Welcome to teaching – promoting professionalism with new teachers

How can new teachers reflect on their emerging sense of professionalism as they enter the teaching profession?

One way is to generate discussion and debate around thought-provoking scenarios that make explicit the values that inform professional judgement.

I meet thousands of student teachers at hundreds of colleges and universities and discuss such issues. I pose questions like, for example, what is a profession?   How is a ‘profession’ different from any other kind of job?   Do your professional judgements reveal particular values?

Discussing these questions invariably sets off a flurry of debate about the boundaries of personal and professional life.  So for example, I ask: “If you are a good teacher, does it matter if you…

  • get drunk in pubs or clubs at weekends?
  • regularly exceed the speed limit in your own car?
  • use recreational drugs with friends in the privacy of your own home?
  • engage in flirtatious and sexualised banter with colleagues?
  • network with your pupils and students on educational matters using Facebook outside of school hours?
  • become active in an extreme political party?”

The diversity of opinion is fascinating.  Some students will say ‘Yes, it does matter – I’m seen as a role model’.   Others will argue that their private life should be kept separate so why should they be accountable for it professionally?

Read more and get involved in these discussions and tell me what you think…!

198 thoughts on “Welcome to teaching – promoting professionalism with new teachers

    1. Thanks Unseenflirt. Keep in touch – the idea of this blog is that new teachers get a sense of how they as ‘individuals’ emerge in to the uncertain and moving landscape of being a ‘professional’ and the implications that has for personal identity. So do post some comments occasionally in response to blogs – or anything else for that matter – about how you think that affects you. And good luck with your career too..!

  1. get drunk in pubs or clubs at weekends?
    Teachers would not want their students to see them being ridiculous, or out of control, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay home cleaning your chalk brushes.
    regularly exceed the speed limit in your own car?
    You are as accountable as anyone for public safety, if not more accountable. Act as a careful prudent parent.
    No one should speed or use drugs.

    use recreational drugs with friends in the privacy of your own home?
    download pornography on your home computer?

    No pornography, I personally think this is not viable entertainment. Pornography can lead to boundary violations, and objectifying people.
    engage in flirtatious and sexualised banter with colleagues? Not a great example to set and is detracts from the school atmosphere.
    network with your pupils and students on educational matters using Facebook outside of school hours? That is a matter that may change as social media evolves, but most schools say no to teachers on face book with students.
    become active in an extreme political party?”
    I don’t know! You may have to be aware of the political climate in your community. If you are wildly out of step with your community you may be at the wrong school, anyway and they will hold you accountable for your extreme stance as you are seen as role model for youth.

    1. Thanks for that Krista – interesting responses. But I’m going to challenge you a little bit if I may…

      you say, “No-one should speed or use drugs” but the reality of life is that sometimes they do. My question is… “Does that make them a bad teacher?” and some people reply to me “Yes it does. You can’t break the law and be a good teacher.”

      OK. I’m not condoning breaking the law but let’s consider this: Your teenage son (who up until now has hated school and has shown no interest in studying) has got a brilliant teacher who has inspired him to study seriously, do homeowrk diligently and aspire to go to university. One day your son comes home devastated. His teacher has been fired because they were speeding down a motorway at 90 mph to get to a holiday flight they were late for due to a traffic jam. Now, your son doesn’t want to go to school anymore, has lost interest in studying and going to university. Do you feel so intolerant of speeding in that context?

      Here’s another (gentle) challenge…. Your comment about a teacher downloading (adult) pornography on their home computer. Is that a moral judgment or a professional judgment? Do you have right to extend your moral judgments to other people’s private (but legal) behaviour?

      Thanks a lot for post. I’d be interested in your response if you have time.

      1. Hello 🙂
        I think that part of becoming a Teacher is acknowledging that you should always think about your behaviour, because it is that kind of profession. When you are a teacher, you are putting yourself in the front of a whole class of children/other adults that are observing you and learning from you, and that doesn’t just stop in the classroom. Is this why a lot of teachers don’t live in the same town that they teach? I know that everyone is entitled to a private life and what they do in their own time is up to them, but when you are a teacher you are entering a profession that requires good moral judgement. But is this asking quite a lot from people?

      2. Thanks for that Katherine – I think you ask some very pertinent questions, not least the one at the end – “is all this asking a lot from people?” I think the answer is ‘yes’ but with a very big ‘but’… you have to protect your privacy to maintain a balance in your life and protect yourself from being overwhelmed. Don’t be apologetic about telling people to mind their own business when you think they are intruding in to aspects of your life that are legitimately private. But in order to do that, you must take responsibility for protecting your privacy in the first place.
        Good Luck! and thanks for posting.

  2. Personally, I feel that what you do in your private life, providing it doesn’t encroach on your professional life (i.e. alcoholism or drug abuse that starts to interfere with your work), is indeed private.
    I will admit I have seen students out whilst I have been well & truly inebriated. They smiled & said “Did you have a good weekend, Miss?” and left the matter there. I do not feel being a teacher should dictate your entire essence as a human being – yes, we too have desires & want to do naughty things! Shock horror! And there was me thinking that teachers didn’t have any form of social life & were put on this planet solely to mark my work when I was at school. Oh, how things have changed now I’m one of ‘them’.
    I would be more concerned about a teacher thrusting their religious views on children as opposed to whether they enjoyed a glass, or even a bottle, or two of their favourite tipple at the weekend.

    1. Thanks very much for that really measured and witty response CableJunction. It’s interesting isn’t it – how some teachers are absolutely convinced that their image, reputation and effectiveness is damaged by being seen by pupils in a compromised position while others are equally convinced that it adds a dimension to the personality and character of a well-rounded and balanced teacher. It’s yet another good example of how we all bring our personal values to merge with professional values and that, in all cases, that’s a negotiated position with a different starting and end point for us all. Thanks for that great comment.

  3. As for the contentious issue of FaceBook, this one is more tricky. I set up a separate FB profile for my students as I do indeed want the last remaining shreds of my private life kept private. I let the students who wanted to add me; mostly my exam groups of Yrs11-13. They would use it to ask me questions through the instant chat forum & also enjoyed some of the pictures I uploaded from trips & the school prom, etc. It was rather pleasant & they all responded in a mature way.
    The thing that made me delete it was the idea it wasn’t regulated & therefore we, as teachers, were open to accusations, etc, as was highlighted by colleagues. I thought this was very sad. It makes me wonder what the world is coming to. I appreciate professional distance, but we are dealing with young adults who are human beings & probably spend more time talking to us (I am what I suppose would be considered a reasonably young & ‘trendy’ teacher – the kids like my Shakespeare lessons which pleases me no end) than their parents. Ultimately, like much in life, there is a very fine line, but we are human & I am very fond of my students & still wish I was able to use the FB page I set up to stay in contact with some of them as few drop me emails, but they would pop a quick note on my wall.

    1. Again CableJunction, thank you for a very thought-provoking and unusual take on FB, which goes to the heart of what teachers should be trying to do – which is put the best interests of their students first – whatever channels they use to do that. Of course teachers must be cautious to protect themselves and employ proper and appropriate means to safeguard children, but the idea that FB per se should be ruled out as a means of educating students is in my view nonsense.

      I have met a number of teachers like you, who with sensible precautions have used FB very effectively. One such was a peripatetic dance teacher who worked with 80+ in six different schools (so she couldn’t use a single school intranet to cover them all) and set up a FB Group to organise all the various rehearsals and performances. The kids had to apply for membership and she approved it and so was able to regulate content, which was of course quite separate from personal FB pages. Again like you, she said how effective that was, not just for organising the dance groups, but the kids would respond sensibly to other things like adding other dance related content and occasional minor requests for homework help or advice on bullying. She found that it enhanced her trusting professional relationship with those students in a way that she had found difficult to develop in the school setting alone. She knew there was a risk (FB is defined as a ‘social’ network for one thing), but she was taking that risk in a controlled, well managed and measured way out of the best of intentions for the students’ educational interests.

      I am often dismayed at how many teachers, perhaps particularly of an older generation less familiar with social media tools, take with a knee-jerk response to anything around FB or social media – as if there was something inherently suspicious about the behaviour or the motives of teachers who can see an educational use for it or who can se a use for it to make their jobs more effective.

      It seems to me that your example and hers are exactly what we’re there for – putting the best interests of children first – and sometimes that involves an element of risk.

      If a student or pupil approached us and asked could they speak to us privately on a personal matter that was troubling them, we would (I hope) all respond in an appropriate manner using the kind of of judgment that put the interests of the child first. That would probably involve a conversation conducted with discretion away from ear-shot of others (unless they judged that for a particular child for very specific reasons that would be unwise). If someone wanted to be sceptical and suspicious about such a conversation they could define it as a “unregulated” – but it’s the kind of risk teachers take every working day of their lives and thank goodness they do – because that is what we are there for – to put the interest of the child first, even where and when that involves some risk.

      That was an excellent post CableJunction, thank you for responding with the comment and I hope we get a lot of readers to it – it raises a very important issue.

  4. Thank you so much for your comments back, Alan. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading some of your posts as they are issues we rarely discuss in school; often it’s a case of following protocol & there is little room (or time) for questions about what is actually underlying some of the regulations.

    As teachers, I think we have all sadly heard of scare stories which we heed warning to. There are ones of teachers who’ve started inappropriate relationships with students (something unthinkable as far as I’m concerned) &, likewise, students who have spread false allegations about teachers. Simply because they are children, many people assume they do not have this capability yet, just like adults, there are some very ‘messed up’ ones out there. It is definitely prudent to protect yourself but in the same vein most people don’t take the decision to become a teacher lightly & absolutely have the kids’ best interests at heart.

    I totally agree with your comment about many conversations, in whatever forum they may be, being ‘unregulated’ to some extent. This year I have had the pleasure of teaching my first Top Set, Year 10 into 11, and I can honestly say it has been an absolute pleasure. All the additional hours after work, at weekends & through our ‘holidays’ has been worth it to see these kids enjoying learning, taking pride in their work and aiming for the best marks possible. However, this did entail, from both sides, a lot of additional after school revision sessions & coursework workshops. For my efforts I received card, flowers, chocolates, a keyring, and photos of me with my form & top set (which are now proudly positioned on my desk). This for me was what teaching was all about & how I envisaged it, but had yet to find, when I entered the profession.
    Some of these students have now left to go to college or sixth forms at other schools and many of them wanted to add me as a friend on FB. I too wanted to add them so I could keep in touch, possibly still help out, and find out how they are getting along. The ‘student’ FB account I deleted would have been a perfect way to do this as it’s something they all use. I guess my point to this thread is that I do feel sad & a little bit angry that we can be trusted enough to look after these kids in many ways but ultimately our personal / professional judgement over what is & isn’t acceptable counts for very little. I just hope they will email me from time to time & that in so doing this won’t be seen as something that pushes the professional boundaries.

    1. You sound like a fantastic teacher CableJunction with bags of enthusiasm, commitment and talent – just what young people need – so it’s no surprise to me they responded the way they did to you. The point I was trying to make in the ‘The End is Nigh’ blog was that it is their prerogative and privilege to want to keep in touch with you – and I’m not saying don’t – I’m just saying that we must be wary of being a bit ‘sentimental’ and ‘clingy’ and self indulgent when actually these kids need to fly the nest and find other “significant others”. It’s a bit like good parenting – we love them to bits but eventually a good parent tells them to go and make a family of their own.

      Excellent post – thanks very much again.

  5. I totally agree with your comments – although I am not one of these ‘super’ teachers we hear about (sadly), but what I lack in finesse I do make up for in enthusiasm, as you say 🙂 . I am of an age where I would like my own children & some of the kids I teach I’d be proud to have as my own. As for sentimental – absolutely! Self-indulgent – more than I’d like. But, it’s not that I don’t want them to fly the nest, I just want to hear how well they are doing & the odd wall post about a first or a 2:1 in an assignment would be rather fantastic; somehow emails seem to formalise that to a certain extent. Blogging, twittering, FB & Google+ , etc, seem to be making head-way in every other profession, why not in teaching – we devote a lot of our lives to the interest of the younger generations, so why not integrate it sensibly into something practical & a little self-indulgent? I never was the type to stand on formality . . .

  6. I was first introduced to this website by Alan Newland while at Winchester University. Alan came in to give us a lecture based around the GTC and discussed what our first year may be like, with some very funny anecdotes based around his own experiences, as well as asking us some challenging and thought provoking questions! Since then I have kept an eye on this blog and have very much enjoyed the discussions that have taken place. This blog always gives me something to think about and is a very interesting read. I have also found it very useful since I have been offered my first post as it has offered me ideas to help get me started. Alan is a very helpful man who provides an excellent service here, he has offered fantastic advice and wonderful thought provoking views that have challenged me as a proffessional and provided me and my friends with fantastic topics that we have in fact debated ourselves. A fantastic blog that is a credit to its creator.

    1. Sarah thanks for those kind words – and I’m glad I was able to provide some amusement as well as advice to you and your fellow students in the final days of your course. Even gladder that you seem to be continuing discussing some of the topics and issues… that’s great.

      Just be careful that you don’t spend all your waking (and some of your sleeping) hours hours thinking and talking about them too, you may find your friends say to you what they said to me when I started teaching: “Don’t you think about anything else..!”

      Good Luck with the new job.

  7. As a NQT, I have found a huge amount of support from this blog. I first heard of it when Alan Newland came to lecture us on professionalism on our last day at University. I found the lecture informative, thought provoking and very relevant. Since that day, I have used this blog to help me in preparation for interview and when dealing with challenging children, to mention a few! Newteacherstalk is also on Twitter and there is always a relevant issue to be read and discussed. Most are issues that are not covered in University and because I was completed a part time PGCE, everything was a little rushed. This blog has helped me think through some of the reasons why I got into teaching in the first place, especially when things have become difficult. Now after almost five months in full time teaching, I feel like I am finally there and know that if I need support out of school or have a question, this blog is there to help. The views and opinions of others has definitely helped me shape my own.

    1. Mezzle, thanks for those very kind words and I’m very glad that the blog has been useful to you in your first year, challenging though that has been. I was very glad to hear that the views and opinions of others help you shape your own – in a sense, that’s a very good way of defining ‘a profession’ – a community of shared values.

      Thanks again and I hope you’ll continue to find the blog useful in the coming years too.

  8. Teachers saved my life.

    I was a Catholic school girl who was raised by a mentally ill mother who believed she killed Jesus. I get so tired of hearing the 24-hour media whining about how to improve education to better serve at-risk children. More testing is not the answer. Connecting with students is what matters! My brothers and sisters and I grew up on welfare, with a mentally ill mother and an absentee father. When we were teens and my mother was committed again and again to mental institutions, we had to steal food, clothing and toiletries to survive.

    Yet, today, we have all broken the cycle of poverty and abuse for ourselves and our children. How? We had exceptional teachers. They didn’t just dispense facts. Instead, they provided opportunities for us to confirm our self worth. Money is not what is needed to improve education. Making it possible for caring, competent teachers to make a meaningful connection with EVERY child in the classroom makes all the difference. A high school teacher’s few positive comments scribbled in my weekly journal were enough to sustain me for a week. Soon, one week led to another and before I knew it, I was graduating from college. This magical connection in the classroom can never be measured by a standardized test. Just take the time to really see every child and you’ll save lives too!

