New requirement for international school teacher background checks

Council of British International Schools will look for evidence that member schools are requesting checks

Adi Bloom

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British schools around the world will be expected to make use of a system that provides comprehensive background checks of UK teachers working overseas.

The Council of British International Schools (Cobis) has said that it will expect all its member schools – covering 75 countries – to use the International Child Protection Certificate (ICPC) to vet its British employees. 

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Today, Cobis has announced a three-year partnership with Acro Criminal Records Office, the organisation that provides the ICPC.

“We’re promoting it to all our schools,” said Colin Bell, CEO of Cobis. “We’ll be looking for evidence that schools are doing ICPC checks during our accreditation visits.

“We’re all about not letting those who are unsuitable for working with children slip through the net.”

It was recently announced that British international schools could no longer request the Home Office Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks for teachers they wanted to recruit. 

Most Cobis schools previously used DBS checks to vet teachers. Since the announcement, many of these schools have been instead relying on police checks, as well as both written and verbal references. And Cobis ran a prohibition check on their behalf, revealing teachers who had been barred from the profession, failed their induction or probation, or received official sanctions.

But the ICPC provides the equivalent of an enhanced DBS check, offering intelligence from a range of sources.

Tom Mason, senior manager at Acro, said that these intelligence checks can offer information such as whether a teacher has been investigated by the police, either nationally or – to a lesser extent – internationally. 

“Like anything, nothing’s ever 100 per cent,” Mr Mason said. “But we’re checking a wide range of intelligence databases.”

Cobis will now act as a global ambassador for ICPC, and hopes to raise the profile of the check both in its own schools and in other international schools. 

“We’re totally committed to safeguarding,” Mr Bell said. “We recognise that there are those who wish to do youngsters harm, through an education system, whether at home or overseas. 

“We want to help make schools safer places overseas.”



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Adi Bloom

Adi Bloom is Tes comment editor

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