Keeping Children Safe in Education (2018) says, ‘schools and colleges must make any further checks [beyond the usual UK checks] they think appropriate so that any relevant events that occurred outside the UK can be considered’ (paragraph 150).
There is no statutory definition of when overseas checks should be obtained; this is because overseas checks are not possible in every country in the world. For maintained schools, the local authority will have a policy on when to obtain an overseas check; academies, free schools, and independent schools should have their own policy. Typical examples include: anyone who has spent more than 3 months in another country in the last five years; six months overseas in the last 10 years; or anyone who has spent time overseas since the age of 18.
Since April 2017, anyone applying for a visa to teach in the UK (from outside the EEA*) who has spent 12 months or more overseas in the last ten years must submit a police check from those countries. Therefore anyone starting at a school since 2017 should already have a police check to show.
The Home Office Guidance on the application process for criminal records checks overseas, says, “If you are applying for entry clearance [to teach in school], you must provide a criminal record certificate for any country where you have lived for 12 months or more (whether continuous or in total), in the 10 years prior to your application, while aged 18 or over.”
For teachers who have taught in an EEA country, the overseas check should include any teacher sanction or restriction that an EEA professional regulating authority has imposed. This information can be found using the Teacher Regulation Agency employer's portal.
Further information on obtaining overseas criminal checks in the different country can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/criminal-records-checks-for-overseas-applicants
Incidentally, this website can be used to verify oversea's driving licences and passports: https://www.consilium.europa.eu/prado/en/prado-start-page.html
* EEA countries are all countries in the European Union, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway
If there are missing overseas checks
The school should have a clear policy of who is covered by overseas checks, so the next step would be to list all those staff who have lived abroad for the period of time referred to in the school’s policy.
Each of the identified staff members should then be ‘risk-assessed’. The risk assessment will give a status of high-risk, medium-risk or low-risk.
I would identify risk, and further actions, as below:
High-risk staff will be those appointed in the last five years, and have never previously lived in England. This means that there is no information on their potential criminal history. A DBS check on a person who has never lived in England is irrelevant. An overseas check should be obtained as a matter of urgency.
Medium-risk people would be those who were last overseas (for longer than three months) more than five years ago, had lived in the UK for at least five years and had had a DBS check within the last year. An overseas check would help complete the relevant checks and could be done.
Low-risk staff would be someone who had lived in the UK for more than ten years, and a DBS check has been completed within the last five years. An overseas check would be difficult to obtain, and may not be useful.
All teachers who have taught in an EEA country should be checked against the EEA sanctions list.
Where there are missing overseas checks, the school risks not being compliant with statutory guidance and this may be reflected in an inspection judgement.