With protests from Extinction Rebellion (XR) being in the news, I wondered what would be the impact on the professional careers of the teachers who decide to take part? 

Especially those teachers who are arrested and receive a criminal record.

Will teachers:

  • Encounter difficulties in securing future employment because criminal convictions would be flagged on Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks?
  • Face disciplinary procedures for bringing their school potentially into ‘disrepute’?
  • Launch appeals against schools/Trust or Local Authorities who refuse to employ them?
  • Have to find a way to practically attend court dates during term-term and negotiate appropriate leave with their schools?

It can be a legal minefield and the answers are not always black and white when analysing information on the XR website, GOV.UK and legal advice from criminal lawyers. There are many variables involved depending on the type, severity and number of convictions of the individual.

This blog post looks at the practicalities facing teachers who receive convictions from XR protests, rather than the pros or cons of the XR movement. It doesn’t answer all the caveats which could be involved and I would recommend seeking independent legal/HR support if facing these issues individually.   

XR has a range of legal information on its website to support people prior, during and after arrest.

It explains:

“Expect convictions and cautions to show up on your DBS check. Arrests or charges may show up on Enhanced DBS checks, at the police’s discretion. Your potential employer may ask you to explain what shows up, but having convictions etc doesn’t automatically mean you can’t get the job and won’t necessarily count against you.” 

It goes on to say:

“It is important to start thinking about how a criminal record will affect you individually at an early stage.”

“However, just because you have a criminal record doesn’t necessarily mean that this record will stop you from getting a job, especially if you are given the chance to explain the circumstances of your arrest to your employer.”

What are schools required to do?

Unlock is a charity that provides support for people with convictions who are facing obstacles because of their criminal record. It explains that teachers will need to complete an Enhanced DBS check before working in a school.

Essentially it involves a check of the police national computer records of spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings, plus any additional information held by the police that a chief police officer believes should be disclosed.

Even if your DBS check has offences on it doesn’t necessarily mean that a future school will not be able to hire you. Schools are only prevented from hiring if:

Apart from these circumstances, it’s up to schools to decide to hire someone based on the details of their criminal record.

Teachers who have a criminal conviction from an XR protest will likely be involved with a ‘disclosure discussion’ with their school. Essentially it is a conversation to understand the context of the criminal record, and any circumstances surrounding their offences.

In an article on Vice, Tim Crosland, a lawyer who is part of XR’s legal strategy team, says it is impossible to tell how someone will react when you disclose a conviction, but a Public Order Act breach is not always viewed with the same degree of unease as some other convictions.

He says it’s a fundamentally different situation from having a previous conviction for dishonesty, where a lot of employers – if they find out – are going to be pretty cautious.

Unlocked has also published information on if schools should ask applicants to self-disclose criminal records.

It is up to schools to make the decision to hire

It seems that the majority of Extinction Rebellion convictions would not automatically rule out teachers in securing future employment in teaching. Schools would have to assess a teacher’s specific convictions and seek the relevant advice from HR and legal specialists before making a final decision.

Teachers will have to weigh up the risks involved in protesting and also the impact a criminal record could have for applications for mortgages, insurance and holidaying abroad in certain countries.

Additional advice and support

If you are an Edapt subscriber who has received a conviction you can contact us for advice and support.

We have produced support articles on:

For further specific advice we would recommend contacting Unlocked for more information.

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