I’ve got a conviction… am I unsuitable to teach…?

I do talks to trainee-teachers on “The Teacher & the Law” all over the country. Sometimes students and trainees ask me if having a criminal record is a bar to teaching. The answer – you may be surprised to learn – is usually no. But it depends what the conviction is.

A lot of people get worried that something as trivial as speeding points on your driving licence might be a problem – which of course it isn’t. If we barred every teacher who had a driving ban, let alone 3 points on their licence, we’d have a major crisis in teacher recruitment.

However, teaching is exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and as a teacher, you will be subject to ‘enhanced’ Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) checks. As most people already on teacher training courses have declared their previous criminal convictions and cautions (or should have..!) and have already had a DBS check (formerly a CRB check) by the university or training provider – this should mean that they have been deemed ‘suitable to teach’ in accordance with DfE guidance.

Of course, candidates with very serious convictions – such as murder, robbery with violence, serious sexual assault, dealing in Class A drugs and any at all involving violence against children or vulnerable adults – would normally have been weeded out as ‘unsuitable’ at an initial DBS check.

Some though, even as serious as ‘manslaughter in self-defence’ – given the circumstances – might not necessarily be a reason for barring someone from acceptance on a teacher training course.

However, if you have a conviction or caution of any kind, what will be worrying you right now is how the schools that you are currently applying to will view your application.

Minor convictions are almost always not considered serious enough to deem a person unsuitable for teaching. If someone has been silly in their youth and has been convicted of drug possession, a minor burglary, theft of a car or from a store, a minor affray at a football match or political demonstration – they probably have no need to worry about it affecting their chances of becoming a teacher. Of course, any convictions that included violence against the person are taken very much more seriously – but still the circumstances and history of the offence would be the issue.

A trainee asked me recently whether a conviction for a domestic violence incident would count against him. It involved threatening his former wife with a knife when he was drunk and distraught more than a decade ago. He had declared it to the university but was worried now that he was applying to schools be a teacher. I suggested to him that most people have a very forgiving nature – given the circumstances. What I couldn’t guarantee was that every member, of every selection panel, of every school that he might apply to, will react so forgivingly to such an incident.

It is always difficult to know how people on interview panels will react to a given issue, especially where parent governors are present, as they invariably will be. It won’t help that currently, schools are likely to receive scores of applications for every post they advertise – so they can pick and choose in a ‘buyers’ market.

But do not completely despair – many people including head teachers and parent governors – do not view ‘a mis-spent youth’ as necessarily a bad thing. In my experience, some governors even think a little bit of ‘life experience’ equips someone to be a teacher in ways that help them relate more empathetically to pupils and students, particularly those demonstrating challenging behavior.

Depending on what the issue is, you may even be wise to bring it out in to the open at interview. Explaining to the panel how you mended the error of your ways and used the experience as a catalyst to make you a more reflective and mature person, might be seen as very positive. In my view, that approach is far better than leaving it as ‘the elephant in the room’.

As an ex-primary head, I employed a teacher on my staff that had an historic conviction for a drunken assault at a football match. He went on to become the most popular teacher in the school with both pupils and parents.

The point is – whatever the conviction or caution – declare it.  If you don’t – that in itself is reason for summary dismissal.

If you want to know more about what might or might not be a conviction or caution deemed ‘unsuitable to be a teacher’, you can go to:

https://www.gov.uk/disclosure-barring-service-check for more information.

Alternatively, if you have joined a union as a trainee – and my advice is you should – then consult them. The NUT has a very useful fact sheet on this:


If you have a delicate question you want keep confidential, contact me through my Twitter handle @newteacherstalk or on through this blog. If you wish, I’ll keep your comment private and help with advice if I can.

Alan Newland worked as a teacher, teacher-trainer and headteacher in London for over 20 years and then for a decade with the DfE and the GTC. He now lectures on teaching and runs the award-winning social media network newteacherstalk.  

You can follow him on Twitter at @newteacherstalk or book him as a speaker to your ITT students on “The Teacher & the Law”. His new book “Working in Teaching” (Crimson Publishing) was published in March 2014.

Watch one of Alan’s sessions: Exploring personal and professional boundaries


299 thoughts on “I’ve got a conviction… am I unsuitable to teach…?

  1. Hi,
    Am 53 & in a fairly small minority, I guess, of teachers who’ve continued to teach in spite of two convictions for possessing cannabis. One was in 1984 before I entered the profession & one was during my [short-lived] tenure as a deputy head teacher of a primary school in 1996. You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to work out that I continued in the interim.
    Not proud nor an advocate for the taking of drugs. It did bring the curtain down on my deputy headship, but have been able to ply my trade, inspite of dire proclamations to the contrary. I did have to commute to London, but it was only half an hour. Am now back working locally again.
    However, for anyone out there who is living in dread … there is life after conviction. Given that I’m clearly a man of poor judgement, my advice is: be up-front & always cough up at time of application or before attending the interview. The head will probably ask to speak to Chair of Governors & get back to you. I’ve moved twice since my fall from grace & never found it anything other than rather embarrassing.
    All the best!

    1. Thanks very much for that frank and revealing piece Tim – many of the young teachers I meet will find that very re-assuring. I try to tell people that many head teachers and Chairs of Governors will recognise the ‘life-experience’ and ‘reality-check’ that people like you, who are open and honest about their mistakes and misdemeanours, bring to teaching. Young people, it seems to me, both want and need that. Thanks again for a fascinating post.

  2. I have got a spent conviction for assault which I did when I was 14/15, I am going to be entering the last year in my degree and was unsure in applying for my PGCE as I don’t think I would be able to get a job as a teacher. I would like an insight into my options if you have any.

    1. Hi Steven, don’t worry about that. Not at all. Something that happened at that age will not count against you, if you decided you wanted to be a teacher. Just make sure you declare it if you are asked on any requests for declaring spent convictions either at the stage of applying for a training course or at the point of applying for a job. If you didn’t and it was later to emerge, your training provider, university or school employer would have legitimate grounds for instant dismissal.

      1. Hi I was wondering if you could offer me any advice as both universities and the DBS consultants haven’t had much idea….I am about to apply for my PGCE Secondary Science with Physics and has been something I have worked very hard towards the last two years with many voluntary and paid positions and hard work and determination….I am 29 and unfortunately before Christmas following an assault at my workplace I drove home and have been convicted of drink driving…I was wondering will this mean that I will not be offered a place at university or schools direct? As everyone I ask is vague….I am a hard working individual with no other convictions or warnings and just made a stupid mistake…I have declared it on my DBS check but have heard from others it’s not even worth me applying for my teacher training….is this correct?

      2. Hi Suki,

        Fromm what you say it’s not quite clear whether you were involved in the assault and what the circumstances of the drink driving offence were. Let’s assume you were not cautioned or convicted for the assault – as that would be taken more seriously by universities and schools. Let’s just assume that you were stopped by the police, breath tested and later convicted of drink driving without causing accident or injury – so you have probably been banned for a fixed period with a fine, yes?

        If that is the case then you have almost nothing to worry about as far as getting a place at a university to train to be a teacher is concerned. There are literally thousands of teachers and trainee teachers in your position. I am not condoning that – but if we banned every teacher who had a drink driving conviction we wouldn’t have a teaching profession left..!

        By the time you have finished training, most schools will consider this a minor matter and it will not be a barrier to you teaching as long as you don’t get any further convictions, especially for the same offence.

        If however the circumstances you describe are more complicated – like you were involved in the original assault as the perpetrator and have a caution for that – or you caused an accident which resulted in injury – then you’ll need to write back and tell me more details before I can advise you further.

        But if that’s not the case – you have little to worry about. Apply for your teacher training position, declare it and just get on with it – but don’t do it again if you want a long career in teaching.

        Good Luck!

      3. Thank you so much for replying….no I was assaulted at work leading to me stupidly driving my car after a drink…so I have been banned for a year from driving….was a stupid mistake I made in bad judgement after a bad time….thank you for your time and I will apply and hope my drink driving conviction doesn’t go against me!

      4. I’m sure it won’t go against you in those circumstances Suki. Declare it but I wouldn’t worry about it if I was you – drink driving bans are considered “minor” offences by universities and schools – I would be gob-smacked if anyone refused you a training place or a job on that basis. Good Luck.

  3. i have found this very interesting and has put me more at ease with my situation, i was 17 and on a night out was with a group that started fighting after a friend got glassed as i was there at the time i was convicted with affray and since, moved away and started a new life and looking to get into teaching. i feel anxious that once i start applying for courses and positions i will be rejected straight away….
    but after trawling the internet (even the teaching website and government websites) and finding this has made me feel better to be completely honest and go for it!!

    1. Hi Sarah, all I would say is that whenever it comes up don’t try to hide it or cover it up – it will be much better if you are just completely honest and open about it and say “it was a long time ago, it was a silly mistake, I was young and immature… and I’ve moved on and put it behind me.” If you do that, most people will understand and accept it as a silly mistake of youth. If you try to hide it, they will think you have not learned your lesson. Good Luck.

  4. Hi, my circumstances are slightly different to those mentioned in the comments and in the article, but I was wondering if you could offer me some advice. I’m 19 and currently doing a BA in Early Years/Primary teaching with QTS. I’m going into my 2nd year next month but have recently been arrested for supplying class B drugs (cannabis) and will have to plead guilty if my case is taken to court. Although dealing has been part of my ‘secret life’ for the past few months, even during my 1st year as a trainee teacher, I would really love to put this crime behind me and continue with my teaching career. As the conviction will not be considered as ‘historic’ and is more serious than possession, do you think that this seriously effects my chances of being employed as a teacher? Should I not bother with teaching and try my hands in something else?

    Some advice would be really helpful.. Has had me worried since the arrest.

    1. Hi M,

      I suggest you get some legal advice to see if the police will give you a caution for this offence. If the amounts you have been dealing are small, they may consider that. Find out as soon as you can if that is an option. Accepting a caution means that you accept responsibility for the offence but it won’t go to court and become public knowledge. However, you will always have to declare it – as a teacher – to employers. You are entering what is called a ‘notifiable profession’ where your employer will be notified of all convictions and cautions by the police (law, medicine, nursing, social work – are all in the same category).

      Second piece of advice – is go and tell your course tutor as soon as you get back to university. As a student on a teaching course, they are your ’employer’ at the moment. Without knowing your university, it’s not possible to say how seriously they will consider ‘dealing’ as opposed to ‘possession’ but it is possible they may dismiss you from the course as ‘unsuitable to be a teacher’. In which case, if you are lucky, they will offer you a place on another course so you can complete a degree in something else.

      However, though I’m sounding a bit dreadful, if the police give you a caution and you promise to your university that this case is a one off and that you will put the behaviour behind you, then all is not lost. The university may well support you to the end of the course in such circumstances and similarly schools might view this as a ‘youthful, student aberration’ – especially if you are really committed and passionate about wanting to be a teacher.

      There are many teachers who have had shining and successful careers who have done worse than this, but times have changed since the 60s, 70s and 80s when these things were relatively common – even with some teachers.

      Do what I suggest as soon as possible. Good Luck.

  5. Hi there, I could really do with some advice. I am currently about to start my pgce and therefore need to complete an enhanced crb. I have a caution from 5years ago that I’m not particularly proud of. I was in a dark place and attempted to leave the store without paying for a dress. I have since got my life back on track. I am aware this will show up on my crb and want to know if this will affect my teaching career. Will the university kick me off the course for that? Please help!

    1. Hi K,

      I wouldn’t worry at all as far as your teacher-training provider is concerned. I think they will accept your explanation that you “were in a dark place” at the time and that you were younger and less wise than you are now. As long as you are honest and open about this, most people will be understanding, tolerant and forgiving.

      However, once you start looking for jobs, you can’t guarantee that everyone who is in a position to offer you a job will so inclined – whether they are head teachers or governors of schools. In my experience, most will be understanding and tolerant – so I still don’t think you should worry too much.

      The thing that may go against you is the competition for jobs out there – if a school has fifty applicants for one job, it’s an easy reason to sift you out of the pile.

      However, don’t despair – just make sure you declare it whenever it comes up, and certainly don’t let it deter or depress you from what I am sure will be a glittering career. Good Luck.

  6. Hi I am currently applying for a primary pgce Year through gttr I have received interviews from both university’s however I am unsure if a DBS check will have already been done or not through ucas. Last summer I was caught smoking canabis I had nothing on me and was my first time of trying it and as my friend passed it to me I was unlucky enough to have it in my hand. I have never had any other dealings with the police or with drugs, but they still gave me a written warning. I was told it would not show on my record but will this show in the check and will it affect my application

    1. Hi Laura, thanks for sharing your experience.
      I really wouldn’t worry about that. It is considered a minor misdemeanour and as the police have said that it won’t appear on any criminal record then I wouldn’t even voluntarily declare it at interview unless you are asked a direct question or unless you are asked to declare on any application form that you have accepted a caution for a minor offence.
      Don’t worry about it.
      Good luck with the course.

  7. Hello I know that you stated that a person in their youth who was convicted of a drug possession could teach…But I’d like you to listen to my story. I was arrested for marijuana possession less than 20 grams…But i was NOT convicted I was given a pre-trail diversion program. I completed the program and the chargers were dropped…But i do still have an arrest in the county it happened in. PLEASE help me with this!!! Can i still teach at a like a Public High School?

    1. Hi Zach,

      thanks for sharing your story. While I am not 100% sure that I can be of help with this one – as the UK (where I live) has slightly different laws and attitudes around marijuana possession – I think it would be fair to say that even in the US this offence would be considered minor and usually not an impediment to becoming a teacher, especially if you have completed a pre-trial diversion program. To me that sounds as if you have avoided a “criminal record” but have accepted that you were culpable.

      However, as you live in a country with a federal system, I think it is fair to say that the bye-laws and the attitudes to the seriousness of this will vary from one state to another and the best way to find out if your local school boards will tolerate this is to talk to a local teachers’ union representative – they will have the legal knowledge and expertise to give you sound advice based on local knowledge and conditions.

      I’m sorry I couldn’t be more help but I really think that consulting a teachers’ union – and then joining one – is the best option for you.

      Good Luck.


  8. Hi
    My Daughter has put her application in to five universities for Primary teacher training.

    To my astonishment she went out over the Xmas and stupidly drove her Mother car with excess alcohol.She has been charged with a RT88007 drink driving.

    Will this stop her from getting into university?

    Please could someone help me with some answers.

    1. Hi Mark,

      thanks for sharing this. It’s difficult to know what may be the outcome without more information I’m afraid – for example, did she cause an accident? was anyone hurt? was she driving dangerously at the time or was she pulled over because she was driving in an erratic way? Again, depending on the level of intoxication revealed by the breath test, the fine and the driving ban could be very substantial but if this is a first offence it should not put an obstacle in the way of a university agreeing to allow her to start a teacher training course. I would personally be very surprised if any university turned your daughter away on a first offence of this nature.

      However, I would advise her to declare the conviction (if it turns into a conviction) to the university that offers her a place (as they are required by the Department of Education to complete “suitability” profiles).

      As I say, I think universities will allow students to start teacher training courses with such a (first) conviction, but it may prove more difficult once she qualifies and starts applying for jobs. I am finding that schools, head teachers and governing bodies (who employ teachers) are becoming less and less tolerant of people with criminal convictions – they can afford to be “picky” these days. That’s not to say the position is hopeless – I would certainly advise your daughter to start the course, complete it and qualify as a teacher and hope that by the time she qualifies she will find schools tolerant enough to overlook this as the mistake of a young person who was foolish for once in their life – as we have all been from time to time..!

      Good Luck.

      1. Hi
        Thanks for your reply much appreciated.

        My Daughter was stopped by the police randomly.She had 78 micrograms on her breath test and the legal limit is 35.its just one big stupid mistake she has made and I’m worried that it may effect her future.

      2. Hi Mark,

        in that case she will probably get a hefty ban plus a hefty fine – and as long as there were no aggravating circumstances like refusing the breath test or resisting arrest – then I can’t see that any university will refuse her entrance to the training course. As long as she doesn’t go on to get any more convictions then I would think that most schools, head teachers and governing bodies would be understanding and lenient.

        If young people can’t make mistakes when they’re young, when can they learn from them?

        Good luck and please let me know if any of the universities decline her application as a result of this – that would be a first for me and I’d like to know about it. Thanks.

  9. hi,
    I am currently doing a SCITT PGCE course which i started in September 2013, however on the first half term i got caught for drink driving, i was 57MG when the legal limit is 35MG. I received a ban for 12 months and 3 months reduction if i successfully complete the drink driving course. No one was hurt, no accidents caused and i cooperated with the police. It was a bad lack of judgement for me to try to drive 10 minutes to my home.

    My course is school based training, so i have informed the course leaders and they are fine with it, they put it down to just a stupid mistake. I am starting to apply for jobs starting 2014, but i just want some advice on how they may perceive this. Is my teaching career completely over?
    Thanks, i need some advice

    1. Hi Jane,

      Thanks for sharing this. I wouldn’t worry about this one too much. While there may be one or two head teachers and governors out there who may be particularly ‘anti-drink driving’ when it comes to short listing job candidates, I think most people will see this for what it is – the mistake of a young person who has been up-front and honest about delaying it. Don’t worry – put it behind you and show them you are a brilliant teacher and I’m sure you’ll do well with your job applications.

  10. Hi, in March of 2011 at the age of 22 I was caught drink driving and banned from driving for 9 months after taking a course. I had a reading of 53 micrograms and there were no accidents. I was pulled over by the police who had judged me to be travelling to fast on a roundabout. I co-operated with them fully and although this was and still is my only dealing with the police I am worried that I may not be able to get a job as a teacher as the offence was only three years ago and I should have known better. I am currently looking to volunteer in a local primary school. Do you think this conviction will affect my chances of being allowed to work or volunteer in a school and how should I approach the subject when applying for such positions? Your advice would be greatly received.
    Many thanks.

    1. Hi Tom,

      I would be extremely surprised if any school or teacher training centre rejected your offer of volunteering or application to train on the basis of what you have told me. In the great span of crimes and misdemeanours, it is considered a minor offence and should not get in the way of you wanting to become a teacher.

      Two points however – first, declare it even for volunteering positions. They will do a DBS check and it might come up on the report. The fact that you have been up-front about it will / should stand in your favour. Second – is that you might in the future find one or two people who will take an overly moralistic stand on this – which will be unfair given your age and maturity – but it may happen that some schools will say “No” to your application, though this is largely because at the moment, there is a buyers market out there for teachers and schools can currently pick and choose.

      But don’t let it worry you – just be up front and put it behind you. Good Luck!

      1. Hi Alan, I just wanted to say thank you for your advice back in 2014. I am now a fully qualified teacher and about to enter my second year of teaching.

      2. Hi Tom,

        I’m delighted, and thank you for your kind words. I hope your example gives encouragement to all those who contact me. While we can all make mistakes and do silly things when we are young, we can come back from them and make a successful contribution, as you have done. I wish you all the best in your career. Good Luck.

  11. Currently in my second year of training to be a teacher and was given a caution possession of class A drugs. Where do I stand on getting a job? And do I need to declare this to university?

    1. Officially yes, you do need to declare it, but the reality is that many police forces are rather inefficient at reporting cautions and convictions to DBS and “employers in notifiable professions” – which is what you are in. So if it happened when you were a teacher employed by a school, yes, you definitely would and they might find out anyway from a DBS check – though again, it would depend on how efficient the police force who cautioned you were on reporting it to DBS.

      Did they ask if you were a trainee teacher? If they didn’t and you didn’t tell them, then it is unlikely the police will be reporting it to your “employer” (the university).

      However, my ethical stance says “yes, you should tell your university” – but my recent view is that too many students and young people are not being given a second chance when they do declare, (and this seems unfair to me – especially when teachers are going for first jobs).

      So you could take the chance and keep quiet about it – I’m assuming here that you are not an habitual/addictive Class A user or supplier and that this was a “one-off” incident. If you are habitual/addictive with Class A – then with respect, I would suggest you re-assess your career choice as well as seek some medical help.

      The other thing I would seriously suggest is that you consult a trade union quickly. Join one – the NUT is very good – and free while you are a student. They will be able to give you some legal advice on this.

      Your question about getting a job… I think if you had a Class A conviction then you would have seriously damaged your chances of getting any job in teaching. These days employers (head teachers and governors) are becoming much less tolerant even of minor offences because there is a “buyer’s market” out there right now and they can pick and choose.

      But go and see a union and let me know how you get on. Good Luck.

      The easiest way to join the NUT is to call 020 7380 6369. Have your bank details when you call or go online http://www.teachers.org.uk/join. It’s free while you are in training but you have to apply.

  12. Hi Alan, really enjoyed reading this article. I am stupidly getting worried for the same reason and am wondering if I can get some advice. I am currently studying for a degree in Environmental Management & Sustainability at Edinburgh University with a view to teach Geography afterwards. However when I was 17 (now 20) I got into a drunken altercation with a guy that I went to school with- and who I believed was harassing me and hit him over the head with a bottle of vodka. I believe I was charged with (at first) with assault to severe injury and permanent disfigurement, however after in court I brought it up that the man wasn’t scared the charge was lessened to assault (not sure if the severe injury part is still there) but permanent disfigurement was dropped. I received 190 hours of community service since I was in University and working- which I was allowed to complete in a charity shop.

    Anyway now I haven’t been in any trouble since and have learned from my mistake. I have always wanted to teach and am still in contact with many of my former teachers including my old Geography teachers (one of whom is retired now). We all meet up a few times a year for dinner- including the current depute head of my old school and they all believe that I would make a great teacher and don’t think that my past will affect my chances of becoming one.

    I’m just wondering what your views are on my case. I am currently in first year of my degree so wouldn’t be teaching until at least 2018, which by that time I’ll be 25 and 8 years would have passed since the incident.


    1. Hi Dylan,

      thanks for the post on my blog. I’m sorry about the delay in replying – I’ve just come back from holiday.

      I’m glad you want to be a teacher – and it sounds like you would be committed to it – good for you.

      As to the issues you raise…
      there are two main aspects to this, one is ‘professional’ and the other is ‘attitudinal’.

      It is probably right to say that such an offence committed while you were a young man would not normally be a bar to being deemed “suitable to be a teacher”. In my experience most, if not all universities and training centres would accept your application and consider it a “mistake of youth”. The regulatory bodies in Scotland and England are usually quite forgiving about most offences in the context of a mistake that you are contrite about, though obviously some offences involving violence are more of a problem than others.

