‘Disbelief’ at overseas teachers visa decision

Union leader calls for DfE to ignore Migration Advisory Committee recommendation and add teachers to shortage occupation list anyway

#LetThemTeach_editorial

Education unions have said they are “disappointed” and in a state of “disbelief” that teachers have not been given higher priority for visas.

This morning, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) published its long-awaited review of the shortage occupation list (SOL).

Although the review flagged up recruitment difficulties in the profession related to pay and workload, the MAC recommended that extra teaching roles should not be added to the list, which confers higher priority for visas.

However, the leader of one union said the government should ignore the recommendation, and add more teaching positions to the list anyway.


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Last summer, Tes revealed that immigration rules were forcing some international teachers to quit their jobs and leave the country at short notice.  

The investigation spawned the #LetThemTeach campaign, which called for the whole teaching profession to be added to the SOL, and received support from every major education union in the country.  

Responding to today’s news, Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the MAC’s recommendation was “hugely frustrating”.

He said the report was a “devastating indictment on so many fronts of the government’s failure to recruit and retain”.

“Lots of us will be in disbelief, given that it sets out the scale of the problem, that it doesn’t then make teaching a shortage occupation subject.”

He said the government should “definitely” ignore the MAC’s advice in this respect, and designate the whole teaching profession a shortage occupation.

“There has to be a greater sense of urgency, and one thing I think the department could do immediately is to say that actually we disregard that part of the report, and we say that teaching has to be a part of that list,” he added.

Chris Keates, the general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said there were “clear and pressing reasons why teaching should be added to the shortage occupation list”.

“We are deeply disappointed and surprised at this recommendation by the committee,” she said.

“The NASUWT has provided evidence to the committee of the adverse impact this decision will have on the teacher recruitment and retention crisis, which is the worst since [the Second World War].”

She added: “It makes absolutely no sense on the basis of available evidence not to exempt teachers and add them to the shortage occupation list. 

“This decision is just another example of perverse government policy which is blighting the lives not only of the teachers concerned, but of the children and young people they teach who will not be able to have access to these highly skilled professionals.

“The NASUWT will be continuing its campaign for this unacceptable practice to end and for these valuable workers to be retained in our schools.”

The Home Office has said it will consider the MAC report “carefully and respond in due course”.

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