An effective induction process is an integral part of welcoming new members of staff to your school. This article discusses things to remember during your school staff induction

When any new member of staff is appointed, it is important that he/she benefits from a thorough and well-structured induction process. Comprehensive induction procedures minimise the time it takes for new recruits to become fully functioning members of the team, by giving them access to all the information they need to perform their role successfully. The degree of complexity of the induction programme will vary depending on the level of the job, but some essential information should be made available to all new appointees.

The induction process should cover familiarisation with the:

  • setting, its vision, values and aims
  • staff handbook, including a discussion of the main terms of employment
  • premises, including toilet and staff facilities
  • location of fire exits and first aid equipment
  • health and safety procedures
  • security procedures
  • equal opportunities policies
  • the setting’s policies and procedures, as set out in the staff handbook.

Put someone in charge
It is good practice to make the induction of new members of staff the responsibility of one member of the setting’s management team. This person would be responsible for ensuring that:

  • all necessary paperwork is completed
  • qualifications and proof of working status have been seen and checked
  • CRB checks have been initiated
  • the contract of employment has been issued and signed
  • the staff handbook has been issued
  • the induction process has been carried out and all questions have been answered.

The induction process should continue over the first few weeks of appointment, to help the new appointee become a confident contributor to the staff team. This is an ideal time to identify any training needs, which can either be addressed in-house, or incorporated into the setting’s annual training plan.

All staff working with children should be subject to checks on their background, carried out by the Criminal Records Bureau. No member of staff should have unsupervised access to children until their CRB check has been returned.

There are two levels of check – Standard Disclosure and Enhanced Disclosure. Standard Disclosures show current and spent convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings held on the Police National Computer.

An Enhanced Disclosure is the highest level of check available and is required of anyone involved in regularly caring for, training, supervising or being in sole charge of children. Enhanced Disclosures contain the same information as the Standard Disclosure, but with the addition of any relevant and proportionate information held by the local police forces.

Full details on how to apply for a CRB check are available on the CRB website, www.crb.gov.uk; and further guidance is contained within the DfES publication Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education (2006), which is available on teachernet.

A CRB check is a ‘snapshot in time’; that is, it reflects the information available at the time at which the check was made. It is therefore good practice to renew checks on existing members of staff at regular intervals. The frequency with which this is done should be part of the setting’s recruitment policy, along with a comprehensive up-to-date record of the CRB status of all members of staff.

Contract of employment
All employees are entitled to have a written contract of employment which sets out the full terms and conditions of their employment. This contract of employment must contain details of the post, the date that employment commenced, the rate of pay, hours of work and full details of holiday entitlement.

In addition, new employees should be provided with a staff handbook, setting out the sickness payment arrangements, period of notice, retirement age and details of the disciplinary and grievance procures.

The staff handbook covers all the essential information that staff members need in order to be able to perform their roles effectively. The volume of information included in the handbook will vary with the size and complexity of the setting but there is a core set of information which it should always contain. This includes:

  • a statement of the vision of the setting
  • the key values which underpin this vision
  • a brief historical background to the setting
  • the policies and procedures that underpin the operation of the setting
  • a copy of the strategic development plan for the next three years
  • ‘who’s who’ – a full list of staff, including their job titles
  • roles and responsibilities of the different posts
  • details of dismissal, disciplinary and grievance procedures
  • guidelines on the setting’s child protection procedures
  • a statement on the confidentiality of information
  • guidelines for communicating with parents
  • equal opportunities statement
  • the expectations of standards of dress and behaviour (including, where appropriate, information on staff uniforms)
  • information on security, first aid and fire drill procedures
  • the expectations of professional development and information on the training opportunities available
  • any sources of further information and the location of key reference documents.

Probationary period
If the new appointee is subject to a probationary period, it is important to hold regular meetings during this time to review progress and, if necessary, set the objectives for future performance. If progress is unsatisfactory it is particularly important to address the issues immediately and establish time scales to allow the individual time to improve.

Where individuals are still deemed to be performing unsatisfactorily at the end of the probationary period, an extension of the probationary period can be mutually agreed, or a decision can be made to terminate his/her employment.

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