References can often feel like the most difficult part of the compliance process. By the end of this blog, we hope that any concerns regarding references will be alleviated. If not, our compliance team are always on hand to help, so please feel free to call into the office any time!
There are five key requirements for references that we will discuss:
- Cover all places of employment over the last two years
- Referees must be in a senior position
- No gaps of more than three months
- One must comment on the role which you are applying for
- They must be verifiable
Places of Employment
Our policy is to obtain a reference from all places of employment over the last two years, including your current/most recent employer; this includes voluntary roles and any employment not related to teaching. That means if you have worked for five different Teaching Agencies over the last two years, and have also volunteered elsewhere, we will need to obtain a reference from each of them.
If you do not want us to contact any referee until a future date, you can still provide us with the referee details but select “no” when asked to give permission to contact your referee on our reference details form. This will prevent our automatic reference requests from being sent out and we will only chase them once you are ready. However, do keep in mind that references often take the longest in the compliance process so it is best to contact your referees as soon as possible.
In some instances, your chosen referee may have also left, and you might be wondering who you can use instead. This doesn’t prevent us from obtaining a standard reference from that place of employment, as you should still be on their records. This can be from a member of their HR team, who will be able to comment on your job title and dates of employment.
Referees and Senior Positions
It is also important that our references come from a member of staff who was senior to you during your time of employment. This could be, but is not limited to, any of the following:
- A headteacher, deputy head, or head of department
- A mentor during your university placement
- A member of the HR department
Covering Gaps in Employment
References should cover a period of two years, and there must not be any gaps larger than three months.
We appreciate that there are many reasons why you may not have been working and we have many ways to cover these gaps in employment.
If you were not working because you were in education, we can obtain references from your university, college, or another place of education. In instances where you were neither working nor in education, we can obtain a character reference.
Character references can be anyone you know, whether that be a friend, neighbour, doctor, or an old colleague. The only requirement is that they are not related to you.
Commenting on Your Experience
At least one of your references must comment on the role which you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for the role of primary teacher, we require a reference from a recent primary teaching position.
Whilst we do accept Teaching Agency references, they are not allowed to comment on your classroom-based experience. Therefore, we ask for referee details from at least one school that you have worked in.
If you have been working as a Supply Teacher for the past two years and feel as if your referees will not be able to comment on your classroom-based experience as a result, please do get in touch and we can discuss the options available to you.
Sometimes, you may have an open reference letter from a previous referee, but we must still contact the referee’s professional email address in order to verify that they wrote the letter.
Also, we must receive all references via an official, or professional, email address. This means that we cannot accept references from personal email addresses such as Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, etc., unless we can verify them elsewhere.
Real-life is never as straightforward as policy suggests, and that is made especially clear when dealing with references. There are always alternative routes to find a compliant resolution, so please do not hesitate to get in touch with our compliance team if you have any concerns.