Over 50 convicts apply to be teachers

Violent thugs, benefit cheats, thieves, dangerous drivers and arsonists have all applied for teaching jobs across the borough since January 2012
Violent thugs, benefit cheats, thieves, dangerous drivers and arsonists have all applied for teaching jobs across the borough since January 2012

More than 50 convicts have applied for teaching positions in St Helens in the last three years.

Violent thugs, benefit cheats, thieves, dangerous drivers and arsonists have all applied for teaching jobs across the borough since January 2012.

One convicted thief applied to be a deputy headteacher.

Two other prospective deputy headteachers had convictions for possession of cocaine and drink driving on their records.

In total, 52 St Helens teaching applicants were found to have 105 criminal convictions between them by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) between January 8, 2012, and January 7 this year.

The DBS provides background checks on adults who apply to work in sensitive roles.

One applicant tried to gain work as a teaching assistant despite having convictions for theft and wilfully assaulting a child aged under 16.

Another would-be teaching assistant had a conviction for assaulting a police constable.

Among the applicants vetted by the DBS for full teaching positions were people convicted of drink driving, affray, deception, theft and driving while disqualified.

One aspiring teacher had 12 convictions for possessing fake goods for sale or hire, while another had seven convictions for producing false documentation.

Others, who applied to be teaching assistants, had convictions including battery, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and shoplifting.

One even had a conviction for arson on their record.

Another, a prospective trainee teacher, had no less than six shoplifting convictions.

A spokeswoman for the DBS was unable to confirm whether any of the applicants were subsequently employed.

But she said: “The protection of children and vulnerable groups is of paramount importance and DBS checks are an important tool for informing employment decisions. Nonetheless, it is important that employers do not just rely on checks by the DBS to make their recruitment decisions.”

A spokesman for St Helens Council said: “If an individual is successful in their application for a post requiring disclosure, they are required to authorise the council to apply for disclosure of information from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

“The DBS is a central government agency which provides information on criminal records, and people banned from regulated activity with vulnerable groups, including children.

“In accordance with the DBS code of practice, past convictions will not necessarily bar an individual from obtaining a position with the council. Consideration will be given to the nature and seriousness of the offence, the length of time since the offence occurred, the applicant’s circumstances and its relevance to the post applied for.”