      However, as you may know, teachers are exempt from any offences being deemed “spent” – so you must declare them whenever you apply for a job once you have become qualified. That’s where the ‘attitudinal’ problem comes into play… These days attitudes are hardening, especially because there is a glut of people wanting to train as teachers, so schools can pick and choose from long lists of applicants. You may find that there are schools who will simply discard your application just because you have a conviction.

      On the other hand, you can play this to your advantage in your supporting statement by saying that you feel that “because you made a serious mistake as a young man, you feel you can make strong and special connections with challenging young people who are not inclined to accept authority, so you feel that your mistake has ironically given you an advantage as a teacher etc etc etc” Don’t over-egg the pudding, but you get the idea…

      Don’t let any of this discourage you. It may be that you will never have any negative reaction to your conviction, but unfortunately I can’t guarantee every one of the 26,000 schools across the UK will have liberal and forgiving attitudes.

      Keep going and good luck with your aspirations.

  13. Just wanting a bit of advise. Ive just previously been charged with common assalt even though it was self defence but ive got to attend court in 2 weeks to see the outcome. I am a TA at a primary school just wanted to know if it would effect my job.

    1. Hi Kim,

      It depends on two things – first, the verdict and second, the outcome if there is a conviction. If the Magistrate / Judge sees your side of the story and accepts your mitigating circumstances of ‘self-defence’ and imposes a light sentence like community service – which is very likely I think – then it will be unlikely that your employer (the school) will take further action.

      However, your post as a teaching assistant is exempt from the 1974 Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, which means that any offence – particularly ones involving alleged violence – must be declared to your employer. The police may notify them anyway, so I would tell the Head Teacher as soon as possible and explain your mitigating circumstances. I would do that before the court case comes up if I were you.

      Are you a member of a trade union? They can be very helpful and supportive in such circumstances and give good advice and may help you present yourself and your case to your employers (the Head Teacher and Governors) if it goes to a disciplinary in school. UNISON are a good union for Teaching Assistants.

      To be honest, as long as the other person wasn’t hospitalised for any length of time and you can explain the circumstances of self-defence, it doesn’t sound as if you will have a lot to worry about. I hope not.

      Good Luck.

      1. hi just wondering if you could help me my dbs has just come back it has a caution on if for theft 6 years ago. I was told it would not be on there but it is can I still be a teaching assistant

      2. Hi Lisa,

        All cautions and convictions of however long ago will always show up when you want to apply for jobs with children and vulnerable adults. Your employer will therefore get this information from the DBS.

        Then it depends what they think of it – so for example, if the theft was of a large sum of money (as opposed to a loaf of bread) or if it was from an elderly person living alone (as opposed to a supermarket) than you might find they will reject your application and you’ll have to find somewhere else to work.

        Given that it was a caution, then the police themselves did not appear to take it very seriously, therefore I would say you probably don’t have to worry too much – but it all depends on the attitude of the employer – they make take a very moralistic view.

        All I can advise is that you declare it in full and try to explain any mitigating circumstances – in other words, if the theft occurred at a time of extreme personal stress or hardship, then say so. If you try to conceal it, and your employer later finds out, they can (and probably will) dismiss you on the spot.

        Good Luck.

  14. Hi Alan, I am planning to start my secondary maths pgce in September and I have secured a conditional offer. I needed some advice as recently I have realised that motoring offences are criminal offences and in 2010 (17 years old) I had been convicted of driving without insurance and failing to comply with traffic warden or constable. I had been to court for the offences and I received 6 points on my driving license. I have just sent my DBS off and I am scared that the university I applied to will reject me due to having a criminal conviction. I am not proud of these convictions and it was my first offence even though I have a reason for these convictions but I don’t want to sound like I am making excuses for my behaviour. I always planned to become a teacher and I am afraid that I might not secure my pgce and be unable to gain employment in the future due to these convictions. I am really in need for your advice.

    Kind regards,

    1. Hi Ikram,

      this is nothing to worry about. I am as certain as I can be that the university won’t be the slightest bit bothered that you have a driving conviction from some years ago – there was no violence involved (at least I hope not) and no-one was hurt. It won’t affect you starting a PGCE.

      I can’t imagine it will affect your chances of employment either – the vast majority of heads and governors will not doubt your suitability to be a teacher for such an offence. Half the teaching profession have points on their licence. Just make sure you are up front about it and declare it and state your regret each time.

      Go and enjoy your PGCE and welcome to the teaching profession.


      1. Thank you for your reply Alan I appreciate your response. I was really depressed about these convictions as when I informed the university they told me an independent panel will make the final decision. I want to fulfil my dreams of becoming a teacher and I do not want to be rejected as a result of criminal convictions.

      2. The panel determines “suitability to teach” but I would be absolutely amazed if they rejected your application on the basis of what you have told me. If I was you I wouldn’t worry about it. Good Luck.

  15. I have a caution for possession of a class A substance (MDMA) from 2008, AND a conviction for possession of a class B sustance (cannabis) from 2010. I have a masters degree in mathematics (MMath) and I am hoping to start a PGCE course in September, is this likely to stop me entering the course? If not, would it affect my chances of gaining the bursary? Thanks for your help

    1. Hi Craig,

      your cautions and convictions won’t be a major barrier to you training to be a teacher with most teacher training providers, especially universities doing PGCEs (though some of the more cautious School Direct providers offering salaried routes might baulk at the idea) – but I would be surprised if any of them rejected you on this basis, especially given the subject you are offering – which as you will know is a shortage subject which could carry bursaries and incentives to train.

      However, the problems may start when you qualify and start applying for jobs – this is when you will have to declare the cautions and convictions on your application forms – even though they are ‘historic’ – as a teacher they will never be ‘spent’. Some employers, for example selective catholic schools that have become high profile academies, might not shortlist you, though of course you are not likely to find out why.

      On the whole though, I would think that most employers would not consider these offences to be a barrier to employing you, especially if they ask you to affirm that your drug use is a thing of the past, which I advise you to say it is..! 🙂

      Good Luck.

  16. Hi I recieved my first cannabis warning a few months ago, not a regular user just bad timing.

    This was at the side of the road warning, will it show up ok DBS? As it’s not a caution but warning? And will it affect my job? Been accepted just put the DBS through I declared I had something? Hmmm

    1. Hi H,

      an informal warning is not a caution, so forget those. Only cautions and convictions will show on the DBS but if you are asked on an application form or interview, you should declare. If you don’t and they find out later, they will have a right to instantly dismiss you.

      1. I don’t really know how informal it was, this is just the first thing you get when caught with cannabis?! Any idea? Had to sign a slip?

  17. Hi
    I’m 33 years old and was considering a career change into teaching via the student direct learning salary program. I hold all the entry requirements including a relevant 2:1 degree.. And successfully completing a financial accounting course at present too.
    The one big problem Im faced with thats stopping me from Pursuing this further is a recent criminal conviction (last 8 months), of drink driving (failing to provide a breath specimen in the station)..although no people were involved or present the car was involved in a minor accident on private land.. The sentence received was a driving ban of 13 months.
    Ofcourse I’m extremely ashamed and disgusted at the whole incident and have been torturing myself since the occurrence.
    I am worried how this will effect an acceptance to the course and to any schools in the future for a job as a teacher..especially as the conviction only happened quite recently.
    Please help. Thank you

    1. Hi Mary,

      I wouldn’t worry too much – the vast majority of employers won’t be the least bit concerned by a driving ban for 13 months. When I worked at the General Teaching Council (now defunct) we had thousands of similar convictions referred to us and we ignored them as “not serious enough to undermine the public’s confidence in the teaching profession” – so I wouldn’t worry about it.

      The only “fly in the ointment” might be a “rogue” head teacher or chair of governors who takes a very high moral stance on such things and eliminates you at the sifting stage. This may be particularly true if the school happens to be, for example an evangelical Free school or Academy that is more concerned about its own reputation than recruiting a good teacher who deserves a second chance.

      But I would be very surprised if it hindered your career at all – as long as it isn’t repeated… 😉

      Good Luck!

  18. Hi!

    I need some sound advice on my problem. I’m currently studying to get a higher grade in my English and math so that I can apply this November for next years secondary PGDE courses (I missed this year). I’ve got a hons degree (2:1) and 4 years teaching experience abroad for which I can easily get a record check. I’m also currently volunteering at a local school teaching art lessons and nearly everyone I know is a teacher (including my mother).

    I’m 29 now and back in 2008 I was arrested and charged with theft….minor I think. To this day I actually have no idea because it has never shown up on my basic disclosure, and I applied for one 6 months later. I presume it was immediately spent? I’m utterly ashamed of this whole thing however I was in a terrible situation where I was made an example of by the company I worked for. I worked as a money counter and this particular day I was counting fake notes. Like an idiot I left the secured area and when I realised I had £25 in my hand I tried to tell my supervisors. It was too late and for all the other employees as a warning, I was arrested. I was fined and that was that. No court or prison. I wish I had fought the whole thing but I was 23 and terrified. I have a clean record from that date.

    What are the chances that I will be refused from the course? Should I declare it if I get an interview or wait? What is your advice please 🙂


    1. Thanks for your post. I don’t think you have much to worry about – £25 is a small amount and petty theft is considered a minor matter. I would be very surprised if you were denied a place on a PGDE course on this issue. If it doesn’t show up on your DBS check then I wouldn’t bother declaring it either. Just say you forgot about it. In this case, if they don’t ask, don’t tell, but if they do ask, then do tell. There’s no point in putting yourself in a position where you have lied.

      Just one point – in teaching convictions are never spent – under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, all convictions and cautions remain ‘unspent’.

      1. Thank you.

        I’m just so worried because I don’t know what it says. Should I apply and find out or just go in, tell the truth and hope they see I’m a good person who got in to a bit of a mess?


  19. Hi
    Thanks so much for providing this forum it is comforting to read your comments in an ‘uncertain’ time for some people on here.

    I too have an ‘issue’ that id like to talk to you about. I have graduated from a B/PDHPE and recently completed a Masters of Education in Australia. I have never taught in schools as I have been a professional sportsperson who competed internationally. I have recently retired and now exploring putting my degrees to work and starting my school teaching career. I have never registered with our Department of teaching and I obviously need to go through that process before I start.

    Here is my issue… When I was at university, 11 years ago, I was charged and convicted with ‘Obtain payment in full that was only payable in part’. In a nut shell, I failed to declare all money I was receiving whilst on benefit from government for studying. I was overpaid $9,000 of which I paid back in full before I went to court. The judge still came down hard on me and recorded a criminal record against me.

    Prior to this, and since this offence, I have been an impeccable citizen and had no history of any misdemeanors what so ever.

    Firstly, as this conviction was so long ago I believe it could now be ‘spent’. Can you tell me if I am required to declare this when applying to work as a teacher.

    Secondly, do you foresee any issues with my registration and job prospects if this conviction is declared and they know about it.

    I really can’t see it effecting me but I am uncomfortable with the stigma attached and would much prefer to not even declare it. Obviously if they find out and I don’t declare it that looks much worse so I don’t want to do that either.

    Anyway, thanks for your time reading this and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.


    1. Hi Matt,

      As you have probably guessed, I am writing my blog from the UK with experience of that context, but as the systems and legal values of both countries are fairly similar I think the advice I will offer will have some relevance to you in Australia.

      First of all, this is the kind of offence that a lot of people coming into teaching in the UK have convictions for. We call it “Benefit Fraud” in the UK and it is quite common among students. (I am not condoning it, but if we barred all applicants who had ‘benefit fraud’ cautions and convictions we’d probably have recruiting difficulties into the teaching profession 😉

      But to be serious – it is generally not considered a serious offence by most employers even if you were to declare it (as I advise you should). If your conviction was for a violent assault or involved sexual offences, particularly with children under the age of consent, then obviously people would deem you ‘unsuitable’ to teach. But this kind of offence comes in the same category as getting a drink driving or speeding ban – that’s the way it would seen in the UK anyway.

      When you register as a teacher with the Australian authorities (I think they do it on a State by State basis) then my advice is that you declare if you are asked. If you are not asked, then you can make a legitimate argument that you didn’t know you had to declare something you weren’t asked about.

      I understand your nervousness about declaring this, especially if as a former international athlete you might have a ‘public reputation’ to protect, but if you were not to declare this when asked to, and they found out later, you would be more than likely to be instantly dismissed, with all the attendant publicity that would bring. You would also be opening yourself to the accusation that you are “a consummate liar with a personality wilfully trying to deceive for your own gain” rather than being seen as “a reformed person who once made a silly mistake”.

      The next tricky area you may have to navigate is employers – and by that I mean schools or local or regional school boards. Their attitude to the this offence may vary from one locality to another. So for example, if you chose to teach in a private school in a politically and socially conservative area, the school governors and Principal may be concerned about the school’s reputation and take a dim view of this. While if you were to apply to many publicly funded schools in more diverse and ‘liberally-minded’ areas then they might not even think twice about employing you for such a relatively trivial matter.

      If I was you, I would immediately join a teaching union and seek advice from them. They will certainly know better than me how this particular offence will be judged by teaching registration authorities in Australia, as well as how employers will view it. In the UK we don’t have “spent” convictions as far as teachers are concerned. Teachers are exempt from what we call here “The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act” – so they must declare all cautions and convictions, even historic ones that are minor. But a good union will know all this for the Australian context and give you good advice about this. If you are serious about a career in teaching, union membership has many more advantages than just legal advice too.

      Good Luck and I really hope it all works out for you.


  20. Hi,

    I am very worried and would appreciate some advice. I am currently in my fourth year of a Primary Education degree and I am starting to think about applying for jobs. However, 5 years ago when I was 17 years old I received a caution for assault occasioning actual bodily harm as I was involved in a fight. This is completely out of character for me and would never happen again. Now I fear that this one mistake may cause problems when looking for a job.

    I am extremely passionate about teaching and work exceptionally hard, on my last placement I was graded outstanding and aim to be graded the same on my next placement. I understand that it will be more difficult for me to find a job but hope that based on my commitment to the profession I will be given a chance.

    Do you have any advice for the interview / application process? Do you suggest that I explain the incident in my supporting statement or bring it up in the interview?


    1. Hi Brooke,

      I wouldn’t worry about this. I would be amazed if amy employer were to deny you and interview, let alone a job offer on the basis of something stupid you did as a 17 year old. Only the most small minded and even bigoted of people would show such little grace – and would you want to work for such people? I suggest not.

      You may be asked on application forms to declare all cautions and convictions and as you applying for a teaching job you are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 – so you should do this in the section that asks for it, not in your Supporting Statement.

      But I wouldn’t bring it up voluntarily at interview, though I would be prepared for it if they ask about it (unlikely) – but be ready to explain the circumstances of the incident and that it was a very foolish mistake when you were young and immature and you have put it all behind you.

  21. Thank you so much for your reply, it has put my mind at ease. I’ve spent a lot of time looking for advice on the internet but I keep reading really negative experiences of how having a caution has stopped people getting a teaching job.

    I’ve been reading through your older posts and some have really made me laugh! I will be following your blog from now on.

    Thanks again 🙂

      1. I applied for a job in year 1 and was completely honest with the school about my caution. I answered yes to being cautioned of a violent offences against an adult on the Disqualification Declaration Form and gave relevant details. The head teacher has emailed me saying that I need to complete a waiver form for OFSTED because I will be working in year 1. Do you know anything about this process? I’ve looked on the internet and read about OFSTED requesting and interview. How likely is it that it that the waiver will be accepted? I’ve read that a teacher was denied a waiver even though it was her husband that was convicted over 20 years ago. If the waiver application is not accepted does this mean that I am unable to work with children in any year or just year 1? I am not on the children’s barred list.

        Thank you for your advice in advance.

  22. I have a CRB but have not yet been asked to do a DBS. I have been working 14 years in the same job as a teacher and am reasonably senior.

    2 years ago my partner and I had a row. Reasonably minor I would say and the kids (his and mine) were there. Not violent although I know one of his kids said my bf’s jumper had been torn recently (it had but not by me, it was expensive and I had stitched it and bought it back that night).

    We don’t share a home and this happened at his house. I went home with my kids. Unbeknown to me bf’s son (16 or 17) had called the police – bf had a history of violent relationships and this was the action his kids Mum had told them to take if bf got angry.

    Two days later, the police rang me, asked a few questions (asked about bf’s jumper which had been torn on a loose trim in my kitchen – hence why I had sewn it) , said I needed to be careful if we rowed on his property, and then just said “we know you are a teacher so we’re putting you down as a witness”. Heard no more from them.

    I am sure I am due to do a dbs check soon and am terrified this will come up.

    1. Hi Janet,

      thanks for sharing that. I wouldn’t worry about this – you have not been cautioned or convicted so it won’t show up on a DBS check. Being asked to appear as “a witness” is not reason to worry. But you may want to ask the police to clarify that – ask them if you have been cautioned. Otherwise – don’t worry.


  23. Hi I have just started a teaching assistants course. They have asked me for a ppolice check. On there it asks for previous convictions, I spoke to my solicitor and he says I have to put on this conviction. Which is currently in court as I was convicted in may 2014. Well it was a conviction for theft. I have told my college tutor. And she says she has to speak to safeguard. Will I be able to continue on course or will I get kicked off because of conviction. I have previously had d and d off 4 year ago apartment from that nothing.

    1. Hi Joanne, I think it’s unlikely the course will throw you off but it all depends on the attitude of the employer (that is the school) as to how tolerant they feel about this. As it is not an offence involving violence or sex thye may take a liberal attitude but on the other hand they may think ‘a thief’ is not a person who can show a good example to young kids. My advice is to come clean and if it happened during a period of severe stress and upset, tell them that. Good Luck.

      1. Hi thanks for reply

        Yeah basically money went into account didn’t realise it was not mine as I had previously let ex house mate use bank. She moved out I told her to stop getting money paid in which she did. Then money went it to account didn’t no it wasn’t mine. Spent it.thn later on found out it was ex house mate.we fell out previously to this. I was later arrested pleaded guilty went to trail. Solicitor recommended I pleaded guilty as dont think I can handle court case. College has replied saying I need to speak to safeguard what does this mean. Please

      2. I think it means that they are telling you get advice from the Disclosure and Barring Service or DBS (based in Darlington but you can google their phone number). Alternatively you can ask advice from your local Safeguarding Board – administered by your local council, but I’m not sure they will advise you. I think your college basically needs to make a decision about whether they think you are “suitable to be a teaching assistant” – in the end, it’s their decision.

  24. Hi
    I’m 33 and in July this year I found a mobile phone in tescos and stupidly walked out of the shop with it. I panicked immediately after leaving the shop but was scared to go back in so I threw it away in a bin. On Saturday the police turned up at my house and arrested me for the theft of the phone and I had to go for an interview where I admitted everything and got given a conditional caution (I offered to pay the phone owners insurance excess she had to pay out so that is in the conditions that I must pay it)
    I work as a nursery nurse in a primary school nursery, have been there for 7 years. I am going to tell my head teacher about it tomorrow but I’m so so scared they will fire me because of it?

    1. Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for sharing this.

      While your Head won’t be pleased, I think she will be a very poor employer if she takes this matter any further. While I’m not condoning this, the police themselves consider this a relatively minor matter by only giving you a caution. If they had considered it more serious they would have charged you with theft. The fact that you admitted everything obviously commended you to them.

      Go into school tomorrow and ask your Head for an urgent private meeting and tell her everything. I would also tell her something like “you don’t know what came over you and that it will never happen again”.

      The fact that the police have cautioned you now means that the matter is finished with – as long as it doesn’t happen again – and if your Head is any kind of reasonable human being, she will take the same view.

      Good Luck.

      1. Thankyou I haven’t been able to eat or sleep for the fear 😦
        I’m so ashamed of what I did, it really was out of character and if I could turn the clock back and change it I would.
        Will she need to speak to the governors/county council in regards to what happens to me? I’m so so worried about this 😦

      2. No – she shouldn’t have to do that. It is not a matter that involves risk to the children – this is not an offence that involves violence or sexual offences – so she shouldn’t have to share this information further. In fact, it is unlikely that the police will inform her of it, though it is possible (depending on how efficient the police force is in your area) – but I think you are wise to come clean with her and get to her before the police might do.

      3. The police did tell me they would have to inform her? I don’t work on Mondays but am going to go in to see her as I can’t bear to wait til tues and need to tell her first if possible before the police do. I’m so scared of telling her though. She’s not the most approachable person!
        I’m worried that as it was a caution for ‘theft’ as I didn’t hand in the phone and ditched it, she will see me as a threat to the school 😦 but I’ve never done anything like that before and won’t ever again, I just hope she believes me
        Thanks for your replies, I feel like I have the universe on my shoulders! 😦

      4. Try not to worry too much – the police would not get round to informing your employer for weeks or probably months. However, go in tomorrow and show remorse and apologise that for some reason a silly impulse came over you and it won’t happen again. I’m sure it will be alright. Let me know how it goes.

      5. Hi
        I went in this morning first thing, and spoke to my head; she was really nice about it and said it wouldn’t affect my job in any way and as far as she was concerned it wouldn’t be taken any further, she just said that when I do my next DBS check it will show up on that obviously and she will have to do a risk assessment etc etc all formalities and paperwork but hopefully it will still be ok.
        Thankyou for your advice last night it helps a little to reassure me tho I was still nervous as hell this morning! Glad it’s done and dusted now tho ! X

      6. Hi Sarah,

        that is very good to know. Your Head sounds like a very sensible and level-headed person. I’m very glad it worked out well for you and good luck with the rest of your career.

  25. Hi,

    I am currently studying a BA Hons in Acting as well as a distance learning maths course as I am very eager to do either a TQFE or PGDE in teaching next year. In May 2010, when I was 18 years old, I very stupidly drove my car whilst over the alcohol limit. I was driving along a housing estate near a grassy area and a fox ran out onto the road, causing me to swerve and crash into a fence. I was in shock and walked about 30 seconds up the street to calm myself down before the police turned up and I was charged with drink driving and leaving the scene, the later being a harsh conviction in my opinion. It was my first offence which will become spent in May 2015. I hope to apply for the intake for TQFE and/or PGDE in 2015. I am absolutely petrified that this will stop me from fulfilling my dream to be a teacher, something I have always aspired to be and believe I would be very good in this position. Any advice you could share would be greatly appreciated.

    thanks in advance, your blog and responses are all very insightful and interesting, thank you!

    1. Hi Callum,

      I think this offence is unlikely to cause serious harm to a career in teaching. However, I’m afraid it will never be ‘spent’ in the sense that, if you want to be a teacher, you will be exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, which means that because you will be working with children, any convictions or cautions will always be made known to your employer during DBS checks (Disclosure & Barring Service) and you are obliged to disclose them on application forms.

