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Safer recruitment- Supply teacher with gaps in employment history

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by MrsWoo1969, Sep 18, 2017.

  1. MrsWoo1969

    MrsWoo1969 New commenter

    HI- I am a newly appointed head teacher working in the independent special school sector. I am in the process of recruiting a new teacher and several applicants have gaps in their employment history because they have been doing supply teaching for a number of years... I am not sure how this fits in with the Safer Recruitment legislation... Of course I know that being an experienced supply teacher does not mean someone is sinister or suspicious but how do I ensure I am following the guidance? Any thoughts or advice appreciated!
  2. thekillers1

    thekillers1 Lead commenter

    If the supply teacher was with numerous supply agencies, ask for references from the supply agencies. For example: Teaching Personnel and Capita offer references which focuses on safeguarding and a general or generic grading from schools, re. Performance and service. If they don't, you could ask for the list of schools they have supplied, including any safeguarding concerns mentioned.
  3. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide


    @the killers advice is good.

    I'm not sure though why you describe doing supply teaching as "gaps in their employment history". Surely it just means they have lots of employers in their employment history?

    There's no 'one size' fits all' answer. A pattern of supply where the teacher had hundreds of one or two day supply contracts is very different to a teacher whose supply was a term each at a handful of schools.

    Safer recruitment legislation doesn't really help you with this. Nor does the statutory guidance "Keeping Children Safe in Education" - paras 108 -11 deal specifically with references. The more recent the lack of references the more significant it should be for you.

    Bear in mind the guidance in para 86 of KCSIE:

    Governing bodies and proprietors must act reasonably in making decisions about the suitability of the prospective employee based on checks and evidence including criminal record checks (DBS checks), barred list checks and prohibition checks together with references and interview information.
    So you need to look at what you know about the candidate in totality.

    At my school (I'm a Chair of Governors and Safeguarding Governor btw, not a head) anything in the applicant's record which is less than "ideal" - a minor conviction maybe, not having DBS info for work overseas, periods for which no reference can be obtained, starting work before all references or DBS is obtained - is always formally risk assessed and signed off by the head. The risk assessment form is kept in the staff file. Your HR advisers should be able to give you an appropriate risk assessment template. In my experience when Ofsted came and checked our recruitment procedures they were not concerned if we had recruited someone without 'perfect' information, but very concerned if there was no written record to show formal risk assessment and sign off by head.

  4. install

    install Star commenter

    Ask the candidates about any 'gaps' and take it from there :cool:
    Moony likes this.
  5. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Just a thought - but some teachers do supply direct with schools (I did for a while) and may have gaps between spells of teaching (I did). Not sure how one can 'account' for this...
  6. MrsWoo1969

    MrsWoo1969 New commenter

    thanks that's helpful- will the supply agency be able to give me a complete list of all the jobs the candidate has done for them? Would it be reasonable to ask for this as part of the references? The candidate has given separate referees from some of the schools where they have worked but none of these are for longer than a month at a time.
  7. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Supply teaching should not be a 'gap' as people are employed.
    Either the agency or a school should be able to give you a reference if they are vaguely recent.

    I have a couple of real gaps and have been asked about them after an interview has been concluded, but before a decision has been made by the panel. I can explain both and so have done.
    EmanuelShadrack likes this.
  8. Moony

    Moony Lead commenter

    How big are the gaps? There may be dry spells with work and supplies can fall through the cracks every now and then. Just ask them.
  9. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    If you have suspicions that a candidate may have held other positions that, for whatever reason, they are choosing not to declare on their application, you can request to see tax records for that period to confirm they were not earning from an undisclosed employer.

    I used to work in a different profession where this was standard practice for confirming periods of unemployment (and to check that candidates were not just attempting to avoid references being requested from employment left under less-than-ideal circumstances...)
    EmanuelShadrack likes this.
  10. MrsWoo1969

    MrsWoo1969 New commenter

    I haven't seen their record yet- the candidates in question have put on their application form "supply teaching' against a number of years in their history, naming the agency but not giving any further information...
  11. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    That's because the agency is the employer for the whole period.

    A did a couple of years of supply whilst studying, I've never named every school I worked at during that period on an application, just my actual employer.
    Moony and caterpillartobutterfly like this.
  12. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    That's what I write for the supply teaching years. They were a while ago and no-one has asked about them for years now. When they were more recent, the agency provided a reference, as did a couple of schools.
    Pomz likes this.
  13. captain scarlet

    captain scarlet Established commenter

    I've been a supply teacher, primarily self employed for ten years. IT suits my homelife and my hobbies. Would
    MrsWoo1969 say that this was a gap? Furthermore, to itemise every school and placement on the form would cause uproar [1/4 of a rainforest just to supply the paper], I have recently applied for a contract position, again it suits, a part time post, If the head wishes to follow references then they should, that is why the section is there. I might have put on the form, they can contact any school listed, [36] if they wish, but many teachers who knew me would have left or retired. There is also the DBS, if anything unlawful was done it could well be picked up by that. I currently subscribe to the update service, £13 per year [tax deductable], which is better than the £50 per year/agency/position it would normally cost.
    MrsWoo1969 I would suggest, get them in for the interview, [if they are a suitable candidate] and ask them to be a little more precise.
  14. MrsWoo1969

    MrsWoo1969 New commenter

    Thanks everyone- that's really helpful advice.
  15. Moony

    Moony Lead commenter

    Yeah, I've had to do the same to save space on my CV.
    Pomz likes this.
  16. Moony

    Moony Lead commenter

    That's not a gap, the agency was their employer. Not every supply teacher works long term supply. On daily supply it is completely possible to work in as many different schools are there are working days in a month depending on how many schools are in your supply patch.

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