Exclusive: Could overseas training help England's teacher recruitment crisis?

New overseas courses could promote teacher training as 'a passport to a global career', say international schools

Adi Bloom

Could teacher training overseas help England's domestic recruitment crisis?

A new overseas teacher-training scheme is being touted as a way of tackling the domestic recruitment crisis by promoting the career's potential for international travel.

Those behind the scheme say that teaching should be marketed as a "passport to a global career".

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The Council of British International Schools (Cobis) will this weekend announce its first cohort of training schools, which will provide initial teacher-training overseas. These include schools in Malaysia, Kenya, Romania, China and Nigeria.

The aim of the new scheme is partly to expand the pool of qualified teachers able to work in international schools. But Cobis also suggests that overseas teacher-training courses could help solve the current recruitment crisis in England's schools.

“We really feel as though the government is missing a trick,” said Colin Bell, CEO of Cobis. “They should be positioning teaching as an international career, right from the word ‘go’.

Teaching: 'A truly global profession' 

“It’s all about enhancing the attractiveness of teaching as a profession, at home and abroad.”

Mr Bell anticipates drawing potential trainees from a range of sources. Some will be support staff currently working in international schools. Others will already be working as unqualified teachers in these schools. 

Some applicants will be overseas nationals – educated in the international schools themselves, or other schools in the host country.

But others will be British recruits who simply want to go overseas for their training. 

“We want to attract people from all backgrounds to teacher training, who could potentially fit into the pool in the UK as well," Mr Bell said. 

“It’s all about enhancing the attractiveness of teaching as a profession, at home and abroad.”

The international school sector is growing by 6 per cent annually. Data gathered by ISC Research, which analyses trends in international schooling, suggests that, within the next 10 years, British international schools will need up to 230,000 additional teachers. 

But Mr Bell argues that his schools will be happy to share new recruits with English schools. “We absolutely anticipate foreign nationals going to the UK,” he said. 

“In the world we live in, we know that to be successful, you need to have a global outlook, you need to put that front and forwards. We’re placing this as a truly global profession. It’s your international passport to a global career. It’ll take you to places where you’ll enjoy different cultures, foods languages,” he said.

Professor Deborah Eyre, chair of the Cobis teacher-supply committee, said: “Our research has shown that international experience supports retention, and that many teachers move in both directions between the UK and international-school sectors.

“Teachers who work overseas gain valuable transferrable skills, in part from the high quality of professional-development opportunities.”

The Cobis initial teacher training will be offered in partnership with five teacher-training providers: the Tes Institute - run by Tes, Manchester Metropolitan University, the University of Sunderland, the University of Buckingham, and Educational Success Partners Ltd (ESP)

The Department for Education has been contacted for comment. 



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Adi Bloom

Adi Bloom is Tes comment editor

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