4,000 offenders seek teaching jobs
Paedophiles, violent thugs and drug dealers were among more than 4,000 offenders who applied to become teachers last year despite having almost 10,000 criminal convictions between them, figures have shown.
Criminal records checks even revealed four previous convictions for child sex offences, including one for a sex attack on a girl under 13, as well as three convictions for assaulting or neglecting a child.
The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) said that to date checks had helped stop more than 130,000 unsuitable people from working with children and many of the offences would lead to an automatic ban on the offenders becoming teachers.
The figures, released to the Press Association following a request under the Freedom of Information Act, revealed the 263,477 checks carried out for the post of "teacher" in 2011 found 4,098 of these had 9,493 previous offences between them. These included more than 50 sex offences, 11 for arson, and two for making threats to kill.
Some 830 violent offences were highlighted overall, along with more than 550 drugs offences and 11 for causing death by reckless driving. The sex offences included four indecent assaults on children, 13 on adults, eight acts of gross indecency, 12 of indecent exposure and 19 involving prostitution.
Netmums founder Siobhan Freegard said: "Parents will be appalled at these figures. It's shocking that thousands of offenders are applying to work with children when they have convictions for child sex attacks, violence and drugs.
"While it is right ex-offenders are given every opportunity to get into employment and build new lives, most parents wouldn't want someone convicted of a sexual, violent or other serious offence having responsibility for their child in the classroom. Children's welfare must come first."
Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, added that it was "extremely encouraging that the CRB system is picking up these issues so prospective employers are able to ensure they don't employ people with these convictions".
A CRB spokeswoman said: "Criminal records checks have helped to stop at least 130,000 unsuitable people from working or volunteering with children or vulnerable people. Good recruitment practices, such as thorough reference checking, are a key responsibility for all employers, especially those working with children and vulnerable groups.
"Criminal records checks are just one of a range of tools to help employers make the right recruitment decisions. Not only is it an offence to knowingly employ a person barred by the Independent Safeguarding Authority, but it is also an offence for a barred person to work or even apply to work with the vulnerable group from which they have been barred."