Social media screening

A potential candidate refusing to give a permission for ‘Social Media Screening’ in the maintained school.

Does the school need to proceed with interview if the candidate was shortlisted?

Can this be discriminatory if the school would not interview the candidate?

  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    3 Mar, 2024 16:19


    Is this an assignment question?

  • In reply to Steve Bridger:

    No, is not an assignment question, we are recruiting and fulfilling a teaching vacancy. Keeping Children in Education Safe recommends to carry out the Social Media Screening’. Shortlisted candidate is reluctant to give a consent for it.
  • Does the school need to proceed with interview if the candidate was shortlisted?

    That depends on your position viz social media screening. Do you state that it's a requirement for interview? Are you prepared to offer them a job even if they never consent?

    I would advise that you go ahead with the interview but make it clear at the interview that any offer is conditional upon consent to social media screening. Fundamentally, it's information that's in the public domain so consent is a courtesy, not a requirement.

    Can this be discriminatory if the school would not interview the candidate?

    Actually, the risk of discrimination arises from the practice of social media screening itself. You are peering into a candidate's personal life and making value judgements based on how they express themselves, socially and politically, outside work. This could easily lead to a discriminatory decision on the part of whoever is making that subjective value judgement.

    "Lack of consent to a social media screening" is not itself a protected characteristic. I suppose a candidate could argue that they refused consent because they believed that they would be discriminated against on the grounds of their visible race, religion, gender identity or sexuality, but I don't think I know of any case where an employee has successfully argued pre-emptive discrimination of that sort.

    However, social media screening...

    Either don't do it, or just get on with it. If it's important to the role, make it clear that it that you're going to do it in the application process. If it's not important to the role... don't do it.
  • In reply to Robey:

    First post on the forum!

    Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSiE) is our bible for Safeguarding, and part 3 covers safer recruitment. Paragraph 221states:

    "In addition, 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."

    The "should" is being read as a "must" in schools and has been since it came in in, IIRC, Sep 22. I've been in various interim jobs and am now in a permanent role and in each we did this screening.

    Safeguarding, in schools at least, trumps everything else. I must admit we do the screening after shortlisting, but we certainly wouldn't ask to interview let alone employ anyone who refused to consent to us doing the check.
  • My understanding is online checks are currently not mandatory under KCSIE, however, are strongly encouraged.

    What would you do if a candidate did not consent to a medical screening or to obtaining references? Treat it like you would any other pre-employment check, based on whether it is mandatory for the sector and the risk.
  • In reply to Kimberly:

    The "musts" in schools before an appointment can be confirmed are:

    1. ID check
    2. Enhanced DBS clearance. Barred list check if the EDBS isn't available before the start date.
    3. Verification of mental & physical fitness for role.
    4. Right to work in the UK.
    5. Overseas checks as school deems appropriate if applicant has lived or worked overseas.
    6. Verification of professional qualifications if appropriate.
    7. Checks against prohibition orders or sanctions.
    8. Check against childcare disqualifications depending on age of children at school & role.
    9. Section 128 check for those in management positions in independent schools, academies & free schools, although I have also seen this done for senior staff and Governors in maintained schools.
  • The requirement for online screening came in Keeping Children Safe in Education 2022, and the trigger for it as I recall was a case where a relevant overseas criminal conviction was time-barred in that jurisdiction, but would have been discovered with a bit of a Google search.

    When KCSIE changed, they initially referred to this (in the draft) as a social media check, but actually watered it down to an online check. In my school, we don't ask for people's social media ID, but just do a number of searches of their identifiable information (names in combination with places they've worked, lived, studied etc). That picks up social media where it's open, but not where it's a private account.

    I'd be curious therefore whether your candidate has refused to give you details/access to their social media accounts, which could be seen as more intrusive than searching readily available information online. Bottom line however is what their reason is for refusing 'permission' (we don't ask for permission, we just tell people at every stage of the process that we will do the searches for anyone invited to interview). Have they told you why?

  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    4 Mar, 2024 14:18

    In reply to Matthew:

    ...and you're very welcome,  

  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    4 Mar, 2024 14:20

    In reply to Giedre:


    See this previous (5-year old) thread...

     Screening social media accounts and privacy 

    Also, this CIPD podcast is worth a listen:


  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    4 Mar, 2024 14:25

    In reply to Steve Bridger:

    Also relevant is the 'Using social media to vet potential recruits' section in this CIPD factsheet...


  • Out of curiosity what would you do if the candidate didn't have any social media (rare, but some people don't use it) or if their personal social media (excluding LinkedIn) settings are set to maximum privacy so you wouldn't be able to see anything unless they accepted your friend request?
  • In reply to Gemma:

    In my school experience, a candidate with a very open and public social media presence would be a 'red flag', particularly if they posted or interacted with inappropriate content, so your example would be a good indication to me that they have considered the impact of their posts on pupils and the reputation of the school.
  • In reply to Steve Bridger:

    Thank you! I hope to start studying a CIPD qualification later in the year once I have come off probation and my employer is prepared to contribute to the cost.
    I'm new to straight HR having covered it in previous roles as an independent school Bursar/interim maintained school SBM as I wanted to specialise.
  • In reply to Gemma:

    I'm one of those people! I have a LinkedIn account and I post here and I have a very restricted What'sApp that is mainly family and close friends and that's all. I daresay if you googled me you would find stuff, but not much. Would that make you more or less suspicious of me if I applied for a job?
  • In reply to Robey:

    I'm not disagreeing with you Robey, but in regards of discrimination, don't we make value judgements based on how they behave etc at interview (which is not work) Isn't a lot of interview decision based on how the person performs in the interview or comes across as a person?