Choosing Online Tutors for your School

Safeguarding considerations and guidance when appointing tutors for Schools in England

Download Overview

Download Overview

  1. Catalogue
  2. Resources
  3. Safe Remote Learning
  4. Online Tutoring

We know that you’re used to hearing about it being a ‘strange time’, but it really is. As headteachers you have been juggling staff morale, social distancing, the return of children to school, and social bubbles. Now you’re going to be able to make use of external tutors to help some pupils catch up. It’s up to you to decide how to use the funding, but there are some considerations you might like to think about before booking your first tutoring sessions.

We recognise that tutoring online will include unsupervised activities with children, such as unsupervised teaching and training children. Consequently, it should be considered as a regulated activity. Therefore the requirements of Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE 2019 and 2020) and Safer Recruitment apply. Leaders should therefore ensure that they complete all appropriate suitability checks on companies and individuals.

Further safeguarding guidance relating to COVID-19 has been published by the Department for Education for schools, college and other providers.

Recruitment Checklist

Safer recruitment guidance included in KCSIE states:

When appointing or contracting new staff [ie a tutor], schools and colleges must:

  • Verify a candidate’s identity
  • Obtain an enhanced DBS certificate
  • Obtain a separate barred list check if an individual will start work in regulated activity before the DBS certificate is available;
  • Verify the person’s right to work in the UK
  • If the person has lived or worked outside the UK, make any further checks the school or college consider appropriate; and
  • Verify professional qualifications [and references], as appropriate.

In the case of contracting an agency, the agency may complete these checks on your behalf. However, it is your responsibility to verify that these have been completed.

You should also note that KCISE further strengthens references to online learning at home in KCISE from September 2020.

Schools and colleges must maintain a single central record of pre-appointment checks, referred to in the Regulations as the register and more commonly known as the single central record. -This should include all appointed tutors.

Further considerations for Leaders

  • Establish the individual needs that pupils have - this will allow you to carefully target your recruitment to meet pupils’ needs. Target your recruitment to meet those needs
  • Review Safeguarding Policy and make appropriate changes, making clear how allegations made against online tutors are handled. See Part 4 of KCSIE
  • What do you want the tutors to deliver? Match the needs of your children to the skills and experience of the tutor
  • Where possible, work in partnership with other trusted schools and colleagues to identify the most suitable tutors to work with
  • When contracting with agencies, ensure you are able to select the tutor and achieve consistency of tutors in order to be able to meet the needs of your children
  • Decide and specify how tutors will work with children online (platforms, application, schemes, policy and processes). See Expectations section for more details

Further Reading

UKCIS External Visitors

SWGfL Safe Remote Learning

Expectations Checklist

It is important to agree the expectations of all online interactions and ensure that tutors understand and adhere to these. This is the schools responsibility and the following considerations may help in defining their expectations:

  • The safeguarding of pupils is paramount and takes precedence over all
  • Identify a suitable environment for the call. Discourage, where possible, pupils from making video calls from their bedroom
  • Appropriate clothing for all participants
  • No personal items visible in the background
  • Distractions and disturbances minimised
  • Using a headset or headphones
  • Cameras optional, but preferred
  • Adherence of all to relevant behaviour and conduct policies
  • Maintain a central register of all video calls and contact this should include the link to the call
  • Adherence to the pre-agreed policy for the recording of sessions
  • Capitalise on engagement opportunities with parents and carers to ensure that they are well-informed (this may include parents/carers observing or participating in sessions)
  • Be conscious of confidentiality when working online

Induction Checklist

Ensure the tutor understands the school’s policy and process, the needs of the individual pupil and identifying the expectations of the sessions.

Before a tutor begins delivery, it is vitally important to ensure that they understand the values and ethos of your school. Spending time inducting them into the school family will greatly enhance the experiences of the children who they support and may help ensure that they deliver an effective experience.

Safeguarding Children

  • Share required documentation including staff handbook
  • Safeguarding and child protection
  • Consider how to share information with the tutor about individual pupils’ needs (include any relevant SEN information)

Safeguarding Technology

  • Agree which technology/systems will be used and provide access to on-going support and training, where necessary
  • Complete connectivity and technology checks before commencing sessions
  • Agree quality assurance practices and monitoring approaches. Leaders should consider dropping in to lessons
  • Agree if online sessions are to be recorded in line with local guidance and practice. Please note: any recordings must not be used for any performance management purposes

Useful links

360 degree Safe