    So if you ever need inspiration as a new teacher, I hope you’ll consider reading my book. My Mother Killed Christ: But God Loves Me Anyway.

  9. The ‘put your own oxygen mask on first’ advice is written in code on my desk at school. Thank you for being somewhere I could visit for advice this year and, hopefully, the years to come.

  10. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few months reading your posts and thinking about some of the philosophical dilemmas that you pose. Your words are thought provoking. You offer useful and insightful viewpoints and your personal reflections are authentic and sincere.

    As someone who works continuously with student teachers, it is crucial that I read what they have to say about some of the discussion points you raise. You’ve developed an open forum for honest, professional debate.

    Your blog is sharp and to the point but best of all, consistent. You tackle the relevant issues that face our newest colleagues. I will be recommending it to the university students that I work with out here in New Zealand.

    1. Thanks very much for that osheahq. I’m glad that you find the blog both thought provoking and useful for your work with new teachers in New Zealand.

      Some years ago I did similar work and it was great fun, especially as it was at a university that pioneered entry in to teaching via ‘non-traditional’ routes. That meant we had students who came from a wide variety of social and ethnic backgrounds with varying educational qualifications – but by the time they had finished a (then) four year course they were fantastic teachers.

      What made it particularly interesting was the variety and diversity of values that they brought in – everything from “archetypal East End working class” women who had messed up at school but having had their own children now realised how much they had to offer as a teacher; through to Caribbean, African and Asian multi-lingual students who came in speaking sometimes three or four languages and sometimes with very ‘conservative’ views about how to teach in a liberal, democratic society like the UK. It was fascinating, challenging and huge fun.

      I will look forward to contributions from you and hopefully your students for that reason (and others). Your perspective from New Zealand on the issues raised in the blog will be particularly interesting to people in other parts of the world I think. One of the questions I raise in the blogs is: “Are the values of teaching universal?” Well, with contributions like yours… we’re about to find out..!

      Thanks again for the kind words and I look forward to your posts.

  11. Being only 22 and embarking on a secondary PGCE is a little daunting. I’ve spent the summer teaching ESL to teens only a few years younger than me and I’ve found that drawing the line between professional teacher-student interactions and young person-young person interaction is quite tough. I found myself explaining the third conditional by discussing the probability of marrying Brad Pitt to chatting to students about the weekend’s gossip, hearing their stories about sex, answering questions about my favourite cocktail and being asked for my Facebook name. When do I step back and say “No guys, although we’re almost the same age, share similar hobbies and follow the same youth culture, I’m your teacher and as a result any interaction that is not strictly educational is forbidden.” But is it? Naturally I wouldn’t embark on a tirade about my weekend shenanigans (not that in fact I’d have any scandals to hide) but should it really be so tightly bound that we can’t “chat” about the heres and theres of life, even if it means sharing personal stuff, admitting to, say, smoking (I don’t smoke)?

    1. Hi Mella, you have raised an interesting set of dilemmas to think about here – thanks for the challenge..!

      Of course, one of the really interesting (and challenging) aspects of hosting this blog is that there aren’t necessarily ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ answers – and some of the discussions (and my anecdotes) have illustrated what was once a ‘right’ answer when I started teaching may have since become a ‘wrong’ answer – so it’s interesting the way values changes. So you are right to ask “But is it…?”

      This is my view…

      As an ESL ‘teacher’ I think you are in a slightly different position. I’m not denigrating the skills, knowledge or professionalism of ESL teachers, but you were (presumably) being employed as an ‘instructor / tutor’ rather than as a ‘qualified teacher’. Once you do your PGCE and qualify with QTS you’ll have wider pastoral and even legal responsibilities that come as part of the territory .

      I have some friends who taught ESL abroad and it was even part of their contract to spend a few hours a week socialising with students so that they could practise their English in social contexts outside the classroom, and some have talked about having become friends with their students. In such situations it is inevitable that adults of a similar age will talk about all kinds of things and some of the topics will inevitably get on to personal matters. The question for you is how much you want that to happen. Some of my friends were working (almost) alone in a foreign country. Making friends with students seemed an inviting thing to do at the time – especially if it didn’t impact upon their effectiveness to teach and manage the class the next day.

      But this time next year, you’ll be someone who is recognised by society as a ‘qualified teacher’ with a set of responsibilities and expectations as a role model to young people. Then I think you have to be a little more cautious. First, to remember that it is your primary duty to prioritise the best interests of your clients. Secondly to protect yourself.

      So ask yourself whether it serves your clients (that is your students and pupils) interests to reveal things about yourself and your private life. Secondly ask yourself could you be compromised by those revelations?

      Some years ago, a child in my Year 6 class (only eleven years old) asked me out of the blue: “Sir, have you ever taken drugs?” I answered him directly. I said: “Yes, when I was a student, I smoked dope a couple of times and on another occasion I once took a drug called LSD. But I was experimenting with friends and I found out I didn’t like the way I felt, it made me sick. And the way my friends behaved actually frightened me . So I didn’t do it again and regret I did it in the first place.”

      Actually I was lying. (I had smoked dope on a further couple of occasions during the early years of my teaching career). But I had fulfilled the two criteria I was talking about just now. I tried to put the interest of the child first by using my example as a mistake that I later regretted. Though it was a risk. I hoped the child might listen more intently to the implied advice I was offering by appearing to be honest.

      But I wasn’t totally honest, because I didn’t want to compromise myself or my career.

      Look Mella, you’re going to make lots of mistakes – that’s natural, human and understandable. (Apart from anything, you’ll learn by your mistakes – we tell the kids that much..!). Just try not to make the kind of mistakes that put the safety or interests of the children in jeopardy or your promising career at risk.

      Good Luck with the PGCE and keep me posted on how tit goes..!

  12. Having just completed my PGCE and done the first 5 weeks of my NQT post, I have found this post and blog very interesting!

    At 22, I’m the youngest an NQT can be and having a social life and coming straight from University I can completely resonate with the work Vs social issues.

    I ran into a student whilst walking to a friends in Mcr town centre… I was going for a quiet night and had a bottle of wine in my hand. However, I could of very easily been in a mini skirt on my way out for the night! I hid my face in my hair and quickly swapped sides of the road, but I was utterly mortified.

    This boy would have clearly made it known I was out/dressed up/etc, and I do feel like it could have affected my professionalism in front of my class.
    But I don’t feel like it should of, as going out on a Saturday night with friends does not affect my ability to teach good lessons.

    Would love to know what others think.

    Excellent blog btw! 🙂

    1. Thanks Lauren – congratulations on completing your PGCE and getting the job.

      I also applaud the mature and professional attitude you take to all of this. However, I would totally agree with you – you are a young woman who has every right to go out and have a good time with her friends on a Saturday night (or any other night you choose for that matter) and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. I don’t think being seen by that boy would have affected your professionalism, but he may have tried to undermine your personal reputation. Even if people make a moral judgment about you – it doesn’t mean they have a right to do so – so stand your ground and live your private life the way you have a right to.

      But as you correctly identify… it’s hard to manage other people’s perceptions of your private actions – so be discreet and protect your privacy where and when you can.

      Thanks for your post – and I hope other NQTs respond to it with examples of their own.

      Good luck when the new term starts..!

  13. Teachers are not perfect. If teachers are to be able to contextualize their lesson beyond the four walls of their classrooms, into a relevant socio-cultural milieu, they should have knowledge(although not experientially) of these realities and their influence as well as the legal consequences (e.g. alcohol and drug abuse, driving tickets etc.). I believe with Freire, that true education is “emancipatory” in nature, and that literacy should eventually lead learners to be in touch with each, their own experiences and culture, question it or affirm it, and liberate themselves through “conscientization” and transformative actions. So we do not only teach students “how to count” but “what counts most in life”.
    Teaching is a high calling that demands strict ethical professionalism especially because as an authority figure, his/her every action is backed by the “color of law”, and is presumed lawful.
    However, as to a teacher’s misconduct occuring off-campus and during non-working hours, in the state of California, the school district has the burden to prove that the alleged misconduct has an “effect” on the performance of his duties before a dismissal can take place and that the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution requires a just hearing to afford the teacher “due process” (Calif. Education Code 44932 ff.) For new teachers, there is a probationary period and at any time, dismissal is at the discretion of the school Administrator.It is wise, therefore, to rethink about the demands of the vocation before making a commitment.

    1. Hi l.grace,

      thanks for such a considered, extended and thought-provoking response. It is very interesting to see how these issues are addressed in different parts of the world and the comparison between the west coast of the US and England in the UK is fascinating.

      In another blog on the site, I write and ask about whether we are a profession that has a shared set of values and codes across societies and cultures. For example, do we as teachers in “liberal deomocracies” like California and England have the same set of values and codes as teachers in countries that are “conservative and authoritarian” (like Saudi Arabia or Zimbabwe)? One issue that divides us from societies like those might be the principle of equality for example (around things like gender, sexuality, etc) both in terms of our principled commitment to client impartiality and the freedom of a teacher to practise their profession unhindered.

      Any views on that?

      Thanks again for your comments – fascinating stuff.

  14. It’s great to see someone urging new teachers to consider these serious issues. I think there is a credible argument to be made that it is precisely the lack of professionalism within the “profession” that has led to it being such a political football in recent decades.

    For me, it’s the political question on your list which causes me most concern. I yearn for the days when teachers realise that simply because they are dealing with other peoples’ children (not adults) they have no right to air their personal political views and concerns, ever.

    1. Hi Joe, thanks for that and you raise a very important issue – though I’d hate for you to think that I’m suggesting that teachers shouldn’t express ‘political views’ – (depending what you and I define as ‘political views’ of course…)

      Let me clarify. Sometimes children would ask me “Sir, who do you vote for?” and as a matter of principle, I would say: “That’s a private matter. When you grow up to vote you can keep it a secret too if you like, so that people won’t be able to judge you on the way you vote. And because I don’t want you to judge me on the way I vote, I keep that a private matter from you.” Usually, they’d walk away with a quizzical look – probably because I had bored them to death..!

      On the other hand, I think ‘teaching’ and ‘education’ are both fundamentally political processes and that responsibility can’t be abdicated by teachers. Teaching and education are about values and imbued within those values are political philosophies.

      For example, the very fact that (as a society) we choose to teach certain things (and not others) reveals that we teach within the accepted consensus of “a liberal, democratic, pluralistic, capitalistic society” – and examples of that are teaching things like “Business Studies” or the “Jewish Holocaust” or “Modern Languages” that include French as well as Bengali.

      Where I think we agree completely is that teachers should not, in my view, seek to influence the political views of pupils and students (for example, by saying that “You should support Labour” or “You should not support the renewal of Trident missiles”). However, I do think we are in the business of trying to be influential in the way pupils and students adopt and build personal and social values. And I accept there is a fine line between the two..!

      Thanks again for a very thought-provoking post.

    1. Thanks for that post thatwritinglady. It is a tough question and you have a tough job trying to maintain privacy and balancing your role as a teacher with that of just being a ‘normal’ person. I went to meet some new teachers on the Isle of Wight in the UK recently – which is also a small community – and they said there was nowhere on the island where they could drink in a pub or socialise in a club with out being recognised by someone they know.

      I would be really interested for you to read some of the oher blogs and see how you respond to them. I look forward to that. Thanks again for posting.

  15. I am after some advice- I have recently signed up to Twitter. I think it is an invaluable tool for resources and encourages debate. However, I’ve noticed that several of my Yr11 students now ‘follow’ me. I do not follow them, as our school policy is not to have students as ‘friends’ on Facebook. How do I handle this effectively, without compromising my professionalism and my private life?

    1. Hi Asha, thanks for that – I’m sure you’re in the same boat as many new teachers but given that your school has a restrictive policy on social media use I’d suggest the following:

      have two separate Twitter accounts, one for completely private use and the other (the existing one) for tweets that you can use for professional reasons like tweeting resources etc that you referred to earlier. To enable you to keep the private one private, I would suggest creating a pseudonym without a personal picture on the profile page and no other identifying features, so that when you launch the private twitter account, your students won’t recognise you or know it’s you. Just tell your family, friends and associates about it. Others, not students, will follow you eventually.

      The fact that some students are already followers should not be a problem for the school, as being followed on Twitter is a passive thing as far as you’re concerned – you have not solicited them – it’s not like actively friending someone on Facebook either. So if they ask, explain that to them. You have said that you do not follow them – that’s good – keep to that.

      Try that and let me know how it goes – good luck..!

      1. Thank you very much for your help- and a shout out to the @TeacherToolkit for recommending you! Thanks again!

  16. I received an excellent piece of advice from a veteran teacher: do not go out for drinks in the same town where you teach. Someone from either the parental arena or the school committee will be lurking in the background, just in time to hear you call their child ‘a pain in the neck’ – or worse. Take a quick jaunt but five minutes out of town and hunker down there to partake in social niceties… or not-so-niceties.

  17. I can hardly call myself a new school teacher after having been in the profession for almost 21 years now. But let me tell you that my awe is no less open-mouthed than the youngest one in the brotherhood as I come across the ‘gentle’ challenges and ‘dilemmas’ that this blog presents. You have, in one of your quips, ventured into a comparison between the sets of codes and values for teachers in “liberal democracies” and “conservative and authoritarian” societies.

    I am from India, where the teacher or the ‘guru’ or the ‘acharya’ (literally – ‘worthy of emulation’) once enjoyed a very high pedestal. I am not talking about the ‘hoary past’, mind you, but even about the time we had started teaching we could feel the aura our predecessors had left behind and could reasonably well bask in it. Things have taken an abrupt and unfortunate(?) turn over the last – say – fifteen years; and I really don’t know whether it is the globalization, the commercialization or the information technology boom that is to be held culprit.

    Teachers, as a general phenomenon, have lost the ‘acharya’ pedestal. Perhaps because, unlike their predecessors, they would not mind a raunchy gossip now and then, a lewd text message from a friend or a hefty remuneration for a private coaching session. Very much like the child-lost-in-the-tube incident, while no body (neither the student, nor the parents) would then mind a teacher thrashing a child; today a simple “how dare you” could invite ‘earaches’ from not only the parents, their lawyer, the media, but the student himself. Here we have the ‘chicken and the egg’ problem. We don’t know if it was the teacher who shed his conservative garb first, or it was a reaction to the students’ (now empowered with the information technology) effort to dethrone him from his ‘demigodliness’.

    Of course, we still have popular teachers, but their cause of popularity could very well be their advocacy for an extreme political view or any such non-academic attributes. Conservatism or liberalism are mere passers-bye in this (I suppose, global) phenomenon.

    May I inform about a new development in the Indian society (definitely a by-product of globalization), which has further jeopardized the teachers’ position? The recent government diktat stops schools to detain a child in any class (grade/form) resulting in some students throwing blank test papers at their teachers with the utterance, “C’mon – show me how you are going to fail me !” Some boys, I am told, engage themselves in part time trades during school hours, hardly ever studying, and are promoted to the higher class every year by default.

    1. Hi Gurudev – what a brilliant, insightful and wise series of remarks you make there. Thank you so much for taking the time to write them. Thank you also for reading so many of the blogs and bringing your wide ranging comments altogether the way you have.