      This offence though, will be considered as relatively minor (I’m assuming no-one was hurt in the accident and that you did not resist arrest or refuse a breath-test and that it was not a custodial sentence etc). I think there are very few universities who will raise it as a serious issue before allowing you to train, and if you take your training seriously and come out at the end as a good teacher, then the vast majority of employers (schools) will not raise an issue with it either. They will understand – as most people do – that you were young and made a foolish mistake.

      If I was you I would go ahead and get a good degree and apply for teacher training without worrying too much, but declare the conviction on application forms and when you are asked about it. Any attempt to conceal this will render you liable to instant dismissal, both now and in the future.

      Good Luck!

  26. Hi,

    I was cautioned for possession of a class C drug, and then banned for 18 months and served a community order for ‘taking a vehicle without consent’ and drink driving. This was in 2009, when I was studying for my Secondary PGCE in ICT.

    I got certified in the end but was so concerned about the convictions that I left teaching. I’m desperate to make a return to a life that I so foolishly threw away.

    Do you think that what happened would prevent me from getting a job, completing my NQT year?



    1. Hi Stu,

      These offences are not that serious to be honest – they do not involve violence or sexual offences with children or young people – that would bar you permanently. Even the drugs offence was a caution with a relatively minor drug classification. But they will come up every time an employer does a Disclosure and Barring Service check (what used to be called the CRB check) when you are offered an appointment. You are also legally obliged to declare these offences when you apply for a job.

      However, your subject ICT, is a shortage subject and schools are very short of teachers who can teach ‘coding’ – a new requirement by the National Curriculum – so if you are willing to teach that and highlight that in your applications then I think you have a very good chance of getting a job easily.

      The overall recruitment situation is very competitive and so many head teachers will be cautious about recruiting someone with a criminal record when they are in a ‘buyers market’, but most people who need a good teacher in their school will not be deterred by the nature of these offences and I think you should go for it.

      If / when the issue is raised at interview, tell them you were younger and immature and you’ve now put all that behind you.

      Good Luck.

  27. Hi,
    I recently had a caution for shop liffting in July, and I just did a work experience in a primary school. I had my Crb check. The head teacher said I can’t work in a school or with children. Am so depressed because I was hoping to do a teaching assistant course as that is the only job I can do as a single mom. Can you please give me some advice on what sort of jobs I can apply for?
    Thank you .

    1. Hi Juliet,

      the headteacher of that school is talking a lot of rubbish. A caution for shoplifting is not the kind of offence that bars people from working in schools or with children – it is considered a moonier offence, which is why you were given a caution.The kinds of offences that automatically deem people “unsuitable” for working with young people and vulnerable adults are those that involve violence or sexual offences – so he or she is talking nonsense.

      However, he / she is probably just saying that so they don’t have to confront you with the real reason why they don’t want to employ you – which is probably because they don’t trust you. That of course is relevant as far as they are concerned and of course, it is their prerogative not to employ you if they think you can’t be trusted. The caution is quite recent which doesn’t help either.

      My advice would be to continue to apply for similar positions elsewhere but to be up front with people that you have the caution – because it will only show up anyway on your DBS check – so get there before them and tell them when you apply. But try to mitigate it by saying something like, “I did something very stupid last year in moment of great stress and anxiety, I have never done anything like that before and it won’t happen again and I hope you will give me a second chance by employing me”.

      Most reasonable and humane people will give you that second chance. Unfortunately, you came across a miserable headteacher on this occasion, but don’t let that deter you if you really want to pursue a career in schools.

      Good Luck.

  28. Hey Alan, my name is Jacob I was just wondering two things firstly would a cannabis warning come up on the dbs checks for the middle school i am volunteering for and secondly assuming they do see it would this hinder my ability to volunteer there. I should probably point out i was a student at this school almost 7 years ago and my interviewer was my former maths teacher. Also i should just say that i have to fill out the dbs forms tomorrow if they’re not away for teacher training and so needless to say I’m feeling very nervous as this means a lot to me. I hope to hear from you soon if not today or tomorrow!

    1. Hi Jacob, thanks for posting this question. If your ‘warning’ was a formal caution, in other words, you received a notification from the police that you have been cautioned for the offence, then it should show up on a DBS check if the police had done their job in reporting it (sometimes some police forces are not very efficient). But if I was you I would assume it will show up if you received a formal caution.

      The second question you ask depends on the attitude of your school. They are under no obligation to let you volunteer or even employ you if they think you are “unsuitable”. However, most reasonable people would think that a young person’s caution for possession of marijuana is not a serious offence and should be viewed as the mistake of a young person who should be given a second chance.

      I hope they take that attitude for your sake. In any case my advice would be to fill out the application form fully even if it means declaring your caution before the DBS check comes in – if you are seen to be trying to conceal it, that will be reason enough for instant dismissal. My advice would be to say something like: “I made a stupid mistake a few years ago and was busted for a small amount of marijuana possession. I’m sorry – I was young and impressionable and it won’t happen again.”

      Good Luck.

  29. Hi Alan,

    Here is a slightly more complex question. I have twice been convicted of for drink driving. One back in Jan 2002 and the second in Feb 2004. My blood alcohol for the first wasn’t particularly high, I can’t remember the precise details,but it was less than twice the limit. No other incidents, etc. Just driving home late one night. The second was the same scenario, apart from I was driving a friend who was pretty badly intoxicated. My blood alcohol was only around 88 or 86 I think and the limit is 81. No other incidents occurred.

    Since the convictions I have gone to University and graduated with first class honours, received a distinction for a masters and am currently finishing my PhD. I decided that I would enter research as I presumed my career as a teacher would never materialise due to the convictions. However, as almost 11 years has passed since the last conviction, I was wondering whether you think that I may still ave a chance to teach. All my family are teachers and I think it is something I should pursue.


    1. Hi Ian, thanks for sharing that.

      I wouldn’t worry about it – these are not considered ‘serious’ convictions and shouldn’t be a hindrance to a highly successful teaching career – especially if you have a PhD and particularly if your subject is a ‘shortage subject’ like maths, physics, chemistry or IT. You’ll be ‘gold dust’ in the teaching profession.

      While both convictions will show up on what is called ‘the DBS check’ – that’s the check that all employers make to the Disclosure and Barring Service to see if you are unsuitable to work with children or vulnerable adults – no university or training provider (in their right mind) would turn you away for a couple of drink driving convictions that happened more than a decade ago. When you apply for jobs in schools, the same will happen, the DBS check will reveal the convictions, but I don’t know of any employer (schools) who would decline the application of any good candidate with such convictions. The DBS check is there to weed out those with serious convictions like serious violence or recidivist crime.

      All I would advise is to make sure you declare them if and when asked on application forms. failure to do so would/could/should result in your instant dismissal.

      Go ahead and apply for a teacher training position and Good Luck!

  30. Hi, I have a 3 year old conviction for theft in the workplace to the sum of around £1000. I was working in a bar when I had a very serious gambling addiction. I am in the final year of a primary teaching degree now and I am wondering if this will impact me going forward at all?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Jane,

      thanks for that. It’s difficult to say with that one – £1000 is a fairly serious amount of money and employers may need some assurance that your gambling habit is behind you. The positive thing is that your university obviously thought you were suitable to teach when they offered you a place, so my advice would be to do everything you can to re-assure your future potential employers that your mistakes are behind you and that you are an entirely suitable person to be a primary school teacher.

      My guess is that you won’t have any real problems but it may depend on the state of the teaching job market at the time. If there a lot of applicants for the same job, you may find they use your conviction as an easy option to sift you out of the short list. On the other hand, if you apply for some challenging schools were job applicants are in short supply, they will look a lot more positively at you. I hope so. Good Luck.

  31. Hi,

    Really interesting article and got me thinking for sure.

    As many of the people that have posted on here I have the assumption that my convictions will stop me from ever being a teacher and by reading what others have done I probably stand by that but want to see your thoughts anyway.

    At 20 I was in a drunken fight at university and was convicted of GBH.
    At 22 I was banned from driving for 12 months for drink driving.

    I am now 25 and have been working in a large and reputable organisation as the departments trainer which has reinvigorated my passion for teaching. Teaching was something I was going to go into when I finished uni but as I got in trouble at uni I decided against it.

    I understand from your replies to others that drink driving might not be considered too bad but I am worried about the GBH and the combination of both.

    I don’t really drink any more as it has caused me such serious issues in the past!


    1. Hi James,

      thanks for sharing that. Yes, you are right – the GBH is the real issue here though to be honest, I think you would find a university willing to train you, especially if you did a PGCE. If you were to complete that course successfully and you got good references, then by that time you’ll be 26 and even GBH could be put down to “youthful stupidity”. The problem is always employers (that is, schools) – they vary enormously from one place to another and will also vary in their reaction to this depending on the job market. If they are short of a maths teacher for example, a conviction for GBH will be overlooked much more readily than if they have 20 applicants for the job and they can pick and choose from people with a clean record.

      If you have a degree in a shortage subject like maths or a science or computing then you won’t have a problem I don’t think. But my advice is that if you really do have a passion to teach then go for it – because that passion will show through and people will respond to you as a real person and not someone with a criminal record. Good Luck.

  32. Hi

    Thank you for the above article, I found it very helpful.

    I’m 35 and work as a Principal Engineer for an Engineering Consultancy. I have a Masters degree in Systems Engineering. I considered a career in teaching at graduation but decided to get some experience as an engineer first. However, I would now like to pursue teaching, probably Physics or Maths (or both!).

    Just over 10 years ago I was convicted of drink driving. There was no accident or incident, just a stupid mistake. I have no other convictions. From reading above I understand that gaining acceptance onto a training course despite the conviction should not be an issue. My question really relates to whether this effects the likelihood of getting a job after qualification? Obviously its quite a risk to take in leaving a good job if there are any serious question marks.

    Best regards


    1. Hi Mark,

      you really haven’t got anything to worry about. As a maths and science teacher you will be ‘gold dust’ for the teaching profession and only a mad head teacher would turn down an application from someone like you – and it was 10 years ago for goodness sake! Just make sure you declare it if and when asked.

      Don’t worry – apply, train, and teach – and good luck!

    2. Hi Mark,

      I also wrote this week on this newsfeed and found it very useful. I confirm that I have only just been banned from drink driving myself and also no accidents or injuries took place just a stupid mistake. Following my queries a on here I’ve spoken to my university of choice and schools direct and I have been informed the same advice as on here it will not affect chances at all just declare it! Good luck mark

      1. Thank you!! It was after your advice that I took the plunge and sent in my applications to be a physics teacher it’s something I’ve worked extremely hard towards and I was so worried a silly mistake would ruin my career! Thank you for the brilliant advice! 😊

  33. Hi thank you for this article. I was hoping to become a teacher (PGCE post compulsory) but am extremely put off in pursuing with my criminal record. In 2005 I was convicted of ABH. I was 19 at the time and occurred during a drunken night out. I’m 28 now and have not received a record after the incident and since I have earned a degree in photography, have volunteered at local church youth clubs, and worked as a lifeguard and surf instructor on beaches at my home town. Are my chances slim to none and should I focus my energy into something more realistic. Thanks for your time.

    1. Hi Paul,

      given he circumstances you describe I wouldn’t worry too much about this. I don’t think it will be a barrier to a successful career in teaching, in spite of the violence involved – it was nearly ten years ago after all and we all make mistakes in our youth. That’s how training providers (like PGCE tutors) will view your application for a place to train and I also think that’s how the vast majority of schools will too.

      Indeed, my advice is that you make a virtue of this. When you do apply, say that you made a stupid mistake as a young man and that you have not only learned from that experience but you think you could be a good counsellor to young people who react to situations with a ‘hot-head’. Many headteachers will see this kind of experience as an asset.

      My advice is to go ahead and apply, train as a teacher, declare when asked and try to put an honest but ‘positive’ gloss on it by way of explanation and mitigation. Good Luck!

      1. Thank you very much for your positive response. It’s very reassuring to hear that and hope future employers will be as understanding as you are.

        Given your advice I will pursue a career in teaching.

        All the best for the future


  34. Hi, in 2007 I was charged with arson, recklessly endangering lives and drink driving, I also had a reprimand for drunk and disorderly from 2004. I have not been in any trouble since and I have gained a degree in English. I now want to do a pgce teaching people over 14 years old. Will I struggle to get on a pgce and get a job with my previous convictions? Thanks

    1. Hi Andrew,

      you say you were ‘charged’ – does that mean you were convicted or acquitted of the charge? If you were ‘convicted’ of arson in 2007 then I think you might have a problem getting through the “suitability” test even for a place on a training course. I must admit, as a former headteacher I would be wary of appointing someone with such a conviction unless you could explain some serious mitigating circumstances to me.

      I suggest you contact a training provider near you – a university providing a PGCE course – and ask for a telephone conversation with the “Admissions Tutor” about how they view might this. They may have experience of training people with similar convictions who have gone through training and got a job at the end of it. But I must warn you that I think it’s unlikely. I’m sorry to be so negative – but try – and good luck when you do.

      1. Hi, yes I was convicted and I recieved a suspended sentence. Basically, I was stupid and decided to try and scare someone. I lit a piece of screwed up newspaper, blew it out and posted it through someone’s letterbox. I blamed them for my drink driving conviction as they had reported the offence. Nobody was injured, the only thing burned was the paper. I did not realise how serious it was at the time as in my head I thought of it as a practical joke stupidly. The police came and I admitted it straight away and attempted to explain how I did not mean anything other than to scare them a little. Very stupid I know.

      2. In that case Andrew, I suggest you explain those circumstances fully and see what happens. Your age at the time will be taken in to consideration, so if you were young, stupid and head-strong – say so. My advice is be pro-active about explaining yourself. Schools and colleges will make no difference in this sense – but make a few calls to training colleges and universities and see what the Admissions Tutors say. Good Luck.

  35. Hello in 2014 I was charged with assault by beating which is to do with domestic violence and I was wondering if this would affect me working with children and in the future becoming a pe teacher as this is what I’ve always wanted to do but I’m kinda scared to apply as I believe this will hold me back a little help or advice should I just forget about it and try do something else?

    1. Hi P,

      When you say you were ‘charged with assault’ I am presuming that you also mean you were connected of it. In that case I would need to know a little bit more, for example, the sentence – as an indication of how seriously the court took it. If the conviction resulted in a custodial sentence then I fear you would be deemed “unsuitable to teach” by those considering and application for you to train.

      If however, you received a caution for the offence then the vast majority of training institutions would consider this a relatively minor offence and it almost certainly would not prevent you from training – though an issue for many people would be that it was relatively recent – 2014 – so you might find that some would reject your application.

      My advice would be to phone an Admissions Tutor for BA QTS courses (if you don’t have a degree) or the PGCE course Admissions Tutor (if you do have a degree) at your local university and ask them for a conversation and their advice about this.


  36. Hi,
    i was charged with assault occasioning bodily harm in 2008 when i was 16 (Now 23), the school i applied to volunteer at in preparation for a PGCE said it was their policy not to allow me to do so with my previous convictions. i was wondering if im going to recieve the same answer from every school i apply too?

    1. Hi Anthony,

      I think you have been a bit unlucky in this particular case. Most people would put a conviction of a 16 year old – even a violent one – down to “youthful stupidity”. If I was you I would let it deter you. I would think that most if not all universities would accept you on their PGCE courses as long as you are not making any efforts to conceal the conviction – always declare it. Once you have the got the PGCE course completed I think most schools will consider your application – though it will help if you can get some glowing character references from the schools where you do teaching practices.

      Good Luck.

  37. Hi
    In 2014 i returned to uk from my holiday, and i was arrested at the airport, due to an outstanding warrant, which i was not aware.
    I spent on night in jail, and my case was related to benefit fraud ( £4.500p pounds).
    I was given community service.
    I was in a very difficult position at the time with my family, however i am extremely remorseful and i have paid the money back.
    I have a degree in chemistry, and i would like to become a teacher.
    Do you think i will be able to find work ?

    1. Hi Amy,

      I wouldn’t worry about this one if I were you – a conviction that is non-violent and only got a community service sentence is not the kind of thing that would stop a teaching career. You’ll need to declare it though when you apply for teacher training and again when you apply for permanent positions and then when you get the opportunity, explain the circumstances about your family situation at the time to mitigate yourself. But you shouldn’t have any problem at all with this one, especially with a chemistry degree – that’s a real shortage subject – and they should be glad to have you.

      Good Luck!

  38. I am currently in my last year of training to become a teacher and I am about to start applying for teaching posts. However last year I received a caution for possession of Class A drugs whilst in my 2nd year of training I chose not to tell the university because I thought they would kick me out immediately and not be understanding of the situation. The situation was that I got myself into a bad crowd at university and although I never took drugs my friends did and we were all caught and cautioned as we were all in the same vicinity. I am about to apply for a teaching post and I know I need to declare this but I am scared if they ask the university about this or ask me do the university know and they would tell them then that is it ,over! What is the likelihood of the school asking the university about the caution? I am fine talking to the potential employers about the caution if invited for an interview as it is behind me now and I am very remorseful. I just hope the school also sees this. Could you please shed any light on this situation for me and how it could be handled?

    1. Hi John,

      thanks for sharing that.

      This is a complicated situation given that even possession of a Class A drug is considered serious in the context of teaching – but here’s my advice. First of all – if you are not a member of teachers’ union, my strong advice is to join one now. Right now – without hesitation. I would recommend the NUT. While you are training, membership is free and they’ll charge only £1 until the end of your NQT year. They will also give you some good advice and support. Go to their website for membership details.

      My second piece of advice is to go and see the tutor for your course and tell him or her that you have been cautioned for this offence but you didn’t realise that you had to declare cautions as a student and only just now discovered that you should declare it to the uni. Then explain the circumstances of how you got mixed up with a ‘bad crowd’. The reason I advise you to do that is that if and when the university (or a school) find out about this through the next DBS check, they have grounds to instantly dismiss you because you appeared to have concealed the matter thus far. So ‘come clean’ with your tutor at uni now. They will not throw you off the course for a caution – so don’t worry about that – at least if you what you say is true that you have picked up a caution for this and not a conviction.

      I am certain you will be allowed to complete the course and qualify. The next hurdle is applying for jobs. You are legally required to declare all cautions and convictions however minor they may be. If you were silly enough not to declare this on job application forms, they would probably find out from the next DBS check anyway – all potential employers will go through that again. If they see you haven’t declared it, they will instantly dismiss your application and if they have offered you a job, they will withdraw the offer. So declare it on application.

      If you then get shortlisted for an interview, that’s when you’ll have time to explain the mistake and the circumstances you got yourself in to. Don’t pretend to ignore it, but face the issue head on. In fact, my advice is to make a virtue of your mistake and say that “you have learned from your stupid mistake and it’s made you a much wiser person for teaching kids who might make silly mistakes” – something like that.

      You may find that some schools and headteachers will not shortlist you because of this but you can’t do anything about that – just keep applying until you find one that will give you another chance and allow you to explain yourself. Currently you are in a fortunate position in that there is a shortage of teachers and applications in many areas and some schools and headteachers may be prepared to overlook this if you have a strong application with a good reference from your tutor and final teaching practice school.

      Good Luck.

      1. I don’t understand what you mean when you say will dismiss because I have concealed it in my next DBS check for the university? I don’t have another DBS check until I apply for a job? How do they know I had concealed it from the university? I am very scared to admit this to my tutor, I know I will get kicked out and then my family will find out about the matter and then 3 years of training is for nothing due to a stupid mistake.

        I am already part of the NUT what would I approach them and say?

      2. Hi John,

        you are right that it is highly unlikely that the university will find out from a DBS check now (at this stage of your course). They did one when you started the course and they may have done another before the start of your final teaching practice, but you are right – they probably won’t find out now. However, the fact is that you are required to tell them.

        When you apply for a job, the school will contact the university for a reference and do another DBS check before confirming any appointment, when they do, they may well ask why this caution wasn’t declared and acknowledged by the university in their reference to the school. At which point, the university may well turn round and say to the school: “Well, he didn’t tell us.” Then your application will be dismissed by the school and the university might change their reference to reflect that you have put them in a difficult position.

        I can well understand why you might be scared to declare this to your tutor. If so, then talk to someone at the university Students Union – they will have a Student Support officer who will be prepared to accompany you to that conversation with the tutor. But I don’t think you need to do that – I’m sure once you brace yourself, you can summon the courage to go and do this yourself. You just have to take it on the chin now – “you’ve made a silly mistake, your are remorseful, you’ve learned from your mistake and you didn’t realise until now that you had to declare a caution while you were still a student” – that’s the line to take.

        I’m glad you are in the NUT. Call their regional office (google it or call the national office in London and ask where you can get advice local to you) and ask for advice – but you’ll need to tell them what the issue is. They may well send someone to see you or invite you to the local offices for a chat or offer advice over the phone. You could do that before telling your tutor if you like, but my advice is not to waste any time at all.

      3. I really am petrified to tell anybody. My final placement starts in a few weeks this could jeopardise this too and then I have to explain why I am not going on placement to others. I have also been on placements using my old DBS from the university they will see this as bad too. I really don’t think I can bring myself to do it.

        If I tell the NUT will they not be obliged to tell the university straight away if I get a negative response from them?

        Thanks again for the advice as you can tell I am very worried about this situation.

      4. Hi John,

        the NUT will advise you in complete confidence and will not tell the university or a school anything at any time. They are there to represent your interests – not the university’s or the school’s. But I think they will give you the same advice as me. In any case, whatever you choose to do, I wish you the best of luck.


  39. Dear Alan,
    I got convicted of a DUI 8 years ago. Do I have to declare this on my pgce application? The conviction will be spent in 2 years and I had heard that I did not have to declare it after 6. The placement I have guaranteed as I currently work at the school where I will train and they fully support me.furthermore I was 21 when the incident occurred and I am now 30 I feel it was a one off misdemeanor of youth. Would it be advisable to declare it on the form and also inform the training centre and the university and would they prevent me from doing the training. As It is held abroad and part time distance learning would this be an issue?
    What would you advise. Kind regards p.

    1. Hi Pilar,

      this is nothing to worry about – BUT – you must declare it. Applying for teacher training and applying for all subsequent teaching jobs means that you MUST declare all cautions and convictions, however minor. This doesn’t mean that you will be rejected – but as a teacher or trainee-teacher, you are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders ACT 1974, so your convictions and cautions will never be spent. Just declare it on the forms and don’t worry – this is considered a minor offence – as long as it doesn’t happen again. Good Luck.

  40. I have recently been successful at interview for a secondary school teaching post. In interview, they asked me if I have anything on my DBS that would show. I told them that there was an incident with my father 5 years ago whereby I sent him a text message tell him to leave me alone (using unfavorable language), and damaged the door-frame of his front door when leaving the house.

