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Safer Recruitment Guidance

A guide to assist employers in the selection of safe adults working with children.

The CYSCP would like to acknowledge the work of the North Lincolnshire SCB for use of this guidance.

For further information and updates in regard to safer recruitment and education please contact Caroline Wood, Safeguarding Advisor - Education.



The standards have been developed in accordance with the guidance within:

Working Together to Safeguard Children (2018)

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) guidance

Care Standards Act 2000

Keeping Children Safe in Education

Department of Health

NSPCC Safer Recruitment (not in Education)

The standards aim to instil confidence and reassure parents, carers, and families that workers appointed to provide services to children are suitably checked prior to commencement in their role.

To fulfil their commitment to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people, all organisations that provide services for children or work with children need to have relevant recruitment and human resources procedures in place for staff and volunteers. The standards are not intended to replace organisations' existing recruitment processes as it is acknowledged that many organisations have robust procedures in place. However, they provide guidance for safe and consistent recruitment that all organisations should meet.

This document provides a guide for organisations in the recruitment process by summarising the recommended practices and procedures together with the current legislative requirements.  The appointment and selection processes used should enable the organisation to gain a full picture of the suitability of prospective candidates. It will also enable the candidates themselves to decide whether the particular organisation is a place in which they would wish to work.Whenever an organisation is engaged in the appointment of staff and volunteers, the organisation is also presenting an image to the community at large of the principles it stands for and the standards it maintains.

This document should be read in conjunction with organisation policies on :

  • Recruitment and Selection
  • Diversity
  • Rehabilitation of Offenders
  • Criminal Record Bureau Checks
  • Child Protection.

The Recruitment Process

There are many potential pitfalls to be avoided in the recruitment process to ensure fair and safe appointments, especially in the context of child protection and discrimination. The steps that should be taken are explained below and can, if necessary, be summarised into a checklist. This guidance emphasises good recruitment practice and will also help organisations ensure that suitable candidates are appointed and that equal opportunities are offered to all potential applicants.

It is very important to plan the whole recruitment process from the outset so that sufficient time is left between each stage (e.g. appearance of advertisement, short-listing and interviewing) to enable a professional and thorough approach to be adopted.


The Application Form, Role Description and Person Specification

The single most important principle to apply in any appointment decision is to search for and appoint the best person for the role. The decision to appoint needs to focus on the essential criteria to undertake the role measured against the person specification. All roles, working with children, should require an application from, role description and person specification.

Application Form

Should include the following information in respect of the applicant, as a minimum:

  • Name and previous names
  • Current address and addresses for the last 5 years
  • Date of Birth
  • Relevant education/ training/ qualifications
  • Details of present/ last employer or education/ voluntary association if not previously employed
  • Previous employment - details of employer/ manager, position held, dates, reason for leaving
  • Experience relating to the person specification
  • Details of two referees (not relatives) both of which should be recent and at least one should be the current or recent e.g. from an employer; teacher, professional colleague etc.
  • Details of any criminal conviction or caution
  • Details of time not covered by education or work

The application form and role adverts will need to include additional information stating that a standard or enhanced DBS check is required for the post; and an explanation of why the post is not covered by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. Application packs should also include the organisation's child protection policy and, if available, their code of conduct.

Additional information gathered with the application form such as diversity data must be used only for monitoring purposes and checking identity, it must not form part of the selection process.

Role Description

A role description is a management document that sets out the main features of the position. It should contain the following:

Job Title

The title and should clearly reflect the type of work. All aspects of the role description must comply with equal opportunities principles e.g. Use Handyperson and not Handyman.

Overall Purpose

This should provide a short, accurate statement of why the role exists e.g. ‘to provide financial analysis and advice’, or ‘to supervise small groups of children during activities’. Although it can sometimes be difficult to capture the full extent of the impact of a role in one sentence, it should be possible, with careful analysis, to do this.

Main Responsibilities

These are statements of the continuing end results required of a role. They answer the question “What are the main areas in which the role must undertake in order to achieve its purpose?”

The characteristics of main responsibilities are:

  • Taken together, they represent all the key outputs of the job.
  • They focus on results, not duties, or activities. They tell the ‘what’, not the ‘how’.
  • They are timeless, standing permanently unless the job itself is changed in a fundamental way.
  • Each one is distinct from the rest and describes an explicit area in which results must be achieved by the jobholder’s action.
  • They suggest specific measures or tests, which would determine whether they are being met.
  • They relate clearly and realistically to the job and not to the line manager's job or to the organisation as a whole.


For roles working with children it is also useful to describe the nature of the relationships with the children, families and carers.

Person Specification

The person specification is a statement of the attributes and characteristics necessary to do the role. It aims to provide a clear picture of the person required and is drawn up from a critical examination of the role description. The factors within the specification should be recognisable and measurable. All candidates must be assessed consistently against this specification during the selection procedures. As a minimum requirement for people working with children the specification should include the Every Child Matters Common Core Skills and Knowledge:

  • Effective communication and engagement
  • Child and young person development
  • Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the child
  • Supporting transitions
  • Multi-agency working
  • Sharing information

Details within the specification should be reflected within the advertisement and the specification therefore needs to be completed prior to advertising.

In preparing the person specification, the factors will be listed under two headings ‘Essential’ and ‘Desirable’. Only relevant and measurable factors should be included. Two questions need to be asked:

  • What attributes must the successful applicant have (essential characteristics)? and
  • What attributes would be useful for the successful applicant to have (desirable characteristics)?