      It is fascinating how access to a globalised media is having an effect on the attitudes and behaviour of children and students across the world towards teachers, authority and the ‘culture of education’ and perhaps on the attitudes and behaviours of teachers too – by the evidence you provide. Though in spite of the increasing homogenisation of popular culture and the effect it has even on professional life, I think there are still huge contrasts even between ‘liberal’ societies like our own – India and the UK – and particularly between ours and more ‘authoritarian’ societies like Saudi Arabia or Iran.

      I’m fascinated by this stuff though Gurudev and your contribution has been really valued – so thanks again for making the comments… and I hope you keep reading the blog and use it to find ways of passing on your insights to other teachers in the UK and around the world.

  18. Let me say that this is a wonderful discussion. Imagine the issues of privacy for me, a teacher working on a tiny island in the Caribbean. Whatever I do in public people are going to know about it. After many years as a teacher, I have taught thousands of children so there is absolutely nowhere I could go on the island and misbehave if I wanted to(not that I do) without it becoming a matter for gossip.

    Our system is based on the old English colonial education system. and teachers and priests were, at one time, the most educated people in the area. In fact, they were sometimes the only people who could read or write for miles. Teachers read important letters and documents for ordinary people. helped them write to loved ones overseas and mediated the printed word for fellow citizens. This required a very high level of trust and a lot of this still lingers even though the literacy rate has reached international standards.

    Young teachers coming into the profession are not interested in this history. They feel that any moral dimension to the profession, besides a general regard for law and order, is a strategem by old idiots who need to mind their own business. However experience is a harsh task master. Years ago an attractive new teacher came to teach a senior class and not only did her short skirts and fishnet stockings raise eyebrows but her wild dancing with some students at a local disco was the talk of the school. She spent an entire Monday morning crying in the bathroom after male students asked a few inappropriate questions.

    The kids were disciplined but kids look to adults for a model on how to set boundaries. Whether or not it is stated in the contract, it is much easier to have authority in a classroom if teachers have certain basic levels of behaviour and personal integrity in school and out.. My advice to teachers is that if you feel that when you are at work you are faking it and feeling phony, then maybe teaching is not for you or perhaps you need to teach at a level where the moral behaviour of instructors is not seen to be important.

    1. CW thank you so much for the very fascinating comment you have made and the insight in to the perceptions (and the reality) of the teaching profession in the Caribbean. One of the great things about writing this blog is getting responses like yours which provide such a wise and mature reflection on your experience which provides sage advice to younger teachers. I suggest you write a blog yourself – you sound like a wonderful teacher and a pillar to your island community. Thanks again for sharing your wisdom.

  19. A very interesting discussion with insightful comments, thank you. I am newly qualified at 51, a baby in teaching terms, I want my learners to respect me and consider me a role model, this takes conscious effort on my behalf. Is teaching a craft or a profession, well in my opinion it’s a craft to be honed whilst holding professional values all the way. Thank you for the thought provoking script.

    1. Hi Alison – thanks for that, and I think that’s a very compelling phrase you use – “a craft to be honed whilst holding professional values” – that’s hard to argue with. But I think I would still maintain that the public interest in the standards and integrity of teaching is so compelling that its professional values and practises should be have the status and gravitas of something more than a craft. Good Luck with your career and I hope you keep reading the blog.

  20. I am a primary NQT, I deliberately didn’t apply for schools close to home as I wanted to be judged on my performance as a teacher not through preconceived ideas about me (either first hand or gossip, positive or negative). My 3 children are now all at secondary school or working and I have been active in the community as they grew up.
    When I bump into placement pupils I have enjoyed a quick hello but its good to know I can go to the sports centre, cafe or pub without being on show.
    As for social networking, why not share learning via twitter? Facebook is for 13+ and my KS2 class shouldn’t be on it. I don’t have a problem with closed groups and events on fb organised by teachers for secondary school children, as there is no need for becoming ‘friends’. My children’s school is involved in Rock Challenge (google it, it’s amazing!). It requires many hours of rehearsals and commitment mostly outside normal school hours. Facebook was instrumental in providing a good communication channel and was a positive ‘space’ for pupils of different ages to ‘meet’ and motivate each other.
    Speeding regularly would result in a loss of licence but is a matter for the police not employer. Adult porn – is not illegal even if we may disapprove but it should not be in school.
    Drugs can impact on your general mental and physical state – as can alcohol which should be used sensibly by everyone, not just teachers.

    1. Thanks Katherine – an interesting range of very balanced and mature views (in my view) about the various issues I’ve raised. I’d be very interested in your views on some of the other blogs when you have time (which you won’t..! at least not after next week..!) Good Luck with the new term.

  21. Good morning. This strand actually raises some very interesting questions for me, and some of the points made above are excellent. You could almost make a “teacher’s checklist” …

    I am looking to become a MFL teacher in the next two years or so, and so will remove myself from my IT background of 15+ years and its habitual, associated behaviours (heavy online presence, outspoken views, very aggressive competitive nature, etc). One of the eternal questions for me is what jumping across into teaching will mean in terms of the different deltas between what is acceptable and what isn’t in each profession.

    The term “role model” is oft quoted, and I would like to think that this is what I would be with the knowledge of behaviours to avoid (I note the “Not drinking in the town where you work” above as a salient point, although perhaps “Not being drunk in the town where you work” may be more appropriate – teachers of mine certainly drank in the local town).

    A very interesting thread.

    1. Thanks Mike – glad you found it interesting – and of you have time, please comment on some of the other issues and threads. Would value your feedback as someone thinking of entering the profession.

  22. HI all,
    I simply need some advice. I have done all my studies in French in Belgium and I have recently done a PGCE in the UK. I passed with Outstanding in my final Placement, but as my maths tuition was very different in the Belgian academic structure, I have failed 2 of my chances and, I can’t bare to fail again. I’ve been applying to Academies and International Schools, where apparently they don’t need QTS. I have found that this is not true, they are always willing to take me on, until they find out about my lack of QTS. Can anyone give me some advice, without crushing me please, as lots of people believe you shouldn’t even be a teacher if you don’t hold QTS. Thank you, Cait

    1. Hi Caitlin, this is a difficult question but I’ll do my best. You are right that academies and independent schools such as international schools don’t legally require QTS but the fact is that it is a marker of academic and professional standards that most employers, schools and other teachers recognise. This is why even though it is not legally required, most employers in any sector will expect it – especially from a new teacher. Prospective teachers with other experience or expertise – for example, someone coming out of the military with specific maths or physics knowledge and skills might be attractive to a particular school and they might be willing to overlook the lack of QTS in such a candidate, but a young new teacher without QTS might raise some questions in the minds of an employer.

      If you have failed the QTS tests twice then you’re only option it seems will be to keep plugging away at academies and independent schools. My advice would be give them reasons why it would be mad for them not to employ you. So don’t be shy about telling them the extra skills, expertise and experience you have which are so attractive that they will find it irresistible to employ you. Good Luck.

  23. Very interesting. I would say that as long as your private life is kept just that, and you are a kind and conscientious and good teacher, there shouldn’t be a problem. As long as the children aren’t affected by what you do, you have as much a right to your own life as anyone else I would say.

    I have a blog focusing on my experience as a PGCE teacher here


    Would be very grateful for people to have a look and comment and share!

  24. I understand that everybody should have their private life but the teaching is not a job, it’s not something you do for money or making your life. It’s about educating and raising generations. Whenever we start seeing teaching as a regular job, this will be the downfall of the generations and it will be too late to discuss being a real teacher.

  25. What an enticing set of questions. I guess it really comes down to which philosophy one holds to answer the questions. One set of teacher’s values will be different from another set of teacher’s values. Is one right and the other wrong? Typically either side of this discussion would say yes they are right, while considering the other side to be wrong; however, the truth of the matter is… it depends. Really it depends on what the values the parents of the child who the teacher is teaching holds as valuable. Some parents will want their teachers to be good role models through and through, while others won’t care so much about a teachers character so long as she gets the student to perform.

    Great question!

    1. Hi mr lee, thanks for that. My view is that teachers come in to teaching with a set of personal values and that they are often challenged by integrating them in to a set of professional values that are broadly shared by the profession itself (and often expressed through things like codes of practice) but more often expressed simply by the way teachers conduct themselves every day in the professional relationships they have with their clients. Often that integration is seamless and unproblematic, other times it involves some tension and resolution. But given the special nature of teaching, I think you are quite right in saying that role model status requires the acceptance of particular standards, at least in public. That means teachers need to protect their reputation more than the rest of the population. I don’t think they necessarily have to be more moral, but keeping their private life private, will help them manage their reputation. Good luck with yours and your career.

  26. I agree with Mr C, for me teaching isn’t a job to pay the bills, or even just a job I shall enjoy, but a lifestyle choice. I’m due to graduate this summer from my four year teaching degree and already, every place I visit or tv show I watch: “The kids would love this!” “This would be good for such a lesson!” Thankfully, my very understanding boyfriend and my family realise they are a part of this too!

    During my final placement I taught at a school about a10 minute drive from our house. Fantastic for those early morning starts! However, a weekend trip to the swimming pool was very uncomfortable when one of my year 6 boys was there. I have none of the children or their families on my Facebook, which contains an odd few holiday bikini snaps, but there I was in my swimming costume, no make up and with my boyfriend. I had done nothing wrong, yet it felt so inappropriate! Now, months on I still have to get nicely dressed and look presentable just to go to Asda, as I seem to see at least one family from the school each time I’ve been since. No dashing to the supermarket in my track suit bottoms for a last minute chocolate fix and a bottle of wine!! These are certainly things I shall consider on my job hunt. Some things, such as Facebook and other social media, we can control. It’s part of my responsibility as a teacher and part of my right to slice of private life.

  27. I’ve been wondering the same thing as your post… I am starting my fifth year as an elementary school ESL teacher in Korea, and to be honest I don’t think it matters what teachers do in their own free time as long as they do not let it interfere in any negative way with work. I have not yet met ONE English teacher here who does not hit up the clubs and/or bars on weekends – but we all make sure that we are back in teacher-mode by Monday morning. This actually pertains to any career, really… everyone has their own way to relieve stress piled on from work. Whatever if may be, if you take that away, what is there to look forward to during the workweek? I’ve long stopped club-hopping and whatnot, and I still don’t judge others for spending their free time exactly the way they want to (although, I WILL shoot a look of disdain at anyone who actually uses the word ‘YOLO’ in real life).

    1. ha ha! but don’t let these questions change your life in to something unbearable. Remember… you are still young, need a social life and will make mistakes… just be discreet..!

  28. very interesting.
    Teachers are not merely educators who give dogmatic lectures of life. In the course of our formal education, teachers have shaped our lives, and formed our character to be the citizens we ought to be. It is then just right that the societies they have formed expect them to live the life they taught to be moral.
    Being a teacher does not start and end during school hours. It is a way of life that one nobly takes.
    These are excerpt from my new blog entry about TEACHER PROFESSIONALISM. ^_^
    The link is http://boyetme.blogspot.com/2013/04/does-professionalism-end-after-school.html
    Hope you can visit and leave any comment you have in mind.
    By the way, I am a Math teacher in an International School here in the Philippines.

  29. hello there
    im a 23 year old guy who has always wanted to be a teacher and has worked within primary schools for the last two years working with a range of learning abilities. I am a uni grad and I am currently applying to do my PGCE.
    unfortunately I had ended up going through some problems since finishing my degree. I met someone who recently came out as gay and they left their current partner and my now step son who is four. over the period of June 2012 and January 2013 myself and my partner who looking after his child the majority of the time as his ex partner suffers from mental health issues. things came to a head when she took several overdoses and was demanding more money from my partner despite looking after his son the majority of the week. as my partner works full time I became their child’s primary carer and I always made sure they had a stable environment.
    unfortuntaley I made the mistake one evening when the child was continuingly enticing the family dog and after going through the process I ended up smacking him but leaving a mark. I was always very honest about it and I was so guilty over the incident but I was frightened something would happen to them and I panicked.
    following this my partner’s ex reported myself to social services and I had to speak to a police officer and was in tears and completely distraught by the whole incident. I was given Restorative Justice where I offered to do a parenting class. the woman I worked with told me they knew the kind of person I was and I a more than capable to look after children. All I am worried about is whther I will be able to become a teacher over this one mistake and whether it will appear on my DBS check although if anyone reads up about restorative justice it is not recorded in the national police computer. I am so worried and upset that this will effect my whole life. If someone could get in touch it would be really appreciated. Since then everything is back to normal and I am desperately trying to get my career on track and I have several volunterring offers at local primary schools and I have applied for my PGCE.
    please help xxx

    1. Hi James, thanks for posting in such a frank and honest way. It seems from what you have said that you have not got a criminal conviction for this offence, though you may have received a caution as part of the “restorative justice” decision (a caution is where you accept you have committed an offence but have shown remorse and accepted responsibility). In this case, it may show up on the DBS check depending on what the caution was given for. If it was for “physical assaulting a child” – then it probably will.

      However, it seems to me that it is at the lower end of the scale of seriousness and it should not be a irredeemable barrier to you entering teaching. When you apply for a PGCE, the application form will ask you to declare any convictions or cautions and the training provider will do a “suitability” check. Make sure you declare this and explain the circumstances. I think given the circumstances, and if it is an isolated incident as I’m sure it is, then you shouldn’t have an insurmountable problem – though you may be questioned about it at your PGCE interview, so be ready with a good but honest answer. You will need to convince any PGCE interviewer that this was a “one-off”, so be ready for that but I would be very surprised if they denied you place on the basis of this one incident.

      Good Luck!

  30. I want to know should something be said that my girls school principle was very drunk but my girls happen to not be around that day. It was at a fourwheeling club.I don’t drink. So am I judging her.

    1. Hi Misty, thanks for your post.

      You are of course at liberty to judge your daughter’s principal’s drunken behaviour as distasteful and inappropriate. But it sounds as though “a four-wheeling event” is an ‘outside school’ event? If so, I think you should be aware that in judging her behaviour, you are judging her personal behaviour and not her professional behaviour or indeed her competence.

      It’s not clear from your post if the principal was about to drive a car under the influence of alcohol or whether she was just ‘worse for wear’ at a social event. Obviously if she was about to drive under the influence of alcohol that would be illegal and a much more serious matter.

      However, the way a teacher behaves outside school may not meet your own personal standards or personal morality and you have a right to judge that, as we all do. But we also live in a tolerant and liberal society where we should expect to have to tolerate the “deviant” behaviour of others – every so often – as long as it is not seriously criminal or seriously anti-social. For example, we might be at the cinema and someone starts eating popcorn noisily or whispers loudly… or we might be in the garden of a pub on a nice summer evening and someone starts smoking at the next table…
      If this was the behaviour of a perfect stranger we are annoyed and privately judge them as individuals. If this were our GP or our dentist or our solicitor or our child’s teacher… we should judge them the same – privately.

      My view is that this is not a matter to report to the the Chair of the school governors or to any ‘authority’.

      However, I do think the principal has made a serious lapse of personal judgment in not managing her personal reputation better, given that she will know that private behaviour is judged by others and will impact upon the way others perceive her.

