Section 128 Direction check was not carried out on appointment you are advised to retrospectively carry out this check. Whilst it is our understanding that there is currently only one person on the list, you are advised to check that name against your current staff using the Teacher Services system (using the instructions above), and then update your school’s Single Central Record (see below for what should be recorded).

Single Central Record:

Section 128 checks must be recorded on your Single Central Record. If the individual is not subject to a Section 128 Direction enter ‘Section 128 restrictions check: Clear’ and the date on which the check was completed. For individuals not in a management position, and therefore not subject to the check, ‘N/A’ should be recorded on the SCR.

For further advice, please contact the EPS Helpdesk on 02380 383500.

Health

It is important to ensure individuals are physically and mentally fit to do the job before a firm offer of employment is made and they start work. This is established by:

  • Medical Check
  • References

Medical checks

Successful candidates who have been given a conditional offer of employment must undergo a medical assessment before starting work. Fit4Jobs is an online assessment service. This should be undertaken at the same time as the DBS application process.

Schools will have a separate login from the Occupational Health login. Both services are managed by People Asset Management (PAM).

Some candidates may require a full occupational health assessment as a result of information they provide on the Fit4Jobs questionnaire, this report will be available to the school on the OHIO system.

Health references

It is unlawful for employers to ask health-related questions of applicants before a conditional job offer, unless the questions are specifically related to an intrinsic function of the work.

It is also unlawful to ask health related questions of referees prior to a conditional job offer.

Once a conditional offer has been made, the school can then contact the candidate’s referees for health information. This can be provided in writing by the referee or it can be taken verbally over the phone from the referees. A record must be kept on the Personnel file.

If the health references raises any concerns or provides information that contradicts that obtained from the Health Declaration, this should immediately be brought to the attention of Occupational Health.

Use the post offer reference request pro-forma (doc format, 33Kb)

Driving Licence (if applicable)

Guidance

Some employees may be required to hold a driving licence at the appropriate level to undertake certain parts of their role – e.g. if they are the mini-bus driver, or using their own car for school business.

The full driving licence can be used as evidence with a copy retained on the personnel file. You will need to check that the employee is allowed to drive the size of vehicle required of them, based on the categories permitted on their licence and their age. You can find more about this on gov.uk.

Driving at Work policy (pdf format, 45Kb).

Disqualification checks in relation to the Child care act 2006

All staff who are employed to work in early years settings or who provide care in after schools clubs or breakfast clubs (including the manager or head teacher) for children under 8 must disclose anything that is a relevant offense (defined within the 2006 act) or must disclose where they live with someone who has a relevant offense as defined by 2006 child care act.

Please read the guidance on Disqualification under the Childcare Act 2009 (Update March 2015) issued by the Safeguarding team to check which staff are covered by the legislation as it is crucial that only those staff are asked to disclose information.

The guidance contains a template self-declaration form which can be used.

For more information please also read the DfE guidance on the application of the Childcare (Disqualification) regulations 2009 and related obligations under the Childcare Act 2006 in schools.

Pre-employment checks for jobs in schools

The following section state which checks need to be carried out for each job type in a school. All checks should be recorded on the schools single record.

Teachers

  • Identity documents – copy and store on personal file
  • Fully completed application form
  • References
  • Health Check
  • Enhanced DBS check with barred list check.
  • Prohibition order check (or have GTC number/check if employed prior to April 2012).
  • Check on restrictions from EEA member states
  • Qualifications
  • Induction Standards check
  • Details recorded on Schools Central record

Overseas Police check - If the teacher has lived or worked abroad (even if they are a UK citizen) they must also have a police check undertaken from the country or countries where they lived if this was for a period of more than 3 months and within the last 5 years.

For non UK citizens evidence of the right to work in the UK would be needed as well.

Teaching assistants

  • Identity documents – copy and store on personal file
  • Enhanced DBS check with barred list check
  • Fully completed application form
  • References
  • Health Check
  • Details recorded on Schools Central record

Overseas Police check - If the employee has lived or worked abroad (even if they are a UK citizen) they must also have a police check undertaken from the Country or Countries where they lived if this was for a period of more than 3 months and within the last 5 years.

