Can I omit, on an application, a period spent teaching abroad?

14th August 2013 at 01:00

Can I omit, on an application, a period spent teaching abroad?



A poster asked me: I have not always made the right decisions in life.  I started a job last January in an international school in a country where I hated every minute, and so at the end of term they thought I was coming back to see my family for Easter, but actually I packed everything up and came home for good. I have applied for several jobs, but have not been shortlisted, and I think it’s the short period in that school that is putting schools off. Can I put on application forms that I spent the last 3 months travelling?


Of course you can! You can put anything you like on an application form, you can even put that you were writing advice for TES under the pseudonym of Theo Griff! The problem will come at the end of the form when you sign it, thereby signalling that it is truthful, accurate and honest, or when you actually send it off, by post or e-mail, thereby signalling the same.


You are probably correct that a one term in a school does not inspire confidence when a school receives your application form. Especially if, as I guess is the case, you do not give the Head of that school as a referee. But omitting it from your application is definitely not the solution.


Falsifying an application form for a job, giving information that you know to be untrue or misleading, even just leaving off something such as a short period in one employment, is a pretty serious thing to do. Fraud by False Representation comes under the Fraud Act of 2006.


What this means in practice is that when you gain a pecuniary advantage, i.e. your salary, by untrue or misleading statements on an application, you can risk criminal proceedings.  As well as being dismissed without notice. A couple of years ago I seem to remember, someone, possibly a teacher, was sentence to prison for falsifying an application form to get a job.


So, always be honest in an application:


The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth! 


Your wrong decision may have been to go abroad, but an even worse one was to just walk out of the job.  


You are now in a very tricky position for getting employment in a school back in the UK, as schools require a reference from your current or most recent employer in a post involving contact with children or young people.  Which in your case is the English School of Timbuktu or wherever it was.  And that reference will not be favourable – you can imagine what they will say about your honesty, trustworthiness, etc. You are between a rock and a hard place here, because if you don’t give the Head at the school in Timbuktu, your application will not be considered, and if you do, the reference will drown you anyway.


Who should be my referees?


 My advice is to get some supply work if possible, so that you can build up your reputation and get new references in the UK to have on applications for a permanent post. The supply agency will want an honest work history, and references, and you will have to say that you were in that school abroad.


Hopefully the agency will be happy to take references from schools in the UK as having greater credibility, and probably faster to obtain, so although you will have to give the Head from Timbuktu, you can give it as a third reference, crossing your fingers that they will choose the other two.


And next time, think before you jump.  Both jumping in and jumping out.


Best wishes