Biggest teaching university backs #LetThemTeach

Scotland's University of Strathclyde throws its weight behind Tes campaign to allow more overseas teachers to get visas

Emma Seith

Biggest teacher education institution in Scotland backs #LetThemTeach

Scotland’s largest teacher education institution is backing the Tes campaign to relax visa rules for teachers.

The Tes campaign – #LetThemTeach – is calling for the whole profession to be added to the shortage occupation list to make it easier for teachers from overseas to secure visas to teach in the UK.

Currently, only teachers in four subjects – maths, physics, computer science and Mandarin – are on the list.

The campaign has already attracted the support of the Scottish government, as well as the leaders of the major teaching unions in England and Scotland.

Now, Ian Rivers, the head of the University of Strathclyde’s School of Education, is backing the campaign.

He said many international students wished to teach in Scottish schools, but were ultimately required to leave the country, which was a wasted opportunity.

Professor Rivers added: “I very much welcome the Let Them Teach campaign. It is vital that appropriately qualified teachers and student teachers are given every opportunity to work or study in Scotland so that we meet the needs of our education system.

“While many international students choose teaching as a career and wish to teach in Scottish schools they ultimately find themselves ineligible for the Teacher Induction Scheme and required to leave the country. Can we afford to let this talent go? Let them teach.”

According to the Scottish Funding Council, over the past five years more than 200 international students have studied to become teachers at Scottish universities.

Vacancies 'can't be filled' 

Tes Scotland reported earlier this month on the case of Haley Palmer, who successfully completed the postgraduate qualification in primary teaching from the University of Strathclyde in June.

Ms Palmer – who is originally from the US – considers Scotland to be her home. She arrived here six years ago and completed an undergraduate degree at the University of Glasgow before embarking on the PGDE. However, she expects to have to return home to the US in October when her student visa runs out.

She said she had witnessed first-hand the impact of teacher shortages on the primary sector in Scotland during her studies – including being placed in charge of a P1 class when she was on her first placement because the teacher fell ill and no cover could be secured.

Ms Palmer added: “My plan was always to try and stay. That seemed reasonable because every school I’ve been in as a student teacher has had a vacancy they just couldn’t fill.”

Please support our campaign and sign the Let Them Teach petition. If the petition hits 10,000 signatures the government is obliged to formally respond to it. If it hits 100,000 signatures it will be considered for a debate in Parliament. To sign it, click here. 

Find out more about the Tes campaign by visiting the Let Them Teach homepage

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Emma Seith

Emma Seith

Emma Seith is a reporter for TES Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Emma_Seith

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