What to consider when interviewing for an HRBP role in a school

Hello everyone, 

I have 10 years of work experience in HR outside the UK and trying to get back to work after 3 years. I have an interview with a school for an HRBP role and was wondering how I should prepare for the same. 

  • The key focus of HR in schools is on safeguarding - so read Keeping Children Safe in Education (2023), and get an understanding of Safer Recruitment processes. The Single Central Record is the way that safeguarding checks are recorded, and is critical to inspection - so I'd anticipate questions around this. Expect questions around safeguarding, and not just from an HR perspective - they will want to make sure you have the knowledge and instincts that prioritise the children in the school.

    Depending on whether you are applying for a role in the state or independent sector, the issues and normal contracts will be quite different. If it's an independent school, then TPS/pensions will be another significant issue right now as well as the potential impact of VAT on school fees - so I'd advise doing the reading around those.

    Hope that helps.

  • In reply to Nina Waters:

    Thank you Nina for your insights. It is an independent school and they have asked me to focus on ER cases as well. However, I am new to the UK scenario and not sure how to prepare for the same.
  • I have to say that I'm not entirely sure why a school would need an HRBP. If it's an academy trust or similar network, then I could just about imagine having an HRBP allocated to a given school. But my experience of working alongside schools (albeit never as their employee) is that they just don't need a business partner. As such, I suspect this is one of those cases where they've stuck a name on a job without understanding that it's supposed to describe a very specific thing but wanting to avoid giving it the status of "HR Manager", and that this is just a glorified HR Advisor role.

    So alongside Nina's excellent insight, just bear that in mind.

    Someone may be along to disabuse me.
  • In reply to Robey:

    It could be a trust of schools I suppose - I'm certainly aware of some that have a larger group where an HRBP might be relevant to the structure.

    As it's an independent school, I'd look at the ISBA website and see what you can access without membership - I'm not sure what's public and what's not, but it's a great repository for guidance specific to the sector.

    ER in schools is largely the same as in other sectors, but clearly safeguarding trumps everything. There are various procedures that must be followed if there is any safeguarding allegation against staff, including referral ultimately to DBS. More recently a culture and expectation of reporting low level concerns (or neutral notifications) has also developed, which is a more positive flagging of staff matters. This might be a member of staff whose child is in the school, whose class mate comes for a sleepover for example - and they'd report it, so that everyone is aware.

    Happy to chat offline, if I can help in any way. You can find me easily on Linked In.