      If you are a personal friend of the principal, you might consider having a quiet word with her but it would be very much “as a friend” – but in my view it is not your position to say something “as a parent” – she is at liberty to get drunk at a social event as much as you are at liberty to judge her for doing so – but privately.

      That’s my view anyway… what’s yours…?

      Thanks for your post Misty.

  31. Silver River Productions is producing a new history series for Channel 4 that will tell the story of social change in Britain over the past 40 years through the eyes of four different professions. It’s history told from the perspective of the people who lived through it giving us a personal, human insight into social changes we’ve all taken for granted.

    Drawing on the testimonies of teachers this episode of the series will reveal how different the recent past was to education today and, through retired professionals’ accounts, explore themes that are relevant to us all such as respect for authority and social mobility.

    One theme we are interested in exploring is the changing attitude to romantic relationships between teachers and pupils over the age of 16 from 1970s to the modern day, looking at how society’s view of child autonomy has changed over time.

    If you have a personal story or an opinion on this sensitive subject or would like to find out more, please do contact Zehra in the strictest confidence on 020 7907 3469 or email zehra.yas@silverriver.tv with no obligation to take part.

  32. Mr. Newland,
    I read your article named “Will convictions or cautions stop me getting a job in teaching?” Thank you for taking the time to write an informative article like that. It was very inspiring.

    I am very scared and uncertain what to do with my future right now. I am a career switcher. My dream is to teach school. I have never taught and would like to enroll in a Virginia teacher preparation program. However I have a criminal record which I think may prevent me from teaching. Today I went to the court house and obtained a complete copy of my criminal record. Here it is: I was charged in year 1999 with “contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile” – Class 1 Misdemeanor. I also have a reckless driving from 1999 and failure to appear 3 times in 1996,1998,and 1999 on traffic related offenses. Failure to appear is a misdemeanor in VA. I am now 40 years old so all of this happened 14 years ago.

    Explanation of the Contributing charge: I allowed a 16 year old drive my car to the store without a license and he got into a minor accident and I received a ticket for contributing to delinquency of juvenile for allowing him to drive my car without license. I am very sorry that it happened and I have not been in any kind of trouble for the past 14 years.

    By the time I finish the masters program the conviction will be 16 or 17 years old. I have not officially enrolled in the teacher program.I am explaining to you my criminal past so you can give me advice on whether or not I should proceed in enrolling in an education program because once I graduate I would like to teach. If you believe I would not receive a teachers license because of my past history then I will not enroll in an education program. Or possibly I could obtain a masters in education and work in college administration, I believe that is something I would enjoy doing as well.

    So with all the information you now have about my past criminal history and situation do you believe its still in my best interest to continue with the masters of special education program? Additionally my attorney said I cannot have the contributing charge expunged or sealed because I was found guilty.

    Thank you for your time,

    1. Hi Chris, thanks for posting and for sharing your situation – which I have a lot of sympathy for. I’m afraid though I may not have very good advice for you, simply because I live in work in London, UK and the legal and professional situation in relation to teaching may be quite different to that pertaining to Virginia.

      However, I suggest you make some discreet enquiries about this – and in my view the best people to advise you about your chances of a successful entry to the teaching profession would be a teachers’ union. I understand that teaching is still quite a heavily unionised profession in the US and they will certainly have the resources to fund legal experts who advise them on professional and legal matters. They will surely know whether it is a waste of time even applying. If I were you I would start with a phone call, email or letter to the head office or the regional head office in Virginia.

      If you know any teachers, especially Principals of schools, well enough to have a discreet conversation about this that would be another good option to try. You could always say that you “have a friend who wants to be a teacher, but has a record… etc etc” to maintain your own confidentiality.

      I’m sorry I couldn’t be more help but I hesitate to say too much given the different legal and professional jurisdictions of the US and the UK. But I hope it works out that you can follow your dream of becoming a teacher. Good Luck!

    2. Hi Chris-
      The above advice is excellent. You could also have someone contact the teacher certification board in your state department of education on your behalf.. They would likely be the arbiters of whether or not you get a teaching certificate.
      If you can get a certificate, I suspect you can get a job in your state. The need for special education teachers is high. Therefore,if you get a certificate, you can be open about your past with any employer, They need you, and you ought to find a good employer who will stand behind you and your (minor) criminal record.
      Dana Dunnan
      Walden Vermont

  33. Hello,

    I’m wondering if my criminal record will prevent me from getting a job as a teacher
    I was convicted of two class e misdemeanors (lowest class) during college. One was for failure to disperse in 2010 and the other was for a driving to endanger in 2012. I was also charged with resisting arrest and a violation of bail in 2010 but those charges were dropped. I plead to driving to endanger after originally being charged with a DUI.

    Basically, I want to know if these 2 minor misdemeanors will A. prevent me from receiving a certification and/or B. prevent me from getting a teaching job.

    Any helpful insight?

    1. Hi James,

      I would suggest that these will be considered as minor offences and shouldn’t count against you – especially in terms of applying for a training place particularly if you go to a university setting and do something like a PGCE (or PGDE in Scotland). I am almost certain that if you del are these to the training provider they will not have a problem with taking you on and eventually awarding you a teaching qualification.

      I don’t know how old you are – if you were in college in 2010 then maybe 23-25? – but the issue for me here is that they may be perceived as relatively recent but that’s just my guess. If they involved violence against children, then we’d have a major problem, but it sounds like it didn’t.

      I think by the time you have completed a PGCE, they will seem even more distant and actually may not even show up on a Disclosure and Barring Service check for employers given they are minor offences.

      Don’t let it put you off applying to universities and declare it to them and ask their advice at interview.

      As for your prospects of getting a job, that’s always a difficult one to call – especially these days when they can reject you on the look of your face let alone a minor conviction. My advice is to go for it. Good Luck.

  34. Can someone in the U.S. be barred for teaching if they were suspended from college for a semester? While I was on work study at the college a coworker and I were working in the computer lab. We were sending nude photos of ADULT women back and forth through email..some in sexual acts.. Someone saw us emailing the photos and we both got in trouble for email abuse and emailing porn. The photos werent of young women or kids or anything. Just nude photos of women. Anyways the other guy and I were suspended from college for a semester and we were allowed to return the next semester no problem.
    Anyways the suspension is on my academic transcripts. It just says “year 2000 – Suspension Disciplinary”.
    I finished out the school year and I went on to get my bachelors and now I am in a masters program. My question is when I apply for my teachers license the state board will probably want to see my college transcripts to make sure i passed the program. They will probably see the suspension on my transcripts and may or may not ask what it is for.

    Do you think that will be a problem that will prevent me from receiving my teachers license?


    1. Hi Gerard,

      I’m afraid I can only speak for the UK but I would imagine the professional values and expectations in both systems are fairly similar.

      For the incidents you describe, such a disciplinary record would not be a serious impediment for a person in the UK to enter the teaching profession. Like in the US, it would have to be declared as a “suitability declaration” – but in my experience an incident like this would not be considered serious enough to deem the person “unsuitable to teach”. So I hope that is encouraging for you.

      My advice however, would be to seek the counsel of a teachers’ union in the US. If they are like the teachers’ unions in the UK (and my experience is that they are), you may be able to provisionally join the union while you are still studying for your teacher’s licence, and they will give you some support and legal advice on this and information about the regulatory position.

      Good Luck.

  35. Hi. Sorry to post here but am very concerned. As an existing teacher, if I get a criminal record for fare evasion will it (a) show up on my next crb check and (b) am I likely to be sacked?

    1. Hi Tom,

      yes and no, probably.
      How’s that for an answer 😉

      Seriously, yes it will show up if you have been convicted for fare evasion, depending on how serious the evasion was (£1.20 on the bus? or £120 train fare?) and how efficient the police authority have been in reporting the conviction, first to your employer and secondly to the Disclosure & Barring Service. They tend to be variable across the country and more efficient at more serious offences. But in principle, yes, it will show up.

      No, you are not likely to lose your job for this. It will be considered a minor, non-relevant offence. For example, thousands of teachers get speeding fines and even bans for speeding and drink driving and don’t get sacked. It is usually considered not serious or relevant enough to undermine public confidence in you as a teacher and your role-model status.

      However, if you were to get banned for speeding or drink driving the school mini-bus with ten kids in the back… then that would be considered a different matter of course. That would be both serious and relevant and you’d more than likely be instantly dismissed.

      My advice is don’t worry about it, but try not to let it happen again. Everybody deserves being allowed a mistake and a second chance, but recidivists are less tolerated.

      Thanks for sharing your position Tom. Good Luck.

    1. Are you a member of a union? I would suggest you join one and consult with them for the next time you apply for a job. My advice would be the NUT, but they all offer similar support and advice.

  36. Hi can someone help me … I am on a teaching assistant course and have a placement at a school . 16 years ago I was sent to prison for 2 weeks for receiving stolen goods . It was because I never turned up to probation services. Would this mean I would not be able to do the course and the placement. I’m sooooo worried because just applied for a dbs and I know it will be on there. Please help x

    1. Hi Chris,

      I’m afraid you’re right – a custodial sentence will show up on a DBS check . However, give the exact nature of the offence it might not be the end of your career as a teaching assistant. Given that it was a very short custodial sentence, that it was a long time ago and assuming hat there was no violence involved then you may be deemed ‘suitable’ to continue your course and work as a teaching assistant.

      However, the next issue is whether your prospective employer will consider it appropriate to appoint you in the circumstances – and that can only be gauged by knowing your employer. If they are tolerant, sympathetic to youthful mistakes and liberal minded, then you shouldn’t have a problem. If they are not, then you may find it difficult to get a job.

      My feeling is that given that you are on a teaching assistant’s course rather than a qualified teacher’s course, the relatively minor nature of the offence and sentence and the historic nature of it – you should be ok. I only hope I’m right.

      Good Luck and let me know what happens.


      PS are you a member of a union? I would suggest joining the NUT – they will give you some good advice and support.

  37. Hi
    I am a parent of a child at secondary school. We discovered one of her teachers has a conviction for criminal damage, a recent caution for harassment and works as an escort out of hours. We are extremely concerned about her suitability as a teacher and role model to impressionable children and would very much appreciate your expert advice on how we should deal with this matter.
    Thank you
    Mark and Ellie

    1. Hi Mark & Ellie,

      Thanks for your post and your questions. I will try to answer them as best I can from a UK perspective, though i would think that the legal and professional situation is broadly similar to that of Australia.

      First of all, I’m not sure how you came upon this information about your child’s teacher but before considering making a complaint you will need to ensure that you came upon it by means that are in the public domain. For example, in the UK the criminal record of an individual would not normally be information that was easily accessible and your complaint may be dismissed or challenged if it was acquired by illicit means.

      Having said that, I quite understand your concerns about the suitability of a teacher of your child who has a record of criminal damage and harassment.

      I understand that most states in Australia have professional regulatory bodies for the teaching profession (for example, I think the one in Victoria is called the Victoria Council of Teachers, something like that…) My advice would be to contact the one for your state and ask what the professional status of the teacher concerned is and whether he/she has these convictions and cautions listed against their status as a registered or qualified teacher. It may be that Australian teachers’ professional and regulatory bodies take action against teachers with serious criminal convictions and cautions and deem them “unsuitable” to teach.

      Of course, it would depend on whether the caution and conviction has been declared to the teacher’s employer and professional body in the first place. In the UK teaching is what is known as a “notifiable profession” in that if a teacher gets a conviction or caution, they must notify their employer and/or professional body about it to see whether it impacts on their professional status. Usually, only the most serious cases do so in the UK, though of course, parents and the public often take a very dim view of teachers being convicted of any crime.

      If the teacher has not declared these cautions and convictions that in itself may be a disciplinary issue.

      As far as working as an escort out of hours is concerned – this may be neither a professional nor a legal matter and any complaint may be dismissed as irrelevant. While you as individuals may find it distasteful for your child’s teacher to be working in such a way, if they are not doing anything illegal and it is being done in private time, then it is likely to be considered a private matter.

      However, the teacher’s employer may be unaware of it and if they have a clause in the employment contract stipulating that “no other employment may be undertaken without consent” then the employer may want to take up the matter with the teacher concerned. Additionally, there may be clauses that require employees “not to bring the school into disrepute” – similarly an employer may deem “working as an escort” as “disreputable”.

      This brings me back to my first point – if you came upon this information from a private or illicit source, you may find yourself being challenged about how you acquired it, especially if an employer attempts to use it against an employer at a tribunal or such like.

      I would suggest first approaching the State professional regulatory body for teaching, then the teacher’s employer (the school or the local/regional authority) and ask what procedures they have in place for making a complaint within the parameters I have discussed above.

      Forgive me for the long answer, but it was rather a complicated question – I only hope it has provided you with some information and options for the Australian context.

      Best wishes,


  38. Hi Alan,

    I am a teacher from Bahrain. I have read almost all of the posts on this website and watched all of your 9 videos on teaching’s values and ethics. I would like to thank you very much for your dedication to the profession of teaching.

    I am now a final year EdD TESOL (doctoral degree in teaching English to speakers of other languages) student at a UK university. My thesis focuses on school teachers’ professionalism. I would like to work with school teachers in pre- and in-service teacher education programs. However, the problem is that I have never worked in a school before. I have taught English at universities for about two years and also taught Arabic, my mother tongue, for one year in the USA. My question is: do you advise me to apply for a school teacher job so that I get to know how it feels like or apply for a job at a university to work with pre- and in-service teachers?

    Thanks so much.


    1. Hi Mohamed,

      I’m so sorry it’s taken so long for me to respond – I have been on holiday without a wi-fi connection and it has been bliss without the internet for two weeks..!

      To answer your question – yes, I think it would be good to get a sense of what teachers have to do in terms of the pressures of lesson preparation, planning, assessing, marking etc etc so I think it would be an excellent idea to get some classroom-based school experience, but no, you don’t have to apply for a teaching job – you could apply for a place doing “school experience”. Lots of schools get requests from people to come and do school experience (usually from people about to start a teacher training course). But in your case, just explain that you want to observe classes for a PhD thesis and explain fully the reasons, and I’m sure, with the right kind of courtesy and consideration, that you will find schools that will accommodate you.

      As you are at a UK university, you may want to find out if the university has an education department. If they do, they may run PGCE or undergraduate courses to train teachers and will have contacts with many schools in the area. You could try asking the tutors at the university if you could observe in one or two of the schools they use for training.

      Good Luck!

  39. Hi Alan,

    Thank you so much for your advice. I am in my country right now. I will try to get permission from the authorities here to access schools. Hope they will grant me one!



  40. Hi, I am new to this website so apologize if I am posting in the wrong section. I am in a bit of a dilemma at the moment and need some advice. I am a qualified law teacher (PGCE in post 16 education) and have obtained QTLS. The problem is I want to qualify to teach English in schools and colleges and although I now have my teaching qualification my degree is in law. I have applied for a English language teaching MA but the course tutors have told me this will not qualify me for school teaching. Basically can you advise me on what I need to do to be able to gain employment as a qualified English teacher as where I live there are not many jobs being advertised for law teachers.
    Thanks for your time.