    My Dad took the matter to court where I was given an absolute discharge for the “offensive message” and ordered to pay for the damage to his front door frame. This shows up as Absolute Discharge for Offensive Message and Criminal Damage Compensation £70.

    Furthermore, I was once fined for traveling on a a train without paying.

    The school have offered me the job on condition of a satisfactory DBS. Where do you think I stand in light of this?

    1. Hi DT,

      thanks for sharing that. I would completely gobsmacked if the school withdrew their offer on the basis of what are considered – by the DfE – as extremely minor offences. I wouldn’t worry about them if I were you. Let me know if they do withdraw their offer – because I’d like to know what kind of school would turn someone down in such circumstances. Sleep easy.

  41. I am in my third and final year studying primary education and currently in the process of applying for my first teaching job.

    Unfortunately, I have recently been given a caution for minor shoplifting (a make up tester). This was carried out due to threat from another person. I have also been charged through the civil recovery scheme.

    I am extremely worried that this will reduce my chances of being employed as a teacher. I have aspired to be a teacher since the age of 7 and have worked extremely hard to get to where I am today.

    I have contacted the NUT for advice but I am
    still awaiting a response.

    1. Hi Jane,

      I wouldn’t worry too much about this – it is considered a very minor offence and not one which will hinder a successful teaching career if you are a good student and get good results and references from your teaching practices.

      If I were you, if and when it comes up on your DBS check, say that it was a very silly and foolish thing to do when you were thoughtless and immature as a student with very little money and that it was out of character and it will never happen again. In fact, rather than a school finding out first from the DBS check and then not shortlisting you, I would offer up that information when you apply – it sounds risky but I think most head teachers would be impressed by your honesty and openness and your obvious willingness to learn from your mistake. (Personally, I wouldn’t say you did it because someone threatened you. It makes you sound weak and impressionable)

      See what the NUT say, they should give good advice. But don’t worry too much about it – just finish your course well and apply for jobs. Good Luck!

  42. I have two cautions, one cannabis related (16 years old), and another, I don’t really remember what for, I just know I received it

    Neither of these show up on my enhanced crb check, do you know why? I have always declared them, although it is a bit embarrassing having to admit that I cannot remember what the second one is for, I explain the circumstances, and that is about it.

    1. Hi Quirrel,

      don’t worry about it – cautions are nothing really, especially for minor offences that happened years ago. If they haven’t even showed up on your DBS check (are you sure about that?) then maybe stop even declaring them. I probably would.

      1. Never realised there was a reply to this.

        They don’t show, never have on enhanced disclosures.

        Unfairly some of the international schools now require the ICPC which does not need to comply to dbs filtering rules.

        I’m a head these days, believe it or not, and being forced.to bring in the ICPC for all staff.

        This, I imagine is going to be embarrassing.

      2. Sorry, yes that was unclear.

        Basically – Enhanced CRB checks never showed up either of my cautions. I was overseas for several years after I applied for CRB checks when back in the UK, they always took forever, but came back clean.

        Under the new filtering rules, they would be clean anyway. I do wonder if they were removed during that 2007 period where some cautions were wiped out.

        The International Child Protection Certificate is issued by ACPO, it is a requirement of some schools overseas now, including the one I am currently in charge of, yes I’m now a “Head”

        I’ve been in contact with ACPO and the ICPC does not come under the DBS filtering scheme, they claim it would not be effective if it did, only way it would be changed if it was challenged in court.

        Potentially embarrassing for me, as I am going to have to require all staff from the UK to provide an ICPC including me.

      3. Yes, I can see what you mean now. Cautions sometimes don’t show up because police forces around the country have variable records of efficiency in reporting these to employers. Many cautions and convictions are considered “not relevant or serious enough to undermine public confidence” in the teaching profession – so things like drink driving and speeding bans, petty theft and even domestic violence are filtered out- unless you are drunk while driving the school minibus or the domestic violence has resulted in serious injury or death.

        Interesting about the ICPC – I didn’t know about that.

        Thanks for the post. Good Luck with any embarrassing revelations!

  43. Hi, I am 24 years old. When I was 18, me and my friend were attacked outside a nightclub and ended up being arestted for s.3 affray. When the judge heard the facts of the case he gave us a year conditional discharge. Stupidly in 2012 I tried to break up a fight outside a shop and was punched in the face, I chased after the person shouting and was arrested for s.4 Public Order Act threatening words and behaviour and given a caution. I think the police felt sorry for me due to the massive bruising on my face from the attack but had no choice but to caution me. Will the cumulative affect of these offences bar me from getting on a PGCE course?

    1. Hi Ben,

      they might – but all you can do is try. When you apply to a university to do a PGCE they will run your application through the DBS – Disclosure and Barring Service – who will flag up two offences involving violence. It may be the case that they will deem you “unsuitable to teach” – but I think your age and mitigating circumstances you describe may mean they will give you a second chance. If you were in your 30s or 40s it would probably be a different matter if the offences were recent. But if I was you I would make an application and see what they say. Good Luck.

  44. Hi, my husband is a 35 year old secondary teacher who has attempted suicide in the store room at school. Thankfully he survived. His school has told us that they are obliged to notify the DBS. They want to meet with us to discuss the matter further. They have not mentioned whether he is losing his job with the school. Unfortunately the incident took place at school but thank God none of his students saw what happened. Does my husband have any rights to kee his job ? He has been a very dedicated teacher for the past seven years and was recently promoted. He is desperate to get his job back. He works at a British school abroad. Do we need to get a lawyer involved to protect our rights ?

    1. Hi Rula, I’m very sorry to hear of what sounds like a desperate situation you and your husband are in. But in order to offer any advice I need to know a little more I’m afraid.

      Does your husband have a conviction or caution from the police (in the UK) that he did not declare to his employers? What is that conviction for? Has he concealed anything or lied to his employers about his employment history of criminal record?

      Schools in the UK must use the DBS to check criminal records of applicant teachers and I am not surprised that British schools operating abroad will do the same. However, this does not mean that teachers who have criminal records are automatically barred from teaching. There are many thousands of teachers with criminal records who have very successful and senior careers in the UK – but it depends what the criminal record is for. Many thousands of teachers have convictions for things like driving bans (for speeding or drinking), fraud, theft, threatening behaviour or common assault – and they have still been “deemed suitable to teach” because their employers have considered the circumstances. It may be that the offence took place some years ago or that it took place in mitigating circumstances. However, all teachers must declare all convictions and cautions to an employer however minor when they apply for a job.

      If the offences involved serious violence or involved a substantial custodial sentences, then schools are often unwilling to employ teachers with that kind of record. If the offences involved violence or sexual abuse with children or vulnerable adults – then the DBS will deem them “unsuitable to teach” and they will be barred.

      If you reply and tell me more detail of your husband’s circumstances I can offer more advice about what he should do.

  45. Hi
    I’ve recently been charged with a drink driving offence. No one else involved – was stopped breathalysed and over the limit. I am a teacher in a school for over 6 years. worried I’ll lose my job. Going to inform my head asap. Any advice?

    1. Hi Steph,

      it shouldn’t be a problem if there was no accident or injury. Tell your Head but you might want to seek advice from your union as well – if you are in one – just in case your Head starts to get ‘precious’ or ‘defensive’. Too many schools, especially Free schools and Academies are getting too sensitive about their so-called ‘reputation’ these days. There are tens of thousands of teachers with offences like yours and it hasn’t made any difference to their careers. I wouldn’t worry – it’s not a sackable offence. Good Luck.

  46. Thanks for the quick advice. I am in a union so will contact them also. Worried sick and hopefully will feel better after explaining to the head. Will let you know the outcome.

    1. Hi Steph I had the same thing in January I was very lucky that it hasn’t affected my career just be open and honest best advice I can give xx

  47. Thanks Suki.
    Spoke to the Head and was honest. Was shocked but very supportive, following guidelines etc at the moment but everything should be okay pending the outcome. Thanks both for your support.

  48. Hi,

    Great reading the questions and answers, seems like a lot of people are being given the push they need.

    I graduated with a 2.1 in Sociology last year and have been thinking about becoming a teacher. However in 2012 I was caught up in a fight and was attacked by a large group of men, this led to me hitting one of them over the head with a bottle ( stupid I know) and receiving a conviction for Section 20 GBH Without intent.

    My questions are as follows.

    1. Am I likely to be accepted on a PGCE course.
    2. If I am accepted on a course what are my chances of getting a job as a secondary school teacher?



    1. Hi J,

      thanks for that.

      To be honest with you, I’m not quite sure. I think the best thing to do is talk to a university offering a PGCE course and tell them about the offence even before you apply – ask to speak to the Admissions Tutor for the PGCE. They will almost certainly have experience of other applicants in a similar position and tell you whether they offered them a place and they’ll probably know what your job chances are too.

      My experience tells me that most universities will offer you a place if it wasn’t a custodial sentence. You may be able to say, from what you infer, that the incident took place in self-defence. Training providers like universities, tend to be more liberal than employers (schools) – and you may find some schools, not all, who will shy away from offering someone a job with a conviction involving violence.

      I’m sorry I can’t be more definitive or encouraging, but you’ll just have to try and see what they say. Good Luck.


  49. As someone considering a career change by undertaking PGDE but with a historical conviction I’d appreciate your advice. I am considering both a Primary Teacher role or teaching Business Studies at secondary/academy school at this stage. I have thought about this career change over many years but have been held back by concerns about my past. Over 20 years ago I worked in retail & foolishly tried to cover up the wrongdoings of an older colleague when their actions were discovered. When the police arrived I was encouraged to “admit wrongdoing” as it would go in my favour. As a young & naive person I did this, the result was a conviction for embezzlement with a very small fine. I have since gone on to have a successful career & have never had any other convictions. Around 10 years ago I was accepted as a volunteer befriender with children, even with this conviction and volunteered for a few years. It is now technically a spent conviction although i know for teaching it will always have to be declared. Do you think this type of conviction could affect a move into teaching? I would be keen to gain some voluntary classroom experience at a local school while studying for the PGDE to show my commitment to developing as a teacher and know a PVG would have to be completed. Does my career change seem feasible?

    1. Hi Will,

      I wouldn’t worry about this at all. I would be totally amazed if you were refused a job, let alone a training place, on the basis of what you have told me. Go ahead and make the change. Good Luck.


      1. Thanks Alan, your response is reassuring. I shall make further enquiries about teaching courses & volunteering.

  50. I am a mature student who has just completed my primary teaching degree. Unfortunately last year I was cautioned for assault. This followed a domestic incident following two years of torment from my estranged partner. The incident was a one off and I am so ashamed, and have made myself ill worrying about this since. I admitted this to my university and attended a fitness to practise hearing and was cleared to continue and complete my final placement and the course.

    Am I right in thinking this is not a complete bar to getting a teaching post, but obviously may be taken into account when deciding who to appoint? I’ve had a few interviews and have been up front about it, and no one has said that it would stop me but I am just seeking clarification. Thanks

    1. Hi Ang,

      thanks for that and for being so up-front about it. The ‘Fitness to Practise’ hearing will have you cleared you to be “suitable to teach” so from a professional point of view, there is no problem. That’s the good bit.

      The slightly less positive note is that employers may not like the idea you have been cautioned for assault as they may, privately of course, think you may have a ‘short fuse’. Of course, they won’t say this to your face but you may find that you are not getting the jobs you apply for and when you ask why they’ll give reasons like “the other candidate was better at teaching, planning, assessment or this, that or the other”.

      My advice is to be – as you have done – quite up front and explain to them that you do not have a ‘short fuse’ or anything but that the one-off incident happened as a result of prolonged torment and conflict and it won’t happen again. In other words, re-assure them as much as you can.

      A caution is considered a minor matter usually and as soon as you have your first job in the bag, it will all become irrelevant and soon be forgotten. Try not to worry too much but focus on a good interview and get yourself that first job. Good Luck.

  51. Hi, I am hoping to do a PGCE next year. I was involved in an unfortunate incident. After work I was tired and offered a ride home. On the way, I felt pressured to get out of the car by the driver, as it would be the only opportunity for me to do so for a while. I wouldn’t normally do this, but the driver was impatient. I opened the door, as the traffic started to move, and a cyclist appeared suddenly. There was a collision with the door, and the cyclist stopped himself from falling. It was a silly mistake, one more likely because I was tired, and because i felt urged to get out. The cyclist was angry about this, but didn’t seem injured. He took the car’s licence plate number and went straight to the local police station to report it. 7 Months as passed, and I haven’t heard anything yet, but 6 months ago, I gave the driver my details to pass to the police. if I am charged with opening the door on the cyclist, will this offence by enough to affect my chances of been a teacher ? The incident happened so fast that there were likely no witnesses. I get the impression the cyclist is exaggerating the incident in order to get everything he can from this. But I also admit that I was in the wrong.

    1. Hi Matthew,

      If the circumstances are as you describe them , there is really nothing to worry about. There has to be proven serious neglect or intention to harm to be liable for an offence and from what you have said, there is neither. If you haven’t been cautioned or convicted by this time, I can’t imagine it will happen now. You don’t need to declare this when you apply for your PGCE as you have not been cautioned or convicted.

  52. Hi, two years ago I was convicted for over payment of benefit, because of the amount they suspended my sentence for a year.
    I have been volunteering for previous years within schools as a parent helper, and am now looking into a career as a Teaching Assistant.
    I have completed my TA level 2 and am applying for jobs, I’m assuming this would not look good and would it seriously jeopardise my chances!

    1. Hi Dal,

      you’re right it won’t look good but my advice is that it will look a lot worse if you don’t declare it when you are asked – because the school will only find out when they do a DBS check anyway – then if they see you haven’t declared it, they will sack you immediately.

      Benefit fraud is not considered the worst crime in the world and many people will not think it serious enough to deny you a job offer if they like you at interview. It would be a different matter if the conviction involved violence or sexual abuse – but this is offence not considered a “game-over” matter though I can’t guarantee that a particular school or headteacher won’t take a dim view of it.

      My advice is apply, declare and if and when asked at interview, say it was a silly and stupid mistake and it won’t happen again.

      Good Luck.

  53. Hi,

    I was arrested for Criminal Damage over £3k about 3 years ago. I was released and the case was dropped due to lack of evidence. I was in my early 20’s immature and had excess alcohol. I am worried this may stop me getting into teaching even though the case was dropped. i have not been able to find anything out about this. Any ideas?



    1. Hi Lon,

      if the case was dropped because of lack of evidence that means you were acquitted, which in this country still mercifully means you were innocent of the charge. There will be no record of this on the DBS so you have nothing to worry about – unless you accepted a caution, which means you accepted culpability – cautions are listed on the DBS and if you had one you will need to declare it and you may need to explain yourself at interview. But this doesn’t sound the case and so I wouldn’t worry about it – this won’t be a bar to you entering teaching. Good Luck.

  54. Hi there,

    In 2012 I got charged with 4 counts of benefit fraud for failing to declare a change of circumstances.
    This resulted in me having a 8 week curfew order and obviously paying the overpayment back.
    This was a silly stupid mistake on my part, something which I am highly embarrassed & ashamed about.
    I have never been in trouble before, nor have I since.
    At the times of filling the forms out, I had just come out of an abusive relationship & still in mourning for the loss of my baby daughter.

    Since then, I’ve turned my life around & got my head together. I am now married with a supportive husband & 2 beautiful boys.
    Although I am not training to become a teacher, I was wondering what my chances are of becoming a teaching assistant?

    1. Hi Emmie,

      it would take a very unsympathetic and hard-hearted head teacher who would refuse you a job on the basis of this experience. All I would advise is that you explain this at interview and even at the point of enquiring or applying for a job – it may be embarrassing but it is much better to get it out of the way immediately, then no one will ever accuse you of trying to conceal the matter.

      If you don’t declare it and the conviction is revealed by the Disclosure and Barring Service check that the school will inevitably carry out, then you may not be short-listed for the job or even dismissed later if they think you have attempted to conceal it.

      The fact is that 99% of head teachers will not think this is an issue – but I can’t guarantee the reaction of 1%.

      My advice is go for it – and don’t let this hold you back from living your life or a job as a teaching assistant or indeed a career either in teaching – Good Luck!

  55. Hi,

    This really is a fascinating piece and it really is fantastic work you are doing with your advice.

    I graduated with a history degree from Cambridgevsome years ago and I have since pursued a career in finance qualifying as an accountant and working with several FTSE100 companies.

    I am on the cusp of pursuing a career in teaching but deterred because I received an £80 fine as part of a Fixed Penalty Notice for disorderly conduct. My understanding is this doesn’t rank as a caution or reprimand and payment doesn’t entail any admission of guilt.

    However in terms of any applications ( I am considering Teach First) I am extremely confused about any require the to disclose it and also wary about any impact it may have on my chances of employment?

    Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi,

      This is a confusing one in some respects because a Penalty Notice for Disorder (PND) falls between two stools.

      The good thing is that you paid the PND and it was in 2008 – so 99% of people in teaching and teacher-training are not going to care tuppence about it. Paying the PND involves neither an official finding nor an acceptance of guilt and discharges you of liability for conviction for the offence.

      However, PNDs are recordable offences on the Police National Computer and may be disclosed on an Enhanced Criminal Records Disclosure issued by the Disclosure and Barring Service, if it is concluded that the behaviour leading to the PND was relevant to the matter at hand, for example an applicant’s suitability to work with children. So the big question is – did it involve violence?

      So while PNDs do not constitute a criminal record or a caution, Teach First will probably find out about it from the DBS check, even though it was in 2008 – especially if it involved violence or any offence involving children (like selling them weed or something like that).

      While most teacher-training providers would discount this, I am not so sure about Teach First. In some respects, they have extremely high and in some ways unrealistic expectations of their applicants to maintain what they consider to be their ‘elite’ reputation. In my view, they are a bit like a ‘cult’ in terms of their expectation of ‘adherence to the cause’ and so they may consider you ‘unsuitable’ when they find out.

      I may be wrong about this and be misjudging them – but my advice anyway would be to declare it and get it out of the way. Tell them the circumstances at interview and say you were young and stupid or whatever. Then they can’t accuse of trying to conceal it once they find out, as they probably will from the DBS check.

      If they do deem you unsuitable on the back of it, I wouldn’t let that put you off a career in teaching if that is what you really want to do. There are other paid routes into the profession such as salaried places on School Direct routes and I would urge you to consider those. Also there are one year PGCE courses where the level of support and mentoring is much higher than either Teach First or School Direct.

      Go for it. Good Luck!

      1. Thanks for the reply. No my offence was being worse for wear and merely engaging/arguing with some policeman who I thought were being a bit heavy handed with someone else!

        Certainly thought me to A) pick my arguments and b) be a.bit more circumspect about being drunk in public!

        Do you think this would be an issue?

      2. Then it shouldn’t be anything to worry about. It would take some of kind of ‘morality fascist’ to exclude you on that basis (though as I say, I can’t guarantee that there aren’t some people like that out there, and some of them may be working for Teach First..!)

        It is up to you whether you declare this one or not as, we said, it is neither a caution nor a conviction, but it may show up on your DBS disclosure and if and when it does, have your reasons ready as to why you didn’t declare it.

        Good Luck!

  56. I should add to the comment above that the fine was in 2008 and I certainly saw it as a lesson learned and I have had no problems before or after.


  57. Hello
    I applied for a personal care assistant in college, i ve got motoring conviction driving a car with no insurance, is that a major problem getting me this job? Thanks

  58. Hi Alan, I have just been reading your blog on teachings being eligible for jobs who have convictions. I myself finished my primary teaching degree 2013, unfortunately I had an incident when I was only 18, I am 34 now. I actually found my cousin in bed with my then boyfriend, to cut a long story short I was convicted of assault. I have now found myself in an awful position. I unwittingly commited benefit fraud during my time as a student, there was confusion over what as a single mother I was entitled to. I am genuinely devastated by what has happened, and am now afraid my career is over before it has begun. I have been unable to take a job whilst this was going on and now it’s over I would like to get my life back. Do you think I have any chance of getting a job? All my observations from school have been either outstanding or good. Would I have a better chance at supply teaching? Or is it time to give up and admit defeat. Sorry for the long message I am absolutely heart broken at the moment.

    Kind regards


    1. Hi Trish,

      thanks for sharing this.

      As far as the assault conviction is concerned, I don’t think you need to worry about that – as whoever trained you as a teacher would have known about it from your DBS check and it’s also an historic issue. I would amazed if a school were to deny you a job on the basis of an assault in the circumstances you describe when you were 18 years old. I think 99.9% of all employers would overlook that issue.

      As far as the fraud allegation is concerned – you do not say if you were cautioned or convicted of this alleged offence or if it was very recent. If it happened while you were training and you have been cautioned or convicted for benefit fraud, then schools will see it on the DBS check. In that case, I would indicate at application stage that it happened because of a misunderstanding of benefit procedures or regulations and was entirely unintentional. I would also come clean at interview as well – so they see you are prepared to deal with the issue openly and not try to hide it.

      Some employers might steer clear of your application but most will not consider it serious enough to deem you unsuitable to teach, but it’s hard to say – it depends on the recruitment situation and how many schools in your area are short of good teachers. My advice is that if you have been cautioned or convicted for benefit fraud, just come clean about it but explain the mitigating circumstances you are in at the time. Go for it! Good Luck.

      1. Hi Alan, thank you so much for your quick reply. It was during my time as a student, it started in 2012 and has been on going for the past 3 years and is only now coming to a conclusion. I at first pleaded not guilty as it was not done intentionally and I also had my career to think about. But now having looked at it, whether it was intentional or not I had commited a crime so have now changed my plea to guilty. I am still yet to be sentenced which has been adjourned till November, as the judge who presided over my last hearing wanted to be the one to pass sentence on me and is not available till then. My solicitor assures me this is a good thing as to my circumstances are quite sensitive. So with that in mind, do I wait to start applying for jobs? It’s just an awful situation and I feel quite lost.



      2. Hi Trish,

        no, start applying for jobs and see what happens. The sentence won’t be custodial (I assume we’re not talking about hundreds of thousands of pounds), and the conviction won’t show up on the DBS check for quite a while and you might have a job by then – but if I was you I would still tell people when you get an interview and explain your sensitive and mitigating circumstances to them.

        Good Luck.

      3. Thank you so much Alan. I finally feel I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. No it’s nothing like that at all, I’ve been told I will be more than likely be getting a community service order.

