Your most frequently asked HR questions answered!


Pip Lloyd is one of Keystone's resident HRexperts.An L7 qualified CIPD practioner, she has a passion for improving children's' education through effective strategic planning and positive employee relations. A skilled mediator with a knack for keeping HR simple, Pip makes sure that all colleagues across the organisation can thrive and that schools can achieve their desired outcomes with minimum hassle and risk.

We asked her for her top three most asked HR issues and here are her answers. We hope this helps in the year ahead!

Q: How can my school tackle a high number of absences?

A: While it's true that high absences can be a cause for concern, it's important to look at what's being done to combat them. The first step is to see if absences are being tracked and if your absence review meetings are taking place correctly. Your absence review meetings should focus on what the school can do to facilitate your staff coming back to work and how you can work together to prevent the absence from occurring again (if possible).

If there is a chronic, widespread issue with long-term absences in your school or trust, (particularly with stress or other mental health-related conditions) you should ensure that your wellbeing package is suitable and is helpful to your staff. Your line managers should also have adequate training to support their colleagues.

Q: How can I search online effectively when recruiting new staff?

As part of the new KCSIE guidelines, you should carry out an online search as part of your due diligence when you are shortlisting candidates. This should be a check of the information that it is publicly available and should be undertaken alongside checking the teachers' register, teacher barred list, references, and DBS checks. Although part of this is to double check their qualifications, you should also be looking for any safeguarding concerns and anything that could bring the school into harm.

First, I would Google the candidate and look for any news articles. Make sure to Google their full name and try adding their previous schools, university, job titles and the word "school" into the searches to give you the most comprehensive overview. I would then look at their social media accounts – LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are all good places to search. You should be looking for any "far out" comments that are of interest and to see how much of their online presence would be available to parents and children at the school.

I would let the candidates know that you are only looking at an overview of their online activity and that you will discuss your findings with them. This may be questioning them about some of their comments or could be mentioning that they should "lock down" their social media.

Q: Do you have a policy on ?

A: This is a question that I often get asked – especially from the clients on my retainer! The Keystone HR team have worked extremely hard to get a suite of policies together to have at our fingertips.

As part of our HR Advice Service, we offer document reviews to ensure that your policies are compliant, well rounded and leave no room for confusion. As a stand-alone option, we can perform a policy review which would provide a comprehensive assessment of all of your policies along with recommendations as well as copies of any policies you might be missing.

Narrowing her most frequently asked questions down to just three was quite the task for Pip! HR is an ever-evolving field, especially in education. Pip and the rest of our HR team work tirelessly to help support schools and trusts with issues ranging from TUPE transfers to disciplinary actions.

If you would like to learn more about Keystone's HR services, please click here.

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