Everything you need to know about safeguarding and supply

Ensuring safeguarding procedures are in place when appointing a supply teacher is crucial: use this guide to check your school is following best practice

Grainne Hallahan

Regional Schools Commissioners Made Key Decisions Involving Trusts They Later Got Jobs With

The appointment of a supply teacher is very different from that of a permanent member of staff: a recruitment process that would normally take weeks can be done in a matter of minutes.

If your head of science breaks a leg skiing or your special educational needs coordinator has to start maternity leave four weeks early, you’ll need to act fast.

However, the situations surrounding a temporary appointment must not impact negatively upon the safeguarding measures that need to be in place when hiring a supply teacher. Here are the steps you’ll need to follow to ensure your school is taking the correct precautions:

1. Recruitment

Although a school’s criteria for a supply teacher may differ from the criteria for a permanent member of staff in terms of qualifications and experience, from a safeguarding perspective, they should not differ at all.

The existing recruitment and selection policies and procedures that are in place for staff recruitment should remain exactly the same for recruiting supply staff. When using a supply agency, the onus is on the school to check that the agency has obtained the correct Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks.

If interviews are conducted with supply staff, The School Staffing (England) Regulations 2009 require there to be at least one person on the interview panel who has completed safer recruitment training.

2. Documentation

An enhanced DBS check should be performed by either the teacher, the school or the supply agency. Such a check will include the police, the Criminal Records Office and many other agencies.

In order for the school to obtain an enhanced DBS check, the supply teacher will need to supply several documents to verify who they are – for example, a passport, a driving licence and a birth certificate. If the school policy is to keep copies of these documentations on file for the teaching staff, it is good practice to request copies of these at interview or when put forward by an agency. 

Also, every supply teacher should be provided with a copy of Keeping Children Safe in Education from the Department for Education. For school records, it is a good idea to ensure that, on their first visit to the school, your supply teacher has signed to confirm that they have received and read this document.

3. Once in post

Just as with any staff member, if it emerges that there is a supply teacher who may pose a risk of harm to children, any allegations should be referred to the designated officer. There is a legal duty to refer these concerns and failure to do so is a criminal offence.

In addition to this, supply staff should be provided with the code of conduct for staff, and this should include acceptable use of technology, staff/pupil relationships and social media communication.

4. Student safeguarding concerns and the supply teacher 

Every school has a member of staff who is responsible for safeguarding issues and all of the supply teachers it employs should be made aware of how to contact the safeguarding lead.

Just because the supply teacher is temporary or new to the school, doesn’t make any of their observations less valid. It is down to school leaders to check that the supply teacher knows how to report their concerns and where to report them. 

Tes now enables you to request supply teachers from multiple agencies and review their safeguarding information all in one place. Check out our new Supply Manager tool.​