KCSIE: How to research applicants' online profiles
The Department for Education published the draft 2022 version of Keeping Children Safe in Education. A few changes caught the eye and the one that most of us in education are discussing relates to a new set of text that suggested checking the online presence of job applicants.
At the beginning of the year, the Department for Education (DfE) published for consultation the draft 2022 version of Keeping Children Safe in Education.
A few changes caught the eye and the one that most of us in education are discussing relates to a new set of text that suggested checking the online presence of job applicants.
The specific addition is found in paragraph 215 and states: “As part of the shortlisting process, schools and colleges should consider carrying out an online search (including social media) 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."
This proposed addition is quite simple and quite short - and that is where part of the challenge lies.
Consolidating what many already do
When you look at what schools and colleges could be being asked to do there are only eight words of direction: “consider carrying out an online search (including social media)”.
This leaves some sizeable gaps for schools and colleges to fill when it comes to the ‘when’, the ‘how’ and perhaps most importantly, the ‘how far’.
Of course, though employers checking the online and social media presence of prospective employees is not a new issue; various surveys over the last five year or so have found that up to 80 per cent of employers do it as part of their recruitment and onboarding process.
There are also no legal issues that are specific to checking social media, recruiters just need to ensure they do not use the information they find to unlawfully discriminate against a candidate.
This is no different to other aspects of the recruitment process and is why a good number of schools and colleges already include some level of online review as part of their recruitment process.
After all, given we have been telling students to be mindful of their online presence and perception for some time, it is not a surprise that we are to practice what we preach.
A likely change
Given this seems highly likely this new addition will form part of the 2022 guidance from September.
It is also likely the consultation feedback will suggest more detail be added as to precisely what schools should look for and where they should look to give schools more guidance on how to implement it.
Yet recent iterations of this guidance have not provided such detail and so the current drafting of paragraph 215 is likely to closely reflect the finished product.
Therefore, schools and colleges should start planning how they will implement this requirement without a clear-cut set of rules to follow – which is not ideal.
However, there is some best practices guidelines schools can follow in this area – both if the new requirement comes into force and indeed for any current checks of online profiles they may be doing – which can be grouped under four key areas:
- Why it is relevant?
- Where to look
- Who undertakes the search
- What to do with the information
Given all this it would seem sensible for schools should start thinking now about how they will manage and resource this new requirement so they are ahead of the game.
This article was first published by TES on 28 January 2022.
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