        Thanks again


  59. Hi, I am about to take a PGCE so I can become a further education lecturer. With further education it will be teaching 14 years old and over (including adults)

    I lost custody of my child in 2008 when he was 2 years old because of the depression I faced and because of neglect. I never abused my child but had difficulty coping, meeting some of his basic needs (keeping nappies on too long and house cleaning) and managing his behaviour at the time because of my mental health difficulties.

    I am going to have a DBS check soon, so I can do a voluntary placement as a teacher trainee, so I can get my PGCE. I am very worried about the DBS check even though my child was never placed on the child protection register and I do have access rights.

    I’m wondering, will my past come up in the DBS check? I’ve been trying so hard to turn my life around and move forward. I hope I will still be able to be a teacher.

    1. To be honest I’m not quite sure from what you have said – it all depends whether you were charged with “child neglect” – if you were, then it will show up on your DBS but it may not deem you unsuitable to be a teacher given that it was a result of health and depression problems. I think it probably won’t be an issue given your circumstances – unless you were convicted of neglect that included violence. I hope that’s the case – good luck.

  60. Hey,

    I am just curious if you could possibly provide me with some advice regarding my applying to teacher training courses. I was convicted of Drink Driving, driving without a licence and without insurance when I was 17 in 2006 and incredibly foolish. Since then I was admitted into Dental School although it wasn’t for me. Since then I have worked as a dancer and I am looking to go back to teacher training – although 8 months ago I was convicted of drink driving a second time. Since my second conviction I still teach for local authorities but understand it’s ultimately down to the GTCS.


  61. Hi,

    I’m about to start a PGCE course pending a DBS report.

    3 years ago, I was caught speeding by speeding cameras. Due to a mix up on my part, I failed to respond to the letter I was sent in the post. I subsequently had to go to court and was fined 400 pounds and given 6 points on my license.

    My misdemeanor was that I failed to respond to the speeding ticket.

    How will this affect my DBS report? I will be grateful if you can shed some light on the matter.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Moh,

      don’t even worry about it – nobody is going to exclude you from the teaching profession for failing to pay a speeding ticket. If we did, we wouldn’t have a teaching profession left. Though I suggest you don’t do it in future…!

      Good Luck.

      1. Hi,

        by your reference to the GTCS, I assume you are living in Scotland. I must admit that the Scottish GTC has a history of being a little less tolerant of repeat offenders than the English GTC did (when it was in existence). However, I would be amazed if even the second offence were a barrier to you entering the teaching profession. Driving offences are usually considered “not relevant or serious enough to undermine public confidence” unless you caused an accident or you continue to repeat offend.

        I wouldn’t worry about this if I was you – I think they are 99% certain to deem you “suitable to teach” but I would suggest you don’t get another conviction for the same offence, or any other for that matter.

        Good Luck.

  62. I was about to ask whether a Harrassment conviction (after the last check was done) is grounds to be dismissed from a company where I am mentoring and dealing with apprentices in their places of work. But no sooner had I sent you a tweet, a letter arrived with immediate dismissal. The Harrassment conviction was due to sending a love poem to an ex after being told not to contact her again. I couldn’t afford legal representation and pleaded guilty as I had sent the poem. I never dreamed that she would have me arrested. Anyway. That is that. The end of my career in one swoop. I am devastated, but cannot change the outcome. Thank you for responding to me. Enjoy the rest of your holiday.

    1. Hi,

      I am very sorry to hear that you have been dismissed from your post but without knowing the seriousness of the offence or the exact nature of the harassment or the details it is difficult to comment. From what you have said however, this does not seem a “very serious” matter – in the sense that it appears from what you said that it did not include violence or sexual offences.

      In that case, it may be that you were dismissed for not having declared the matter in the first place when you applied for the job and when your employer found out, had grounds to dismiss you because you have tried to conceal it.

      I am always advising people who go into teaching or youth work that they must never try to conceal a conviction or even a minor caution – as it will almost always show up on DBS checks, and if the conviction or caution has not been declared at application stage, your employer can instantly dismiss you even if the original matter was not very serious – which seems to be the case in the instance.

      I am sorry that you have been dismissed, but if you get another position working with young people, always declare that you have a conviction and explain to your employer the mitigating circumstances at the application stage. You stand a much better chance of establishing a career if you ‘come clean’ at the beginning. Good Luck for the future.

      1. Thank you Sir for your kind response.

        Yes – that is exactly what the employer wrote in his letter – the fact that I never declared the caution and subsequent conviction. (A section 5 caution for an argument with a neighbour in 2014, which I did NOT declare through ignorance really. I had forgotten about it.

        But the conviction happened while I was in their employ and I had discussed the fact that I had been arrested and due in court with the line manager. When I was convicted I asked to speak to him to tell him the subsequent outcome and he never made time for me, he told me to leave it. I should have pursued the matter, but never did.

        No matter now. The dismissal cannot be reversed and if I had to go into a song and dance about having conversed with the line manager at the time – it will cause bad feelings so I will rather just let go. I am too embarrassed to consider going back, other than to hand in my lap top etc.

        The harrassment charge had no violence or sexual offences attached. Although the ex did tell the arresting officer she was frightened that I would stalk her. [Which was ridiculous as I had never used or ever threatened any violence towards her.] I was prohibited from ever entering her street or speaking or greeting her ever again. I have adhered to that, despite her flaunting herself in front of me at all the social venues that I frequent.

        Should I take another chance of applying to another College and being open and honest with all that has transpired? Or should I forget about my career and look into doing something else?

        I appreciate your input. Kind regards

      2. As long as the circumstances are as you have described them to me, then if I was you I would apply to another college if you think this work is your vocation. I think the problem may be getting a reference from your old employer of course, but if you do see a job that you would like to apply for, perhaps call them up and ask for a confidential phone call to explain the issue. Many employers take a sympathetic view, especially if you are a talented teacher or youth worker.

        Good Luck.

      3. I just want to follow on about my original letters re being convicted for harrassment last year for sending a love poem to my ex girlfriend after she had asked the police to warn me off ever speaking to her again after our romance ended. (No violence was ever involved in this relationship; it ended purely through jealousy.) As it turns out, not one teaching facility will hire me despite the truth being revealed.

        I have found this terribly hard to digest and devastated as I never ever realised that despite the ridiculousness of the accusation- by a woman scorned – that my whole carreer could be blown to smithereens! If I was still in my 20 or 30’s I could perhaps have retrained, but I am pushing 60, jobless, homeless and suffering immense depression. It is as if someone has knifed me through the heart, left me in the dirt and dust without a care in the world. I have lost everything.

        Any how. Let other’s be aware that their worlds can also come crashing into the mud if they end up in court. Life is pretty bleak.

  63. Hi,

    I would really appreciate your advice. I would love to become a teacher but I have a feeling my past won’t let me.

    In 2004 I was 14 and got given a reprimand for shoplifting. However that would be minor considering the next crime I committed…

    In 2009 I was working as a Career looking after Vulnerable adults. I was looking after an elderly patient at her home and stole £1800 from her via chequebook and transferred the money into my account. My In 2010 the crime caught up to me and I was given a Caution for something along the lines of Robbery, Theft and Fraud. I was 18 when I committed the crime and 19 when I was given the Caution. I was very stupid for that and had low self esteem.

    I was at University studying for a degree Business management when I got given the caution. I graduated in 2012 with a 2:2.

    After that I then naively applied for another NHS job as a Mental Health therapist. My DBS came in the post and it stated in depth the Caution I received. I handed in the DBS paperwork to the job I was applying for and was denied the job even though I declared on my application I have a caution. I later received a letter from the Home Office saying they are going to put be on the Vulnerable adults barred list. I then wrote an appeal against their decision and they wrote back saying they weren’t going to put me on the barred list. However it is probably still on my DBS.

    I have not been in any trouble since then, and I work at my community church alongside my regular job in admin, teaching children.

    Considering all the above, what is the likely hood of being accepted onto a PGCE teaching course and being employed after as a teacher? Is it worth even applying?

    I would really appreciate your advice and what you would do in this situation.

    1. Hi Hailey,

      I think you might have a problem with this I’m afraid – the issue being a caution involving a vulnerable adult. The Enhanced DBS will show this up and I think even if a PGCE course accepts you – and they might (as it is in their interest to take £9000 from you) but I think you would struggle to get a job at the end of it. You could try, but I think most people would probably not offer you a position. Sorry to give you bad news.

      1. It’s okay thank you so much for your quick reply, you’ve helped me clear up a lot of ‘what if’s’ in terms of my career path. And on behalf of everyone with criminal records I would like to say a big thank you. It’s not easy doing what you do and you do it effortlessly. You’re truly an inspiration.

  64. Hi there,

    I have got myself into a little situation in regards to declaring my Spent Criminal Conviction for Battery to a new employer.

    Yesterday I went for an interview for a art tutor job within the Adult Education/Short Courses department at a well know Art School/University. The interview went very well which resulted in me getting the position on the spot.

    I provided my Basic Disclosure from (which was clear of any convictions) during the interview, which I thought would be sufficient for the job teaching adults.

    I also during the interview had to sign a form and provide my NI number – I believe this was the DBS form/or advanced disclosure application – I wasn’t exactly sure as I was in the midst of the interview and distracted by the head of dept. interviewing me, I just signed it and handed it back to the head of the dept.

    Also even though the head of the department didn’t exactly say ‘have you ever been convicted of a crime?’ he did give me the perfect opportunity to declare my previous conviction whilst I handed him my Basic Disclosure/signing the form/talking about disclosures. And i didn’t declare it, regrettably.

    So 3-4 hours after the interview I decided to send an email to the head of the dept. detailing my spent conviction and apologizing for not declaring it at the interview.


    “I now realize that I should have told you that I have a Spent Conviction from an incident when I was aged 20 in 2007. This Spent Conviction may come up on any DBS you apply for. I am sorry I didn’t disclose this today when given the opportunity. I suppose I was just focused on being professional, coming across well and the art workshop stuff. Also I am still a bit unclear on when to disclose a ‘Spent Conviction’.
    The Spent Conviction was for a mistake that I deeply regret. I was charged for ‘spitting’ at someone during a really silly confrontation at a local pub.

    I admitted this charge in court, which resulted in payment of a small compensation fee and undergoing a period of ‘Unpaid Work’ in the community. I underwent this with good grace working as part of a team improving local social housing.

    Spitting in the eyes of the law is a form of ‘assault by battery’, so this moment of stupidity resulted in me having a Spent Common Assault/Battery Conviction. I do not condone my actions in any way, I regret the incident and I have avoided being in similar situations. I have not been in trouble with the police since. I know that unfortunately many young people become involved in similar or worse incidents, particularly under the influence of alcohol.

    I have been determined to live a good life and since this incident I have graduated with a Bachelors Degree and more recently with a Masters Degree. I am now committed to becoming an arts educator. Working in the Adult Education/Short Course department at *********** University is a key part of me doing this. Education has been important to me and I want to be involved in the process of educating others and see them going through similar productive learning experiences.

    If you think that this Spent Conviction would have any bearing on my appointment to this post I would welcome the opportunity to discuss this.”

    I have still not had a response, please could you advise me on what to do next.

    Thank you for your great helpful blog.

    1. Hi Jaki,

      I think you have done the right thing in apologising for failing to disclose and throwing yourself at their mercy. The incident and the conviction you describe, while serious, is not the kind of incident or conviction that would deem an applicant “unsuitable to teach” given the sentence you got, which was not custodial. If we had been talking about a custodial sentence for a violent assault occasioning actual or grievous bodily harm, then we would be looking at an instant dismissal from the application process – but you may find that the university will overlook this.

      They may not of course, and if your luck is out, they will decide that you tried to conceal the issue, even temporarily and that you are not to be trusted around young people. Personally, I would be surprised if they took such a high handed view given the circumstances you have described, but you never know – it is their prerogative to do so if they wish.

      However, you have done the right thing and “come clean” and made a reasonable case of mitigation. Let’s see what they do. You may find that they just wait until the Enhanced DBS check comes through before they make a decision – so don’t harass them about it, just wait now for them to confirm or withdraw the offer.

      Just on a couple of points of information – you do not make clear if this is a post for a qualified teacher or an unqualified lecturing post. However, teachers (as in line with many other professions) are exempt from the 1974 Rehabilitation of Offenders Act – this means that your cautions and convictions, however minor, are never spent and you must declare them for every job you apply for. Your employers will make an Enhanced DBS check anyway, but you must always declare them.

      All I say at this stage is that you did the right thing in correcting your mistake and now you will just have to wait. Good Luck.

      1. Hi, thank you so much for your response.

        It is an unqualified position.

        One thing I didn’t mention is that the post it meant to next start Thursday.

        Do you think I should call or email the Head of dept. if I do not hear anything by the end of the week?

        Thank you again you have instantly cleared up a few things that have not just been bugging me on this incident.

      2. Hi there,

        So the result of this disclosure situation was good. My employers appreciated the upfront honesty. So I now have the new job in the continuing education department at the university, which is going really well. 🙂

        I now have a slightly different situation that I was wondering if you could advise me on.

        For the past three weeks I have been covering for a Technician that in one of the main technical workshops at the university while they are unwell. This role is temporary but I have been told that it will likely lead to more a permanent position in the department in the not too distant future. I am very excited about this prospect, and very grateful to the Continuing Education employment that has connected me to another fantastic employment opportunity and within the main university.

        I am just wondering whether or not I should disclose my criminal record to the Head of Technical Support/dept, as it seems I will be covering for several weeks more. I suppose I didn’t think to do so originally as I thought by disclosing to the Continuing Education department at the uni was disclosing to the uni as a whole, but now on retrospect I realize this may not be the case.

        I think the right thing to do is to simply email the Head of the technical dept and disclose and explain my record like i did before for the continuing education job, and hope they will also be understanding. I am just a bit worried as i didn’t inform them before I begun working in the covering role.

        I have been initially advised by the the Head of Continuing Education dept at the uni that i do not have to disclose my record as it is ‘spent’. I just need to get some clarification.

        Also i forgot to mention that the university is in Scotland.

        Your advice on this matter if you have the time would be truly appreciated.

        All the best,


      3. Hi Jaki,

        I think your instincts are right – in the email to the Head of department you can say: “I just wanted to be entirely transparent and honest with you even though there is not a legal obligation on me to declare as the conviction is now ‘spent’ and I am working in a temporary position at the moment…” something like that. I think most people will find that an impressive and mature approach and will give you credit for it.

        Perhaps even a personal meeting with the Head of department instead of an email?

        Good Luck.


  65. hello, I’m currently in the first year of a music degree. the other night i stupidly got drunk and was arrested and charged with being drunk and disorderly. I’m not in a good place at the moment mentally and i was just trying to get my friends away. i haven’t got a criminal record instead i was given a fixed penalty notice. was just wonder how this would affect my chances of getting onto a teacher training course and getting a job as a secondary school music teach at some point?

    1. This doesn’t sound terribly serious and as long as there was no violence involved (and it doesn’t sound as if there was given the fixed penalty) – then there is nothing to worry about.

      By the time you get to a PGCE then it will be 2-3 years old and you can say it was down to “stupid student high-jinx” (though it will probably show up on an Enhanced DBS check) – but I suggest that you don’t make a habit of it. As an employer, I was always tolerant of a single misdemeanour. If there was a repetitive pattern, I was much less tolerant.

      Don’t worry about it. Get on with your music degree and good luck with whatever career you choose.

  66. Hi,

    I completed my degree in 2012 and was thinking of going back to do a pgce but in 2013 whilst working as a door supervisor at an event I had to restrain a male who attempted to assault my colleague but the police decided that I was overly aggressive in my restraint and so was eventually charged and went to court in February 2014 for an abh charge I was advised by my barrister that I should plead guilty to avoid a prison sentence as the case could go either way depending on the jury. The judge gave me a 6 month suspended sentence which ends in February 2016. Will this affect me doing a pgce or teaching as I want to teach at college level or university students but not sure if this charge will stop me from doing that? Thanks

    1. Hi Gareth,

      convictions involving violence are always considered more problematic of course and it may be that a university training centre, college or school mat be wary of you given that you will be working with children, young people and / or and vulnerable adults. All I can suggest is that you contact a university offering a PGCE and ask to speak to the Admissions Tutor and see that they say. I would think that many places will give you a second chance, but I couldn’t guarantee that given the recent proximity of the conviction. Good Luck.


  67. Hi there. I have been teaching for 9 years now. Two years ago I got a caution for class A possession. However, the police did not notify my employer. I was relieved not to lose my job and so just kept quiet and got on. I understand that under the new filtering laws the caution will be filtered off any dbs/crb check after 6 years. My plan was just to wait it out until then, as was pretty happy in my job, and staying in same place, even for that length of time was better than losing my career. Part of me does wish I had told my head straight away. I have no idea what the reaction would of been, but at least I would know. But it’s been so long now since the event!
    My questions are 1) should I tell them/am I legally obliged to report it even if the police didn’t? 2) is there anyway I can apply for other jobs, and admit it to them, but without my current employer finding out. Or will it always get back to them?
    A job has come up that I really want to apply for. I was thinking of declaring my caution to them in my application, but asking that they don’t discuss it with my employer as they don’t know. Would that work? If it did get back then I would be in serious trouble!
    Any advice or help is apprecaited – going mad with worry!

    1. Hi Ed,

      Teachers are exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, which means that their convictions and cautions are never ‘spent’ and they must declare. Given that you haven’t done that and you are looking for a way to move on from this job, I think what I would do in your position is this:

      I would declare on my new job application that I was ‘cautioned for drug possession’ and only tell them it was Class A if they ask at an interview when you could then say that there were exceptional and ameliorating circumstances (like you were minding the stuff for a friend who was depressed or distressed, which is why you got a caution and not a conviction). You can play dumb and say you didn’t know you had to declare cautions (lots of people think that).

      Any prospective new employers should not be communicating on such matters with current employers. It is their job to do their own due diligence on DBS checks, not to be passing messages or making illicit phone calls between schools about a person’s DBS background. However, the reality is this may happen and you won’t be able to prove otherwise.

      If it is does happen and your current employer finds out, act dumb again and say you didn’t think cautions had to be declared and the police accepted your mitigating circumstances which is why you got a caution and not a conviction.

      I am not advising you to lie but to tell the tale to the best of your advantage.

      I hope that helps.


      1. Hi Alan, thanks a lot for your advice. Really appreciated. I know that cautions should be declared at a time of application. But I am still not sure of what happens if you get one mid-employment? So many varying stories. I feel like the police should have told my employer, so feel like I dodged a bullet, although I am not sure why they didn’t tell them. Would they normally? I am wary of bringing any attention to this area!

        It will be clear to the school I am applying to that there are differences between the CR I disclose to them at application, and the CR that my Head provides them with on a reference. I could ask them not to discuss it with my current employer, but would they respect that? My biggest fear is that they are feeling so righteous that they see this is something that they need to ‘correct’ and then call up my school. Although you seem to think this sort of communication between schools is unlikely? Will they just be more concerned about there own recruitment, rather than the fact someone with a drug caution is still teaching at another school? I can’t imagine they would view the fact that I have not told my school favourably. I could definitely be naive here if asked, as its not far from the truth!

        I don’t think I could bend the tale. It was at a festival, in school holidays, I also was negative on the drug test they gave me.

        I really want to apply for this job, but don’t think i can if there is any risk of losing my current one!?

        Re. the filtering of spent cautions and convictions. I think this is a new law, although I am now worried I may be mistaken. I believe it applies to ALL enhanced disclosures. Check out the links below and let me know what your verdict is….Many thanks!



      2. Hi Ed,

        the police should have notified your employer but as it was a caution they probably forgot to do it – many are very inefficient about this and will concentrate on convictions where there is a safeguarding issue at stake (like violence or sexual offences), so you’re right, in that sense you dodged a bullet.

        I’m not sure schools are required to disclose CR records in a reference. As a head, I never did nor was asked to – that’s the due diligence required of the employer you are applying to (unless they have recently changed the rules).

        I would not ask your prospective new employer to do anything (like keep a secret) – just say you didn’t know it needed declaring at the time, that it was a caution for possession not use (backed up by the negative test) and that you took possession of it because your friends at a pop festival asked you to keep it in a dry place in your bag or something – then you can say, yes, it was very stupid but it was a one-off caution and I didn’t think it required declaration at the time.

        Now you are aware it does require declaration as you are applying for a new job, but don’t ask them not to tell your current employer – that puts you in a bad light.
        If your current employer then comes to you and says “why didn’t you tell us?” you can give them the same story – but at least then you will know that the new employer has told them – a very unprofessional thing to do in my opinion and they will be culpable about breaching your confidentiality.

        I think the risk is low of losing your current job given that it was a caution for possession not usage / dealing but it may depend on whether you work at a Free School or Academy where they write their own contracts and may refer to “breaches of reputation” in the contract.

        If I was you, just apply and declare and add a note to say that you were holding it for friends at a pop festival, did not use, were cautioned only and tested negative – and hope for the best.

  68. Hi

    I have completed a degree in Business Management in 2014. Having a passion for teaching from a very young age i decided to pursue a career in the field of teaching. Having successfully completed my PGCE in Post Compulsory this year, I have applied to a handful of jobs and very much looking forward in starting my career.

    Having a long week, I decided to go out with a few mates to a club, as I don’t drink, my mates gave me their wallets to look after but little did i know of what they contained inside them. I soon realized my cigarettes had ran out and I informed one of my mates that I am going to the local petrol station to get some more. On the way there i was randomly stopped by the police, I assumed due to people drinking while driving was a common reason why motorists were being randomly stopped, I was rather relaxed about the situation as I thought there was nothing to worry about.

    Although I was free from any alcohol, they still felt the need to search me and the car. In one of the wallets which belonged to one of my mates had a very small amount of cannabis, so small that I couldn’t even smell even though the wallet was in my pocket, which the police had found. I have never been involved in any drug offences, haven’t had a caution for anything neither a warning, nor I have been convicted of anything in the past. Having explained this to the officers they were having none of it and did not believe me when I told them it did not belong to me. They issued me with a Penalty Notice Disorder (PND) with a fine of £100.

    Now I know I will have to carry out a DBS check if I get any responses to the jobs i have applied for, and that’s why I’m extremely stressed that this incident may cause a problem with the potential employers if it is shown on the check.

    I would really appreciate if you could give me some advice on what I can do.


    1. Hi Mike,

      I wouldn’t worry about this too much even though the offence is recent.

      Employers carry out the DBS check, not you, and though I advise you to declare it on application and bring it up at interview even if they don’t, once you have explained the circumstances the employers are almost certainly to regard it as if it was a speeding fine and three points on you licence.