    1. Hi Rehana,

      while those tutors are right that you are (technically) not qualified to teach English in a secondary school, it is also at the discretion of the school as to whether they will employ an unqualified teacher to teach a particular subject – especially if it is a “shortage” subject where they might find it difficult to recruit. However, it is also at the school’s discretion that they might employ you on “unqualified” rates – which would mean a lower pay rate – though this is unlikely given your QTLS.

      The real problem is finding a job to teach English when you are competing with often highly qualified English graduates with QTS. English is not a “shortage” subject (Maths, Physics, Chemistry and IT are) so you will find that for every English job that is advertised you will be competing against many others with more appropriate qualifications. Your QTLS and Law degree versus their QTS and English degree will make it hard for you to compete I’m afraid.

      Sorry to be negative but the prospects of you teaching English in secondary school without a degree in English are not good. The QTLS is really a secondary issue.

      Good Luck with whatever you decide.

  41. Is a teacher anything less than a celebrity for students? I think the process of learning is not just verbal. Kids learn from what they see and especially when they see it happening from a person they adore. How can we teach or motivate about something that we no longer follow?

    1. I agree Joana – teachers are role models and most children will be deeply influenced by the long-term example they set, both in their skills as a teacher and in the integrity and behaviour they display while being a teacher – and in some cases even outside their role as a teacher. Which is why my advice to all new teachers is: “Keep your private life PRIVATE!’

  42. This is really interesting.

    I’m doing a PGCE course through a School Direct route and me and my friends were discussing the other day how far tattoos would be acceptable, I even worry about how long my beard gets in case it looks unprofessional. Seems all a bit silly as long as you’re not breaking the law/hurting anybody. In my opinion as long as it doesn’t inhibit your ability to teach then you should be fine, of course life isn’t always like that so we do need to keep a keen eye on our actions.

    Seeing students out and about is not much of an issue as it’s a Primary PGCE course, although I have bumped into colleagues at times I would rather have not; this does touch on some really relevant questions which me and my friends are feeling our way into.

    Here’s our blog: https://wordpress.com/stats/cptsalearningtoteach.wordpress.com

  43. i found an article you wrote regarding criminal history and background checks. I am going trough the anxiety of all of that now. I 25 years old and I am wanting to pursue a preschool teaching job. In Ohio that only requires a bachelors in whatever (mine is general studies) and an associates in prek education. I have both. But, in February I made the dumb and regretful decision to shoplift and was caught. My case was dismissed (after doing a diversion program) but I still had been summonded to court for an arraingment. I am worried that even though this case was dismissed, it still appears on my criminal record as a dismissed case and will hurt me when employed. I was wondering if there is any information or anything you could tell me about this. Again, I just made this terrible decision in February and until then, I didn’t even have a speeding ticket or any kind of record (which is why i plead into a diversion program) thank you.!

    1. Hi Char,

      thanks for sharing this. You may have gathered I am living in the UK, though the education systems of the UK and the US are very similar in many respects, particularly in terms of professional standards and legal requirements, so while I am quoting to you from a UK perspective, you will almost certainly find the same expectations and standards in the US.

      The first thing is that this is not the end of the world as far as teaching goes. While I am not condoning it, it is considered a minor offence. If you were convicted of a violent offence or a sexual offence you would be saying ‘goodbye’ to a career in teaching but this is considered minor, even in a US context.

      However, you are right, it will always show up in a criminal records check because teaching is one of those professions where your record is never “spent” – but that doesn’t mean that people won’t employ you. What they may do is raise the issue with you at application stage or interview stage and give you an opportunity to explain yourself. When that happens my advice is do what you just did to me – and say, “it was a stupid mistake, I did it when I was depressed or upset about something, I wasn’t myself at the time etc etc etc”. In other words, don’t try to hide or excuse it, just come clean and explain the circumstances – say it was stupid and it won’t happen again. Believe it or not, most people are understanding and forgiving of this kind of thing.

      It is unlikely that schools will dismiss your application on these grounds, unless of course they have got many, many applications for the same job and they can pick and choose. They may use this as an excuse to reduce their choices, but in my experience in the UK teachers get convicted let alone cautioned for much more serious offences (like drink driving and marijuana possession) and it does not blight their career – as long as they don’t do it again.

      Good Luck!

  44. I was just reading an article you wrote about going into teaching with a criminal record. I was charged with assault at the age of 13, I got fined, 10 months youth offenders and community service. I am now a qualified teaching assistant and working in a school, they were very hesitant in giving me a placement, luckily I new the head and deputy so I got in but I’ve had to work my arse off to get this job. I love it but I feel like I would be a good teacher, how much would this affect me?

    1. Hi Nicole,

      as the offence was when you were 13 it seems highly unlikely that it would deem you as “unsuitable to teach” but I am not clear whether your “10 months youth offenders” was a custodial sentence or a community service sentence.

      If it was a custodial sentence for violence then it will be considered very seriously and some employers – and I stress only some – will not be very amenable to a candidate with a custodial record of a violence offence. However, I think you will not find it difficult to get a training place at a university – they are quite liberal about allowing people on their courses to train – as long as you have the educational entry requirements to get on the course and you pass the DBS check for “suitability”.

      Don’t try to conceal any information about your record – it will only come out later and you could be sacked or dismissed from the course if you do.

      Once you have completed the course and especially if you have completed it with success and distinction, then I think an offence that happened at least 10-15 years ago will have very little relevance. If I was you I would go ahead and apply for a training place. Good Luck.

  45. Someone who engages in the aforementioned activities may in fact be an excellent teacher. However, teaching is a profession and within a profession there are professional values which need to be adhered to. As the saying goes: ‘you should practice what you preach’. It would be rather difficult to stand before a class as a role model, influencing young minds and teach them between right and wrong when we spend our free time getting ‘wasted’, speeding and flirting with colleagues!

    1. I completely agree but I would put to you this scenario and ask this question:

      imagine that your child hates school and is not interested in doing well, won’t do their homework and is badly behaved.
      Suddenly, they start enjoying school and coming home to do their homework – they talk about a wonderful new (let’s say, History) teacher who inspires and motivates them. They even talk about wanting to study History at university because their teacher inspires them so much.
      Then one day they come home and tell you their wonderful teacher has just been dismissed from their job for speeding after being in a traffic jam and late for their holiday flight.
      Now your child doesn’t want to go to school any more, they won’t do their homework, their behaviour goes bad again and they don’t want to go to university any more…

      Are your standards for the teaching profession still so high? If so, then we would lose tens of thousands of very good teachers.

      I think we have to be careful that our standards don’t become intolerant and impossible for a liberal society to live with. I agree that teachers should be role models, but I don’t agree they have to be ‘saints’ or ‘angels’.

      Thanks very much for your post!

  46. Hi
    I had a misunderstanding with a store about an item allegedly went through without payment. I contested that and finally I paid for it and no police involved. The store took my card details and said they will bar me from shopping in the store in the future. Could this incident be registered in my CRB/DBS as I just got an offer as Teacher and awaiting DBS clearance ?

    1. Hi Pascal,

      No it won’t be on your DBS check but if the store had chosen to bring in the police you may have agreed to accept a caution rather than go to court – and a caution will show. Try to be more careful scanning items, many of the large stores go straight to prosecution these days.

  47. Hi Alan,

    I hope you are well.

    I asked you some time ago about the potential implications of a Fixed Penalty Notice I received 7 years ago for Drunk and Disorderly.

    Fortunately, this is not viewed as a problem by Teach First, however I am wondering about the implications of alerting my training provider and also school where I will be employed.

    I entirely appreciate the necessity of full disclosure and have so far been entirely transparent and intend to continue this.

    However, typically, what level of confidentiality would the disclosure I make to the school be treated with? I think, for understandable reasons, I would be reluctant for this known publically, and I suspect this won’t be the case, but typically how widely circulated would this information be in your experience? Would it be restricted to senior management, or would colleagues and governors be made aware too? I guess my main concern is this impairing my reputation or credibility, before I even begin?

    Thanks in advance,

    1. Hi,

      I wouldn’t worry about this – a FPN received 7 years ago for D&D is considered by everyone as a very minor caution, it will not affect your career with either training provider or school – unless you intend working in ISIS or Taliban controlled territory.

      As for who gets to know – the only people who should know are those that are legitimate parties to relevant information i.e.. people involved in your appointment or direct line management. This may include: the headteacher or the deputy if s/he is involved in short-listing or interviews (but not HoD usually); governors who are on the Appointments Committee (for the same reasons) and this may include a teacher-governor member of that committee.

      Other members of SMT or the governors should not be party to confidential employment information – and to be honest, they’d have to be really nosey to find it out or they would have to be guilty of pretty poor professional practice if they casually spread this information about. If you become aware that your confidential information has been spread about unprofessionally, you will have a legitimate right to complain and to a grievance procedure against your employer.

      But seriously – I think you’re worrying too much.

      Declare it by all means – after that trust in colleagues to be tolerant, forgiving and most of all professional. 99% of us are!

      Good Luck!

  48. Hello there

    Having read a lot of your responses I’m feeling rather nervous about the answer to my question, but I would love some advice. I currently run my own IT training business delivering courses to the local, adult community. I am a governor at my son’s primary school, I am chair of an Advisory Board for a children’s centre and I am starting a Masters in Education and Technology in September in the hope of selling my business and becoming a secondary IT teacher.

    I received a caution 4 years ago for common assault because of an altercation with a horrible neighbour regarding my at-the-time 2yr old son. I pushed her away from me, but she claimed I did much worse. The police advised me to take a caution accepting her version of events to stop the issue escalating and I agreed. I later tried to appeal against how the issue was dealt with but the caution was upheld.

    You mention a number of times that violent offences basically mean no teaching career. I currently do all the things listed above having openly declared the caution, however I am growing increasingly concerned that I may not be eligible to teach as a career because the caution is listed as common assault.

    Any help or advice you can offer will be immensely appreciated.

    Thank you in advance

    1. Hi Ayse,

      I don’t think I would worry about this one if I were you. While I do say ‘violence’ is usually the line that bars people from a career in teaching, all convictions or cautions are considered in context (except sexual offences and murder). Of course, most people would argue that they were provoked or pushed into a situation that led to violence but it is for you to argue this when it comes up on your DBS check at the interview or on the application form.

      My view is that it is a ‘caution’ and if you explained to me the circumstances, as you have done, then given other factors (such as you are well qualified and interview well) then I would in all probability accept your explanation. I think most employers would take my view too, but I can’t guarantee that.

      Have a go and good luck.

      1. Thank you so much for taking the time to reply so quickly! I appreciate it very much. I hope the people considering any application I make are as considerate as you.

        Thanks again

  49. Hi Alan,
    I am after an advice. My partner has been convicted of Affray and was sentenced to 8 months imprisonment. Would his conviction have any effect on my DBS status working as a primary school teacher?

    1. Hi Helen,

      from what you have said, it is very unlikely. However, you may want to consult with your union if you are a member to confirm this.

      The “unsuitability by association” requirement refers almost exclusively to child-minders (in my understanding), where there may be the possibility of a childminder who has a partner or spouse who has been convicted of violent or sexual offences and where children and other vulnerable people may come in contact (for example, in the childminder’s premises) with the childminder’s partner. This is obviously not the case if you are a teacher in a primary school.

      Clearly it will be embarrassing and distressing for you if and when your colleagues become aware of it (perhaps from reports in the local press).

      You may not want to do this and you are not obliged to, but you may want to disclose this matter confidentially to the headteacher and to the chair of governors, so that for example, should parents become aware of it and “complain” – which they have no right to do of course – but you will have prepared your headteacher for the reaction beforehand.

      There is no legal or professional obligation on you to declare this though and you can keep it as an entirely private matter should you wish, but as I say, you may want to have all this confirmed by a member of your union.

  50. Hi there,

    I work in a high school as a caretaker for 7 years and about 5 weeks ago I was at a party in a bar when I had a disagreement with my girlfriend so I walked outside and then while I was outside I was punched in the mouth from one of my girlfriends neighbours so I grabbed hold of him and we both fell to the floor. He hit his head on the floor and received a cut to the head and then his girlfriend kicked me in the foot which I now have a broken ankle. I have reported my injuries to the police and just waiting to see what they are doing about it.
    I have received a conditional caution for assault by beating and it will most probably show on my advanced disclosure CRB next year when it needs to be renewed.
    I am off work at the moment with my broken ankle but I am planning on tell the head of school everything when i go back but I am worrying so much about loosing my job is there anything that can me to keep my job ????

    1. Hi,

      I think that the best thing is for you to go to the Head Teacher and ask for a meeting (perhaps with the Chair of Governors as well) and tell them that you have received a caution for assault and explain any mitigating circumstances. Then you will have been seen to “come clean” before the DBS check shows it up. Given that violence was involved they will likely take a dim view of it, but I think that because you were only cautioned and not taken to court for anything like “Actual Bodily Harm” it is unlikely they will dismiss you.

      It will be a difficult and embarrassing conversation to have, but I think if you “get your retaliation in first” and apologise for any risk to the school’s reputation by your “silly and uncharacteristic actions” then they should (and probably will) put it behind them on this occasion I think.

      Good Luck.

  51. I have two degrees. One in Sociology and one in Law. My working life has consisted mainly of working in an office environment, specifically, the legal profession.

    I am in the wrong profession, and am ready today to hand my three month notice period and embark on a rewarding career in teaching.

    However, I have a few misdemeanours on my record that have hung around my neck all my working life. I have to take responsibility for my actions and accept the consequences of them.

    I have 3 possession offences of Cannabis. In 1998 when I was 18 I was arrested with a tiny quantity and cautioned. In 2003, the same again whilst visiting a friend in London – caution. And the last was 2010 – street caution – again, a tiny amount. Also, while studying at Law School, I became irresponsibly inebriated at a College party and got involved on a fracas with local yobs and was given a 12 month conditional discharge for section 4 Public Order offence ‘threatening words or behaviour in a public place’.

    While I am not proud of the mistakes I’ve made, and, take full responsibility for them, I have an overriding sense that I have become anathema to society in the job application process. It’s rather depressing.

    I have tried to contact the regulatory body that deals with misconduct in the teaching profession. However, all they did was refer me to the government website and guides to ITT providers and standards required of them in providing new teacher training. I know I have a criminal record and am happy to disclose all – I would just like some guidance on whether my past indiscretions are an automatic bar to me teaching as I wouldn’t want to do the PCGE only to be knocked back at every interview I attend after completing said training.

    I truly believe I have an awful lot to offer the profession and I believe I would have a massively positive influence on children’s lives. I believe I could inspire learning in children and would be an extremely popular teacher. To paraphrase José Mourinho, I believe I would be a Special One when it comes to teaching. I base this on the relationships I have with all children I encounter, especially the ones in my family from babies to toddlers to teenagers.

    Please help! At the moment I have an overriding sense of depression at the fact my poor behaviour will mean I waste away in office work for the rest of my life. To be given a chance to teach would be like winning the lottery for me.

    Thanks, Mike

    1. Hi Mike,

      thanks for your post. I don’t think you will have a problem getting a training place particularly at a university PGCE – which is what I would recommend in your case. You will get more of a sympathetic response from a university PGCE than from a School Direct or SCITT training provider.

