Skip to main content

Our mission is to support & advocate for people with criminal records to be able to move on positively in their lives. Find out more

Information: Becoming a teacher

Aim of this page

For entry to all professional and Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) courses in England and Wales there are both academic and non-academic requirements which need to be met.

The focus of this information is in becoming a teacher in a primary or secondary school with a criminal record.

Why is this important?

When deciding which career path to follow or what college/university course to study for, it’s important to establish what, if any barriers you could potentially come up against.

For anybody thinking about becoming a teacher, it’s more than likely that you’ll need to have an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service check which may disclose the details of previous cautions/convictions.

Depending on the nature of your offence, you may be disqualified from being a teacher.

Disclosing your criminal record to a university

Before you can start a teacher training course, you’ll be asked to disclose details of both spent and unspent cautions and convictions unless they’re eligible for filtering.

UCAS include a question about criminal records on their application form although admission to a training course will be at the discretion of the relevant institution.

As part of their application process universities will often ask you to attend a Panel Hearing to consider your cautions/convictions and determine whether:

  1. Based on the evidence provided, it is judged that you pose an unacceptable risk to the university.
  2. You are able to meet the particular professional or statutory requirements that exist for some courses.

You will need to undergo an enhanced criminal record check and you will usually be asked to provide a signed statement confirming that you’re not disqualified from working with children.

Disqualification under the Childcare Act 2006

Under the Childcare Act 2006 and the 2018 Regulations you may find that you would be disqualified from teaching if you meet certain criteria. These include:

  • Being included on the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Children’s Barred List
  • Being convicted of certain violent and sexual offences against children and adults which are referred to in regulation 4 and Schedules 2 and 3 of the 2018 Regulations
  • Being convicted of an offence overseas, which would constitute an offence regarding disqualification under the 2018 Regulations if it had been done in any part of the United Kingdom.

Your enhanced DBS certificate will usually help you to determine whether your offence would fall under one of the above relevant offences.

Schools are unable to employ anyone who is disqualified under the 2018 Regulations. However, unless you’re on the Children’s Barred List, you can apply for a waiver from Ofsted which, if granted, will allow you to work in a school.

How do schools deal with teachers who have a criminal record?

If you have a criminal record that needs to be disclosed, it will not automatically prevent you from becoming a teacher.

Offences which would be considered to be most concerning would include:

  • Sexual offences
  • Crimes of violence
  • Crimes of dishonesty including fraud or embezzlement
  • Offences relating to possession or supply of illegal drugs
  • Any offences against children or which raised concern with regard to child protection.

When considering a person’s suitability to become or remain a teacher schools will review:

  • The length of time which has passed since the offence without any further convictions
  • The seriousness of the offence and whether it may be relevant to a person’s position as a teacher
  • Whether it would be proportionate to remove a person from the profession or prevent them joining the profession on the basis of the offence committed
  • Were any children directly involved either as victims or in terms of being put at risk?
  • The explanation provided by the teacher or applicant

Misconduct guidelines for teachers

In early 2014, changes were made to the National College for Teaching and Leadership (now referred to as the Teaching Regulation Agency) document for “Teacher Misconduct: The Prohibition of Teachers”.

The advice sets out the factors to be considered by a professional misconduct hearing panel and sets out that any criminal conviction involving indecent images of children will lead to somebody being banned from teaching.

For more information and further advice please see these guidelines.

Personal experiences

The personal story below has been posted on theRecord, our online magazine.

From a difficult start in life, dropping out of school and receiving a criminal record, Juliet went on to follow her dream of becoming a teacher. Read her story – Harnessing my anger to help myself and others – Becoming a teacher with a criminal record

Discuss this with others

Read and share your experiences on our online forum.

Key sections include:

Useful links

Below you will find links to useful websites relating to this page. More specific details (including addresses and telephone numbers) of some of the organisations listed below can be found here.

  • UCAS – The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service is a UK-based organisation whose main role is to operate the application process for British universities.
  • Teaching Regulation Agency – The TRA has responsibility for the regulation of the teaching profession, including misconduct hearings and the maintenance of the database of qualified teachers.
  • Ofsted – The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills inspect and regulate services that care for children and young people. They are also responsible for the granting of waivers to teachers disqualified from teaching.

More information

  1. For practical information – More information on applying to university and Childcare Disqualification Requirements – Primary school teachers, nursery staff and others
  2. To read personal stories – You can read stories about this posted on theRecord, our online magazine
  3. To discuss this issue with others – Read and share you experiences on our online forum
  4. Questions – If you have any questions about this, you can contact our helpline.

Get involved

Help us to add value to this information. You can:

  1. Comment on this page below
  2. Send your feedback directly to us
  3. Discuss your views and experiences with others on our online forum
  4. Share your personal story by contributing to our online magazine, theRecord.




Add Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Photo of Head of Advice, Debbie Sadler
Debbie Sadler
Head of Advice

Do you need help & support with an issue you’re facing?

We provide support and advice for people in England and Wales who need guidance with either their own, or someone else’s, criminal record.

Please use the search box to start typing your issue. If you cannot find an answer to your problem then you’ll be given options to contact us directly.

Find out more about the helpline

We want to make sure that our website is as helpful as possible.

Letting us know if you easily found what you were looking for or not enables us to continue to improve our service for you and others.

Was it easy to find what you were looking for?

Thank you for your feedback.

12 million people have criminal records in the UK. We need your help to help them.

Help support us now