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Fast-track to citizenship plan for overseas maths and science teachers

Immigrant maths and science teachers working in British schools could be fast-tracked to citizenship, under new government proposals.

Announced this week, the proposed scheme would introduce a points test for citizenship, allowing those who scored high numbers of points to obtain a British passport within a year.

At present, it can take between three and five years for legal residents to qualify for a passport.

The Home Office consultation paper states that points will be awarded for English language ability, earnings potential and qualifications. But applicants will also earn extra points if they belong to one of a list of shortage occupations.

These occupations include secondary maths or science teachers. So foreign-born teachers in those subjects could find that working in a British school is a guaranteed way to jump the citizenship queue.

Kathryn Thomson, of the Association for Science Education, said she would welcome an influx of immigrant science teachers.

"There are enough science teaching jobs out there for everyone in the UK, plus the rest of the world," she said. "It's going to take a while to fill them all. In poorer countries, science is seen as a means for getting a really well-paid job. So pupils will get the global dimension and a positive role model. If highly-skilled, qualified people come into the UK, that raises the status of science."

In order to work in British schools, immigrant teachers must have a teaching qualification equivalent to a UK undergraduate degree, as well as GCSE-standard qualifications in maths and English.

A spokesman for the Training and Development Agency for Schools said: "Secondary maths and science teachers are in demand, and having more qualified teachers in those subjects can only benefit pupils."

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