      Once having dome a PGCE, you are a Qualified Teacher and then you have to find a job – that’s when it becomes a little more tricky – because some headteachers will not want to risk someone who failed to learn their lesson on drug possession – three times – while others will think “You were young, perhaps immature and it was a long time ago” and they’ll be forgiving and more tolerant. There are enough in the latter category for you to feel optimistic enough that you would get a job – especially if you can train in a shortage subject at secondary, where you skills and knowledge will be in greater demand.

      There will be many headteachers who will be more worried by an offence that involved violence – your most recent offence – and some of those will give you much less leeway. I had a teacher who was convicted of assault (at a football match) but spent twenty odd excellent years in teaching – so it’s not impossible, but it will probably be more difficult. All I would say is don’t be easily put off by rejection – keep applying and don’t hide anything when asked.

      I would also suggest – respectfully – that you do not use the Jose Mourinho analogy. I don’t think it’s relevant for teaching and the fact that you might think you’re a special one with a few children you have so far interacted with doesn’t mean that you will be special with classes of 30 when you and the kids are under pressure to prepare for GCSE exams. Teaching is not just about being inspirational – but about hard work, planning, preparation and diligent attention to often boring detail. Sir Dave Brailsford is a better example if you want a sporting analogy

      If teaching is what you really want to do, go out there and convince a training provider and then a school that you have something really important to offer – the offences you mention should not be fatal for someone who can show passion and dedication. Good Luck.

  52. I am considering a career in teaching when I finish my degree and then doing a PGCE (I have two years of my undergraduate degree left before applying for a PGCE)

    Two years ago I had to go to court and pay a fine for “theft from an employer” the amount was very little and it was all a horrible mistake at a horrible time in my life. There is of course no excuse. The fine was very small and it is now considered “spent” when applying for other jobs which do not require a DBS check.

    I am just concerned that I actually have no chance of going into teaching now or any job where a DBS check will need to be carried out.

    Do you have any advice or should I change my desired career path now? I was 20 at the time of conviction.

    1. Hi Maria,

      a minor offence like this should be no bar to entering a teaching career. You’re right, it will show up on your DBS but few if any PGCE courses at universities will “deem you unsuitable” for such an offence. You may find that when you apply for jobs that some employers will not shortlist you, especially if they have a lot of applicants (with ‘clean’ records) but it shouldn’t be a problem with most people. Come clean about it, don’t try to hide it and explain it was at a bad stage in your life – most people will understand. Good Luck.

  53. Hi there- I have a couple of convictions on my disclosure from when i was 19 years old(almost 22 years ago now) and needed to know if this would stop me from applying to become a teacher. They were 2 convictions for theft and 1 for posession of a class A drug. As i say it was 22 years ago and have never been in trouble with the police since. Grateful fro any advice you can give me-thankyou

    1. Hi Jason,

      they won’t stop you getting a training place and I would be surprised if a school turned you down for convictions that were acquired so long ago, but you might find some headteachers and Chairs of Governors who take a high moral view of the possession of Class A. That’s the difficulty – you never know what some people think of you once you have a conviction. But generally speaking, I wouldn’t let it put you off. Try turning it to your advantage by saying that “you learned your lesson and at least it was the kind of lesson you can pass on to young people that taking drugs is a bad idea.” Something like that.

      Good Luck.

  54. Hello

    I’ve read most of the posts here and there is some very interesting information here.
    Please can you advise – I have already a standard disclosure and what came up was a obstructing a police officer for which I got a £75 fine and driving without due care and attention (£200 fine) and failing to stop after a accident (£300 fine). This all happend in 2005, roughly 11 years ago. Will this affect my job abroad? I’ve been asked to provide a subject access report and concerned that once they see this past criminal history they might sack me.
    I didn’t think it was necessary to declare on the application form because this happened years ago and considered spent.
    Your advise will be highly appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Hi Joseph,

      sorry for the delay in replying – I’ve been on holiday.

      As a teacher, no cautions or convictions are ever considered ‘spent’ as you are in a ‘notifiable’ profession, which means that you must notify your employer or prospective employer every time you apply for a job of any convictions or cautions you have ever had.

      However, this does not mean that every caution or conviction will lead to dismissal. The convictions you refer to are not that serious and would not normally result in dismissal in most circumstances but there seems to be be a couple of possible issues attached to them. The first is that there are three within a fairly short period of time (2005). Or were they all together? Some employers may feel the is more serious because of their proximity.

      The second issue is that you do not have appeared to have declared these before on previous applications and only now are they coming to light. I always advise people to declare cautions and convictions however minor, as they often don’t lead to dismissal – it is often the attempt to conceal a caution or dismissal that ultimately leads to dismissal.

      If I was you I would consult a union – or join one very quickly – so that you can get some good advice.

      I would think that most employers will overlook this – as it was a long time ago and you have hopefully no record since 2005 – but they may take seriously the fact that you have not declared them when they happened. Good Luck.

  55. Hi there, last year I was involved in a domestic violence attack where I had to go to hospital with the injuries conflicted. As the CPS encouraged me to take the incident to court, my ex partner then decided to take out a counter allegation against criminal damage. During the assault his laptop was broken as i pulled it off him. I therefore was given a ‘simple caution’. Would this caution show up on a dbs check in the future?

    1. Hi Lori,

      yes, the caution will probably show up but I wouldn’t worry too much about it – the way you have described it, it doesn’t sound like it’s a violent incident that would deem you to be ‘unsuitable to teach’. I would be very surprised if any employer made an issue of such an incident or such a caution. Best wishes.

  56. The questions and topics on here are really amazing – combines real life with teacher life in a helpful way. I just started a teaching blog that I am hoping to build into a resource for dealing with tough teaching issues: https://teachingismadhard.com. I hope you will check it out and leave a comment, or message me with a post of your own to share on my blog – perhaps something to connect to the first week’s topic of Taking the Student out of Student Teacher? I look forward to continuing to read your blog!

  57. Hi,

    You have said in previous comments that any previous cautions will show up on an Enhanced DBS check. However there are conflicting statements on other websites. This is concerning the filtering process that the Government introduced, on the 29th May 2013. It apparently states that a caution will not be disclosed on an Enhanced DBS check after 6 years providing that it is not on the list of offences that shall never be filtered. Is this actually in effect?



  58. Hello,
    In 2009 at the young age of 14 yrs old, I got stupidly drunk one afternoon with my ‘friends’ and ended up being taken to the police station and later collected by my angry mother. Today I am 21 studying a Fine Arts degree and even in the midst of uni life, have stayed away from recreational drugs and only drink on the occasion. Last summer I applied for a DBS check before I travelled overseas to volunteer as a teacher in Bangladesh – My DBS check came out clear and I was relieved that I was no longer burdened by the stupid mistake I made in 2009… or so I thought.

    This year I have applied to work at a summer camp in America, feeling confident that my ICPC check would come out clear, once it arrived in the post I was shocked to find my offence of being drunk and disorderly listed as a reprimand.

    Since secondary school I have always wanted to be a teacher, and have been told numerous times that I would be ‘good at it’. Although, now I am worried that this will affect my chances of a teaching profession, especially if I want to work in primary schools?

    1. Hi Holly,

      don’t even worry about it – neither a PGCE training provider nor a school in this country would take this issue seriously – even if it did show up on a DBS check applied for by an employer in the UK.

      I suspect it turned up because you were applying to go to a summer camp in the US, where they have a slightly different attitude to alcohol related incidents and to general ‘security’ issues since 9/11.

      Just go ahead and finish your degree and follow your ambitions as you would normally. Good Luck.

  59. Hello,
    In 2009 at the young age of 14 yrs old, I got stupidly drunk one afternoon with my ‘friends’ and ended up being taken to the police station and later collected by my angry mother. Today I am 21 studying a Fine Arts degree and even in the midst of uni life, have stayed away from recreational drugs and only drink on the occasion. Last summer I applied for a DBS check before I travelled overseas to volunteer as a teacher in Bangladesh – My DBS check came out clear and I was relieved that I was no longer burdened by the stupid mistake I made in 2009… or so I thought.

    This year I have applied to work at a summer camp in America, feeling confident that my ICPC check would come out clear, once it arrived in the post I was shocked to find my offence of being drunk and disorderly listed as a reprimand.

    Since secondary school I have always wanted to be a teacher, and have been told numerous times that I would be ‘good at it’. Although, now I am worried that this will affect my chances of a teaching profession, especially if I want to work in primary schools?

  60. Whilst working (freelance) for a national newspaper almost a decade ago I was arrested and charged for obtaining information using false pretences under the Fraud Act (it’s a long story but I was in essence following orders). Approximately 7 years ago I was given a caution and the matter was dropped.

    I am now looking into the possibility of training as an English teacher. Having read your blog and Guardian piece I am somewhat reassured that this infraction might be overlooked but sense the fact that it makes me a ‘fraudster’ might create some difficulty with certain applications.

    I am just at the UCAS application stage and am aware of the extended DBS search, for which there is a fee. Do I save the money and not bother applying or in your opinion is it worth giving it a go?

    Also, as I have recently turned 50 what is your opinion on my chances of pursuing a late career in the profession? I have recently attended a classroom observation day at a local school and am keen to pursue my goal of becoming an English teacher.


    1. Hi Ian,

      I think you have nothing to worry about – a caution for this kind of thing certainly wouldn’t deter a training provider (a SCITT or university) and given that no conviction was involved and it was ten years ago, I can’t imagine an employer (a school) being deterred either if you are a good candidate.

      However, there are two things I think are worth mentioning.
      First, the fraud issue may depend on perception in this case I think, for example – if it was something ‘notorious’ like hacking Milly Dowler’s phone or opening the mail of the McCann family – then an employer would rightly be wary of you.

      The other thing is the state of the job market where and when you have finished your training. English teachers are generally not a shortage area, especially in ‘nice’ schools – and you may find that if you are up against 20 other candidates for the same job, they may sift you out, depending on the quality of others.

      Having said that, I have met and employed teachers who have had more serious convictions than this and they have gone on to have very successful careers in teaching. I wouldn’t let the age issue deter you either. Many will see this as an asset, especially as you have ‘industry’ experience of writing as a professional and if you are a good communicator with young people and not nervous of managing them effectively.

      Go for it and good luck.

  61. While I do think that a teacher’s private life should be kept separate, teachers, whether they want it or not, are among the most influential role models for children and young adults and are responsible to act as such. Many of my fellow young teachers go to great lengths to ensure that their private life stays indeed private from their students, like changing their name on social media or visiting clubs at the other end of town. But there should be absolutely no discussion about acting as a role model at all times when in front of students. Last summer, three primary school teachers in Austria were fired for leading a group of pupils over a closed railway crossing. Although nobody was harmed, people were outraged over the fact that these teachers neglected to act as role models, and I think they were right to be so. Kids are far more impressionable than we think, and acting irresponsibly in front of them – especially when they look up to you – could be really dangerous.

    1. Hi Kate, I agree with what you say but while I think teachers should be role models, I don’t think society has a right to expect them to be angels or saints.

      Teachers should be allowed to retain their professional status and even their jobs when they make mistakes or make poor judgments and when those mistakes are pointed out to them through proper accountability, they should be allowed to learn from that experience.

      Of course, if the mistake results in catastrophe or if the poor judgment is a routine or a habit that they can’t or refuse to learn from, that is a different matter – but if we set a standard too high for ordinary, good people then we will missing out on the talents of a lot of excellent teachers.

      Thanks for you post.

  62. Hi Alan
    I’m grateful there are people like you, who honestly can relate to change and just give someone a chance. After all, that chance given is an beneficial reward worth taking even if it calls for prevalence watch!
    So my story is…….
    I was 19/20 years old in 2009/2010 and addicted to stealing from department store which lead to around 6 convitions! Now to me, this is serious because It occurred several times, which thankfully none lead to imprisonment.
    Now March 2017, I’m in a primary school volunteering once a week for a Month so far.
    Surprisingly I get a phone call from the deputy head saying they’ve just sent my CRB to head office and has been told to dismiss me from my volunteering position! WOW. When I was called in to start the Head Teacher and Deputy were fully aware of my convictions and due to my relationship with teachers and parents in school, they were honored to receive my assistance. I’ve always declared no matter what!
    I’m actually just about to apply for my BSc Teaching Education Undergraduate degree and woundering if this may be a issue along the way.
    Concerning my present volunteering job, I’m writing a letter to the head office but don’t know what to say that why I should be aloud to work in the school. The Head and Deputy has said they will support me.
    Can you advise me on my situation and possible what to state in my letter.
    Thanks again.
    Your Amazing!

    1. Hi Dami,

      thanks for your post and I’m sorry to hear of your situation.

      As far as the school is concerned, I can understand why they have been advised to dismiss you on the basis of the CRB check they have been sent. If however, they have decided to support you in an appeal then I would suggest that you state in the letter that your personal and emotional state at the time you were shoplifting was extremely unstable and that is now all behind you. You are extremely remorseful about those incidents and that none of the offences resulted in custodial sentences and you have not offended since 2010 and that you are asking for them to change their recommendation on the basis that you are now a good employment prospect with the support of your employers.

      What they will not do is remove your offences from the CRB check, but they may, especially if the school employing you is supportive, change their recommendation to employers.

      Good Luck.

  63. Hi,
    I have seen your blog and it has kept me thinking positive. This year has been the most terrible ever.
    I have been charged with wounding even though I was acting in self defence and was attacked in my sleep.
    Words can’t explain how upset I am especially when everyone knows how gentle I am, I am worried that I am going to lose everything – I am a very popular lecturer who is really reliable.
    What do I do? 😦 feel free to contact me through my email so that I can give you more information.


    1. Hi, if you have only been charged at this stage, then at the moment there’s no advice I can give you. It will all depend on whether you are cautioned or convicted of the offence and if you are, what kind of sentence you get. Obviously if you are found guilty and the sentence is severe, then there may be consequences for your job as a lecturer. If as you say, there are mitigating circumstances such as self-defence, then there may be no consequences at all. Get in touch again when the case has been heard in court, if it goes to that. In the meantime, good luck.

  64. Unfortunately it is going to crown court.
    I cannot explain how scared I am.
    Could you follow me on Twitter?
    I recently followed you and did have a request back but it disappeared!

    Thanks for talking about this.

    1. I can understand how worried you are about this, but until you have a judgment in court, there’s no point in worrying about your job. Concentrate on defending yourself in court. Contact me once there is an outcome.

  65. Hi Alan

    I am about to be a trainee teacher who has made a terrible mistake and been arrested for drink driving. I am deeply ashamed and am due to appear in court. I wondered when i should tell the training provider? I accept what i did and any legal outcome. I am a first time offender in any sense.
    I have worked in schools for many years and was a mature student pretty recently completing a second degree. I am desperate to retain my place and will be devastated if found unallowable.
    I have two major mitigating circumstances over the past year that are school related but could only disclose privately initially and would be so grateful if i could briefly relay them to you privately first. I think these although maybe unusual and traumatic in themselves could be useful to others. I am so worried that everyone has a complete tipping point and i may go over mine.

    1. Hi,

      I am so sorry I’m so slow to reply this – for some reason it didn’t appear until now on my time-line.

      However, I don’t think you have much to worry about as long as you didn’t cause an accident or injury or worse. Hundreds of teachers get drink driving convictions every year, some get bans – but it rarely results in disciplinary measures with an employer. I presume you weren’t driving the school minibus or drink driving near a school at home-time when the police stopped you?

