DfE recruits teachers from Spain to ease shortage

The teacher recruitment crisis is being tackled with a campaign in Spain, where unemployment is almost 14 per cent

The Department for Education is looking to recruit from Spain to help ease the UK's teacher shortage

The Department for Education is working with the Spanish government to recruit modern languages teachers into English state schools.

The DfE, which has failed to meet targets in teacher recruitment for secondary schools for the past five years, has announced the measure as part of its recruitment and retention strategy.

A spokesperson for the department said: "We are delighted to be working in partnership with Spain’s Ministry of Education and Vocational Training to deliver Spain’s Visiting Teachers Programme. 

"Through this programme, we are supporting state-funded schools in England to recruit modern foreign language teachers by providing access to a pool of qualified teachers from Spain.

“We’re committed to exploring opportunities to develop new and existing partnerships, focusing particularly on language teachers, in order to boost the recruitment of teachers from overseas and ensure our schools have access to the skilled teachers to provide the best education for pupils.”

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At the end of last year, the DfE predicted that the number of trainee teachers needed in MFL for 2019-20 was 2,241 – up more than 600 on the previous year – in order to provide sufficient numbers of newly qualified teachers to meet rising pupil numbers.

Teacher recruitment for MFL

And last week Tes reported that the number of applications from people wishing to train as MFL teachers is up by 20 per cent on the same period last year, and includes 300 more applications for teacher training in Spanish, 230 more in French, 120 more in German and 200 more in Mandarin.

Professor Anna Lise Gordon, of the Institute of Education, at St Mary's University, London, said she didn’t know if the increase in applications for Spanish was linked to the recruitment campaign in Spain, but said the economic climate there may now be making England "a viable option".

She said: “Over recent years there has been an increase in Spanish at GCSE and A-level entries, so this is hopefully leading to more university-level Spanish, which is a natural feeder into ITE [initial teacher education].”

She also said that there was increased visibility of teaching as a profession through DfE adverts and that there was also "an attractive training offer with generous bursary and scholarship opportunities” for modern language teachers.

Official figures show unemployment in Spain is currently 13.9 per cent, compared with 3.9 per cent in the UK.

Tes estimates that an extra 47,000 teachers are needed in the country's secondary schools alone by 2024, highlighting the extent of the recruitment and retention crisis. 

The DfE said it was unable to confirm whether it was also recruiting teachers from France and Germany.

The government has acted to ensure that teachers trained in the EU will still have qualifications recognised in the UK if Britain leaves the EU without a deal.


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Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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