Academy chain eyes Northern Irish teachers

The Co-op, the biggest corporate sponsor of academies, is looking to hire maths, science and geography teachers

Academy trust looks to Northern Ireland in teacher recruitment drive

An academy chain that is planning to more than treble in size is targeting a surplus of newly qualified teachers in Northern Ireland in order to fill vacancies.

The move comes as England faces a recruitment and retention crisis, which many school leaders believe is only getting worse.

The Co-op Academies Trust, which currently operates 12 schools in the Leeds, Manchester and Stoke-on-Trent areas, is looking to Northern Ireland for new teachers in subjects including maths, science and geography.

Earlier this year, Co-op announced plans to “turbo-charge” its involvement in the academies programme.

It is looking to expand its number of schools to 40 in by 2022 in the areas where its academies are already based.

The Co-op's 12 academies currently have almost 10,000 students and employ more than 1,000 teachers and support staff.

Under the expansion plan, those numbers are expected to grow to more than 40,000 students and 4,000 staff.

'More NQTs than teaching posts'

Co-op Academies Trust director Frank Norris said: “We understand that there are more newly qualified teachers in Northern Ireland than there are teaching posts.

"We have vacancies across our various academies and, because we are part of the Co-op, we can offer benefits not usually associated with teaching.”

The trust offers its school staff some relocation costs, interest-free loans to cover the deposit on rented properties and discounts at Co-op’s food, bed and electrical businesses.

Other benefits include annual flu vaccinations, a cash-back healthcare scheme and discounted gym memberships.

The Co-op is starting its recruitment drive by taking a stand at the Northern Ireland Graduate Recruitment Fair at Ulster University’s Jordanstown campus on 29 May.

The Co-op is England's biggest corporate sponsor of academies.

Mr Norris recently told Tes that more big employers should follow the Co-op's example and get involved in the academies programme.

Last year, the Northern Ireland Teacher Resourcing Programme was launched to get qualified and newly qualified teachers from Northern Ireland to carry out long-term teaching assignments of between one and three years in the Department for Education’s East of England and North East London region.

The programme was started by the Evolution Academy Trust, which manages seven primary and junior schools in East Anglia.

It is designed to provide a bridge between the two regions, with East Anglian schools facing a teacher shortage while Northern Ireland has a surplus of teachers.

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