Schools get a roasting from Cambridgeshire education chief for not always checking employment gaps, training history and time spent abroad in staff recruitment

Adrian Loades, Executive Director, Families and Adults.

Adrian Loades, Executive Director, Families and Adults. - Credit: Archant

Education chief Adrian Loades has warned heads and governors across Cambridgeshire that weaknesses continue to be identified in their recruitment of staff.

Adrian Loades, the county council’s executive director for children, families and adults services, says safeguarding issues in recruitment are not always being followed through.

He says an annual ‘safer recruitment’ external audit has revealed schools are still failing to check application forms sufficiently “to identify gaps in employment, training history and time spent abroad”.

Mr Loades says that while there has been a seven per cent increase in the number of schools given “substantial assurance” in their policies, the overall assurance level for 2014/15 is “moderate”. This essentially means that “whilst there is basically a sound system of control designed to address the relevant risks, there are weaknesses in the system”.

This says Mr Loades leaves some risks not addressed “and there is evidence of non-compliance with some of the controls”.

Key areas of weakness, he says, are|:

1: Job descriptions and person specifications.

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These do not always refer to safeguarding responsibilities. Safeguarding is something all employees needed to be engaged in “and not be allowed to work under the misapprehension that responsibility for safeguarding belongs to someone else”.

2: Review of application form.

Some schools were found to not always be checking application forms to identify employment gaps, history, and time abroad. He says that “failure to undertake this check thoroughly and follow up on gaps may place pupils and staff at risk”.

3: Shortlisting and interviewing

Weaknesses were identified in both the shortlisting and interview process. Mr Loades says in some schools “there was no evidence to confirm compliance with the requirement to have at least one recruitment panel member trained in safer recruitment.

“The risk is that schools may not be vigilant in identifying employees who may present a risk to pupils and staff.”

Schools have been sent a revised safety recruitment policy and Mr Loades says those not following it “are exposing themselves and their pupils to unnecessary levels of safeguarding risk as well as a significant risk of adverse inspection judgements”.

He adds: “It becomes increasingly difficult to understand why these risks are being taken and why the audit rating remains at moderate.”