3.1 Recruitment, Supervision and Training of Staff
The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) was established under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 and merges the functions previously carried out by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). The relevant legislation is set out in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 and the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006.
See also Bichard Inquiry Report
- 1. General Recruitment Process(Jump to)
- 2. Choice of Candidate(Jump to)
- 3. Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Checks(Jump to)
- 4. Induction and Review(Jump to)
- 5. Supervision, Principles and Functions, and Support(Jump to)
- 6. General Training(Jump to)
- 7. Equality and Diversity Training(Jump to)
- 8. Reporting Systems for Unsuitable Staff(Jump to)
- 9. Whistle Blowing(Jump to)
1. General Recruitment Process
So as to minimise the risk of employing or engaging an individual who poses a predictable risk to them, all agencies should consider, with respect to candidates who will be working with children (either in a paid or unpaid capacity):
- Methodically applying techniques which are accepted as helpful in identifying unsuitable individuals;
- Analysing rigorously all the information which is available about the candidate and, whenever possible, verifying through references, information which is provided by the candidate.
To ensure that those involved in selecting staff are able to successfully test the candidates’ ability and experience against a clearly defined person specification each agency must offer them:
- Specific training in respect of safe recruitment and selection;
- Supervised / supported experience of recruitment;
- Periodic evaluation of performance by their supervisors.
Any agency commissioned to provide services to children must be required as part of the commissioning process to comply with the safe recruitment procedures set out in this chapter and any service level agreement or contract must contain a safeguarding statement which clarifies the standards expected. This must include a requirement that the agency must not sub-contract to any person, who has not been part of a safe recruitment process.
All Head Teachers and a governor for each school are required to undertake the training. See Department for Education Website for further details Department for Education on how to complete the on line safer recruitment training, or attend one of the courses being run by the SSCP which will also give the same qualification if the test is taken.
The Keeping Children Safe in Education Statutory Guidance for Schools and Colleges, September 2023 document is statutory guidance under section 175 of the Education Act 2002, the Education (Independent School Standards) (England) Regulations 2010 as amended by SI 2012/2962 and the Education (Non-Maintained Special Schools) (England) Regulations 2011. Schools and colleges must have regard to it when carrying out their duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
Other managers recruiting staff or volunteers to work with children can do the E-learning course at the Surrey Skills Academy.
2. Choice of Candidate
Quality of Job Description & Person Specification
Agencies should develop detailed internal procedures which clarify allocation of ‘human resource’ tasks outlined below.
Job advertisements, application forms, job descriptions and person specifications should reflect professional practice requirements and refer to the need to be committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.
Application forms will specifically require an applicant to disclose any previous allegations made against them both in relation to their personal and professional life.
All stated requirements must be expressed in terms sufficiently explicit to allow a candidates experience, achievements or capabilities to be evidenced.
CVs and References from Previous Substantive Employers
CVs should not be accepted. A format for application should be used requiring each candidate to give names of educational establishments and work places attended with dates, and explanations sought for any gaps in an applicant’s work history.
References should not be accepted except where they have been sought directly from a previous employer in the manner outlined below.
A previous employer who is asked for a reference should be advised in the request sent, to take all reasonable care to ensure that her/his statement:
- Is reliable and comprehensive - e.g. accurate dates of employment, DBS checks, any periods of sick leave;
- Is based upon an accurate assessment of an individual's qualities (any disciplinary action, known convictions, other grounds for disquiet);
- Focuses on the key criteria for effective performance in the specified post; and
- Offers a full and frank disclosure of all matters considered relevant by the author - e.g. candidates reason for planning to or actually leaving her/his post, the existence of any previous or current concerns or disciplinary action in relation to allegations of a child protection nature.
An employer reference should also be obtained in respect of internal candidates for posts involving direct contact with children.
So that information of comparable weight is obtained for all candidates, references on all short-listed candidates should wherever possible be obtained prior to final selection.