      Some employers might be concerned if you are working with teenagers etc as to your suitability as a ‘role-model’ – which is why I suggest you raise the issue and tell them of your previous good character and the circumstances of this incident in order to re-assure them. It’s not a serious issue and shouldn’t be a hinderance to your career.

      Good Luck.

  69. Hi there, some excellent advise on here and I was wondering if you could give any helpful information on my situation. 2 years ago I was convicted of possession of a class A drug. I was a Teaching Assistant and Football Coach at the time, I left the teaching assisting job immediately. I worked out the remainder of my coaching job not saying anything for another year until leaving just before a new DBS update was due. Maybe i should of told both and hoped to keep my jobs but reality told me I would of probably lost both jobs, so I opted to leave on my own good terms instead with my reputation intact. For the last year i’ve tried to move on and work in other jobs, but there is just no joy in anything else. I miss teaching and coaching, all my life that’s all i ever wanted to do.

    Do you think I will ever be able to work with children in the UK again with this conviction? Im considering doing a TEFL to go abroad to places like south america where they’re not so hot on criminal checks, I just want to teach and coach again as it brings meaning and purpose to my life… It was my ambition to do a PGCE, but my confidence for teaching or coaching ever again in the UK is now rock bottom.

    Any information or advice would be appreciated.


    1. Hi Jay,

      I think you may find difficulty in getting a university or training centre to give you a training place with a conviction of Class A, though I may be wrong about that given the current recruitment climate, which is very poor this year and lots of places are available. If you had a shortage subject the chances would be even better but PE is not considered a shortage subject. If I was you I would call up a local university and ask to talk to the “PGCE Admissions Tutor” and explain your circumstances and your experience – they may be more encouraging.

      If they give you a training place and you get a PGCE, the second hurdle is then finding a school who will be willing to employ you with a serious conviction of 2-3 years standing. They may be unwilling, but again I may be wrong about that, especially if you could provide some weighty testimonials about “what a great coach you were” and how “you are a totally reformed character now”.

      I wouldn’t worry about not declaring to the last job – you can get away with saying that you left shortly afterwards to try other careers and found none of them satisfying. t don’t think going to South America will help the situation once you come back to the UK, but a long term job in South America at least may give you the satisfaction you are looking for.

      Try talking to a PGCE Admissions Tutor and take it from there. Good Luck.

  70. Hi,
    Basically I’m really considering going in to teaching as I’ve just started a tutoring job on the side and have really taken to it.
    I’m in My last year at university and really considering training to become a teacher.
    The main worry obviously is my criminal record. Growing up in London, it was very easy to get In with the wrong crowd. I received convictions for theft x2, criminal damage, burglary of a public dweling (a minor burglary), possession of drugs, (3 class b, 1 class a) and racially aggravated assault( verbal).
    I know the list seems pretty long but I’ve never been to prison and in almost all cases I was given a slap on the wrist. I’m almost 26 now and have completely turned my life around and would love to pursue my dream of teaching, especially helping kids who could potentially go down the same route I did.
    It’s not important where I teach and have been looking at jobs abroad but I’d like to know whether I do in fact have a chance of becoming a teaching. I’m not sure how relaxed the employers are outside of the U.K.
    Any help/advice you could offer would be a big help!
    Also, is there things I could be doing to help my chances or at least help prove I am deserving of such an opportunity?

    1. Hi Ali, this is a difficult one, not for the seriousness of most of the convictions but because of the number and range of them.

      In most cases, things like Class B possession is not a big issue for most training providers and even employers. Neither is something like minor theft or criminal damage.

      Where it starts getting complicated is things like burglary and racially aggravated assault. These are crimes against the person and are considered more serious and many training providers and employers may think you are unsuitable to be a teacher.

      Personally, as an ex-headteacher, I would want to know a lot about the circumstances of both of these offences and convictions and I would expect you to make a very compelling case to me as to why I should give you a chance to be a teacher at my school with convictions like those.

      I am not saying that teaching is a write-off for you, but you will have to prepare to make a very strong case as to how and why you are a totally reformed character and exactly what you have to offer that is so much more valuable than someone with no criminal record at all.

      Your remark about having something to offer young people who might go down the wrong track is a compelling reason but I would be interviewing you wondering whether you really mean that, or whether you are just trying to bullshit me to get a job. It won’t be impossible, but you will have to work hard to convince people that you are worth training and employing because employers will be taking a risk with you. Can you convince them that you won’t let them down?

      Go for it and see. I genuinely wish you luck.

  71. Hi Alan,
    I am wondering if you could advice me on my issue. I am working in school for over 12 years and recently i have finished my QTLS. Before Christmas my parntner got involved into fight and is charged with an Affray. The case is not solved yet and therefore i dont know what he will be charged with although he has pleaded quilty. Would this issue have any impact on my DBS? Do I have to declare this once its been dealt with?

    1. Hi Helen,

      I wouldn’t worry about this one. They have changed the rules about DBS checks in the last couple of years and they now look in to something called “convictions by association” in other words, has your partner or spouse been convicted even if you haven’t?

      But they are only really concerned to see if your partner or spouse has been convicted or involved with sexual offences (particularly against children or vulnerable adults) or serious crimes (like money laundering or drug trafficking). From what you have said, this sounds like a minor offence and so even if he is convicted it should not impact at all on your own DBS rating.

      Good Luck.

  72. Hi Alan,

    http://www.teachers.org.uk/files/crb-checks–faqs.doc‎ is a dead link now.

    Please don’t offer false hope! There aren’t any statistics for the number of people appointed with convictions

    From, http://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/Revealed-thieves-fraudsters-drug-dealers-wanted/story-15432924-detail/story.html

    ‘Steve Cooper, headteacher of Bursley Primary, Bradwell, left, said: “I’m amazed that anyone with convictions like these would have the audacity to try to work in a school.

    “The standards are extremely high. We had someone with a conviction once, who was applying for a support role, but would be nevertheless working alongside pupils. It was assault I think. But as soon as it came up, the application didn’t go any further.”

    A spokesman for the Department for Education said the figures should be taken as an indication that the system is working and weeding out those with a questionable past.

    The spokesman said: “It’s important to remember these figures are for people who applied for a job and do not refer to those who were appointed.”‘

    1. Thanks for that Ben, and the tip about the dead link. I’ll deal with that, thanks.

      As for offering ‘false hope’, I don’t think I’m offering anyone false hope. I am very clear that anyone with a serious conviction particularly for a violent offence or one that involves sexual abuse or sexual violence with a child or vulnerable adult will be weeded out at ‘suitability test stage’.

      However, it is the case that about 10% of teachers already in the profession (known from an estimate made when I was at the GTC) and many trainee teachers have convictions and cautions ranging from drug possession to petty theft – and go on to have successful careers.

      The fact that a particular head teacher is not willing to appoint anyone with a conviction is not necessarily an indication of ‘high standards’ but of a market that currently allows employers to choose from a relatively wide pool of available talent. As a head teacher, I appointed a man with a conviction (for a minor affray as a football hooligan) when shortages were acute and he was a fantastic teacher who went on to have a distinguished and unblemished career.

      I always tell people that finding a training provider will be easier than finding an employer if you have a conviction or even a caution because while training providers are being paid to train someone, employers are taking a risk in employing someone with a criminal record, however minor.

      In my view, we would be living in a very intolerant society if we did not give people a second chance to prove themselves when often the mistakes they have made have been in the foolishness of youthful behaviour that most of us have been guilty of in one way or another – and we’re perhaps lucky enough not to get caught. I certainly hold my hands up to that – I have smoked marijuana, I have been guilty of speeding on motorways, I have used foul language at football matches – all potentially if not actually illegal.

      Of course there are people who are deemed unsuitable to teach by virtue of a serious conviction, if not by virtue of an unsuitable personality. I would never condone training or employing people like that. But there is a large group of people who have made silly mistakes in their past who could offer a huge lesson to young people by their good as well as their mistaken example. I ink we should be the kind of profession, as well as the kind of society that recognises and utilises those people.

  73. Hi Alan,

    Thanks for the quick reply, perhaps my convictions are too major, everyone in authority so far has said so, but you now seem like a good judge and time has passed. I would train in maths or IT so I have that incentive but without a job prospect it maybe isn’t enough to motivate study.

    I have worked in admin and hold an IT degree. I always wanted to teach but when applying for a voluntary role ten years ago I failed to declare my convictions. I was told I would never work in teaching. On reflection of this thread, this may have been more due to my failure to disclose and the headteacher concerned.

    I was drinking regularly between 15 and 16 years old. I regret this but it was over 20 years ago (please forgive my using overly broad strokes) and I’ve turned my life around.

    I was 15 when I was cautioned for beating up my former bully from primary school. I was very drunk and as I recall ownership of alcohol lit the touch paper. The charge was ABH because he had a black eye by the time he got up to apologise to me.

    I had just turned 16 when a man approached me in a train station making thinly veiled threats not to come onto his turf again. I felt threatened and when he walked off I checked he was alone and chased after and punched him to the ground. He curled up on the floor and after a beer garden became alerted I ran. I had to leave my friend who continued the assault. I was charged with battery. This was foolish and drunken posturing.

    Drinking landed me in custody again just a few months later. I was drunk and disorderly and smoking dope. There were some confrontations with a group of students. Silly things which resulted in one of their number being urged to stay down until the ambulance arrived. The police arrived and I was arrested after being observed passing something to a friend. I coughed to my part in the disturbance and was charged with drunk and disorderly and supply of cannabis at the same hearing as before.

    Apparently I committed another assault and possession after another few months. I was paraletic and pleaded guilty on advice. I don’t really know what happened other than waking up on the floor and finding a police officer waiting to arrest me. I was charged with common assault and possession of cannabis. I was still 16, if that matters? I received a conditional discharge to attend an alcohol rehabilitation group which I breached and is considered in the next paragraph causing this assult to appear to have occurred much later than it did.

    Really, I did turn my life around after that. I’m about the soberest person I’ve met. Apart from being stopped one night aged 17 carrying bags of cannabis. This reactivated the conditional discharge which makes my pattern of violent offending appear more prolonged than it actually was. The court convicted me when I was 18.


    Ben P

    1. Hi Ben,

      While these offences occurred when you were a young man there are two issues that would mitigate against me giving you advice to continue to look for a career in teaching.

      The first is the number of occasions when violence was involved, which may give an employer cause to consider that there are underlying issues around your ability to control your anger. The second is that you did not disclose your convictions, which may indicate to an employer that you are dishonest.

      I am not saying either is true, especially now – but employers would have to take a significant risk with someone with a history of violent behaviour and at the point you offered them the chance to consider that risk you concealed from them the truth.

      In that case, the headteacher who advised you that you do not have a future in teaching is sadly, probably right.

      I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but good luck with your future career choices.


      1. Hi Alan, thanks for the oxygen 😉

        Nowadays I am so dispassionate I will take what you have said as gospel. If that has not dispelled your first issue then I might add that on all occassions I was at least disinhibited by alcohol. If I was ever disposed to violence whilst compos mentis I was labouring under a misguided belief that I was threatened or righting wrongs; which 15/16 year hasn’t felt invicible?

        As for the dishonesty aspect, (IMHO) that can be forgotten, I was too inebriated in my youth to recall everything that passed in court, except it was a enough to be a deal breaker at interviews I constantly fail without the DBS. I actually had to be disingenuous to get my facts straight. I see so many cute stories on sites like this that I wonder if people claiming to have assault charges for spitting aren’t relying on the impenetrable terseness of the records.

        If one such charge can be dismissed so easily, why shouldn’t several after an appropriate time? The people on here were largely sober, it wasn’t as if they suddenly terribly ashamed after feeling their first fist meet face, or even seeing their victim cry and groan. All the supervision and rehabilitation I received at the time were of no consequence compared to the years after. I stopped at some illusory age where the kid gloves come off. Believe me, I’ve been on the receiving end far more often; as I was lead to expect a career in teaching would require.

        I am surprised you didn’t offer the 20 year hiatus as mitigation for applying. At the time, the offences wouldn’t have constituted a life time teaching ban; I grew up under threat of smacks, canes and slippers. “le droit a l’oubli” grants a murderer complete forgiveness after 20 years; why I should vote In in 4 months time. Today’s breed of teachers must be a pretty boring breed of automatons if they must forego that right (not a criticism).

        You’re right. Better I move on than wallow in blame. Offending as a schoolkid all that time ago, is enough to avoid revisiting. I hope you can all feel that little bit safer.


  74. Hi Alan,

    Hoping you can give me some advice.. back in 1997 I was convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm while serving in the British army i was 25 at the time, there were mitigating circumstances..whilst out drinking a guy in the pub who had become very annoying ( offering people fights and shouting at them) stole my money from the pool table (£10+) when he ran out the pub with it i followed and asked for it back..he threw the first punch when I confronted him.. unfortunately whilst chasing him he ran into a locked front door and bounced off.. he fractured his collar bone (didn’t know at the time).. next day police arrived at the camp and I readily owned up as I was surprised to see them considering the guy had committed theft and started the trouble. Long story short.. the court took it into account.. the judge said even though there were mitigating circumstances he still had to punish me because if I had not of chased the guy he wouldn’t of fractured his collar bone..I received a fine.. £750 which included compensation.

    I Left the military in 2012 with a certificate of exemplary service ( I was also promoted twice after that incident). I started working as a health care assistant on a cancer ward shortly afterwards and last year i was promoted to band 3. I have been nominated for 4 awards for above and beyond in respect of patient care.. I have now applied to be a student support assistant at a special needs college and I have an interview very soon..I’m very worried about this conviction as it may go against me even though it was so long ago and I hadn’t done anything before the incident and certainly not after it, I have regretted what happened that night and had I not had alcohol I can easily say it would never have happened..

    Do you think I stand a chance?

    many thanks

    1. Hi Steve,

      I would be very surprised if any employer were to dismiss your application as a result of this. As you say, it was a very long time ago and you have had an exemplary record since then. I wouldn’t worry about it, though I would always advise you to declare it and not try to conceal it, otherwise they will dismiss you immediately for trying to conceal it when it turns up in the DBS check. If they ask you the circumstances, I would simply say that someone stole money from you in a pub and in the chase and scuffle they broke their collarbone. You accepted the circumstances though you didn’t start it.

      Good Luck.

  75. Hi Alan,

    I’m hoping you can give me advice on what to do because I’ve been worrying myself sick over this issue.

    I am 32 years old.

    In May 2014, I was convicted of Common Assault by Beating which involved my partner. I can say with a deep sense of remorse and regret that this wasn’t the proudest moment of my Life.
    The circumstance which led to this offence was a stressful one which put a lot of pressure on the whole family at that time.

    The rented property which we live in was in the process of being repossessed by the mortgage company because the Landlady was behind her mortgage payments. This put a lot of stress on us as we didn’t know what to because our options were limited and money was a huge problem.

    I wasn’t gainfully employed at this time because I was in the lengthy process of applying for leave to remain in the UK. The frustration of having to helplessly watch my family put under a stressful situation was eating me up. I was also having to deal with tiredness due to waking up many times at night to attend to our then 9 month old baby.

    One night during a major row with my partner, things came to a head and I buckled under the pent up frustration and stress and struck her – something I immediately regretted at that moment.

    She reported this to the police and I got charged with Common Assault. I pleaded guilty at the first opportunity because I regretted my action and showed remorse. I was then convicted of the above stated offence.

    I was sentenced to one year probation and 80 hours unpaid work and paid a £100 fine. After, the whole scenario, we came back together as a family and we still live together as a family. In actual fact, before the sentencing my partner’s parents were quite supportive and understanding of the situation and wrote letters to the court to this effect. My partner also wrote a letter to the court before the sentencing saying she wasn’t interested in continuing with the case and wanted us to be back together as a family.

    I should mention that this is my first offence and I didn’t re-offend during the probation period. I haven’t re-offended after serving the sentence.

    I have a Bsc(Hons) in Management Information Systems (2:2) and I’m interested in pursuing a teaching career in Computing and I.T now that I have been granted a leave to remain in the UK.

    I have started the application process and the next stage is the School Experience Programme. I am worried about how this conviction will affect my chances of pursuing a successful teaching career. I greatly appreciate your advice.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi, this is a difficult one to assess because the conviction involves violence and usually any conviction involving violence means that the likelihood of an employer taking you on is much less, let alone a training provider.

      However, from my time at the General Teaching Council, I remember cases like this with mitigating circumstances were dealt with, with some tolerance. Given what you have said and your family being reunited and with the support of your partner and parents in law, I would think that most training providers and employers would look upon your situation with some sympathy and tolerance.

      The problem is that I can’t guarantee that all employers will. My experience is that most will think this is a situation that many people could find themselves in and relate to the difficulties you experienced, but it depends on the individual schools and head teachers and governors who assess your application and interview.

      All I can suggest is that you declare the conviction and use every opportunity you get to explain the circumstances and throw yourself on their ‘mercy’. If you were presenting yourself to me, given the circumstances you have described, I would be sympathetic and tolerant and I think most employers will feel the same – all you can do is try. The situation is certainly not hopeless.

      I wish you good luck.

  76. I was caught with cigerretts at the airport as I had not paid duty on them, I had to then sign some papers I don’t know if it would show on DBS. I also for informal warning on family disputes and quarrels. Planning to study Bsc maths to become a teacher. Please advise.

    1. Hi Cornellius,

      I wouldn’t worry about the cigarettes – it probably won’t even show on the DBS.

      As for the family disputes and quarrels – if as you say, the warning was informal (I assume by a police officer attending an incident) then again, it won’t show on the DBS.

      If however, you were “cautioned” – in other words, you accepted your culpability and were given a formal police warning with a written notice of such, then that might be more problematic if the ‘quarrels’ included physical assaults. This would show on the DBS. If that didn’t happen, then I wouldn’t worry.

  77. Hi, I have a rather different situation that has not been mentioned or discussed on this forum, nor can I find anything remotely similar on the internet. (researching is actually how I came across your blog.)

    I’m a U.S. Citizen and currently reside in the U.S. I am a certified professional educator with a current and valid teaching license in the state of Georgia. I have one year and 8 months teaching experience in middle school technology & engineering – not including the roughly two years unpaid teaching internship while at the University.

    In March of 2014 I was falsely accused of possessing indecent images of children by the U.S. federal government. I was forced to resign my position from school and was charged and arrested by the federal government. After nearly two years, in late November 2015 the charges were proven false and dismissed completely. I have NO CONVICTIONS, no plea arrangements, no conditional terms and no acquittal. This never made it to trial. The charges were simply dismissed because the allegations were proven false. (During the search of my family’s home and computers and electronics, no indecent images or videos of any kind were found. Period.) The investigation was rushed and I was removed from the classroom simply being overly cautious and based on being a potential risk to children. I also have the dismissal order from the United States Federal Magistrate. However, the dismissal is just that, a dismissal, with no official reason given or apology for ruining my life.

    The United States Government is currently on a sexual witch hunt against all teachers or anyone working with youth, especially male teachers (and this is widely known and criticized as a huge political platform of protecting the world’s children, and large government over-reach.) The U.S. Government is not in the business of apologizing or admitting wrong doing of their part because it would open them to civil litigation, otherwise I would have reason to seek damages. This is true for all criminal cases, no matter what the type of crime. Other than a minor speeding ticket fine 14 years ago, I have NO convictions or misconduct of any kind. I still have a federal arrest record of a child porn allegation and because of the law here, the federal arrest record will always remain and will never be expunged.

    I love teaching and my heart is still in education and working with young people. This is without a doubt my calling, and I am/was very good at it. I have never had a single complaint by any student, parent or co-worker, as well as I have nearly perfect administration evaluations of my teaching effectiveness and classroom management skills; and my personnel file reflects all of this. If I don’t teach, I simply don’t know what else I would do, this is more than a career, it’s my calling. I am 29 years old and too young to quit or give up on what I have worked so hard to achieve. While I only have just shy of two years official teaching, I have close to 10 years experience of working with young people through missions, youth ministry, teaching and scouting.

    I am still fully qualified to teach here in the U.S. I have professional references from those who can testify to my experience with young people and I have endorsements from the University I graduated from, (as well as my professional teaching licence from the State of Georgia) but my former employer refuses to give a reference, other than (he worked here “from – till” and resigned.)

    I have applied to many positions and have been rejected or never contacted again after the interview (I believe because of the nature of the false allegation).I have since applied to a position to an American Boarding School in England (and I’m considering applying to several other schools in England and the EU.) But the position requires an “enhanced DBS check”. I don’t fully understand the Law in the U.K. or EU, but will this arrest prevent me from gaining a teaching position in the U.K., even though the charges and allegations are from the United States and were completely dismissed? Will I pass the background check and DBS check in the U.K.? While I technically have no criminal record of conviction, should I disclose this false allegation and dismissal to a potential employer, and when should I do this.

    As a U.S. citizen, I fear just a record of an accusation of this kind will cause them to pre-judge me and not give me a chance even for an interview. I just want to teach, and to start over. I just want to pay my bills and get my life back. I have always wanted to work over-seas and see the old world, and now more than ever I have a great reason and motivation to do so.

    Again, NO convictions or mis-conduct of any kind. Only an allegation that was proven false and charges that were dismissed by a United States Federal Magistrate.

    I apologize for the lengthy explanation and question, but I sincerely appreciate any insight you might be able to share.

    Sincerely, Matthew

    1. Hi Matthew,

      my understanding is that the “enhanced DBS check” (DBS by the way, stands for Disclosure and Barring Service, a national agency here in the UK) will not throw up an allegation that was dismissed at the level of a US Federal Magistrate and did not go to trial.

      However, in this country, there is a mechanism where the police in different parts of the country (not employers automatically) can be informed about ‘contact with police’ over an issue as serious as child sexual exploitation or evidence of child sexual offences. This is because, in a notoriously infamous case here about 15 years ago, a school janitor with no formal charges or convictions but with repeated suspicions and allegations made against him moved from one part of the country to another where he was not known, and then went on to murder two children. The authorities felt they needed to fill this gap to allow the police to have access to relevant information that they would otherwise not have.

      This is where my explanation gets complicated…

      So, when the employer (your American Boarding School here in England) consider your application, they may do one or more of the following – they may:
      1. ask you either on the application form or in person at interview whether you have ever been accused of any serious offence (unlikely but possible given they are a private school);
      2. check with an equivalent organisation in the US to the UK’s DBS about such allegations. In the UK, you would not show up on such a disclosure as you have not been convicted or cautioned, but I don’t know what the US procedure is;
      3. they may directly contact previous employers who in turn may reveal to them the nature of the allegations made against you.