For non UK citizens evidence of the right to work in the UK would be needed as well.

Volunteers

There are two forms of volunteers, those who are in regulated activity and those that are not. For further guidance on regulated activity see Annex D of the DfE guidance: Keeping Children Safe in Education (2015):

For those in regulated activity:

  • Identity documents – copy and store on personal file
  • Enhanced DBS check with barred list check.
  • Details recorded on Schools Central record

Volunteers should still complete an application form.

For those not in regulated activity:

  • Identity documents – copy and store on personal file
  • Enhanced DBS check without barred list check* (Optional)
  • Details recorded on Schools Central record

They should never be a lone with children and must be constantly supervised by a staff member. If this supervision is in place they do not need any formal checks but still need to be recorded on the schools central record and complete an application form.

*Schools can choose to undertake a DBS check on volunteers not in regulated activity but these would be enhanced checks without a barred list check. To undertake a barred list check on someone not in regulated activity would be unlawful.

Governors

Governors are volunteers so depending on whether they engage in regulated activity or not the following applies.

For those in regulated activity:

  • Identity documents – copy and store on personal file
  • Enhanced DBS check with barred list check.
  • Details recorded on Schools Central record

Volunteers should still complete an application form.

For those not in regulated activity:

  • Identity documents – copy and store on personal file
  • Enhanced DBS check without barred list check
  • Details recorded on Schools Central record

They should never be a lone with children and must be constantly supervised by a staff member. If this supervision is in place they do not need any formal checks but still need to be recorded on the schools central record and complete an application form.

Contractors

Schools and colleges should always check the identity of contractors and their staff on arrival at the school or college.

Schools and colleges should  also ensure that any contractor, or any employee of the contractor, who is to work at the school or college has been subject to the appropriate level of DBS check.

Contractors engaging in regulated activity

  • Check identity on arrival
  • Enhanced DBS check with barred list check.

Contractors not engaging in regulated activity but whose work provides them with an opportunity for regular contact with children:

  • Check identity on arrival
  • Enhanced DBS check without barred list check.

In considering whether the contact is regular, it is irrelevant whether the contractor works on a single site or across a number of sites.

Under no circumstances should a contractor in respect of whom no checks have been obtained be allowed to work unsupervised, or engage in regulated activity. Schools and colleges are responsible for determining the appropriate level of supervision depending on the circumstances.

If a contractor working at a school or college is self-employed, the school or college should consider obtaining the DBS check, as self-employed people are not able to make an application directly to the DBS on their own account.

Suppy/agency and third party staff

A school should seek written confirmation from the supply agency that the member of staff has carried out the relevant checks (as per teacher requirements) and the dates that these checks were done. This written record should be stored as an appendix to the central record but details of supply staff should also be entered onto the central record.

Trainee/student teachers

Where applicants for initial teacher training are salaried by the school or college, the school or college must ensure that all necessary checks are carried out as per Teachers above.

Where trainee teachers are fee-funded it is the responsibility of the initial teacher training provider to carry out the necessary checks, schools should obtain written confirmation from the training provider that these checks have been carried out and that the trainee has been judged by the provider to be suitable to work with children. There is no requirement for the school to record details of fee-funded trainees on the single central record.

In Oxfordshire we have a virtual safeguarding panel to consider any positive disclosure on a student DBS before we allow entry to the school

Caretakers

  • Application form completed
  • References
  • Health Check
  • Identity checks
  • Enhanced DBS check with barred list check.
  • Details recorded on Schools Central record

Overseas Police check - If the teacher has lived or worked abroad (even if they are a UK citizen) they must also have a police check undertaken from the Country or Countries where they lived if this was for a period of more than 3 months and within the last 5 years.

For non UK citizens evidence of the right to work in the UK would be needed as well.

Mid-day supervisors

  • Application form completed
  • References
  • Health Check
  • Identity checks
  • Enhanced DBS check with barred list check.
  • Details recorded on Schools Central record

Overseas Police check - If the teacher has lived or worked abroad (even if they are a UK citizen) they must also have a police check undertaken from the Country or Countries where they lived if this was for a period of more than 3 months and within the last 5 years.

For non UK citizens evidence of the right to work in the UK would be needed as well.

