The ability to work as a teacher in different countries continues to be a very attractive choice for many qualified professionals in the sector. Since the financial crash of 2008, reliance on home-grown jobs in education is no longer seen as the sensible choice it once was. Those who feel teaching is their vocation are now much more amenable to working abroad, in an ever-widening range of subjects. The current Covid pandemic is a reminder to young professionals that flexibility is more important than ever, and demand for teaching jobs abroad is sure to grow in the short and medium terms.

As the UK has one of the best free education systems in the world, British teachers are always in high demand; and as English continues its spread of influence, this is a trend that is also very likely to continue. For these reasons, newly qualified teaching professionals would be very wise to keep their foreign travel and residency options open.

Background checks for teachers

With this high demand for well-qualified, British teachers around the world, the profession could be said to be a sellers’ market. In many criteria, teaching professionals from the UK have a head start over those from other countries. This situation is well established, which has almost inevitably led to dishonest people applying for teaching jobs, sometimes with serious consequences. As teaching inevitably means working with young people, foreign employers are understandably wary about who comes to their countries to teach.

Most developed countries have their own internal vetting systems for carrying out background checks on anyone applying to work with children and young people. As there is no international database of such professionals, however, nations with a demand for foreign teachers need to rely on other security systems. As a net exporter of teaching professionals, the UK in turn is helped by reliable security checks for its foreign educational workers.

The ACRO service

Against this background, ACRO is an invaluable service for British teachers wanting to work abroad. An acronym of the Criminal Records Office, ACRO serves as the accreditation service for UK nationals taking their services out of the country. Self described as being the “international” arm of the British police service, ACRO accreditation carries a lot of weight in hundreds of countries around the world.

Criminal records checks do not come in a one size fits all package. Every nation state has its own legal code, and consequently requires different checks for foreign workers. This can mean, for example, that an employer from a particular country does not ask the same questions as to its neighbour, or indeed what would be asked in the UK. Alternatively, cultural and other factors may throw up checks which can seem irrelevant, or even intrusive, to British citizens.

The purpose of ACRO is to provide a high standard of criminal checks which give subscribing countries a solid basis from which to start vetting candidates. In the teaching profession, this is extremely valuable.

Brexit and Teaching in the EU

For British teachers wanting to work abroad, the last five years have had some long-lasting consequences. In a profession where proving one’s character has always been of the utmost importance, once in a generation changes have intervened to make this situation even more urgent. A new generation of teachers will be facing challenges unknown to that of their parents or even grandparents, and having credentials good enough to take into another country will carry more value now as a consequence.

In particular, Brexit has removed the blanket of trust provided by the European Union. Whereas any qualified British teacher was automatically allowed to work in any EU country, that situation is now a thing of the past. Anyone wanting to live and work in the bloc who comes from the UK now has to provide credentials in the same way as a citizen of almost all other countries. For young teachers, in particular, this means the chance to teach in Paris, Berlin or Prague is now a much more daunting prospect.

The effects of Covid on the teaching profession

More recently, the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic and subsequent movement restrictions mean that a lot of countries that rely on incoming teachers have had to rethink their border arrangements and entry requirements. On top of this, the increase in homeschooling means that some nations are also looking at how many “foreign” teachers they actually need living and working within their borders.

It is obviously much safer for a country’s population to allow a few people onto its territory as possible, without damaging its economy. Alongside advances and acceptance of technology, Covid has shown many governments that some educational goals can be achieved without any face-to-face contact. This being the case, certain sectors of educational establishments are reassessing the need for incoming teachers.

In this context, any applicant whose background checks are even slightly incomplete is likely to be consigned to the trash folder.

Obtaining clearance for work as a teacher outside the UK

The teaching profession is a uniquely challenging and rewarding sphere of activity. As such, it is the responsibility of both employers and employees to ensure teachers are who they say they are and do not pose any kind of threat to those they wish to teach. For British teachers, working abroad in the current environment and foreseeable future will mean having the best possible means of professional and personal accreditation.

The ACRO system provides just this. As the UK’s police force is one of the most trusted in the world, by extension so is its Criminal Records Office. For the best possible access to this excellent service, a reputable agent is highly recommended. The access provided by CRB Direct is a seamless extension of this accreditation system. For UK teachers wanting to work abroad in the current climate, this kind of help is sure to prove invaluable.