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Teachers must not undermine British values, but are British values undermining teachers?

A qualified teacher who was accused, stood trial and acquitted of rape has recently lost his Supreme Court appeal to have reference to the case removed from his Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) records.


He claimed that reference to the case made in employers’ enhanced CRB checks ‘infringed his right to a private life’ and would ‘stigmatise’ him, resulting in loss of employment.


The Supreme Court said reference to the case was ‘reasonable and proportionate in the context of the job applications’ – presumably meaning in relation to his role working with children and young people.


This seems to me to go against some of the oldest of the so-called ‘British values’ and ones for which this country is internationally famous for having founded, namely: the presumption of innocence and the right to walk free from a court without a stain on one’s character having been found ‘not guilty’ by a jury of one’s peers.


Apparently, that’s not now the case if you’re a teacher.


Teachers, as part of their professional code of conduct and practice, the Teachers’ Standards, ‘must not undermine ‘fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, mutual respect, individual liberty and tolerance for those with different faiths and beliefs’. Indeed, schools must go further and actively promote fundamental British values to children through the National Curriculum.


Yet it appears that at least one of those so-called fundamental British values – the rule of law - does not fully apply to teachers who have been acquitted of a serious charge.


Teachers are already exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 - which means that however minor the caution or conviction they may have received, perhaps years ago, must always declare it to an employer.


While most other jobs and professions can look forward to having cautions and convictions ‘spent’ after an appropriate period of time, teachers (and others like doctors, nurses, lawyers etc.) always have to declare them and have them recorded on their CRB.


Now it seems, depending on the seriousness of the case, teachers will also have accusations, charges and even acquittals recorded too.


Are these ‘fundamental British values’?


I think not. What do you think?


Alan Newland worked as a teacher, teacher-trainer and headteacher in London for over 20 years and then for a decade with the DfE and the GTC. He now lectures on teaching and runs the award-winning social media network newteacherstalk.  You can follow him on Twitter at @newteacherstalk. 


You may be interested in his course in ‘The Foundations of Professionalism in Teaching’ – a 3-module course with over 4.5 hours of HD quality video presentations, additional course reading and materials, self assessment exercises and completion certificates.