Everything You Need to Know About References


References are an integral part of the recruitment and selection process and schools will use them in conjunction with other valuations to assess your suitability for a position. The process for obtaining references for jobs in education is slightly different to how private companies and other organisations operate. References for school vacancies are normally sought before the interview and they must comply with certain criteria which means basic factual references are not accepted. 

In order to comply with Keeping Children Safe in Education, referees must be contacted before the candidate attends the interview and not if the candidate is successful at interview (as it is expected in other industries). You cannot opt out of this if you are applying for roles in schools. This process is generally accepted in the education sector and Headteachers or managers will be used to receiving reference requests for current staff.  

If you work outside of the education sector and are worried about your referees being contacted before you resign, you should contact the school to explain your situation and they may make an exception. 

The purpose of schools contacting your referees prior to interview is to give them the opportunity to discuss the content of the references during interview if necessary.  On the Kent-Teach website you will not be able to submit your application until you have provided two references, in order to comply with current legislation. 

Employment in a school is always subject to two satisfactory references along with additional pre-employment checks. 

Who Can I use as a Reference? 

At least one reference should be from a current or the most recent employer; if you have more than one professional reference then this is ideal.

You can also provide personal references as your second reference but these cannot be from a family member. Good personal referees should know you well and should be able to comment on your suitability to work with children. Examples of personal referees are local religious leaders, college lecturers or neighbours. 

If you are applying for your first role after leaving school or college then you should ask your school/college Headteacher to write a letter explaining why you are suitable for working in a school. You can also provide references from managers or senior colleagues if you have been doing voluntary work as part of your studies or provide a personal character reference from your neighbour or a church leader etc. 

References for Headteacher Applications:

Applicants applying for a Headteacher post at a maintained school, who currently work in a Kent school, will need to provide two references; one being their current school and the second from the Local Authority. 

Applicants working outside the county applying for a Kent Headteacher position should ensure the Director of Education is given as their Local Education referee. This is only applicable if you are applying to work within a Kent maintained school as other schools may have different requirements which should be specified on the advert. Therefore, it is important that candidates applying for a headship check the advert carefully before submitting their referees.

For Voluntary Aided Church Schools, all applicants applying for a headship are required to provide an additional referee who will testify as to the candidate‚Äôs personal religious commitment. For Voluntary Controlled schools, two references are also required, one from the current or most recent employer and the second from the Local Authority or Director of Education, if you are applying from outside of Kent. 

In Catholic Schools, most senior leadership posts require you to be a practising Catholic and therefore, one referee must be your Parish Priest where you regularly worship. The others must be your present employer and other professional (your most recent school/college employer).

Academies require two references for Headteacher posts, one must be a previous or current employer but the second does not have to be the Local Authority. Therefore, for Academy headship posts we recommend that you read the advert carefully to establish if the school have special requirements for the referees you provide.

Need more advice on completing your Kent-Teach application form? Read our blog post on How to Ace Your Reason for Application for more support.

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