      From what you have said, you seem to be the victim of a serious injustice and you have my sympathy. All I can suggest is that you apply for the post in the UK and answer questions honestly when they are asked of you. You do not have to voluntarily reveal that you have been wrongly accused of crimes you did not commit. Good Luck with your application.

  78. I am currently in my final phase of teacher training. The other night myself and my fiancee got into a row in which she punched me and i pushed her onto the sofa. She called the police and i was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence. I spent the night in the cells and was discharged with no formal caution the following morning after the CPS dropped the issue on lack of evidence. We have two young children who were asleep upstairs so social services have been informed. When discussing the issue with my fiancee (i have yet to meet with social services as i was working when they called) they have mentioned a referral to LADO (which if my research is correct deals with local safeguarding issues) while it is unlikely that i will be banned from teaching, dismissal from my course or any mark on my DBS would surely have severe consequences for my career.Teaching is all i have ever wanted to do and i am absolutely terrified that it could be over before it has begun

    Can you advise? have you seen something similar before?

    (i have informed y course leader at my university)

    Many Thanks

    History teacher

    1. Hi Joe,

      I wouldn’t worry about this. If you have not been cautioned and the police have dropped the charges, then it will not show up on your DBS checks and you need not declare the incident on future application forms. While it is commendable that you have told your tutor at university, they should keep it confidential.

      Put it behind you and try to ensure that it doesn’t happen again – as the police will surely not be so easily dissuaded from a prosecution next time. I hope you can repair the damage with your partner. Good Luck.

  79. Hi, I’m after a bit of advice. I was thinking of looking into working in a school…not quite as a teacher but an assistant. I’ve always worked as a nursey nurse so have childcare qualifications. But 3 years ago I made a stupid mistake totally out of character and ended up with a caution for common assault by beating. (It was actually one slap whilst she beat me up but stupid justice system). Just curious how it would affect me if I was to apply for jobs in a school. Would I be automatically dismissed because of it or deemed dangerous?

    1. Hi Gemma,

      it’s likely that this will appear on future DBS checks when you apply for jobs and it’s also likely that employers will ask you to explain the circumstances. My advice would be to “get our retaliation in first” and declare that you have a caution for an altercation that happened three years ago. If they like you, this won’t stop them appointing you, especially as it’s a caution and not a full-blown conviction – but you may find some will reject your application if they have a lot of other good candidates to choose from with no “history”.

      If you don’t declare and they find out through a returned DBS check that shows it, they may dismiss you immediately for trying to conceal what you should have earlier declared.

      If you love working with kids and are passionate about your job, most people will overlook a minor offence like this. Go for it if this is what you really want to do.

      Good Luck.

  80. Hi,

    Re: my previous post – Joe Rossi

    Social services have conducted their investigation and have now referred their findings to LADO. I am not allowed to be present at this meeting between these professional bodies and my university. They say it is normal protocol in a domestic violence case due to the nature of the profession i am entering. While i was relieved to hear that you think that my issue is not one to be concerned about so long as it does not reoccur (as the police have neither charged or cautioned me) – i am concerned about LADO and the possibility that i could be suspended or have my course ended prematurely (as has been subtly threatened by social services despite the fact that there is no evidence against me). I know very little about LADO and research has not shed much light on the matter. Am i worrying about nothing? Should i contact my union?


    1. Hi Joe,

      Here (below) is what Southwark Council say about LADOs – Local Authority Designated Officers who deal with allegations of assault or abuse and assess the risk to children within the borough – though their guidelines will be very similar in every borough across the country. The LADO in your case may interview you – I would suggest you take a union rep with you for advice, but don’t view the interview as confrontational. I would be surprised if they decided you were a risk to children, but it depends on what they think of you at the interview. Any employer has the right to dispense with you if, in their view, they think you are a risk. Good Luck.

      What is a LADO?
      The LADO (Local Authority Designated Officer) provides advice and guidance to employers and other individuals/organisations who have concerns relating to an adult who works with children and young people (including volunteers, agency staff and foster carers) or who is in a position of authority and having regular contact with children (for example religious leaders or school governors).
      There may be concerns about workers who have:
      Behaved in a way that has harmed or may have harmed a child
      Possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child
      Behaved towards a child, or behaved in other ways that suggests they may be unsuitable to work with children
      What should be referred to the LADO?
      Any concern that meets the criteria above should be referred. Initially it may be unclear how serious the allegation is. If there is any doubt, the LADO or the lead person for safeguarding in your agency should be contacted for advice.
      What does the LADO do?
      The first step will be to offer an initial discussion of the concern. This may consist of advice and guidance regarding the most appropriate way of managing the allegation.
      The LADO will help establish what the ‘next steps’ should be in terms of investigating the matter further.
      The LADO will liaise with the police and other agencies, and arrange for a strategy meeting to be held if required. If the case is complex there may be a series of meetings.
      The LADO will monitor and maintain an overview of cases to ensure they are dealt with as quickly as possible consistent with a thorough and fair process.
      The LADO will ensure that:
      Child protection procedures are initiated where the child is considered to be at risk of significant harm
      The appropriate agencies are involved in the investigation
      Advice is provided in relation to the adult’s remaining in post over the course of the investigation
      Issues of sharing information with parents and other relevant individuals are considered
      Assist an employer in decisions about a person’s suitability to remain in the children’s workforce, and whether a referral should be made to the ISA or the appropriate regulatory or professional body
      In cases where the adult is unaware of the concern or allegation it may not be appropriate to tell them immediately and may prejudice a potential Police investigation. The LADO will provide advice.
      The outcomes of a LADO referral may include:
      Finding that the allegation is malicious
      Finding that the allegation is unsubstantiated
      Internal investigation by the employer including consideration of disciplinary procedures
      A police investigation
      Police prosecution
      Where the adult is reinstated there may be recommendations in relation to additional support, monitoring or training.
      Where an individual is dismissed from their post a referral must be made to the Independent Safeguarding Authority which makes decisions on whether individuals should be barred from working with children.

  81. Hi there,

    I received a caution for possession of class a (cocaine) when I was 22. I worked in advertising and it was part of a pretty unhealthy lifestyle that I knocked on the head after my arrest. Now I am 25, working in the charity sector but have always thought about retraining as a teacher. Will this caution seriously affect my chances?

    1. Hi Alex,

      It shouldn’t be a problem, though I can’t guarantee that the Programme Director of the university PGCE or School Direct training programme might think this is still quite a recent offence and that they will need a lot of persuading that you are a ‘reformed character’.

      I think you will need to persuade them of that – and my advice would be to come clean about it and don’t wait for it to appear on the DBS check, which they will do anyway, but tell them at the point of application (where they ask) or at interview (even if they don’t ask). You will then need to explain the circumstances (that you worked in advertising, high stress, culture of drug-taking etc etc) but that you deeply regret your mistake and it was a ‘one-off’. It shows you are remorseful enough and mature enough to deal with it in an adult way.

      If you do that, I think there are very few training providers and schools who would reject you on that basis alone. Good Luck.

  82. Hi

    I have had 2 CRB checks (before they became DBS) and 1 DBS. All came back clear. I have just moved back to my local area (about 3 years ago) and have had another DBS done for a new job. My worry is that something I did in the area (99 – caught with a knife (sheathed) when drunk and spent night in police cell) will now showup. I’ve been a teacher for over 8 years!


    1. I wouldn’t have thought so Dave. DBS and CRB before it are a national screening system, though it does depend on your local police force to have reported it to the DBS in the first place. It doesn’t sound as if you were even given a formal caution let alone a conviction, so it won’t be on your DBS check. Forget it.

  83. Hi Alan

    I hope you’re well.

    Teaching is something that I’ve always wanted to do, however in my university years I made some bad mistakes that made me think teaching would never be possible. With a few more years under my belt now, I’ve decided to try and secure work experience in a Primary School so that I can at least know for sure if I have a chance or not.

    At this point I’m uncertain of when to disclose my convictions. My gut tells me to be open and honest from the outset in my covering letter requesting work experience, however I’m getting conflicting advice as to whether this is the best thing to do.

    This is what I have drafted for my covering letter so far:

    “Dear Ms XXX

    I hope this email finds you well. I was directed to you after ringing the school’s general enquiry line. My name is Chris XXXX, I am a previous student of XXXX having completed my studies there in 2001. The reason I am contacting you is that I recently made the decision to make a career change. Primary school teaching has always greatly interested me, and is the type of career I want to commit myself to for the long term. With this in mind, I am hoping to secure a period of work experience at XXXX to help me take the first steps in a potential career as a Primary Teacher.

    My career so far has been solely based within the XXXX, and I recently left my role as XXXX. Despite enjoying this job and my previous roles in the XXXX immensely, I knew in myself that in the long term this was not the career for me.

    Primary teaching is a career that I have always aspired to try. This interest was first sparked when I was given the responsibility to baby sit family friend’s children, and then my younger family members. I really enjoy spending time with children, and particularly grew a fondness to guiding (but not answering!) younger cousins through their homework. I am now extremely driven to find a placement in the sector so that I can gain first hand experience of what working in a school entails, and to see if teaching is the career I want to commit myself to. My gut feeling is that this would be the case, when I talk to friends who are teachers about their work life I truly picture myself loving it. As such I am contacting you to see if there is any possibility of undertaking work experience at XXXX.

    I must make you aware that I do have the following spent convictions on my record:

    3 counts Possessing Class A drugs, 1 count possessing Class B, cautions, 17/03/10
    Public Order Offence, 6 month conditional discharge, 24/09/13 (offence date 11/11/12)
    Vehicle Interference, caution, 14/03/13

    I deeply regret all of the above, and fully accept that they could rightly be a cause of concern to anyone considering an applicant for work experience in a school. Without trying to excuse my actions for which I am fully responsible for, the years in which I was at university were difficult for a number of reasons, and with a few more years under my belt I know that I was very lost during that period. Although I both disappointed and disadvantaged myself through these experiences, now that I have put that kind of behaviour firmly behind me I (in a way) consider them to have made a positive influence on me as they were all part of my life journey to becoming the positive and responsible adult I am today. I would really appreciate the chance to speak with you in more depth about this, so that you can see that my record does not reflect the person who I truly am. I can happily provide you with a working and personal reference from the Medical Director of XXXX, who I reported to and became a true friend of over the years I worked with him after these incidents occurred.

    Should I be lucky enough for you to consider me, I would be ecstatic to speak with you in person or in whatever form is most convenient for yourself. I have attached my CV for your reference and hope to hear from you soon.

    Kind regards

    Chris XXXX”

    Thanks in advance for any help/advice you can give me.

    All the best


    1. Hi Chris,

      the letter is fine and I think it’s a good idea to come clean about these convictions – which will show up anyway as soon as they do a DBS check to employ you or even allow you to do voluntary work-experience. These are serious convictions and you may find that some people will reject your application. However, not everyone will and you will probably need to try more than one or two places before you find someone who is prepared to give you a chance.

      Whoever told you not to disclose these convictions is giving you bad advice – not just because that’s bad moral judgment to conceal this but also because it’s illegal and because as soon as you get a position in a school – either as a volunteer or as an employee – the school will automatically do an enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check and these convictions will be reported to them. If you have tried to conceal them, you will be instantly dismissed without recourse to appeal.

      This way, you are coming clean right from the beginning and showing not only remorse but the ability to reflect on the mistakes of your past. Some people will still reject you, but some will find that an attractive attribute in a potential teacher.

      Go for it and see what happens. Good Luck.

  84. Hi Alan,

    I have been arrested for drug driving a case that hasn’t yet been mentioned on here. I have to wait several weeks before my likely charge and court case, just waiting on results from a blood test.
    How serious is drug driving likely to be taken? Same as drink driving? The drug is cannabis by the way and there are no other charges. Also I have no other convictions or problems with the police.
    I’m currently working at a school and haven’t informed them, is there anything you would suggest doing? I figure it’s not worth saying anything while I’m on bail and not actually charged?


    1. Hi Dave,

      if I was you, I would await the outcome of the blood test and see if they charge you or even caution you – if you accept the charge or caution – then I would go and tell the headteacher before it gets reported to your school. Teachers are in a “notifiable profession” – that means that if you are convicted or cautioned for any offence the police will notify your employer. Much better to get your confession in first than for your headteacher to find out from a letter from the local police or a DBS check.

      They probably won’t dismiss you if the incident was relatively minor, for example, there was no accident or injury – though you haven’t said (or don’t yet know) how serious the intoxication level was or the nature of the incident. But I don’t know your headteacher and chair of governors – they make take it very seriously and want you to resign or be dismissed, though I think that’s unlikely. Are you a member of a union? I suggest the NUT if not.

      Good Luck.

  85. Thank you for your time and advice Alan. I will be informing my head teacher before I get charged if my blood test results come back negative anyway as I might as well do it before I get charged if that is the case.

    There were no accidents or injuries, the only things I have been ‘done’ for is possibly being over the limit of drugs, I don’t know intoxication levels yet but seeing as it’s only the active THC that is tested it should be relatively low. I would expect them to take it pretty seriously, it’s a good school in a good area but I suppose you never know. I will ask them what they want me to do if it comes to that in order to make the process the best possible for them seeing as I am the one in the wrong at the end of the day.

    Also I have looked in my contract and it does say that I should inform my headteacher if I have been arrested, will this have any further implications as I haven’t yet but I do plan too before getting charged?

    I am a member of ATL, would it be worth contacting them for advice?

    Thanks again,

    1. I think your Head will appreciate the fact that you have told him/her of the arrest. I will be surprised if this results in a dismissal though it may be in your contract that you “should not bring the school into disrepute” and they may consider this comes under that. Consult the ATL and ask them along to any subsequent meetings, especially if the Head wants you to meet with the Chair of Governors or the Governors’ Appointments Committee. Good Luck.

  86. Hi Alan,

    I had applied for a PGCE and passed the skills tests and everything else. I was awaiting clearance from my CRB check. I had previously received a 12 month ban for drink driving and failing to remain, damage only accident, at the time I panic and moved up the round abit, before returning to the vehicle. There was no-one else involved. I know I have done wrong and accept responsibly for my actions. I had an email yesterday saying my UCAS have been changed and I have now been unsuccessful. When I speak to the administrations team they wont tell me anything over the phone and say the was a letter sent out on Friday and I will receive it shortly. The only thing I can think it would be is this, as everything else is completed. I have been honest from the start and declare it and when speaking to the admissions team in March they said I wouldn’t have anything to worry about. I was suppose to be starting next month. Do you think it is worth submitting an appeal? Or is there anything I can do?


    1. Hi Chris,

      I’m afraid the “failing to remain” bit was probably more damaging than even the drink-driving ban. It may be that you are considered “unsuitable to teach” on the basis that you have been critically irresponsible. You don’t say how recent the offence was, but it it was very recent then this might have contributed to the decision.

      However, these are subjective judgments and if I was you I would write and ask if there is an appeals process. You might want to marshall some “character references” from previous employers, lecturers or a local vicar / priest et al if you are a member of a faith group to help with convincing them that you accept responsibility and you are very remorseful and this was out of character.

      Good Luck.

  87. Hi there, I wonder if you can give me some advice as I am a bit worried. I recently started a teaching course, and have passed my DBS check (no convictions). However, I am now subject to an occupational health check where I need to disclose past drug history. This wouldn’t be an issue except I have had an episode of bi-polar disorder which was drug induced. I am not worried about the implications of having had a mental health disorder as I have been in remission for over three years and it was a one off incident. However, because it was drug induced I am worried that the university will hold it against me and will kick me off the course. I’m not sure if this is legal, but it has really been worrying me. I intend to be honest on the questionnaire, and my GP has to write a letter to confirm my diagnosis so I cannot omit information. Have you any experience with this? I have trawled the internet looking for advice and it seems to be littered with cases of current drug use with no information about a history of drug use (I haven’t touched any substance since my diagnosis). As I say, I have no criminal convictions and a clean DBS. Your help would be much appreciated. Many thanks.

    1. Hi Jane,

      I don’t think I know enough about this to give you any definitive advice but I would very surprised if a university let alone an employer took disciplinary action against you over a health issue. If you were an alcoholic you would not be subject to disciplinary action (as it is a health issue) but you would be expected and required to seek help for your condition. If you were drunk at school or came in smelling of alcohol, that would be different and then of course you would be subject to legitimate disciplinary action.

      I think that, while your health condition has been drug induced, as long as you: a) are seeking and obtaining help to ameliorate the condition and b) are not behaving in ways that might put you, your colleagues or the children at risk and c) can perform your normal duties as a teacher, then I can’t see why your health would be an issue.

      But you might want to take advice from a union to check this. I would suggest joining the NUT.

      Good Luck.

      1. many thanks for your swift reply. I am a member of the NUT and will contact them on Monday when their office is open.

        Thanks again

  88. Hi Alan,

    I have a colleague that recently started his Learning & Development Qualification through an independent training provider but despite declaring his previous conviction he has now been told that he cannot work for the company due to the disclosures on his DBS check.
    He had a minor conviction for common assault when he was in his early teens and he had another conviction for battery in 2014 however he is a member of the MOD and the MOD have stated the circumstances around the incident where he was basically defending his wife from assault and they have offered to provide written support for the tutor to continue with his L&D as he is delivering qualifications for this company at the MOD. The training provider is concerned that they have a short OFSTED inspection due in the next 6 months and they would be potentially become a grade 4 centre for employing this individual and not safeguarding their learners?

    Please could you give me some advice on how he could proceed.

    1. Hi Dan,

      I don’t know about Learning & Development qualifications I’m afraid as I deal with qualified teachers who are working towards or who have Qualified Teacher Status but I’m fairly sure that the DBS requirements apply to all those who are applying to work with “children, young people (up to 18) and vulnerable adults”. However, it is up to the authorised training provider to decide if the person applying to them is “suitable” to be working with their clients – in this case, I presume children, young people or vulnerable adults. If they deem your colleague “unsuitable” by virtue of the DBS check – and I must admit that a recent conviction for battery would normally deem someone “unsuitable” – then I’m not surprised they have taken this decision.

      Your colleague may want to try and appeal this decision and cite any “good character” references they may be able to get from former employers at the MOD, but they may find the appeal is denied.

      Sorry I couldn’t be more positive.

  89. Hi Alan
    Yesterday my son had to plead guilty to a Section 47 assault , which the judge has sent off for pre sentence report. So there will be a conviction but we are looking at community service. He was in a nightclub when a guy came up to his girlfriend, he pushed him away which lead to a pushing match at which the other guy dropped the first punch, but he came out the worse. The whole incident was over in seconds and the initial altercation was on the nightclubs camera, as he had pushed him first then he had started the assault. He is 19 and was waiting on results to get into teaching college for which he has an offer at the moment dependent on these results . this is completely out of character for him and he has obtained references from all areas of the community from his head teacher at secondary to the local clubs and societies and even a barrister.
    What should he do right now? Is his career path as a teacher shot to pieces ? He has spent the last few years working with kids clubs in the summer and i realize even these require police checks.
    All still very raw and still not come to terms with it

  90. Dear Alan,

    I received a penalty notice disorder a few year ago for harrassment. Obviously, this is something I regret deeply. I was told at the time that the PND doesn’t form part of a criminal record, but may appear on an enhanced DBS check if they think the information is relevant. I was just wondering whether you think this might show up on an enhanced CRB and, if so, should I avoid entering the profession. I’m currently thinking about going through Teach First and I’m concerned whether they might be more harsh than a university-led PGCE admissions officer. I should add that the incident occured when I was 18.

    1. Hi Zoe,

      I don’t think you should worry too much about this even though it will show up on an enhanced DBS check – after all, it’s not violence (which is the usual cut-off point). If I was you, I would apply to a good PGCE university course (as they tend to be less ‘prissy’ than Teach First) – but you could try TF as well if money is an issue.

      Good Luck!

  91. So I am a teachers aide in ohio. Over the summer I shoplifted some shirts from Macy’s totaling 378 dollars I went to court and I am currently in the divergence program. I received a letter stating I am now being investigated as I had to renew my license this year. I have been up front to the asst superintendent and he knows of everything going on. Will I loose my job

    1. Hi, as you may have gathered, I am based in the UK, though our systems are very similar there will be differences, so I can’t guarantee what the outcome will be as far as the Ohio authorities are concerned.

      I’m sorry to say that I think the teaching board and the school may take a dim view of a theft involving quite a lot of value. If it had been a petty theft to the value of $20 or something like that, it wouldn’t have mattered much – perhaps you would get a reprimand – but it seems this is quite a serious amount of value and therefore you might find that your employer will end your contract. That would probably be the outcome here in the UK. I hope it’s not the case in the US for your sake. Good Luck.

  92. Hi there

    Im just asking this question as my boyfriend is in this situation and he is not speaking to me about it.

    My boyfriend has been a teacher for 5 years. I student was sitting on top of another studen punching his face very badly. My boyfriend asked the students to get him off but they couldnt. So he had to use force to push him off. Unfortunatly that student’s arm got broken when he was pushed off.

    My boyfriend has been suspended but has the full support of his head teacher. The case has been referred to the police and he has been told he will likely have to go to court.

    He felt he used reasonable force because the boy was punching the other student with so much anger and force that it was difficult to stop him.

    My question is how will the judge view this situation? Is my boyfriend’s career over?

    1. Hi Sarah,

      I obviously don’t know how a judge with deal with the evidence but if the police and the CPS think there is a case to answer, then it is being dealt with as a serious assault. However, if as you say, your boyfriend used reasonable force to prevent injury to someone else, then the judge is likely to view that with some sympathy and understanding. A broken arms however, does not usually suggest ‘reasonable force’ – but then I wasn’t there and the judge will deal with the evidence.

      If your boyfriend gets convicted of a violent offence, like affray or ABH or GBH, it may be that his school will dismiss him on the grounds of being deemed ‘unsuitable to teach’. If he is given a caution or acquitted on the grounds of using ‘reasonable force’ to prevent harm or protect others, then there is no reason why he should worry for his career.

      I hope it works out for him. Good Luck.

  93. Hello.
    I am 33 years old. 3 years ago I recieved a caution for assult. I slapped my partner. He did not press charges but because I had admitted it I recieved a caution.

    I’m about to apply to university for a BA with QTS. Will this caution have a major effect on my future career?

    Another issue I had is that during work experience I had to fill a form out, one of the questions was along the lines of “has anyone in the household had a caution or been convicted” my partner has an 18 month suspended sentance for assult by beating. How does this affect me?

    1. Hi Alison,

      the caution is not a problem, as long as you don’t repeat that particular offence.

      Given that your partner has a conviction for a similar and more serious offence may raise alarm bells with some people (like school employers) because they make think ”you are associating with people who are reflecting your own personality flaws’, but I suspect by the time you have finished a 3-year degree course those alarms bells will have stopped ringing – unless either of you get a caution or conviction of any kind during that time – in which case, I suspect employers may think employing you might be a risk they would prefer to avoid.

