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Overcoming my lack of confidence to get my dream job – working as a teaching assistant

One of the consequences of receiving a criminal record can be the impact it has on your self-confidence. Fiona’s story highlights how, until it was filtered, her caution impacted on her applying for her dream job.



Ever since I can remember I have loved teaching, forever holding pretend classes and showing my younger siblings how to do things.

At eighteen I went off to study history at college with the intention of becoming a history teacher. Whilst there I began a relationship with a fellow student without realising that he already had a girlfriend. On a night out, I saw this woman, got into a huge argument with her and, in the heat of the moment, threw a glass of wine at her back (just the liquid not the glass).

The police were called and I ended up with a caution. They told me that they had to caution me as the incident had been captured on CCTV. As I was young and didn’t understand the legalities behind it, I just accepted  it. I had never been in trouble before and was even too scared to tell my parents. If I knew then what I know now, I would have contested it, but I just wanted it to be done with so agreed with everything the police said.

As soon as I left the police station I felt like a criminal. The police said the caution would be on my record for the next five years. They had taken my fingerprints and photograph, I felt awful. When I went into shops and picked up items I had flash backs and felt uncomfortable in everyday life. The caution really affected me, totally knocking my confidence.

My dreams of becoming a teacher had been shattered as I felt that no school would take me on with a caution on my record. It had been recorded as battery even though I hadn’t made any physical contact with the girl, I’d just thrown a drink, I felt humiliated and ashamed, and it was so out of character.

With my confidence and dreams shattered I went on to work in various jobs doing a teaching assistant course at evening school.

Seven years after the caution, a job I’d dreamed of came up in a local school – a teaching assistant role. I applied for the job and got an interview. I contacted the local police for their advice on the caution as I didn’t want to disclose it unless it was necessary. Even though the police advised me that I didn’t have to disclose a caution after seven years, I was still unsure and didn’t want to do the wrong thing. I emailed Unlock and was delighted to learn that my caution would be filtered and wouldn’t show on my DBS certificate. Knowing I didn’t have to disclose it really gave me added confidence and I went to the interview determined to prove that I was the best person for the job.

I got the job and applied for my DBS check. Eight weeks later I received the certificate and to my horror saw that the DBS certificate not only had my name wrong, but showed my caution as a conviction. I couldn’t believe what I was reading, how could they have made this mistake? I felt sure I would lose my job as the school were waiting for the DBS certificate.

Again I went to the police station to try and resolve the situation, but nobody could help me, clearly they didn’t realise the impact this would have on my career or my life.

In tears, I telephoned Unlock again. They explained that I would have to appeal to the DBS and even sent me a link to the relevant DBS website page. I filled out the form and waited. Eventually the DBS confirmed that an error had been made, and they sent me a new certificate – absolutely clear which I passed onto the school.

I’m now working in my dream job and feel so relieved that I’ve been able to benefit from having my caution filtered. The caution really knocked my confidence, just thinking about disclosing it caused me loads of stress and upset and I probably wasted a lot of opportunities because of it.

By Fiona (name changed to protect identity)


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