Office staff

  • Enhanced DBS check without barred list check* (Optional)
  • Application form completed
  • References
  • Health Check
  • Identity checks
  • Details recorded on Schools Central record

*Most office staff will not be in regulated activity and do not require an Enhanced DBS but can still have one undertaken although without a barred list check. Details recorded on central record.

Cleaners

  • Application form completed
  • References
  • Health Check
  • Identity checks
  • Enhanced DBS check without barred list check*
  • Details recorded on Schools Central record

Overseas Police check - If the teacher has lived or worked abroad (even if they are a UK citizen) they must also have a police check undertaken from the Country or Countries where they lived if this was for a period of more than 3 months and within the last 5 years.

For non UK citizens evidence of the right to work in the UK would be needed as well.

Making a firm offer of employment

On satisfactory completion of all pre-employment checks, promptly write to the individual to let them know and confirm a firm offer. Example templates provided below.  

Dealing with Unsatisfactory Pre-employment Checks

A verbal or written offer of employment, once accepted, is a legal contract between the employer and the candidate.

Some pre-employment checks are a legal requirement in schools, so it is therefore important that you always make offers of employment conditional upon satisfactory pre-employment and medical checks. Including ‘conditional’ means the offer is conditional upon that criteria being met and if that criteria is not met, a contract has not been formed. This has significant bearing on the risks attached to withdrawing an offer should the need arise.

Certain pre-employment checks are carried out at different points in the recruitment process.

If any pre-employment checks are unsatisfactory you must decide if the conditional offer of employment should be withdrawn. Occasionally this may be a clear and obvious decision but in some cases, the decision may need to take account of a range of factors and a risk assessment approach followed.

For example where criminal offences are disclosed, or concerns about the individual’s fitness to carry out the role, carrying out a risk assessment can help the school make a decision about the individual’s suitability. Where a school is considering withdrawing a conditional offer of employment or terminating employment it is recommended that they seek HR advice. 

Setting up a personnel file / record

Before the individual starts in employment, you must:

  • Ensure the individual is set up to be paid correctly through your payroll system. For IBC users please complete and submit a starter form, which can be found in the Schools Folder, under “Staffing Forms” and “Manage Starter”
  • Schools may find this New Employee details form (docx format, 18Kb) useful to send to the employee to gather information to complete the IBC starter form. 
  • Ensure a statement of particulars is sent to the individual either by your payroll provider if this is part of their service, or issued yourself. For IBC users contracts will be sent to the school Office e-mail address to be checked and then issued to the employee by the school
  • Set up a personnel file, using the following templates:
  • Enter their details on the school’s single central record
  • Ensure you make a note of any future dates when you need to take action regarding this employee (your bring-forward system). For IBC users, alerts will come through in your task list to remind you ahead of any future actions required

Single Central Record guidance

A Single Central Record (SCR) is a single spreadsheet-style document that holds records of the pre-employment checks carried out for all staff and regular volunteers in the school. This record is required by the DofE and will be checked by Ofsted as part of their inspection of safer recruitment.

Here is a Single Central Record template (xlsx format, Kb) you can use

You can choose to order staff alphabetically or by job type. You may wish to use different tabs on the spreadsheet for different job roles (e.g. teaching, support, volunteers) or you can hold all the details on one work sheet. Whatever format you choose bear in mind that Ofsted sometimes ask for a printed copy of the Single Central Record.

Unsuccessful candidates at interview stage

Inform unsuccessful candidates as soon as you can, but usually after your preferred candidate has verbally accepted your offer. It’s  good practice to phone the candidate first  with the news and then follow up in writing.

You may be asked for feedback from candidates. Plan what you are going to say. Use the notes made at the interview to feedback against the person specification.

A follow up letter should be sent to confirm the candidate was unsuccessful.

Records retention

All paperwork gathered as part of the recruitment exercise must be kept confidentially for a period of 12 months after the interview date to ensure that if there are any claims raised, the school can rely on its records to justify its judgement. This includes:

  • The advert
  • The job description/person specification or role profile
  • The candidate application pack
  • The completed application forms
  • Shortlisting notes and grid
  • Invite to interview letters
  • Interview notes
  • Notes of any feedback provided