All agencies committed to these procedures should have explicit arrangements for provision within reasonable time-scales, of properly structured references which should ordinarily be issued in the name of the head of service (though they may be drafted by a more junior member of staff who has the necessary knowledge and experience).
References With Respect to Agency Staff
Given the proportion of staff currently engaged via specialist employment agencies, it is important that there are systems in place to ensure that only those which can offer safe selection processes are used by those organisations committed to these procedures.
References from any previous substantive employers should be sought as described above and requests to employment agencies should seek confirmation:
- That the individual was registered with the agency in the period(s) claimed;
- Of all assignments including dates, roles and name and address of all work places;
- Of the quantity and pattern of any absences from their assignments;
- Of any cause for concern within the agency including any request by a client for the person to be withdrawn from an assignment which upon investigation was found to be justified.
The employment agency should also be asked to confirm:
- That it carries out appraisals of its workers and be invited to describe the most recent relevant to the role which is to be filled;
- The date of the last Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check it sought on the individual in question, its result, and to forward a copy of it;
- From which previous employers references were obtained and whether or not these expressed any reservations about the individual in question;
- If its overall selection procedure complies with the recommendations made in the Warner report ‘Choosing with Care’.
Interviews may usefully be underpinned by practical exercises, which simulate the working environment e.g. anonymous real-life situation (with precautions taken to ensure no unfair advantage to internal candidates).
Such practical exercises may include:
- ‘A situation exercise’ which tests declared responses to events relevant to the post in question;
- ‘Submission of a prepared written exercise’ to allow a panel to prepare and deliver questions at an interview;
- A ‘presentation exercise’ to test an individual's ability to research, prepare and present a topic relevant to the post in question;
- ‘Psychometric tests’ - e.g. personality and/or skills based;
- A group exercise which simulates a relevant forum and allows observation of interaction.
Final interview panels should be balanced wherever possible by gender and race and may benefit from the inclusion of independent person(s) as well as immediate line managers and more senior staff. At least one member of the interview panel should have had specific training in safe recruitment methods.
3. Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Checks
The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 sets out the foundation for the Disclosure and Barring Service. It has an Independent Barring Board (IBB) with responsibility for taking barring decisions on new referrals and the management of two barred lists which replaced List 99, PoCA and PoVA Lists. The system aims to provide employers with a quicker and more effective vetting and barring service. All disclosures for work with children and vulnerable persons are to be at an enhanced level for Regulated Activity. The new organisation, DBS, will provide a service combining criminal records checking and the barring functions:
- The barring part of the DBS will provide caseworkers, who receive and process referrals about individuals, who have harmed, or who pose a risk of harm to, children, young people or vulnerable adults;
- The checking part of the DBS will allow employers to check and access the criminal record history of people working, or applying to work (whether paid or unpaid) in certain positions, especially those that involve working with children and vulnerable adults;
- The Disclosure and Barring Service (Home Office) provides a range of advice, guidance and relevant forms.
Certain posts and voluntary work are subject to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 Exceptions Amendment Order 1975. These include the following 'regulated positions':
- Any work in schools, youth or children's centres or other places of work where children and young people are present;
- Any post that requires unsupervised contact with children made under arrangements by the child's parents/carers, the child's school or registered day care providers;
- A position of governor or member of management committee for an organisation that regularly works in the presence of, or care for, children, or training, supervising or being in sole charge of children;
- Any post which involves regularly caring for, training, supervising or being in sole charge of children under the age of 18;
- The minimum age at which someone can be asked to apply for a DBS check is 16 years old.
Disclosure of any convictions, cautions, bind-overs which they have received should be requested on the job application form. Any such details must be declared even if they would be considered 'spent' in other circumstances. If a person who has made such disclosures is selected for appointment, they should ask be asked to apply for an Enhanced DBS Disclosure to verify their declarations.
Organisations who are entitled to use the DBS checking service can ask successful job applicants to apply for one of the following types of check depending on the job role:
- Standard check;
- Enhanced check;
- Enhanced with a barred list information.
