December 2017

The know zone

  • Cold turkey
    Christmas comes but once a year... which is just as well for one head who dreads the forced jollity of scratchy sweaters, Secret Santa and elves dancing to Slade. More
  • Mind the gap!
    Despite all the talk about improving social mobility, Kevin Gilmartin says that the latest data on sixth form university admissions indicates that social mobility is actually getting worse. More
  • Measuring up
    Suzanne O'Farrell shares some tips on strengthening your assessment system to make it as robust and effective as possible. More
  • Primary assessment: the next instalment
    This term has seen the government respond to two major consultations affecting the primary sector: one on primary assessment, and one on the Rochford Review into assessing children working below the standard of the National Curriculum tests. Julie McCulloch picks out the headlines. More
  • Smooth transition
    How do you help pupils during the transition stage? Is your school or college doing something innovative to make the process run smoothly and to gently ease children and young people in? What approaches do you take? Here, ASCL members share their views... More
  • Leaders' surgery
    Hotline advice expressed here, and in calls to us, is made in good faith to our members. Schools and colleges should always take formal HR or legal advice from their indemnified provider before acting. More
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Hotline advice expressed here, and in calls to us, is made in good faith to our members. Schools and colleges should always take formal HR or legal advice from their indemnified provider before acting.

Leaders’ surgery

Interview woes

Q: I am an assistant headteacher and I have just been for an interview for a deputy head post at an academy nearby. I did not get the post, and I am not happy with the interview procedures. Can I complain about the interview?

A: Interview procedures are many and varied, but must be fair to all candidates. There are very few statutory requirements for what must happen, but when appointing a headteacher and deputy headteacher in a maintained school, the governing body must appoint a selection panel consisting of at least three of its members under regulation 15, paragraph 3 of The School Staffing (England) Regulations 2009 (

Additionally, page 12 of the DfE’s guidance on these regulations says that at least one person on a recruitment panel must have completed safer recruitment training (see

The requirements for staffing for academy trusts are set out in their funding agreements and regulations. It is up to an academy or multi-academy trust (MAT) to decide which recruitment functions they delegate, but it would certainly be deemed to be good practice to have someone on the panel who has completed the safer recruitment training. See

The interview day should follow the same format for all candidates, and many schools will adopt standard questions, so that no candidate can be perceived to have been treated unfairly. If a candidate feels that s/he has been discriminated against contrary to the Equality Act 2010, then s/he could complain to the school and may be entitled to bring proceedings against the school in an employment tribunal.

Right to see reference

Q: I am a headteacher of an academy that belongs to a large MAT. I recently applied to become the CEO of a different MAT, but was unsuccessful. From some hints dropped by the independent adviser in my feedback, I am concerned that my reference may not have been as supportive as I would have liked, and it may have mentioned a malicious allegation against me that was entirely disproved. Can I see my reference and do I have any recourse if it is not as I would wish?

A: You can request to see your reference from any prospective employer to whom it has been sent, and it should not contain any reference to any malicious allegation that was not proved.

ACAS guidance ( says: “Employees can ask for a copy of any reference sent to a new employer, the request should be in writing. The employer will need to consider if any exemptions apply before they can release the information. If a worker thinks a bad reference has been given they may be able to claim damages in a court, but the worker must be able to show that the information was misleading or inaccurate and that they have suffered a loss such as withdrawal of a job offer.”

See the Statutory safeguarding guidance from the DfE ( On page 31, paragraph 109, it says:

“The purpose of seeking references is to obtain objective and factual information to support appointment decisions. References should always be obtained and scrutinised and any concerns resolved satisfactorily, before the appointment is confirmed.”

Paragraph 111 adds that prospective employers should consider carefully “any information about past disciplinary action or allegations” and on page 46, paragraph 173 it explains: “Cases in which an allegation was proven to be false, unsubstantiated or malicious should not be included in employer references. A history of repeated concerns or allegations which have all been found to be false, unsubstantiated or malicious should also not be included in any reference.”

Contact the Hotline

ASCL members concerned about leadership issues should call the Hotline on 0116 299 1122 or email

Did you know…?

ASCL offers a contract checking service, so if you are about to accept a new post and would like one of our solicitors to check and comment on your contract before you sign it, please contact the ASCL Hotline on 0116 299 1122 and the duty officer will arrange this.

Rachel Bertenshaw is ASCL Hotline Leader