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Your career and pay questions answered

Q. When I was a young teenager I was cautioned for shoplifting with a friend. I am now 22 and through teacher training have had clearance from the Criminal Records Bureau. Does this mean that the caution has gone from my record? I'm worried as I am starting to look for teaching posts and don't want to put it on my form. I haven't mentioned it in the past with other jobs and nothing has ever come back to me.

A. Failure to disclose a conviction, including a caution, could be a criminal offence in certain circumstances. However, now that the CRB has been established your employer will be required to check with it when you apply for a teaching post. If anything is known it will be divulged and should be shown to you. The CRB website ( says that under the Data Protection Act 1998, individuals are entitled to apply for access to information held on them.

It may be that the caution was never recorded officially. I believe that cautions, reprimands and final warnings issued to people under 16 should be regarded as spent convictions in every case where there has been no further offending after the age of 16. But, until you can clear up whether the caution was ever officially recorded against your name, you will need to declare it.

Q. I completed a PGCE in secondary science in 1998, but haven't taught since.

How would I get back into teaching, and would I have to do a top-up course? If so, are there any I can complete whilst working full-time?

A. It looks as if you successfully completed a PGCE but never entered teaching. This means that you won't have done your induction year. You are unlikely to find a tailor-made top-up course, but you could ask the Teacher Training Agency for details of any courses in your area. As to what you will need, it is probably a good idea to revisit skills such as classroom management. It is difficult to see how you can combine such a course with a full-time job, unless you can take the occasional day's leave as flexitime.

An alternative strategy would be to ask a school to devise a short training plan for you under the employment-based training programme.

This should return you to NQT status relatively quickly. However, you would have to give up your current full-time job.

John Howson is visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University and managing director of Education Data Surveys. Send your career questions to him at

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