The Association of Colleges has announced its support for the Tes #LetThemTeach campaign to make it easier to teachers to get visas to work in UK schools.
Chief executive David Hughes said it was important that the campaign, which was launched yesterday, covered all of the teaching profession, not just teachers in schools. A petition in support of the campaign will be launched today.
The Tes campaign is calling for the entire teaching profession to be added to the "shortage occupation list", which gives higher priority for visas each month. It follows a Tes investigation which revealed that desperately needed international teachers are being forced to quit their jobs and leave the country at short notice because they cannot renew their visas.
While the investigation highlighted the challenges school teachers face, Tes understands rules the required visas are also pose challenges for those wanting to work in FE, including a limit on the total number of visas issued, a minimum qualification and salary threshold, and a long application process.
“If you want to have an equal playing field for all parts of the education sector, we need to be able to attract the best talent to all parts of education," Mr Hughes said, adding that it was important for staff to ensure staff were able to move between the school and education sectors.
Mr Hughes explained: “We don’t know as much about the FE workforce as we know about schools, but we think there are some colleges where this is an issue. If you are struggling as a school to recruit in a subject area, then you certainly are as a college.”
He said with T levels due to be introduced in 2020, particularly in skills shortage areas, there would be teacher shortages where a change in the visa rules would then be helpful.
Tes editor Ann Mroz has written a letter to the education secretary, Damian Hinds, and the home secretary, Sajid Javid.
The letter – which you can read here – has been signed by the leaders of England's major teaching unions.
Ms Mroz said: “Tes decided to launch the 'Let Them Teach' campaign following an investigation which exposed how non-EU foreign teachers have been unable to obtain visas.
“Under the current salary-based system, teaching – as a modestly paid public sector occupation – is missing out in monthly visa allocations. To address this situation, we are calling on the government to support adding the whole profession to the shortage occupation list, which gives higher priority for visas. We believe that our international teaching colleagues – and our children – depend on it."