Within the UK, the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checking process is used for pre-employment checks. However, services and policies for overseas checking are not provided by the DBS and teacher status checks from the EEA are no longer available from the Teacher Services portal.
Therefore, employers will now need to obtain proof of an individual’s past conduct as a teacher in addition to a criminal record check from the country (or countries) a teacher has lived or worked in.
For teachers who have worked or trained overseas, schools should request a Letter of Professional Standing from the professional regulating authority in the relevant country.
The DfE ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ states that:
172. Individuals who have lived or worked outside the UK must undergo the same checks as all other staff in schools or colleges (set out in paragraphs 154 and 160). This includes obtaining (via the applicant) an enhanced DBS certificate (including barred list information, for those who will be engaging in regulated activity) even if the individual has never been to the UK. In addition, schools and colleges must make any further checks they think appropriate so that any relevant events that occurred outside the UK can be considered.
Schools should ensure that further appropriate pre-employment checks are carried out on individuals who have lived or worked outside of the UK, in order to establish sufficiently the person’s suitability to be appointed.
The NSPCC recommends that someone who has been resident overseas for three months or more over the past five years should have a criminal record check in that country. Therefore, it is advised that schools carry out an overseas criminal records check on all staff, volunteers and governors who, during the preceding five years from their anticipated start date, have lived, worked, or been on holiday outside of the UK for three months or more continuously, in any one country. In addition, schools should consider what overseas checks should be carried out retrospectively on existing members of staff, if those checks were not carried out when the employee was first appointed. In some circumstances, schools are also advised to consider whether it would be appropriate to check the preceding 10 years for individuals, for instance if the school is a special needs school.
Where the preceding five years cover a period of time before the individual’s 16th birthday, a check does not need to be sought for that particular time period.
How to obtain an overseas criminal records check
This should be obtained from the relevant country. Advice published by the Home Office and details of how to obtain an overseas criminal record check can be accessed here.
It is the responsibility of the applicant to:
- Obtain and pay for the official statement from the police or judicial authorities, government departments or their Home Embassy in the relevant country or countries.
- Provide a translation of the documentation, if required, and pay for any costs incurred in relation to the translations.
Certificates and other original documents obtained remain the property of the individual, but they should be copied by the school and retained on the individual’s personnel file. Details of an overseas check should also be entered on the school’s single central record.
Certificate of good character
The process is easier if the individual applies themselves before leaving the country. If the applicant presents it to the school, it should have been issued no longer than six months before the date the applicant left the country and the school should check its authenticity by contacting the issuing agency. The UK National Information Centre for the recognition and evaluation of international qualifications and skills (UK ENIC) can advise on how to check international qualifications and skills.
The case of William Vahey (2016)
Although the serious case review into Southbank International School dates back to 2016, it is a reminder to schools how important it is to always carry out the necessary safeguarding checks. You can find the serious case review here.