Find out more about the types of criminal record check available through the DBS.
Limitations of Disclosures
Disclosures may not provide information on people convicted abroad or where an applicant has worked or been resident overseas in the previous 5 years, or with respect to individuals who have had a limited period of residence in the UK, therefore caution must be exercised.
The advice of the DBS Overseas Information Service should be sought about criminal record checking overseas - see the Disclosure and Barring Service (Home Office).
Occasionally, an enhanced disclosure check may result in the local police disclosing non-conviction information to the registered body only and not to the applicant e.g. a current investigation about the individual. Such information must not be passed on to her/him.
4. Induction and Review
For all staff working with children, including locum and agency staff, their induction should include child protection induction as outlined in the Surrey Safeguarding Children Partnership Training Strategy.
Where appropriate, supplementary induction, supervision training and appraisal with respect to their new role should be provided. Information gleaned from the selection process should be used to inform such personalised induction and support.
Regular review meetings between the appointee and responsible manager should be convened by the manger throughout the induction period to address areas where further support, guidance and training may be required.
5. Supervision, Principles and Functions, and Support
Good supervision is based on a relationship which is working well and should provide a safe environment for critical reflection, challenge and professional support ensuring competent accountable practice.
There are four main functions of good supervision:
- Competent accountable performance (Managerial function) This includes monitoring progress against agreed tasks and timescales, maintaining clarity and accountability, reviewing priorities and risk;
- Continuing professional development (Developmental/formative function). This includes job-related training, monitoring continual professional and managerial development, providing feedback on performance, acknowledging strengths and acting on capability issues. Both supervisor and supervisee should feel able to share questions and uncertainties as well as knowledge and experience;
- Personal support (Supportive /restorative function)
- Engaging the individual with the organisation (Mediation function) and may include advocacy, negotiations around roles and responsibilities and management of resource implications, escalation of concerns both in relation to individual cases and performance issues, dealing sensitively with complaints and opportunities for mediation if internal processes are not effective in resolving disputes.
One to one supervision is part of a wider systems approach to strengthen reflective practice and learning. Models of supervision include group supervision, case mapping, appreciative enquiry, multi-agency communities of practice, use of learning loops across teams and services.
Within all agencies which have operational responsibility for safeguarding children and child protection services, there should be an agency policy, which defines minimum levels of formal supervision of those staff who are accountable for child protection cases.
Such supervision must ensure that all child protection cases are regularly discussed in supervision.
On some occasions - e.g. enquiries about complex abuse or allegations against colleagues, agencies should consider the provision of additional individual or group staff support.
Managers should develop local policies and systems to maximise staff safety and remain alert to the possibility that some staff may be anxious about personal safety yet reluctant to acknowledge their concern.
Supervision supports, assures and develops the knowledge, skills and values of an individual worker and provides accountability for decision-making and promotes their engagement within an organisation. High quality supervision is the cornerstone of effective working with all children and young people.
These principles are designed to support those agencies with supervision policies and procedures in place and to provide guidance and assistance to agencies that have yet to develop their own policies. The principles are supported by all partners in the Surrey Safeguarding Children Partnership.
- Supervision must ensure the effective management of practice, develop and support staff
- Staff should be responsible for the quality of their work and should make a positive contribution to the supervisory process
- Senior managers have a responsibility to promote good supervision and ensuring that training is provided for both supervisors and supervisees
- Supervision must promote and model anti discriminatory behaviours and anti-oppressive practice and ensure the equality and diversity policies are adhered to
- Supervision must be in a safe place where supervisees can explore strengths, development needs, feelings of being unsure or stuck as well as hearing challenge and receiving praise for their practice.
- Supervision should be planned in private at a pre-arranged time and take place as planned. Changes to times and supervision dates should be recorded and the supervision re-arranged to the earliest opportunity
- Good preparation and a pre-set agenda will help staff to prepare for the supervision.
