European teachers shunning England as Brexit looms

Number of qualified European teachers applying for qualified teacher status here drops by 25 per cent

Helen Ward

Brexit, teachers, retention, recruitment

New figures out today show a dramatic slump in the number of overseas teachers applying for qualified teacher status (QTS) in England.

Teachers who have already qualified in the European Economic Area (EEA), Australia, Canada, New Zealand or US, can apply for QTS in England without further training.

But statistics published by the Department for Education today show there were 3,525 QTS awards made to qualified teachers from Europe in the financial year 2017-18 – a decrease of 25 per cent on the previous year.

There were 1,620 teachers from Spain who were awarded QTS by this route in 2017-18, 17 per cent less than in 2016-17, and 555 teachers from Greece, a drop of 18 per cent on the previous year.

And there has been a 14 per cent decrease in the number of overseas teachers from outside Europe – with numbers from Canada dropping 22 per cent to 400 in 2017-18, numbers from Australia dropping 14 per cent to 510, and 10 per cent fewer teachers from New Zealand with 215 awarded QTS.

Teachers need QTS to work in maintained schools and special schools. But academies, free schools and independent schools can hire teachers without QTS.

The figures come as the government missed its postgraduate teacher-training targets in most secondary subjects this year – with recruitment to physics at just 47 per cent of what was required, and just 25 per cent of the number of design and technology trainees required starting courses.

And headteachers have already warned about the danger to teacher supply if Britain leaves the EU without reaching a deal. If that happens, the current system under which professional qualifications are automatically recognised across the EEA will cease to apply, and European teachers could need further training to get QTS.

Today's statistics also show that of the new entrants to postgraduate initial teacher training (ITT) in 2018 whose nationality was known, 5 per cent were European and 2 per cent were nationals of other countries – the same proportion as in 2017 and 2016.

Overseas teachers who have qualified in countries other than the EEA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and US, may work for four years as unqualified teachers while they achieve QTS by another route.

Tes revealed in June that international teachers working in British schools were being deported because they couldn’t get visas – sparking a national campaign #LetThemTeach which is calling for the whole teaching profession to be added to the "shortage occupation list", which gives higher priority for visas.

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Helen Ward

Helen Ward

Helen Ward is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @teshelen

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