      As for now, I would just get on and do your degree and be an exemplary student / trainee. Good Luck with that.

      1. Thank you for your swift reply.

        Can you see my dilemma being an issue during my degree in regards to the university getting school work placements for me?

        How do they find out about the association?

      2. While you’re training I would be astonished if the university made an issue of either your caution or the ‘association’. The association becomes an issue particularly when sexual offences are involved (I assume there wasn’t) or if there is a continuous pattern of violence or abuse from someone you are closely associated with.

  94. Hi Alan,
    I’m 28 years old and have been teaching overseas for the past 2 years and I am looking to return back to the UK to complete a primary pgce.
    I’m worried because 10 years ago, whilst I was in still in sixth form aged 18, I received a caution for “assault occasioning abh” after an altercation with 2 other girls. I am not a violent person and have not been in trouble with the law before or after this.
    I am a great teacher but just worry that my career is over before it’s started because of that one incident all those years ago.
    I’m unsure whether to apply for the pgce, in the knowledge that this caution is going to loom over every job application, I make or find a new career.

    1. Hi Megan,

      sorry about the delay in replying – I’ve been away. I don’t think you will have any problem getting on a PGCE with this caution – I don’t know of a single provider who would make an issue of a caution that was picked up a decade ago, even for a violent offence – so have no fear about a training place.

      As to getting a job and employers (schools) – they may be a bit more picky and if they have a lot of applications for the post you are applying for, they may use this as an excuse or way of reducing the short-list. You never know how Headteachers or Governors will respond to a caution for an offence involving violence. It’s just an unknown.

      In general though, I wouldn’t let it deter you from a career in teaching. Thousands of teachers have cautions and even convictions for offences like this and have gone on to have very successful careers. By the time, you start applying for a job, the vast majority of people will think it was the aberration of a hot headed youth. Good Luck.

  95. Hi, When I was 17 I was caught in possesion of MDMA, taken to a police station, stayed there overnight and essentially admitted my guilt, it didn’t get taken to court. And I was released the next day, however I did have to have a photograph taken before either was released I am fully aware that it was a dumb thing to do but It is not uncommon; however I have been recently debating doing a pgce course in order to teach in the post-compulsory education sector ( college/sixth form/ lifelong learning and I was wondering how this would hinder me I am now 20 many thanks

    1. Hi Kieron,

      I wouldn’t worry about a caution for this, though MDMA is still considered a Class A drug – it is usually considered a ‘recreational drug’ and generally it will be considered leniently, especially when applying for a PGCE place. However, it is important that you do not pick up any other cautions or convictions, especially for drug use, as people will then look at your history and probably deem you ‘unsuitable to teach’. On this caution alone, I wouldn’t let it deter you from a career in teaching. Good Luck.

      1. I also failed to pay a fixed penalty notices for littering some time later, I was taken to court and was made to pay a fine

  96. Hi, last year when I was out at a party (I was only 14 years old), there were people drinking and then everyone got kicked out and the police were phoned. Loads of people were at this field making LOTS of noise, and then the police came over to me and my friend and searched us (he didn’t find anything but my phone charger) and he asked if we had been drinking and I said no, and he was really nice about it, and was like “oh you don’t drink?” and I said no obviously, and then he was asking us if we had a good night, being really nice and laughing with us. He then asked us for our details like, name, age, birthday, address, etc. and he wrote it down. He didn’t say what it was for, and I didn’t hear anything further of it. I want to be a French Teacher when I leave school and i’m just wondering if this would stop me from getting there? I’m only 15, and I’ve heard that if it was a caution, it would be wiped when you’re 16 or 18? i’m not sure about this, and I would like to know some more info on this. Thanks.

    1. Hi Lou,

      don’t worry about it. What happened to you is not even a caution. The police can legally ask anyone their name and address and we have to provide it when asked. If you do get a caution or a conviction, it won’t be ‘wiped’ if you want to be a teacher. Teaching is one of the jobs where prospective employers (schools) will have access to all your previous cautions and convictions to see if they are serious or relevant enough to deem you “suitable or unsuitable’ as a teacher. Being drunk and disorderly would not deem you unsuitable to teach but serious offences like violence or felonies like robbery would. Good luck with your school career.

  97. I need advice I have had a really bad split with my ex husband. He has put all over the internet that I am a benefit cheat. He did stay with me undisclosed for 2 years a few nights a week . My work are now sending me to oh about the allergations. Should I hand my notice in with immediate effect my let them sack me for gross misconduct.

    1. Hi Jane,

      I’m not sure what you mean by “My work are now sending me to oh about the allegations.” You may want to clarify that for me.

      However, you ask whether you should resign or wait to be sacked. In my view – you should do neither.

      The allegations of your husband are, as far as the law is concerned – mere gossip at this stage, unless he has reported you to the Department for Work & Pensions – which would presumably involve him in the alleged offence as well.

      If he has reported the matter to the authorities, then I suggest you wait to see what the outcome is. If they take proceedings against you, you may wish to consult a solicitor at that stage, especially if you admit to an offence.

      At this stage, it seems to me that no authority has alleged an offence against you – the school will not take action on the social media hearsay of your ex-husband – and you have neither been cautioned nor convicted for any relevant offence that would deem you to be unsuitable for teaching – in which case you have nothing to resign about or indeed be dismissed for.

      In any case, if you were guilty of benefit fraud, it is not considered a serious offence as far as teaching is concerned – for example, it is not a violent offence which puts children at risk of your contact with them, so even if you were convicted, it would probably not have any bearing on your employment with your school. Of course, schools don’t like their teachers being cautioned or convicted for anything, but only offences that are relevant and serious are taken into account. many hundreds of teachers every year get serious bans for driving drunk or speeding or even shoplifting, and don’t get sacked.

      The only way I can see this having any bearing on your job is if you are found guilty in a court of law of embezzling many thousands of pounds from the DWP and receive a custodial sentence because you cannot or will not pay a fine, then of course you would be dismissed by an employer if sent to prison. But in any case, you should not resign now or even think of it.

      My advice is – especially if you are culpable and admit to wrong-doing in this matter – is to speak to a union official if you are a member of one (the NUT are very good) or speak to a solicitor if the DWP have begun proceedings against you.

      As far as your ex-husband is concerned, his social media trolling of you is nothing more than childish gossip – unpleasant yes, but irrelevant as far as your job and employer is concerned.

      Good Luck.

  98. Hi I would like your advice. I am hoping to get a job as a secondary teaching assistant. I am 28 now but got a conviction for 1) refusing name/address and 2) threatening/abusive/insulting behaviour in a public place in 2010. Both convictions are from the same event when I was 19 . A night I had too much to drink. Previously I got a caution for Drunk and disorderly (I was 18). After I was convicted I went back to do my A levels followed by an undergrad degree. I would really like to be a teacher but I’m unsure if it will be a waste of time to even try with my history. I was a graduate teaching assistant overseas for a semester last semester and really enjoyed teaching and got great reviews. I have not been involved in any sort of trouble since I was 19. It’s a grim prospect to think I may be limited in my life by things I did when I was not a fully developed adult. That doesn’t excuse me though and I take full responsibility and feel terrible that it happened.

    1. Hi John,

      I would be surprised if an employer turned you down for a teaching assistant job on these grounds alone, but the most recent of these offences was in 2010, which is not that long ago – and some employers might think that while you were an immature 18 or 19 year old, you still hadn’t learned your lesson by 22. This is not my judgment I hasten to add, I’m just giving you an example of what some employers might think when looking at your application and getting the DBS check back.

      However, for teaching assistant jobs, most employers will allow a certain level of additional tolerance especially if you can show particular aptitudes, skills, enthusiasm and commitment. It’s obviously a competitive market out there and you will be up against people also showing those things who have ‘clean’ DBS checks. Nevertheless, I would not be put off making applications for teacher assistant jobs – I think it’s highly likely that employers will give you a chance to prove yourself.

      Once you get such a job, it is then up to you to impress your employers so that if and when you decide to train as a teacher, they will write an exemplary reference for you. By that time, the offences will be even more ‘ancient history’ and almost all employers will think of them as ‘aberrations of a mis-spent youth’.

      If you have a degree already and definitely know that you want to be a teacher, why don’t you apply to do a PGCE at a university? These convictions will not be a bar to training as a teacher, though the university tutor may ask you about them and make a judgment about your personality and character at the interview, but if you are accepted you can then spend your training year proving what a brilliant teacher you are and convincing your tutors and employers these incidents are all in the past.

      Whatever you decide, don’t let it put you off. Good Luck.

  99. Hi, I got arrested 6months ago for being drunk in charge of a child under 7 and for saying a racist comment, I was a nursery assistant but once I told the manager what had happened she told me that they cannot renew my contract. Am I permanently barred from working with children?

    1. Hi K,

      You won’t be barred as such, but if you were convicted for this then you may find other employers unwilling to take you on, as it will appear on your DBS check every time you apply for a job.

      All I can suggest is you keep applying for jobs and see what happens, unless the DBS have told you that you are now “unsuitable” – that usually only applies to violence and sexual offences – you can still apply and try to put it behind you.

  100. I am thinking of training to become a teacher. I have a law degree. I also passed the Bar Voicational Course.

    The reason I am on here is that I was charged with a section 20 offence 16 years ago. I was fighting to defend myself from my attacker. However he had been involved many times with the police for ABH, GBH etc, and he reported me! Little did I know then that whoever reports it first there’s little the other can do!

    The first time it was kicked out of court for insufficient evidence after 18 months. 1 year later, rather amazingly, I was charged again for the same offence; as he had claimed duress from the police when making his first statement and therefore “new” evidence had come to light i.e. another statement.

    I was advised to accept guilt to GBH without intent. I was stunned. I had been attacked but here I was being told to accept guilt to try avoid prison. I refused. I elected trial by jury. This process took over another year. Counsel said I was likley looking at a 5 year sentence if found guilty.

    After the trail I was found not guilty by every jury member within 5 minutes!

    12 years later (4 years ago) my exp partner who I had just had a baby with called the police on three occasions about me. They automatically record a caller as a victim. She told social services she had to call the police on me. I wanted to take my daughter for a walk around the park. She called the police. During my court case for contact I had the 3 calls to the police transcribed. Which had her effing and jeffing at the police whilst I was calm and could be heard trying to calm her. It was interesting reading it out in the family court. I won my case in family court.

    I have never had a caution, conviction, reprimand, warning or any other offence (bar speeding but are currently clean) recorded. I have a had a standard DBS 2 years ago as I worked in a hopsital for a year as a porter. It came back as NONE RECORDED.

    What are my chances of entry? What would an enhanced DBS show that the Standard did not?

    Thanks in advance for a reply.

    1. Hi L,

      As regards the GBH offence I don’t think you have any reason to worry as you were found not guilty.

      The issues with your partner are more recent and because they involve a alleged violence with a young child would normally be of concern and recorded, but given you were neither convicted nor even cautioned, I would be astonished if they appeared even on an enhanced BDS check.

      I don’t think you should let either of these matters deter you from a career in teaching if that’s what you really want to do. Even if the issues with your partner appear on the DBS check, I would still explain the circumstances when you make a training and job application – as it appears you had no case to answer once it reached the Family Court. If that is true, then I don’t think you have anything to worry about.

      Good Luck.

  101. Hi
    Can you offer me some confidential advice please.
    I was suspended and had a disciplinary where I was accused of buying cigarettes and supplying them to underage students in a pru. I was found innocent of buying cigarettes but guilty of giving the cigarettes I didn’t buy to students to smoke
    I have been told by the head that she will report it to dbs.
    I’m worried about how this will affect my chances of teaching in the future as I’m not sure what will appear on my dbs.
    Any advice will be welcome

    1. Hi N,

      I’m not sure what will appear on your DBS either, if anything. You haven’t been cautioned or convicted of anything, so I’m not sure that the DBS will even accept a report from the headteacher, as all she/he has done is sack you for a disciplinary offence. It’s the job of the police to report criminal offences to the DBS, not headteachers.

      Having said that, let’s imagine it does get recorded at DBS. It may something like: “Dimissed for supplying cigarettes to children and young people” – I would imagine many employers wouldn’t think that was a capital offence if you have had a previously good record as a teacher and you are offering skills that they are in need of – like music, IT, maths or sciences. Were these kids under or over 16? – many employers will not dismiss your application if you have a good record.

      If it says something like: “Dismissed for supplying controlled substances to children and young people” – they will ask of course what were the circumstances and you will need to explain. That may be tricky.

      In either case, of course it lessens your chances of getting a job because people will think you are irresponsible around children and not take your application further.

      My personal view is that the DBS won’t record this, for the reasons I’ve already stated. But your problem now is that you obviously won’t get a good reference from that headteacher, and other employers will be wary of that and may dismiss your application for that reason.

      Overall, I wouldn’t say your teaching career was over, it’s just that you’ve made yourself a situation where you’ll find it an awful lot harder to progress. If was you, I would apply for other jobs very quickly and try to explain the lack of a reference in some other way. If you can get another job quickly, then I think you will stand a chance of putting this incident behind you – as long as you adopt a more responsible attitude to relationships with young people. Personally, I don’t think it will be recorded by the DBS.

      Good Luck.

  102. hey, I was wondering When I was 20 I got a prayer for judgment on simple affray, I also got arrested for other charges that were all dismissed, the reason being I was 7 months pregnant with my husbands baby he left me for a girl, I we had a two year old son, and he disappeared for a month then one day and when i got off work him and her had come to my babysitters and took our 2 year old son and refused to let me see him i called the cops and they told me they could not do anything to help me due to the fact that we were married, I texted the dad and called for four days straight and he refused to reply or answer so after a week the dad finally texted back said he would meet me that saturday and never showed, so of course me pregnant and freaking out went looking for him and found them. Come to find out he had went and took cyber stalking charges out on me and stalking charges not telling the magistrate i was looking and asking about our son that he just took without me knowing when I went to the courthouse amazingly they were standing in the parking lot. we all ended up getting into it and all the charges were dismissed except the simple affray charge which me and his girlfriend got a prayer for judgment because she refused to mediate or it would have been dismissed to. this is the only time i have ever been in trouble will this affect my teaching career?

    1. Hi Brittany,

      I’m afraid I don’t think I can be much help in answering your questions – mainly because I think you’re based in the US and I’m based in the UK and our systems are quite different, especially when it comes to the legal system.

      However, what I think is the most important point here is that it’s not what happens legally that usually affects a teaching career, it’s the attitude of schools boards and school principals as your employers. If you get convicted of even a minor offence, you won’t get barred from being a teacher, but a school can decide not to employ you and choose someone else – that’s usually the problem – one of the loss of reputation.

      What you describe doesn’t sound like it is very serious issue legally, so I just hope that schools will see you as a good teacher with a good character and give you the chance to work again. Good Luck.

  103. 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 Deedee,

      I’m sorry to hear your difficulty with your school and the Disclosure and Barring Service (formerly the CRB). Actually, they would not have instructed the school to dismiss you on the basis of the disclosure, as they will not offer advice, but the school may have taken the view themselves that six convictions for theft signals to them a long term issue over your suitability to be a teacher. Either that or the local authority has given them this advice.

      Many schools will not necessarily dismiss people for offences like this – as employers can make a decision of their own, especially if children are not at risk of direct harm from violence or sexual offences. However, I can only assume that after some consideration they decided that you may be unsuitable to be a volunteer. If the school will not reconsider their position, all I can suggest is that you start your teacher-training course (I assume you have declared this to the university) and make sure your record there is exemplary and that no repeat of theft or any other offences take place – and then by the time you graduate (in three years time?), there will be a much greater likelihood that you will find an employer who is willing to put your past behind you and give you a fresh start, especially if you have a good degree and reference from the university and your teaching practice schools.

      Good Luck.

  104. I’m applying to teach next year at a primary school, but am currently under investigation for fraud (it’s basically my word against there’s, very small amount of money the work place is claiming is missing). If it went further and police were involved, would this affect my chances of teaching?

    1. Hi Lilly,

      not unless you get convicted or accept a caution for this – in that case, it will appear on a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and the relatively recent appearance of it will give your prospective employers cause for concern. They may not (and probably would not) shortlist you.

      You say you are ‘applying to teach next year in a primary school’ – does that mean you are already a qualified teacher? or are you applying to train as a teacher?

      I assume from what you say, you are innocent of the allegations. If that is the case and you have not been convicted or cautioned for this, then you can honestly say on an application form or at an interview that you have not been cautioned or convicted – at least for this. Nobody would know about an allegation that doesn’t result in a caution or conviction.

      1. I’m applying to do my pgce next September, but would this affect me getting on the course? And subsequently getting a job afterwards?

        I haven’t taken anything and there’s no concrete evidence, but people tend to see what they want to see. I’ve never had any trouble with the police before.

      2. No. If you haven’t been cautioned or convicted it won’t affect getting on to a course or getting a job. An allegation is not a caution or conviction and you don’t have to declare that.

  105. Hi there, I was convicted of shoplifting when I was 21 (Long story short- I had taken washing powder and other essentials because I had no money) and it resulted in a fine and conditional discharge. I obviously haven’t done it since and have sorted my finances, but I’m now applying for PGCE’s and I’m concerned it will show up on my DBS, do you reckon it will be a problem?

    1. Hi Harriet,

      Sorry for the delay in replying, I’ve been away on holiday.

      It shouldn’t be a problem with most training providers, especially if you’re doing a PGCE at a university, who don’t seem to mind about offences like this – though some SCITT and School Direct providers are a bit more picky, even with minor offences.

      It will show up on your DBS, so make sure you come clean if asked to declare.

      If it was recent, then prepare to be VERY contrite and say that it happened during a period of severe poverty (or something like that) and that it was out of character.

      Good Luck.

  106. Hello! Back in December, I tried to move out of my ex girlfriend’s house and she was latching onto me and wouldn’t allow me to pack anything. One point she wrapped her arms around me fast and scratched me with her nail (those fake pointy ones, she is an air hostess so has to wear them). Well, i grabbed her wrists and pulled her off me – she had a mark on her wrist and said “if you leave, you’ll never teach again”.

    Needless to say, she wasn’t bluffing and I was arrested for suspicion of common assault. I spent a night in the cell as it was 11pm (procedure i think?) and had interviews in the morning, for which in the end, the officer said my story made sense and hers didn’t – police drove me home, i packed my things and left (and broke up thank goodness).

    So I just secured my first teaching job after PGCE and i found out enhanced DBS checks leave space for “any relevant information” where the officer, at his or her discretion, can put arrests.

    I’m incredibly worried now, that the college I got the job for, will receive a clear enhanced DBS, but will have a note at the bottom “arrest for suspicion of assault / common assault / domestic violence”. It probably is relevant as I would have thought anything violence related is relevant if working with children?

    If there’s any advice you can give me which would put me at ease and put this malicious allegation to rest in my mind, I would be greatly appreciated. Currently worried about just having a phone call saying I can’t attend anymore due to risk, without being given the chance to explain. Even if i did get to explain, it’s quite embarrassing…

    So to conclude, no cautions, no convictions, but a domestic violence arrest, fully acquitted of any wrongdoing straight away, no court, no bail, nothing. Likely overthinking this aren’t i 😦

    Thank you so much in advance! I’ve read a few of your replies on here and they’re very useful.

    – Michael

    1. Hi Michael,

      sorry about the delay in replying, I’ve just returned from holiday.

      I don’t think you have anything to worry about given that you have no caution or conviction and this was an allegation that the police decided not to take further. If the police have done their job properly, this will not appear on a DBS check.

      However, if I were you, I would go to your Head of Department and tell him or her what happened. Say that, while you have no cautions or convictions for anything at all, you would like to tell them of the situation that arose with an emotional ex-girlfriend who was trying to pressure you to stay in a relationship – just in case she makes a malicious allegation to the college at some point in the future. if she does, you have “got in first” with your side of the story and come clean with your employers.

      You don’t have to take this advice – as I say – you’re record is clear, but that’s what I would do if I was in your situation. It shows you have nothing to hide.

      Good Luck.

  107. Hello,

    I currently work in a school as a technician, so have my PVG licence, and I’m applying for a PGDE in primary education this year. However, about 18 years ago I was involved in a fight in a pub, basically hit someone who was harassing me and was charged with assault, where I received a fine of £150. Also, a few years later I was charged with driving a car while over the drink drive limit. I was driving my girlfriends car home after a couple of drinks and thought I was okay, but was breathalyzed and found to be slightly over legal limit to drive, so fined £250 and banned for a year. I also have a few breach of the peaces on my record from when I was young and stupid. And, also, a couple of years ago I was drunk at a friends house and was assaulted from behind (for no known reason) when walking back to get a taxi. The police turned up and took me to hospital where I received 5 staples in the back of my head, I stupidly swore at the nurses attending me because I was drunk and in a lot of pain when getting the staples in, so the police gave me a caution and a spot fine (I went to the hospital the next day to apologize to the nurse).

    Therefore, in light of my troubled past, I was wondering whether my application to the university would be rejected or not?


    1. Hi Connor,

      I think if you are applying to a university to train (as opposed to a school-based centre like a SCITT) then I don’t think you’ll have a problem getting a place – though it may depend on how many applicants and places they have on a particular year and which university you apply to to do an PGCE or PGDE. It’s a supply and demand situation after all and they want to take your £9,000.

      The real problem may come when you qualify and start applying for jobs – when your DBS check will reveal these to a potential employer. I must admit that as an ex-headteacher I would be wary of employing you – mainly because your offences seem to include threats or actual violence and a propensity to lose your temper. So I think many schools may not shortlist if they have a lot of applicants for the post you are applying for.

      But it’s not hopeless by any means. My advice is twofold:

      First, that you try to find some people (preferably pillars of the establishment like a priest, vicar, GP, local councillor or director of a company you’ve worked for) who will give you a character reference about what a wonderful guy you now are and how you have regretted your actions and are now a reformed and much matured character.

      Second, that you try to choose an area where there is a shortage of teachers and schools that have found it difficult to recruit. This will give you a stronger chance of making the shortlist. Once you get to interview, you can express in person the strength of your personality.

      Good Luck.

      1. Hi, thanks for your reply!

        I’ve got the principle teacher of technology at my current school and the rector to give me a reference, so hopefully that will look okay on my application? Also, do you think that having worked in a school for over 4 years with no issues whatsoever will help?


      2. Yes – get the school to give you a good reference and say that you have a spotless record for four years (plus the character references) and I don’t think you will have a lot to worry about. Good Luck.

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