Date updated:

As a pre-cursor to the publication of our Keeping children safe in education 2022 (‘KCSiE’) update, due in September, here is a short note of some key considerations concerning online searches on shortlisted candidates which have been recommended from September 2022 in KCSiE 2022

Effective from September 2022, KCSiE states at paragraph 220:

“as part of the shortlisting process schools and colleges should consider carrying out an online search as part of their due diligence on the shortlisted candidates. This may help identify any incidents or issues that have happened, and are publicly available online, which the school or college might want to explore with the applicant at interview.”

It is a should not a must - It is a choice for you. There are benefits to undertaking some checks. You should detail by whom and how the searches will be conducted.

Consider by whom and when the search will be conducted - Ideally, the search should be conducted after shortlisting by a member of the HR team not involved with the interview process. The only information that should be passed on is information that may need to be explored further at interview.  

How - You should have a clear process for conducting the search. For example, you could consider an initial search on Google using the candidate’s name and then the candidate’s name, location and current employer. Then a check on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and any other sites that you may consider necessary, to see if that yields anything. Be consistent with each shortlisted candidate.

How far back to search - Consider a general look to see what the candidate is posting and whether anything is of concern. It may be excessive to trawl though years and years of history to try to find something.  

Data Protection - Define the reason for doing the check e.g. to determine suitability to work with children and keep them safe. The reason should be detailed in your policies.

Inform - Let all shortlisted candidates know that they will be subject to an online check and if there is anything concerning that the candidate will be asked to comment on it at interview.  

Recording - If you have a checklist for recruitment you may wish to add the undertaking of an online check to that check list, which will act as your record that the check has taken place and your policy should define what this check will involve.

Note of caution - Be mindful of avoiding discrimination in relation to information collected, where it reveals information about a candidate’s protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010.