      The vast majority of training providers and schools will be tolerant of this – they won’t like it – but it is rare that they will deem you ‘unsuitable’ to teach on the basis of a drink driving conviction.

      Even if you haven’t yet received the conviction, I would go to the head of the training centre and be open about it – tell them the case in pending and that (for the reasons you haven’t disclosed), there may be mitigating circumstances that led you to make this uncharacteristic and stupid mistake. I’m sure they will respect and appreciate you have given them a ‘heads-up’ about it. If you wait until the court case and then your conviction is reported in the local newspaper, they won’t be happy that they found out from a newspaper headline.

      Good Luck.

  66. Hi Alan,

    I am sorry if I am duplicating – I just typed out a long comment but now I can’t find it so I am thinking it hasnt posted but my apologies if it has.

    I am sincerely hoping that you could be so kind as to offer your thoughts on whether or not teaching is a feasible career choice for me given my circumstances and if so, what the steps would be to becoming qualified.

    In 2014 I suffered a breakdown which stemmed from severe anxiety and depression and a mild case of borderline personality disorder (as confirmed in a report prepared by my psychologist at the time – a report I still have in my files). During this breakdown I turned to a known addiction of mine in excessive spending (shopaholism / compulsive buying disorder). Due to personal financial circumstances at the time and the severity of the break down I started taking money from work (estate agents) to fund this addiction. A few months later, I confessed what had been happening, paid as much money back as I could, handed myself in to the police station, made my statement and was charged with Fraud as a result. The case went to Crown Court in Oct 2014 and I was given a suspended sentence of 18 months for 2 years. The judge was very understanding and did not give a custodial sentence because of my mental health at the time of the offence and medication I was taking which also could have affected my mindset at that time, the lack of help that would be available to me within the prison system but most of all my genuine level of remorse for my actions. To this day I am still in weekly counselling as a result and still learning how to deal with the guilt and the shame of my actions and the consequences that they have had on others. This is ongoing. I’m really not a bad person, I find it hard to explain but I just wasn’t myself, I wasn’t thinking at all and in fact most of the time it felt like it wasn’t even happening. I had worked hard at my career which I had been in for 15 years and at the time of the incident I was heading up a team of people. I had put myself through exams to qualify in the area I was working within and my career was important – this really goes to show that my mind-set at the time was far from normal.

    Meanwhile in 2015 I gave birth to my Son. He is my only little one and since he arrived in the world it’s really given me a kick and made me realise that I want a better life for the both of us going forward and that I have this real urge to give something back to the community. I had always wanted to be a teacher when I was at school. In fact I was a teaching assistant for my work experience placement and still have the glowing reference and recommendation that they prepared for me at the time. In addition I have several other great references from previous employers.

    This September I have gone into adult education and I am studying 3 GCSE’s. Maths, Biology and Psychology (as I have a interest in this subject as a result of my personal circumstances and experiences). I am a long way off having the qualifications needed for teacher training I would imagine but still, that doesn’t stop me forward thinking.

    With all of this in mind, do you think a teaching career is even an option for me? My record will be “spent” in 2020 if that makes any kind of a difference, although I believe would still show on one of the more thorough DBS checks (forgive me as I’m not entirely sure how they work). It would be post 2020 that I would qualify.

    Any thoughts, advice, recommendations etc that you can give would be so gratefully received.

    Thanking you in advance.


    1. Hi K,

      you are right that your criminal record will be considered ‘non-relevant’ by 2020, and most employers won’t be too bothered about it even if they knew – so that clears up that issue.

      You will need to get a degree. If you want to teach in secondary schools, a degree in a National Curriculum subject or one that is relevant to an NC subject. If you want to teach in primary, you’ll need to train with a specialism (such as maths, science or English). Getting a degree is three years and it sounds like you’ll need to get ‘A’ Levels first, so add two more. If that is the case, we are looking at 2023 before you could start a one-year PGCE to qualify.

      Assuming that you are motivated to do that – and it sounds like you are – then the only other issue is whether your health problems can be addressed in that time.

      In my opinion, robust mental health is a ‘must’ for teaching because it is a very emotionally and physically demanding job. Teachers are prone to suffer from stress, anxiety and depression and this can be caused by work-load, work-pressure and the regular ‘conflict’ that goes with trying to motivate and engage young people who often resist authority.

      In five years time, once you have done your degree, your mental and emotional health may be in a robust state of good health, so there’ll be no reason not to choose teaching as a career.

      My advice would be to embark on the qualification path to get a degree but keep your options open, so that if you judge your mental health not to be robust enough to cope with teaching once you have graduated, you have at least acquired a degree with which to vastly improve your job prospects.

      I wish you the best of luck.

      1. Thank you so much, Alan.

        I am truly so grateful you took the time to reply. Your words have filled me with encouragement 🙂

        All the best to you


  67. Hi Alan,

    Just giving you an update from comments above.
    Unfortunately and unbelievably I have been convicted of GBH with intent.
    Judge seems to know that I’m a good man and he has bailed me for several weeks before sentence.
    I am just so worried about what this will now do my career as I love my job with all my heart.

    1. Hi,

      the situation will be clearer when you are sentenced. Hopefully, if the judge cuts you some slack over the circumstances then you might avoid a custodial sentence and be bound over to keep the peace. What does your lawyer think might happen?

      The only advice I can give you at this point is wait and see what sentence you get, but let’s look at the worst case scenario for a second.

      If you go to prison, which I’m sure you must have thought was a possibility – then you will obviously be dismissed from your post and lose your job. You will also (obviously) have a criminal record which will show up on future DBS checks as “relevant’ because it is a violent offence and a serious one. This may mean that in future, some, perhaps many employers will not even shortlist you for a job and you will find it difficult to continue a successful career. That’s the worst case scenario.

      The best case scenario is that you are bound over to keep the peace and your employer accepts the mitigating circumstances of your plea of self-defence and does not dismiss you – and you can continue the work you love.

      My advice is to tell your employer all about this case and try to explain all the mitigating circumstances, and where possible tell them the defence evidence submitted that supports your side of the case. Perhaps even marshall some people who will speak up on your behalf as character witnesses to say how genuinely remorseful you feel about it and that you will never do it again. Hopefully, with a good employment record, your employer will see fit to support you. But I think you need to start putting together a strategy for trying to put the best case to your employer about why they should keep you in post – just in things don’t go your way when the judge sentences you.

      Good Luck.

  68. Dear Alan,
    I attended your fantastic lecture on professionalism at akingston Uni. I declared my criminal conviction when I applied and was given a conditional offer in April. I met ALL the conditions but was told I was allowed to start the course but had to be investigated before allowing me to enrol. An independent panel advised that I was not suitable for the role!! And I got told that I my application has now been refused. I’m heart broken and devistated. SIX MONTHS they had to ‘investigate’. They told me to do a 16 week A level chemistry course and they know that I am a DV survivor and single mother of two recovering from homelessness. I invested so much time and money and was excited about my progress post trauma from the last 7 years of my life. This was my way out of poverty and my dream. I don’t feel the University is justified in their actions and they have gone against their own policy… Alan what do I do with my life now? Will other universities follow suit in rejecting me for something I didn’t actually do but was convincted of!?

  69. Everyone on the course is shocked at the outcome and have formed a petition against the decision. My tutor actually broke down and cried in class because she knows that if anyone deserves to be given a chance in life it’s me. I’ve come too far to give up but I don’t know how to go about this. Sorry for the long rant…

    1. Hi Goldie,

      I’m very sorry to hear of your predicament. However, I need more information before I can offer you any advice and if you like you can do that ‘off-line’ – so if you want this to be entirely confidential, just say and I’ll won’t publish it through the blog-site.

      However, you’ll need to tell me what you were convicted for – even if you claim innocence – what was the charge, the conviction and any sentence that was attached to it. Give me some details – so for example, what did the court call the allegation (e.g. ‘actual bodily harm’? ‘theft’? ‘dangerous driving’? etc). Was any violence involved?

      I understand how upset you ma be feeling but right now, until I know what the Disclosure & Barring Service have deemed ‘unsuitable’, then I can’t really offer you any advice.

      I look forward to hearing from you.


      1. Hi Allen,

        I will post information publicly for the benefit of readers who might find this useful. Despite telling the court that I was attacked by a smuggler and who told the refugees to get in my car. He threatened me and my family and held a knife to me until we got near the border. At that point he jumped off and I drove straight to the police at the borders for help. I went from being the victim to the suspect despite there being NO evidence that I was willingly allowed strange men into my car.
        The DBS states “6 months suspended sentence for transporting illegal aliens across the borders”

        I am not barred from working with children.

        I have provided court documents as requested but it was not enough.

      2. Hi Goldie,

        I’m sorry I keep asking questions but there’s a lot of gaps in here that makes it difficult to offer advice without the full picture. However, I will try.

        Unfortunately, I still don’t know whether it was the university who deemed you ‘unsuitable’ on the basis of having a criminal record or whether the DBS advised the university that you are unsuitable on the basis of the seriousness of the conviction. You don’t say.

        Universities and training centres will offer ‘conditional’ places subject to a clear DBS check. They may have made it clear to you (or not, but they usually do) that you accept starting the course on this basis. Some people apply for teacher-training courses quite or very late, so when the DBS checks comes back a few months later, they have started already. I don’t know if this was the case with you, but you may have accepted a place on the course conditional upon a clear DBS check.

        Now that the DBS check has come back stating you have a conviction for a serious offence (even though I accept your plea was innocent, the court found you guilty) – then the university now have the right to withdraw the place from you. This may seem very unfair but I think you will almost certainly have accepted a place conditional upon a clear DBS check.

        While I completely sympathise with your position (you made a plea of innocence) and your personal circumstances (as a victim of domestic violence and two kids to bring up etc), the court will have presumably taken those into consideration when they gave you a suspended sentence rather than a custodial one. I am not making a judgment about this, merely an observation – which is that the court rejected your plea of innocence and found you guilty of a serious offence, which the university now feels is serious enough to possibly undermine the public’s confidence in the teaching profession if you were allowed to go on to train and then to teach young people.

        All I can suggest is that you explore the Appeals procedure of the university (if the university is the one who has deemed you ‘unsuitable’). You will need to make a formal approach to the University’s Admissions Registrar and ask if you can appeal the decision. You may remember I recommended membership of a union. Did you join one? If so, they may be able to offer some legal advice. If you didn’t join one, it’s too late to join now, but you may want to seek the advice of a solicitor to help with your appeal. You could even ask the Students Union if they have a legal advice centre – they usually do.

        If I was you, I wouldn’t do anything to antagonise the university, for example, by getting a petition of fellow students to support you. That won’t help, so don’t be tempted.

        Just try and appeal the decision and if I was you – state that the conviction does not involve violence or sexual offences of any kind, therefore you are not a danger to pupils or students. You can remind them that you are not barred from working with children or young people, so why are you deemed ‘unsuitable’ if the offence does not relate to violence or sexual offences? That is the argument I would put forward, that this conviction is not ‘relevant’ in terms of undermining public confidence in the teaching profession. many thousands of teachers have convictions – some for serious offences like assault, dangerous driving and domestic violence – and still have gone on to have successful teaching careers. Therefore, you are begging them to re-consider their decision.

        I wish you good luck.

      3. Sorry, I should have clarified that I pleaded guilty to having two people in my car as I was advised to do so by interrogators. They said if I pleaded not guilty and was found guilty, the judge would give me 5 years behind bars. So I played it safe. How the refugees got there did not involve any planning from my part.

        Thank you so much for your advice Alan, I will include these points in my appeal.

  70. Hi Alan

    I’m sorry if this issue has been addressed before but I would really like your advice.

    I’m a 30 year old British student in South Africa training to be a French Teacher. I hope to come back and teach in the UK as soon as I’m done.

    The only trouble is, and I woke up in the night in a panic, is that I have a criminal record – having had 2 drink driving related offences in my early (stupid) years. I’m a very very different person now, and have achieved distinctions, scholarships etc. since.

    Have a ruined my chances of being a great French teacher at a lovely school in the UK?

    1. Hi Amy,

      I don’t think you have anything to worry about by the sound of it.

      Drink driving bans are not considered ‘relevant or serious’ enough to undermine public confidence in you as a teacher – unless of course, you caused a serious accident in which people were seriously injured or killed (that considered ‘serious’) or if you are driving a school mini-bus with kids in at the time (that’s considered ‘relevant’).

      If neither is the case, I don’t think you need worry about applying for jobs in the UK as a qualified teacher – but make sure you declare them on an application form, or your prospective employers might think you are trying to hide something more serious.

      Good Luck.

  71. Can one be denied in to a masters program of curriculum and instruction and teachers lincersure if they have been arrested and charged with DUI, but convicted of Reckless Endangerment?

    1. Hi Ashleigh,

      I’m so sorry I am delayed in replying to you but I’ve ben away on vacation.

      I am based in the UK, so it may not be the same regulations for the US but I would imagine the answer to your question is yes – this is because all university providers have the right to deny an application from people with a ‘relevant criminal conviction’ – which in your case, I think ‘Reckless Endangrement’ is, given that you are proposing to work with children.

      However, the only thing you can do is try – you may find that the university you apply to is sympathetic to your case and if they are willing to interview you, you can impress them that the conviction was totally out of character. Good Luck.

  72. I have a question for anyone if I may. Can a person get a teaching position if they have history of sexual misconduct in another profession? thanks

  73. Just to clarify that there is no history of legal, civil litigation…just a complaint but it is registered under NW fraud and abuse section of criminal background history.

  74. Hello, Alan. I’m a second year teacher in a school in the United States. That school in particular is a Title 1 school, meaning that the majority of the student community is classified as “at risk”. Having said that, it is also a very poverty-driven community. Here’s my issue. I just feel very blessed to serve these kids as their teacher and to be able to participate and be a part of their daily lives and for them to be a part of my life as well. I honestly love them oh so and want to do a little more, apart from just teaching, to make an impact in their lives. What can I do? I don’t want to cross any boundaries where my superiors would become concerned with my actions. No one in my school has taken any initiative to hold any off campus parties or activities that would involve us teachers more with the students, rather than just teaching them and going on with our lives, not knowing if our kids are receiving the love and attention that they very much deserve. I know that I’m rambling on so much and I apologize, but what are some suggestions that you can give me and the rest of my colleagues for us to become more involved with our students lives without causing any striffle? Thank you,

    1. Hi Raul,

      Thanks for your post and it addresses a compelling issue as far as teacher professionalism is concerned – that is the scope and extent of professional boundaries particularly in relation to the pastoral care of children and students – so thanks for raising the issue.

      My own view is that while teachers are legally responsible for being ‘in loco parents’ – that’s Latin for being ‘in place of the parent’ – I think your professional duty is also not to become emotionally or socially involved in the lives of those you have a ‘duty of care’ for.

      Of course that is easier said that done, especially when you see your students suffering in poverty or neglect – but to become emotionally or socially involved in their lives, in my view, clouds and compromises your professional judgment to provide the best ‘duty of care’ you can to educate and provide a safe and trusting environment for them to thrive.

      Your duty of care does not extend to being a ‘friend’ – and if you ever think of your students as friends, or indeed they think of you as a friend, then in my view, you know you have crossed a line.

