Safe recruitment is a staff recruitment practice which ensures that unsuitable candidates do not escape the knit and are prevented from working with vulnerable people and children, as they could cause them harm.
It is a religious duty for the employer to ensure that the employees or volunteers working with children in his or her institute are safe and reliable. The prophet peace be upon him said:
كُلُّكُمْ رَاعٍ وَكُلُّكُمْ مَسْؤول عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ[All of you are guardians and are responsible for your wards] [Bukari & Muslim]
Part of this responsibility is to ensure that our children are in safe hands and are taught and dealt with by suitable people.
According to statuary guidance under section 175 of the Education Act 2002, and section 11 of the Children’s Act 2004 it is a legal requirement to have:
‘effective recruitment and human resources procedures, including checking all new staff and volunteers to make sure they are safe to work with children and young people’
It is the duty of the Madrassah and Mosque to make sure that from advertising to the appointment, recruitment process must be clear, robust and effective so that the best person can be appointed into positions of trust.
Here is a list of procedures that will sustain a safe recruitment practice as well as meet other relevant legal and statutory requirements:
- Policies and Procedures:
Ensure that you have the policies and procedures below in place. Policies are written rules and statements that define what you do as an institution and how you do it. They help improve the way an institution functions and delivers its services. They also help prevent problems and conflicts from arising.
The most essential policies of relevance to this topic are
- Child Protection Policy
- Recruitment Policy
- Equal Opportunities policy
- Employees and Volunteers code of conduct
You may obtain a draft copy of those policies through Mizan accreditation.
- Job Description & Person Specification
A job description contains an outline of the responsibilities and expectations. It should make reference to the responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. A person Specification outlines the qualities, skills, experiences and qualifications required to determine a suitable candidate for the rule. It should include specific reference to the suitability to work with children.
Job descriptions and person specifications should form the basis for the job advert and outline the selection criteria for the recruitment and assessment process.
When advertising a role that involves contact with children or young people, include a policy statement confirming your commitment to safeguarding children and young people and that a Disclosure and Barring Service check is required.
- Application forms
For sensitive posts that require contact with children application forms are highly recommended and preferred over CVs. In addition to standard information, forms should request
- Two referees, including most recent post working with vulnerable groups
- A statement that the post is exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act
- Declaration of all convictions, cautions and bind-over’s
- A signed statement that the applicant is not barred from working with vulnerable groups or subject to sanctions of a regulatory body
- Ask for referees
The main aim of seeking external references is to obtain an objective and factual account of the candidates’ suitability for the post in order to support appointment decisions. Written references should be obtained directly from the referees and testimonial supplied by the candidates should not be relied upon as it is likely that these will not contain any unfavourable comments.
- Nationally, the minimum standards require at least two written references including the most recent employer.
- Referees must be invited to state any known reason why the candidate should not be employed to work with children, for details of any concerns or allegations made against them and any disciplinary records on file.
- Ideally, written references should be sought on all short listed candidates, including internal ones, prior to the interview so that any issues of concerns they raise can be further explored with the referee, and taken up with the candidates at interview. All references will be requested unless permission is expressly refused.
- In cases where written references have not been received on the preferred candidates prior to interview, efforts should be made to obtain a verbal reference before the person’s appointment is confirmed.
- Effective face-to-face interviews
Face to face interviews should be conducted that ask suitably robust questions to assess the prospective applicant’s suitability for the role.
In addition to asking questions to confirm a candidate’s ability and suitability for carrying out the job role, interview questions should be asked to assess:
- The personal attributes of the candidate relating to safeguarding
- Knowledge and understanding of safeguarding
- Motivations for working with children or vulnerable adults
- Emotional maturity and resilience
- Pre-Employment checks
Before offering the job, it is a requirement that you receive and check the following:
- Two satisfactory references
- Verification of the applicant’s identity via photographic identity documents
- Verification of the right to work in the UK
- Verification of original qualifications
- Verification of professional status
It is good practice to ensure all checks made are confirmed in writing and retained in compliance with Data Protection Act
- Enhanced DBS certificate with a barred list check
If a suitable candidate has not got a DBS check certificate, you must apply for a DBS check as soon as possible. To learn more about how to do this, check this article. If a suitable candidate has a DBS certificate ask to see the original and keep a copy. If the DBS is registered on the Update Service you can view it online. Otherwise, it is your right to ask the candidate to apply for a new DBS as you cannot see if updates have occurred since the certificate was issued.
- Procedures after selecting the best candidate:
Once you have selected a suitable candidate
- Make them a verbal offer
- Follow this up with a written offer
- Include two copies of the Contract and a copy of the Main Terms of Employment
- Payable employees have a right you a written pay statement.
- Put them in an induction programme that ensures a culture that upholds ‘safeguarding children’
- Single Central Recruitment (SCR)
This is a single document, where safer recruitment checks and procedures are logged. All schools should have an SCR of recruitment, as recommended by the Department for Education. You will need to update the record whenever new staff are recruited.
Here is an example of how the document may be structured:
Andrew Hall https://www.safeguardinginschools.co.uk/
- Level 1 Child Protection and Safeguarding Training
Within the first six months of employment, employees and volunteers in Madrassahs or Mosques who come in contact with children are required to attend and sit through an accredited Level 1 Child Protection and Safeguarding Training.
Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015 states that organisations that work with children and/or their families must have a mandatory induction into Safeguarding which includes; – “familiarisation with child protection responsibilities and procedures to be followed if anyone has any concerns about a child’s safety or welfare”.
Faith Associates delivers an accredited Level 1 Child Protection and Safeguarding Training that is certified by number of Local Safeguarding Boards and tailored to the needs and environments of Madrassahs, Mosques and Islamic Supplementary Schools. Attendees will receive a certificate confirming their attendance. Training should be taken again after 3 years.
You may obtain a draft copy of any policies, application forms or procedures mentioned in this article through Mizan accreditation.
A Handbook for Madrassah Management & Safeguarding by Shaukat Warraich and Dr Muhammed Ayub Rahim, 2012
People Strategy brining in additional talent, safer recruitment toolkit for schools, Buckinghamshire County Council, December 2008
Safeguarding Schools, https://www.safeguardinginschools.co.uk/, Andrew Hall