The selection process must be an objective assessment of each candidate, through selection methods, appropriate to the position, and measured against the essential criteria in the person specification.

There needs to be a degree of formality in the whole recruitment process from the time the role becomes vacant, through the placing of the advertisement and to the stage when the position is filled. The use of written notes will enable accurate records to be maintained of short listing and selection decisions. It is useful to have pre-populated templates of criteria and interview questions to ensure consistency in approach.

Without a proper structure in place and objective criteria being applied there is a far greater risk of an inappropriate decision being taken and a risk of unsuitable persons being appointed to work with children.

Pre-Employment Checks

The following pre-employment checks must be carried out before an applicant takes up a position.

  • Standard or enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check (note all workers in schools require an enhanced check)
  • Proof of Identity
  • Evidence of relevant qualifications/accreditation
  • Medical clearance (pro-forma) (Schools and Social Care)
  • Life history
  • References from current and/or most recent employment, form tutor or work experience referee, or professional colleague.

Any offer made to the applicant must be subject to the completion of satisfactory checks.

Identity and Immigration (employees only)

In accordance with the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996, employers have a duty to check whether candidates are entitled to live and work in the UK. When applicants are invited to interview they should be asked to bring with them evidence of their right to work in the UK. It is important to be sure that the person is who he or she claims to be. The employer must ask to see documentary evidence of identity and British or European Economic Area citizenship, e.g. a British birth certificate, documentary proof of National Insurance number or valid British or EEA passport. Documents should be checked to see that they display a likeness of the person in terms of age/gender etc.

It is a criminal offence to employ a person who does not have permission to live and work within the UK. The employer or other person(s) making the appointment would be liable to prosecution in such cases.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks

All those appointed to work directly with children within City of York must have an enhanced DBS check (this includes volunteers, agency staff, consultants and contractors). DBS checks should be received and confirmed as satisfactory prior to the person taking up the position.

Workers whose role does not generally involve direct contact with children but where through the course of their duties they may be alone, unsupervised, with children (i.e. domestic assistants, clerical staff etc) must have a Standard CRB check.

It is a legal requirement that all workers in schools have an enhanced DBS check.

Employers of workers employed by an agency or a contractor and who work regularly will be required to confirm the suitability of the worker to be with children prior to the work starting. This will include confirmation of a satisfactory DBS check at a level appropriate to the work and evidence of sound child protection, DBS and recruitment procedures. Failure to provide the required information will result in that person not being allowed to work in the organisation until such time as the requirement can be met.

Where the person has worked or lived overseas in the past 5 years there is a need to complete an overseas conviction assessment. This is obtained via the DBS website and then through contact with the respective body in the relevant country. They will also need a DBS check for the United Kingdom.

In cases where the DBS disclosure contains prosecutions, cautions or similar information it is the responsibility of the organisation to carry out a risk assessment to determine whether the person is suitable to work with children.

Proof of Identity

Identity checks should have been undertaken at the time of the interview. Sufficient rigour must be undertaken to establish, as far as possible, that the person is who they claim to be. Ideally this should be through formal photographic identity, such as passport or driving licence and confirmation of current address.

Evidence of relevant qualifications/accreditation

Organisations should always verify that the candidate has actually obtained all academic or professional qualifications essential for the work. Employers should have sight of the relevant certificate or diploma, or a letter of confirmation from the awarding institution and should insist on seeing original documents or properly certified copies. Photocopies should not be accepted.

Where it is unclear of the nature and level of qualifications, particularly those obtained in a different country, a range of organisations offer advice on comparability e.g. Education and Skills Funding Agency or (for overseas qualifications).

For many professionals confirmation of professional qualifications must be established before being allowed to practice. Many also have to be registered with their professional association.

Medical Clearance

The organisation must be satisfied that anyone engaged in a position that involves regular contact with children or young people is medically fit. This also applies to supply staff, casual employees and volunteers. Successful applicants must be asked to complete a medical declaration form when the offer of employment is made. An offer will be made subject to medical clearance.

Workers should not start work until a medical clearance is received.

Volunteers will be asked to sign a medical declaration that they are fit to work with children. If there are concerns about their health, confirmation of their suitability to work with children should be obtained in writing from their GP or a qualified occupational health practitioner.

Life history

The application process needs to gather full information on the applicant’s history, whether that be employed, training, voluntary work, unemployed etc. The employer should gather sufficient information to be satisfied that information is genuine. Wherever possible this should be backed up with evidence such as references.

Professional and Character References

References should always be taken up and should be obtained directly from the referee. They should be obtained from the current or most recent role (not relatives) and should cover at least the last 5 years.

References are most useful when they are structured to comment on areas in the person specification. Reference details need to include information on:

  • Length of time the person has known the applicant and in what capacity;
  • Sickness record;
  • Person’s skills strengths and weaknesses/suitability for the post and for working with children and young people;
  • Details of any known investigations or disciplinary action.
  • Details on probationary periods of employment where applicable;
  • Confirmation of known police/DBS check;
  • Details regarding knowledge of any criminal convictions or cautions the applicant may have;
  • Reasons for leaving employment;
  • Details as to whether employer would re-employ.

Any information given about previous experience should be scrutinised to ensure that it is consistent. Satisfactory explanations should be obtained for any gaps in employment. If the candidate is not currently employed it is also necessary to check with the organisation by whom they were most recently employed/ student/ volunteer to confirm details of their status and their reasons for leaving.