      If I was you, wanting as you do, to do as much as you can for them outside school as well as inside the classroom, I would start some school clubs that involve and engage them actively – things like sports clubs or cultural activities like music clubs where they have opportunities to learn and play together. In this way, you can share time with them – perhaps as a sports coach or if you are musical, playing in a band or singing in a choir or group – as well as being a mentor and pastor when they need you.

      In my school we also had a Debating Society – which allowed the students to discuss pressing moral, political and social issues that really challenged their thinking as well as developed their public speaking skills. This developed the intellectual relationships between students and teachers which had a positive effect back in class.

      It sounds as if your school might not have a lot of parents who have the time or the resources to become actively involved in school activities, like with a Parent-Teacher Association – but if you can find ways that creatively support the parenting skills of (often single, one parent) families through things like co-operative cookery clubs or literacy, numeracy or language and communication support groups – where parents can do ‘social’ things with the parents – then you will be providing an often essential support service to some of the poorest and neediestj families.

      I hope this has given you some ideas, and thanks again for raising the issue. Good Luck!

    2. Introduce VALUES EDUCATION into your teaching. This gives young people the opportunity to learn, in a safe, supportive environment, how to use well-chosen values to improve all aspects of their lives – we refer to the S-P-I-E-S as agents of change – encouraging students to look into what is important for their Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Emotional and Social wellbeing and development. (We provide resources for this for ages 4 to 14 – http://www.humanvaluesfoundation.com/about-hvf.html) but also look into how values are helping to establish inspiring school cultures, role-modelling and how VALUES LITERACY is essential for preparing young people so that they can achieve better throughout their school careers and go on to live happy, fulfilling lives: http://www.WorldValuesDay.com.

  75. Dear Alan,
    I thoroughly enjoyed your lecture given at MARJON earlier this Autumn term.
    I am currently writing an essay on ‘Whether SEND Inclusion in the classroom is a failed ideology or not’. I am tackling this question partly from a politically historical angle, looking at the publications of Lady Mary Warnock in 1978 and then updating her arguments in 2005. Unpicking the change of political governments over the time and how this may have impacted on the above statement through differing policies. I am looking to focus on New Labour education policy on inclusion from 97 onward and then how inclusion may have altered with in the school with a political change of government from 2010 and how we are in the present day and where might we be going in terms of SEND inclusion.
    I am at the start of my research and wondered if you were able to give me a quick steer in direction of where I might start.
    Kind regards

    1. Hi Harry,

      I’m so sorry for the delay in replying but I’m away on holiday at the moment with only limited access to wifi, so I’ve only just seen your post.

      Thanks for your kind words about the lecture but as far as advice about SEN education is concerned I’m afraid I’m not your man. I’m way behind the curve on this area and really haven’t been touch with the latest discussions and debates for some years. I think any advice I might offer might only be a liability to you.

      If your tutors set an essay title about values education or ethics or professionalism, then get back in touch – I’d be happy to help.

      Good Luck with it and the rest of the course.


  76. Hi Alan, I am applying for teacher training and about to write my personal statement. I have an absolute discharge conviction for slapping someone and was wondering if I should include any information about this in the personal statement. I have declared it in the ucas forum obviously.

  77. Hi Alan. I have a question. A month ago I was arrested for leaving my son and his cousin alone at home for an hour. After an interview, I was released and a few hours later the police informed me that they not going to take further action and they are closing the case. I would like to be a teaching assistant and now I’m worrying that this could affect my career. I know this could be disclosed on my DBS. I’m worrying because I don’t want to be judged on this one incident, the consequences of which were​ horrible for me.

    1. Hi Anna,

      Don’t worry about it. If the police said there would be no further action, then you have neither been convicted nor even cautioned, in which case there won’t be any record of this on DBS.

      1. Many thanks for that. What about enhanced dbs and section where local police can add any comments relevant to the position? Many thanks for your replay. I’m so worried that I can’t sleep or eat properly.

      2. Without a caution or a conviction, there will be nothing on the enhanced disclosure for an employer to see. Only if your offence involved violence or sexual assault or abuse would there be an issue.

    1. Hi Amanda, I’m sorry but I can’t answer your question – I live and work in the UK and I think by the sound of it, your question relates to regulations in the US, which I don’t know anything about. Sorry I couldn’t be of help.

  78. Hi Alan,
    Last year I was caution for kerb crawling, it appears as a sexual offence on my DBS. I was working as a teacher at the time and the school allowed me to finish the year off as I told them I was going to leave at the end of the year before the caution. I am now considering going back into teaching but feel as though I may not be able to with the police caution as it appears as a sexual offence on my dbs. I’m really stressed out about this, could you give me some advice please.

    1. Hi,

      I’m sorry my reply is slow, I’ve been away for a few days.

      While ‘kerb crawling’ is obviously an offence, this won’t necessarily be a ‘deal-breaker’ for many employers. They won’t like it, but it does not involve violence or sexual assault – which would obviously end any possibility of a career with children or young people. Many employers, particularly if you have skills and qualifications in high demand (such as IT skills, languages, maths and sciences) will and do overlook much more serious offences than this.

      All you can do is apply and see what employers think – either by the questions they ask before interview or at the interview (if you get one). Be prepared to answer difficult questions though about what you were thinking – so you may want to say this happened at a difficult time in your life and was not an habitual practice of yours.

      I would also write or phone the DBS and ask them whether this offence will be actually divulged to employers when they check. The government has recently relaxed the rules and many ‘non-relevant’ offences have been ruled out of disclosure. Find out if yours is one of them – and of​ so, you have nothing to worry about.

      Good Luck.

  79. Hello
    I’m looking for some advice with regards when a teacher can be notified for what year group they will be in the next academic year! Is there a date which is the latest they should let teachers know? Thanks

    1. Hi Sarah,

      not really – sometimes it can even be at the last minute, though that is not desribale and not satisfactory and not usually the case either – but resignations for next year don’t have to be on a Head Teacher’s desk until May 31st, so at this point in the year, a Head will not know for certain who will and won’t be at the school for September (until after that date).

      I myself (as a class teacher) once gave my resignation in on May 31st and as a Head received resignations from other teachers on that date – sometimes people decide at the very last minute.

      Only after that date can a school leadership team plan for certain which teachers they will have for September and then – for certain – allocate teachers to classes – though of course, they will have a pretty good idea long before. But they won’t publish that information until much closer to the end of term (usually because they don’t want parents lobbying them about why their own child is not in a particular class).

      Sometimes – rarely these days – NQTs don’t turn up for jobs they have accepted or tell the Head a day or two before the term starts that they’ve changed their mind! I had to appoint an NQT with a day to spare once.

      That’s not ideal for anyone obviously but if you’re feeling frustrated that you’ve been offered a job but you don’t know which class yet, wait until after half term (the first week of June) and then politely ask the Head have they decided yet which class you’ll be taking for September. They may even ask you to wait until the beginning of July, but you really should expect to know by then. If you haven’t – it wouldn’t be unreasonable of you to ask them for an explanation.

      Good Luck.

  80. Hi, just wondering if a caution for drug possession (class A) when I was 17 and a littering offence which ended up in court would stop me from becoming a teacher? I am now 22 and haven’t had anything on my record since the littering when I was 18 many thanks

    1. Hi John, it won’t stop you getting on a training course (and qualifying as a teacher) and I wouldn’t have thought it would deter most employers either, given the age and the severity of the ‘sentence’. However, the fact that a littering offence ended up going to court may prompt a series of quite penetrating questions from Headteachers or other interviewers about your personality and character, which you’ll need to prepare for. Being qualified as a teacher is not enough to get a job and nor should it be – schools are concerned and want to know that you will be a ‘role model’ to young people. You’ll need to have answers for that. Good Luck.

  81. Hello,
    I am 37. I am wanting to become a Life Coach.
    I feel I have a lot to offer with all my life experiences and want to help people.
    A few years ago some very bad things happened to me. I then became drug addicted and ended up with a Trafficing and Supply Record with a 3.5 year Jail sentence. Obstructing a police officer was added to the sentence. That’s was not true but besides the point.
    Will I be able to become a Life Coach with these criminal records?
    I am also working with Drug awareness team focusing on schools and young people. Hoping that this will help my future and help others at the same time.

    1. Hi Jasmine,

      sorry for the delay in replying – I’ve been away. I’m afraid I don’t know what the regulations are for Life Coaches – all my work has involved qualified teachers working in schools in the UK (and it sounds as though you are based in the US) – though I am sure our systems are similar as far as the regulation of social and caring professions is concerned.

      In the UK, I’m afraid with a 3.5 jail sentence for drug supply offences you would be deemed ‘unsuitable to teach’ but that doesn’t mean you would be able to become a Life Coach. In the UK, Life Coaches work privately and engage clients on a direct basis so they are regulated by a legally binding regulatory professional body that determines whether they can work in the field or not. Your clients could choose whether or not to employ you on the basis of your qualifications, experience and ‘life experience’. Many clients might feel that they could learn a lot from someone with your life experiences.

      While I cannot offer any concrete or legal advice, I would think that working as a Life Coach in the US has a similar context to that of the UK. I can’t see why you could not train and ‘qualify’ as a LIfe Coach, particularly after some experience working with a Drug Awareness Team where you would get good experience working with people in need of psychological and emotional support, and then once you are trained and ‘qualified’, set up as a Life Coach in private practice, advertising your services and engaging clients on a private basis.

      It sounds like you are trying hard to turn your life around and I wish you good luck and success in your endeavours.

  82. Hello,

    I am due to complete my BA (Hons) in International Hotel Management in July 2020
    I am interested in doing a PGCE (PCET) course from September 2020
    I am 35 years old (36 in December 2019)

    was born and brought up in the UK. When I was approximately 15/16 years old (in 1999/2000; approximately 20 years ago), I was convicted for 2 violent offences (grievous bodily harm). One of the victims was a bully of similar age, and the other was a 40 something-year-old man who was attacking my friend (I am not justifying anything here – simply describing/explaining). I was sentenced to 8 years in total plus 2 years extended sentence licence. I was released having served 5 years and 4 months. The night before my 30h birthday I was experiencing a quarter-life crisis stressing about my achievements and where I stand, and in a state of distress, I ended up drink driving and convicted for dangerous driving with a 9-month custodial sentence. I pleaded guilty to the offences. As you are able to see, there is no pattern of similar offending or in fact prolific offending. However, given the circumstances, I was wondering, well I’m hoping you may be able to help me with some ideas/suggestions regarding my chances of entering into a teaching profession, in particular in a lecturing capacity within the university environments. My course director has said my presentations are absolutely first class and that I would be a good teacher. He is happy to provide a reference. I have looked into QTLS which is more relevant to what I’m considering but still confused.

    Kind Regards,

    1. Hi Abdul,

      thanks for getting in touch and being so frank about your background.

      My work, advice and blogs refer to entering the teaching profession in schools, were as you probably realise, there are restrictions for entry for people with criminal records involving violence. As you are intending to enter a teaching career with adults, you will find that the rules are slightly different, though there are some restrictions even then – particularly if your lecturing is likely to be with people who could be considered ‘vulnerable adults’.

      Normally, I would say that your chances of being accepted on to a regular PGCE QTS training course would be poor but as you are intending to do QTLS I think the best thing you can do is contact the Disclosure and Barring Service and ask them if your offences would bar you from 1) training as a lecturer for QTLS and 2) bar you from lecturing at an FE college or university.

      The DBS is first and foremost a service for employers, but they do have a phone number – DBS helpline 03000 200 190 – where you could make enquiries. They also have a mailing address you could write to.

      As I indicated above, there are two questions you need answering: 1) would you be accepted on a QTLS training course and 2) would you be prohibited from teaching adults at FE colleges and universities.

      If you have no luck getting those answers at the DBS, then I suggest you try to ask the first question at your nearest QTLS training provider (or local FE college). They may be able to give you an indication as to whether they would be able to train you with your record. (If they would be prepared to train you, that would probably mean you could possibly get a job teaching – as it wouldn’t make sense to train you if it was impossible for you to teach with your record). – but ask.

      I wish you good luck.

  83. Hi Alan, I came across your article whilst researching about enhanced DBS checks and teaching. I was given a warning back in 2007 when I was 16 years old for GBH. It was given unfairly as I acted upon self defense and was frightened with the consequences of a court case. Unaware of the significance this warning could have on my future, I accepted and did not contest. I graduated in 2015 and went on to pursue a teaching career. I began working in a primary school however once my DBS certificate arrived I was promptly sacked due to this warning in 2007 and was told I will never be able to attain work in schools. I then went on to teach abroad and have been for the past 4 years. due to family circumstances I had to return back to the U.K and have been struggling for work since. I do understand that the nature of this crime is violence towards a person and it will never be filtered however it was a warning, a warning given when I acted upon self defense against people trying to rob me for my Nokia phone gifted to me. I have never been to prison nor court yet due to this one warning disclosed on a DBS certificate my future prospects as a teacher in the U.K looks very slim and I cant get past an application form without the key question of disclosing my warning. I havent had one interview or call back from any applications submitted and I have been back in the U.K for 8 months now without any hope for work. Eager to hear your thoughts and advise and truly appreciate your guidance.

    I hope you have had a lovely merry Christmas.

    Kind regards,

    1. Hi AR,

      Thanks for getting in touch and I’m sorry that you have had a such a negative experience trying to re-enter the teaching profession in the UK.

      I have some encouraging news for you, in that there is no need to give up. Not at all. In fact, it seems to me that you were very unlucky to meet the negative response you first encountered and I think that you should not be discouraged by not getting interviews since you’ve been back from abroad. Keep trying.

      While GBH is a very serious offence, having accepted a caution for GBH over twelve years ago, when you were a juvenile, and in the context of self defence, are all mitigating circumstances. As you say, you were not convicted of the offence – you accepted a caution.

      I think you should continue to apply for jobs and do the following:
      1. Always be very clear that you are declaring the caution in your application form – they will find out later from the DBS check anyway, but the fact that you have shown that you have nothing to hide at the point of application is important;
      2. Add the mitigating circumstances in your defence at the point of application. So include a short explanatory note / letter if needs be – explaining that the circumstances in which the incident happened (you were being robbed), your age at the time, the date it happened (12 years ago), and that you were advised to accepted a caution as an end to the matter;
      3. Explain that you have had no cautions or convictions of any sort since this incident and that your record as a teacher abroad has been exemplary (I hope that is the case) and that you can provide excellent references about your performance as teacher and your good character.

      I know for a fact there any many schools and headteachers who would, in these circumstances, be perfectly willing to give you a chance to teach at their school if you are open and honest about the circumstances. You don’t say, for example, whether you tried to conceal this in your initial job as a primary school teacher. If you did, and they found out through DBS, then it is little wonder that they sacked you. Trying to conceal such a matter is considered to be an ethical breach warranting immediate dismissal.

      However, there are thousands of teachers who have recovered from serious offences – including assault – and have gone on to have successful careers. No-one, however, wants to work with a teacher who has obtained their position by deception.

      Keep trying and my advice is, don’t give up. There are lots of people out there who will give you a chance. Don’t be discouraged by the fact that there are some who won’t.

      Good Luck.

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