QA

15th June 2007 at 01:00
Q I recently received a 12-month driving ban, plus a large fine, for being over the alcohol limit while driving home from a party. How is this likely to affect my career?

A As you now have a criminal conviction and, assuming you gave your profession as a teacher when asked by the police, it will be reported to the appropriate authorities.

You will have to include details of the conviction on any application you make as a teacher for the rest of your career, unless there is a change in the law.

It is also likely the General Teaching Council (GTC) will consider the conviction as unacceptable professional conduct if it is referred by the DfES or even by a member of the public. The council would then hold a hearing under its regulatory rules.

I have looked through the digest of cases published on its website and, in two recent cases, teachers who had convictions for drink-driving and a related failure to provide a specimen were "reprimanded" for a period of two years.

Those where this type of conviction was associated with other matters were generally dealt with much more seriously, by either prohibition orders or suspension from the profession for a period of time.

Reading through the digest of cases, there are also examples of teachers who have failed to disclose criminal convictions on their application forms.

These can include convictions over a quarter of a century old. Generally, such behaviour is dealt with most severely and can lead to loss of registration as a teacher.

However, as there is no prohibition on the use of the term "teacher" as there is with other professional titles, they can still describe themselves as a teacher to the general public. This seems a curious lacuna in the legislation.

Generally, it seems teachers are a law- abiding lot, with only a fraction of 1per cent being disciplined by the GTC each year for any sort of regulatory matter. As a result, most of those teachers disciplined can expect to face a degree of publicity.

As to how it will affect your career, any regulatory action by the council is likely to make it much more difficult for you to find a teaching post because governors and heads may well shy away from someone with a disciplinary record

John Howson is a recruitment analyst and visiting professor of education at Oxford Brookes University. To ask him a question, email him at askjohnhowson@tes.co.uk

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