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Excuse me posting in here but wantning a teacher/Headteacher/TA opinion...

(11 Posts)
dylansmummy2013 Thu 16-May-13 11:46:13

Hi, please also excuse the non-descriptive thread title smile

I wanted to get some opinions from those working in education if possible, and thought posting this in here might aid that.

I've always wanted to work with children; my school work experience was in a nursery which I enjoyed, but after leaving school early not taking my GCSE's (due to a house move; my potential new school wanted me to retake the entire final year, despite my only being 'between schools' for 7 days) and then going straight into work, I kind of gave up on the idea until my eldest boy started school in 2011.
He is currently being assessed for autism, and after seeing the way a good teacher/school and the right support has totally transformed him, it's made me realise that I would love to become a Teaching Assistant.

Trouble is, I got into some difficulties a few years ago; I became involved with a violent man (also the father of my three children) and to cut to the chase, after he dragged me out of bed at 3am and threw me outside in my underwear whilst 6 months pregnant with our eldest child, I stupidly kicked at the door repeatedly to get his attention, ended up damaging the cat flap and part of the door around it and ended up with a suspended sentence (18 months) for criminal damage sad I also have a caution for the same, which was from a week prior when I threw his phone (as he tried to grab my throat...long story).
This conviction was May 2007 and I hoped it wouldn't affect me as I haven't had any trouble with the police since then...however a couple of months ago my child's school was asking for parents to help out within the attached nursery, also a couple of weeks later a lunchtime supervisor post was advertised - I applied for both of these, took my CRB certificate into school but hadn't disclosed the conviction - simply because I just handed the form into the office to be photocopied, and didn't think - and a couple of weeks later got a letter from the Governers, saying that due to the disclosure on my CRB, it wouldn't be appropriate for me to work in school (but I can carry on going into school as part of the PTFA).

I've since emailed the Headteacher twice - once just after I got this letter (about 6 weeks ago now) and again yesterday - just explaining the possibly mitigating circumstances surrounding the conviction, and asking that the decision be reconsidered.

I haven't received a reply, and as the Headteacher is usually outside the school gates most mornings and hasn't spoken to me about this issue, I'm guessing the Head is favouring the 'head in the sand' approach, which makes me very sad as it is such a lovely school with a great ethos, and I'd have loved to have had the opportunity to work there, I feel I'd get so much out of it and hopefully add to it as well.

Sorry this is very long...what I'm asking, is what do I do now?

Should I just leave it and accept I have no chance of ever working or volunteering in this school (I have applied to others and no one has any volunteer ops at the moment), speak to the Headteacher in person (book a meeting possibly? But I'm wary of doing this as this issue isn't related to my children's education), write a letter to the Governers explaining things...or something else?

Any advice would be very much appreciated, thanks.

lisaro Thu 16-May-13 11:54:19

As there's two incidents it's highly unlikely you would ever get to work in that capacity, even with explanations. I'm not a teacher but was a governor in the past.

CredulousThicko Thu 16-May-13 11:59:55

The trouble is that school/term-time only jobs are like gold dust so schools can pick and choose, so it's going to be easier for them to choose someone with no previous convictions.

Also, I believe that working in schools requires a clean crb check as standard, regardless of what the individual headteacher thinks (correct me if i've got that wrong)

I work in education by the way.

dylansmummy2013 Thu 16-May-13 12:18:32

Thanks for clarifying those points smile

I was just going on what the course leader at the college told me (I was enrolled on a supporting teaching and learning course, but didn't start after this school turned me down) - she said she was shocked the school had taken that view, and that most others wouldn't.

dylansmummy2013 Thu 16-May-13 12:19:15

Oh and also I was more talking about the volunteer work to start with, or even a lunchtime supervisor (because at the moment any work is better than nothing).

30ish Thu 16-May-13 12:29:14

Sorry, but no matter how much voluntary work you do it will not change the information required for a CRB. At my school, we crb and list 9 check all volunteers - even for a school trip.

dylansmummy2013 Thu 16-May-13 12:34:15

No I know that smile

It's just I know of teachers who have had a conviction on their CRB and still been employed.

A quick google search also brings up a few news stories of teachers that have ended up being sacked after parents found out about their conviction...despite them having been employed (and the Head knowing about their conviction) previously.

So presumably there isn't a one-size-fits-all policy when it comes to people with previous convictions working in schools?

dylansmummy2013 Thu 16-May-13 13:02:43

By the way, just checked my CRB again and it was a conditional discharge I got, not a suspended sentence - not sure if that makes a difference to the seriousness of it or not smile

Mutley77 Thu 16-May-13 13:48:25

You are right that it is discretionary on the employer's part as to whether they take you on as an employee or not with a disclosure on your CRB.

I am just musing on the risks/ mitigating issues (see below) so you can have an idea where the school might be coming from. It would be good practice if they could speak to you and explain their reasoning - perhaps you could ring and arrange a meeting with the head - the school gate wouldn't be the place to discuss it.

Criminal damage is obviously not a definite no in the way that an offence against a child would be - and it is good that your offences don't involve violence towards a person as that would be another red flag.

However the severity of the offence to receive a conditional discharge must have been pretty high (and obviously the extenuating circumstances weren't considered enough to mitigate this) and the offences are fairly recent - if they were in your late teens and you were now in your 30s/40s that would potentially be a different story.

dylansmummy2013 Fri 17-May-13 11:49:32

Thank you Mutley77.

I can completely understand that 'criminal damage' conjures up images of an aggressive person wilfully damaging another person's property - and that sort of person would certainly not be a good role model or someone to have working within a school.

This is what the CPS website says about a conditional discharge:

*1.Discharge – this is when the court decides that given the character of the offender and the nature of the crime, punishment would not be appropriate. There are two types of discharge: 1.Absolute discharge - no further action is taken, since either the offence was very minor, or the court considers that the experience has been enough of a deterrent. The offender will receive a criminal record.
2.Conditional discharge - the offender is released and the offence registered on their criminal record. No further action is taken unless they commit a further offence within a time decided by the court (no more than three years).*

The solicitor I had at the time said that because I had admitted my guilt, they HAD to give some sort of punishment and an absolute discharge would not have been appropriate because I did cause damage to the bottom panel of the door surrounding the cat flap, and the flap itself (around £60 cost they estimated), so really the CD was the lowest they could give me.

What annoys me is I've seen the Headteacher a couple of times since I sent the last email , and the Head hasn't spoken to me; in fact the Headteacher has actually walked away when they saw me approaching, so I worry that booking a meeting might just make things worse.

Is it possible to write directly to the Chair of Governors, since the rejection letter came from them? Or would that just be antagonistic and bad practise?

dylansmummy2013 Fri 17-May-13 11:52:47

Sorry I forgot to say; I also don't understand why I have been allowed to continue my PTFA work, but not work or volunteer in school.

In the lead up to an event last year, the PTFA members (including myself) were spread around the school doing bits of work, on our own. I was sitting in the room next to the staffroom and children were in and out - not meant to be, but they were. The children are always wandering the corridors during class time too - and now we've been told to work in pairs, this is still I think the same level of contact with the pupils as I would have if I were a lunchtime supervisor, or a parent helper in nursery...or a volunteer - none of those are roles where you're left alone with the children, so I don't see the difference personally?

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