Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Fine Upstanding Citizen in Search of Work

Just how hard can it be to work in this country? Clearly the answer is quite hard, if you work with children & need a CRB check.

First of all I discovered you can't apply for one as an individual. You can't 'submit yourself' to investigation & police checks, to prove what a fine upstanding citizen you are. . Oh no, Heaven forbid. An organisation has to do it for you. So I can't work as a freelance supply teacher without a CRB, but to get a CRB I need to have a job or work for an agency.

So I decide to apply to work for a supply agency. I fill in an application & cough up £50. I am slightly concerned that 2 of my last 3 addresses from the last 5 years are foreign ones & wonder how they will check those out.

Imagine my surprise when my CRB comes back within 2 weeks. wow, that was a bit easy I muse. Furtehrmore the Supply Agency tell me it has 'full portability' which besides meaning it's a flimsy bit of paper which tucks neatly into any handbag, it more importantly means I can use it to work in other places.Yay!

Today I spoke to the personnel manager (yes in a school - how times have changed...) of a large secondary school which needed an English supply teacher & where I had heard on my social grapevine that there was  a part time job coming up soon.

Turns out that they won't accept my agency CRB (as most schools wouldn't she said) so I need to pay out another £50 for another CRB to be done (my CRB certificate has only been in my grasp for two days & it's already out of date/invalid) & furthermore I would need police checks done for Sri Lanka & Albania too. Hmm, that could prove tricky. Then she dropped her final bombshell. "Actually, just looking at your CV, I see you worked in France & South Africa too. You actually need a police check done in every country you have worked in since you were 18"........

Long silence.

"You mean when I worked in South Africa 24 yrs ago & when I worke din Paris 23 years ago, I need a police check done?"

Yes, we wouldn't even consider you until the police checks were in place"

"But I worked for Oxfordshire for 15 years, after living in South Africa & France, &was 'CRB-ed' no problem. How come it was ok then but isn't now?"

She said, rather prissily;

"I'm not saying this is you, but look at what Gary Glitter got up to in those countries he visited years ago."

Another long silence. What can I say to that? Guilty until proven innocent.....

So even though I worked for Oxfordshire L.E.A for 15 yrs before moving abroad, complete with a CRB check, to work in Oxfordshire again now I have to have police checks for when I was abroad before I ever worked for Oxfordshire. Seems a tad illogical to me. I guess I never had an international police check done.

 I did a bit of research online & discovered that for the princely sum of £115 I can get a police check done in Albania, & for another £115 one in Sri Lanka & for another £115 South Africa. France is a 'bargain' £94.

So £439 to get 4 international police checks. And that's just to get through the preliminary application process.  To be even looked at by a school. Never mind be offered the job. Woe betide me if I got a job & then changed school, I would need another check done as they are 'in theory' only valid on the day they are issued. So the supply agency told me. Presumably I wouldn't have to do the foreign ones again would I? Though when my husband needed one done for some reason in Albania, they asked for a UK one to be done even though he hadn't lived there for 5 yrs.

I am so frustrated.  there must be a better system? 

I despair. The personnel manager did say their school was particularly stringent, but I fear until I have international police checks done for the 4 countries I worked in overseas, this will be a constant bugbear, not to say obstacle to getting employment.

Maybe I should just give up trying to teach again. Maybe I should open a teashop. I would call it Jammy Dodgers, in honour of my status as a CRB Dodger....

The thing that really upsets me about this is that we,or at least I, am paying the price for having gone abroad to do something we felt was good and worthwhile. I gave up a very good part time English post in a good secondary school, where the deputy would ask me each year whether I wanted to increase or decrease my hours, even which days I preferred to teach. I was known, respected, had good relationships & a successful job. Now I am back; my friends who were all SAHMs when I lived here & worked, are now in jobs, new careers or doing further study & I am once more out of sync, scrabbling around trying to find my place, trying to get work and trying not to wonder what on earth I am doing. Once a trailing spouse, always a trailing spouse it seems.

I don't regret going abroad. I don't regret the meaningful experiences that season of our lives enriched us with. I don't regret how it changed me, how we grew through it and most of all how it helped poor and vulnerable people through what we did.  It's just that now we are back I am counting the cost, not of moving abroad & leaving friends, family, home, job & security, but the cost of coming home & trying to make a life here. Somehow I thought this would be the easy bit.....


Midlife Singlemum said...

Unbelievable - I hope you only have to do it once. Not to add to your burden but you may have to pay to have the documents translated as well. Good luck!

Potty Mummy said...

Like Midlife said - unbelievable. Don't know what to say, really, other than - bugger, could this happen to me? (Of course it could. And worth knowing, too).

nappy valley girl said...

That is just AWFUL. Bureaucracy gone mad.

The Doctor has to have CRB checks for his jobs. No doubt he will be told he has to produce an American one. Previously, he had several CRB checks done simultaneously by a hospital he worked for, all because he had several slightly different job title - what a waste of their time and money.

Iota said...

Hang on. Suppose you were someone with an unhealthy interest in children who wanted easy access to them, surely you'd choose to work for a supply agency (you could do a few jobs, then disappear off their books) rather than seek a permanent appointment in a school. So the agency checks should be more stringent, not less stringent.

When you move - either away or home - it does seem to be like a jigsaw puzzle. You just have to keep putting it together piece by piece. It's hard work.

Expat mum said...

Wow - what a bloody pain. I don't suppose it's any easier if you were to work in private schools?

Charlie said...

To be honest lil' sis this sounds absolutely ridiculous what they are asking you to do. It is nonsense what they are telling you re a CRB check pre- Sri Lanka. speak to your MP.

Paradise Lost In Translation said...

@M.S. the Albania 1 shd be easy. the shcl Director is trying to sort it 'on the ground' In fact a teacher from my schl there emailed me & said her husband has 'contacts' in the govt & he cd 'fix it for me. Made me q nostalgic!!
@PM: I am not sure if everyone has to have a CRB done pre-employment or if it's only for people working with children.
@NVG friends working in Uganda, told me they had registered with Interpol in Kampala for this v reason; to be able towork on their return.
@Iota: I hear u!! Yes, isn't it?
@Expat: have considered private. Jury's still out tho. They cover supply in house always & nothing has come up yet. Part time is highly sought after!
@Charlie: the lady at the schl DID admit they were more stringent than many schls, but if I wnt a job, I have to jump thru the hoops, however ridiculous.