What are the requirements for background checks for international teachers?

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The document trail (or trial!)

In order to get a job at an international school, you may have to jump through multiple hoops and deal with a lot of paperwork.

Schools need to collect and present all these documents to the local Government in order for you to be issued a work Visa. These mainly concern your certification to teach a certain subject or area, namely a copy of your government-issued teaching credential/certificate and your college/university degree. It may also involve sighting a background check.

Just when you think you’ve completed all the necessary steps—signed, apostilled, and stamped—you might be asked for further documentation. 

Even worse, your documents may be ‘misplaced’, and you may need to send them through again. Be prepared for anything and have extra copies on hand!

A background check is only as accurate as the date of the check. Sometimes, even if you have a background check uploaded to your profile; you may be asked for another. Schools will likely need an additional background check(s) as you leave one job and move to their school/country (for their records and to obtain a new visa for you). Checks issued on or near departure from a country remain valid (even if they have an expiry date) if you have not lived in that country again since. You don’t have to renew them each time you recruit.

Many teachers (those in Australian public schools, many USA public schools, etc.) are required to have mandatory fingerprinting and background checks to work in schools locally. It’s good practice to request a copy of these for your files if at all possible.

International schools are becoming more diligent in requiring background checks before granting a teacher a visa.  Some international schools require reports from all countries of previous residence, some from your most current country of residence, and some do not yet require background checks (although this will likely change in the future).

You do not need to have a background/police check in order to register with Search Associates. If you have police background checks from countries, you have lived in please upload them.

Multiple copies in multiple places

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When you decide to start the job hunting process, we advise that you update your CV/resume, scan your passport, teaching registration documents, children’s passports, and anything else you can think of, in a single folder saved in both PDF versions, and JPEG versions, or Apple and Microsoft file versions, and upload these to cloud-based storage. After that, we advise you to upload everything to the document section of your Search profile, correctly labeled so that you can find it again easily. Think about leaving any original documents with a trusted family member who can easily access them, just in case, or travel with them in your hand luggage.

What documents should I upload?

The document section is a convenient addition to the Search Associates profile, as speaking from personal experience, moving multiple times and multiple countries can cause chaos when it comes to finding those all-important papers for employment.  Originally employed internationally as a class teacher, I later wanted to teach PE at the same school. The local Government needed proof that I had majored in this at college. My transcripts were stored under our house back home. It was rented out and my university had been dismantled to make way for a car park. Add a name change through marriage and the process was understandably time-consuming!

Background checks

Search Associates is an integral partner in the International Task Force on Child Protection and works closely with other recruiting agencies and international schools in an effort to preserve international schools as safe places for students.  Consequently, we are highly committed to ensuring that our candidate members have been thoroughly evaluated not just for the quality of their teaching but for backgrounds clear of actual or suspicious misbehavior around children.  While this means we are now asking you to provide more information than we have in the past, we trust you will appreciate that this will ultimately make you, the candidate, even more attractive to recruiters.

In order to comply with the International Child Protection Task Force’s clear recommendations on best-recruiting practices, we advise that you upload a background check to the document section(eg teacher registration card/document/police check) from any and all previous countries you have worked in for more than 6 months, along with proof of teaching certification such as transcripts and certificates.

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Registered candidates can view information on their dashboard about SecurTest as a fee-for-service option for acquiring background checks. Requirements vary depending on your country of origin.

Checks by country

# For UK Candidates, this will be a Criminal Background Check – https://www.gov.uk/disclosure-barring-service-check/overview
# For Canadian candidates, this will be a Criminal Record Check – http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/en/criminal-record-and-vulnerable-sector-checks
# For Australian candidates, this will be a National Police Certificate – http://www.afp.gov.au/what-we-do/police-checks/national-police-checks.aspx
# For New Zealand candidates, this will be a Criminal Record Check – http://www.justice.govt.nz/services/criminal-records
# For US candidates, this will be a Criminal Record History/ FBI Identification Record – https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/identity-history-summary-checks. Internationally, the FBI check holds more weight and is definitely more comprehensive and less time-consuming than pursuing a state-by-state check if you have lived in more than one state. The FBI check covers all 50 US states for felonies and major convictions. The state checks will show arrests and misdemeanors (not necessarily proven), in addition to felonies and convictions in that state only.

# For candidates from other countries, please contact us for further guidance on appropriate records checks.

Best practice

Background /police checks should be obtained from any country in which you have previously worked for 6 months or more. Obtaining these checks after leaving a country is generally harder, therefore, it is a good practice to request these prior to leaving the country where you are presently employed and continue to do so in countries where you will be employed in the future. Please check with your school’s HR department who can advise you on how to request a police check BEFORE leaving a country.

Having previous background checks uploaded to your Search Associates file may help make your candidacy more attractive to recruiters and also send a message to recruiters about the importance you place on this critical area.


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