The welfare of children and the provision of high-quality education are top priorities in the education sector. A key part of this is hiring the right staff — exceptional individuals who can provide the care and compassion necessary to safeguard students. Failure to do so can have disastrous consequences.

The Importance of Reference Checks in Education

A thorough and meticulous recruitment process is vital, and reference checks are an essential part of this process. Not only do reference checks ensure there are no unsavoury surprises in a candidate’s background, they also offer a chance to learn important information about an applicant's professionalism, work ethic, and suitability for the role.

In this article, we’ll look at the importance of reference checks in the education sector, what parts of a candidate’s background need to be checked, and how reference checking software can help.

Why are reference checks important?

Reference checks are important in the education sector for several reasons. First of all, they help to verify the applicant's qualifications, skills, and experience as stated in their CV and application form. This is especially crucial for teaching roles, as they require specialised subject knowledge and teaching methodologies. Skills, abilities, experience, attitude, and behaviours must all be checked to ensure the right fit.

Secondly, reference checks provide an assessment of the candidate’s character, work ethic, and ability to collaborate effectively with colleagues and students. Potential problem areas, such as disciplinary problems, poor work ethic, or a lack of dedication to professional development, can and must be found out before an offer is made. 

Last, and perhaps most importantly, reference checks can uncover any allegations of inappropriate behaviour or past or present misconduct, which could raise concerns about an applicant's suitability for working with children. Reference checks are an incredibly important tool for schools and educational institutions to use in protecting children from harm.

What checks are necessary in education?

As well as carrying out standard checks, educators must also conduct special background checks when employing people to work with children. These checks should include:

  • Employment references: Verify the candidate has worked where they say they have, including their current employer, which should be completed by a senior person with appropriate authority;
  • Candidate’s identity: Obviously, you must make sure the person is who they say they are, and this will involve checking their birth certificate (more advice can be found here);
  • Right to work: All employers in the United Kingdom have a legal obligation to try to prevent illegal labour. Conducting right to work checks before hiring new employees is part of fulfilling this responsibility. This also shields yours from legal liability if it is discovered that you employed someone who should not be working (find out more about right to work checks here);
  • Enhanced DBS checks: In the United Kingdom, anyone involved in regulated activity with children must undergo an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, which includes a check against the Children's Barred List. This is an important safeguard to keep children safe from harm. Although DBS checks are now largely digital (you can read more about them here), do note that you must still obtain the original physical certificate when using the DBS update service;
  • Children’s barred list check: This is only necessary if someone plans to begin working with children in regulated activities before the DBS certificate is available.
  • Professional qualifications: Verification of the completion of teacher induction or probation, as well as any award of qualified teacher status (QTS), should be done through the Employer Access Service provided by the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA);
  • Online checks: As well as checking for inappropriate social media use, Keeping Children Safe in Education statutory guidance recommends searching for candidates online for anything that might not show up in other checks. This government site has a particular horror story concerning the failure to do this.

How reference checking software can help

As we have seen, many important checks need to be carried out in the education sector, all of which take time and resources. Thankfully, this can be made simpler and more effective with the help of reference checking software, also referred to as automated employment reference checking software. 

Gone are the days of spending hours chasing up references and waiting weeks to complete them. Now, automated reference checking software can complete them in mere hours, all the while ensuring complete accuracy and compliance. Read our guide on how to get started with reference checking software here.

Don’t leave your reference checks to chance, especially in sensitive areas like education. Automated reference checking software is your best chance to safeguard your pupils, educators, and organisation and saves you weeks of waiting. Already trusted by over 12,000 companies, RefNow streamlines your reference checks, freeing up staff to take on other important duties. 

Packed with cutting-edge features, you won’t believe how you managed without it! Book a demo today and get five free checks.

If you would like to learn more about how RefNow's automated Employment Referencing software can help your organisation, reach out to us today and get your first 5 checks free.