- Supervision should allow time for Clinical/Reflective practice - Critical evaluation of the assessment and planning for child and family
- Each agency will have a written policy and procedure for the supervision of staff working in safeguarding children that is known to, and used by, all staff;
- Supervision takes place regularly, in accordance with each agency procedures and at least every 3 months. It must be planned and prepared for in advance by supervisor and supervisee;
- Supervision takes place in a quiet private space and sufficient time is allowed for an uninterrupted discussion that enables critical reflection; 
- Supervision promotes continuous learning and knowledge-sharing and offers an opportunity for reflective supervision. Reflective supervision is understood to mean:
- Providing an opportunity to consider practice by stepping back from the work;
- Giving time and consideration to a case, in order to consider desired outcomes and how to achieve the
- Kolb’s learning cycle (experience, reflection, conceptualisation and planning) provides a helpful structure for this discussion.
All supervision sessions must be recorded by the supervisor and the record shared with the supervisee as soon as possible. The record in relation to specific children will form part of the child’s record; Communication is open, honest, confidential and based on trust and mutual respect. Agencies may want to consider use of a supervision agreement;  All staff will have access to appropriate advice and support outside supervision sessions to deal with any immediate child protection issues (including recognition of the need for additional support in particular cases or circumstances); Supervision must acknowledge the supervisee’s strengths, but also take action to address capability issues when necessary; Supervisors should have the necessary safeguarding training (in line with SSCP training requirements for their role) and have had training in conducting supervision; Supervision discussions must be child-focussed and consider the impact of parents’ behaviour/functioning on their parenting of the child.
 Valuable opportunities may arise to include reflective discussions in multi-agency fora. However, these should not be seen as a replacement for supervision fulfilling all the functions of supervision outlined above.
 Any difficulties in the relationship should be acknowledged and, if it is not possible to resolve them, alternative arrangements for supervision should be made in line with advocacy function of supervision outlined above.
6. General Training
All professionals including staff in the private and voluntary sectors, require a general awareness of known indicators and predisposing factors of abuse as well as (role specific) detailed knowledge of agreed policies and procedures.
All front line staff must be trained to pass calls about the safety of children to the appropriate professional staff.
The Surrey Safeguarding Children Partnership training strategy for staff engaged in child protection work includes:
- Basic and advanced inputs on all forms of abuse and neglect;
- For staff working with adults, sufficient training to inform and enable recognition of concerns about any dependent children which require referral to Surrey Children’s Services or the Surrey Safeguarding Hub.
The SSCP is accountable for:
- Provision of sufficient general and specialised training;
- Monitoring of the take-up rate amongst those offered those training opportunities; and
- Routine evaluation of the perceived effectiveness of the training received.
All members of staff who have any contact with children must be included in their agencies training programme on child protection at basic or more advanced level according to their role.
7. Equality and Diversity Training
All operational staff must routinely be provided with opportunities for basic and comprehensive anti-discriminatory training.
Such training must be rooted in recognition of the diversity of families and communities in Surrey and respect for the differing approaches to child care that this diversity represents.
Equality and diversity issues must be integrated within all child protection training provided to staff.
8. Reporting Systems for Unsuitable Staff
Each agency must have a nominated/named ‘human resource' or service manager whose responsibilities include reporting to the Disclosure and Barring Service and relevant professional body, any member of staff who (following an enquiry) it concludes to be unsuitable to work with children.
9. Whistle Blowing
Staff, through fears about repercussions, may find it difficult to raise child protection concerns about colleagues or managers.
Each agency should ensure the provision of a well-publicised ‘whistle blowing’ or ‘speak out’ procedure using a direct specialist telephone line, that provides alternative methods of reporting concerns relating to conduct which is in breach of the law, compromises health and safety provision or falls below established standards of child care practice.
A leaflet should be available to publicise the whistle blowing procedure. This should provide information about ‘Public Concern At Work’, an independent charity whose lawyers can give free confidential advice about how to raise a concern about malpractice at work.