#LetThemTeach: 'I was faced with tears when I told my pupils I was being sent home'

One international teacher shares her devastating story of trying and failing repeatedly to obtain a Tier 2 visa to teach in the UK

Lucy Ferguson

Let them teach

For the past two years, I lived my dream life. I had established a life with my British partner, in a city I loved, worked in a job which I wholeheartedly embraced and was passionate about. 

This life was taken from me, very quickly and very painfully. 

The criteria to get a Tier 2 visa under the current immigration policy increased dramatically, and my visa was denied repeatedly – seven times to be precise. 

I told my Year 4 class that I wouldn't be able to teach them anymore and was faced with tears from both students and their parents. It was already over halfway through the year, and as an educator, I had worked hard with the children and their families to provide a high-quality education. I was very proud of their achievements.

The following day, one of my students came to me and said that he and his parents had started a care2 petition to keep myself and other teachers in a similar situation in the country, doing what we teachers do best – teach. The petition went viral and soon gathered over 900 signatures. I was overwhelmed by the support from my school community and the comments from the children and their families on the petition. It was a real-life testimony to the relationships I had established and my teaching.

This same child forwarded the petition to our local MP John Cryer, who fought my case on my behalf and contacted the minister of state for immigration (Caroline Nokes).

Sadly, a letter was returned exclaiming that “The UK’s government must serve the nation's interest” and that “the home office will continue to monitor the operation of the Tier 2 route to ensure it attracts the best and the brightest migrants.” This was a very difficult concept to try and explain to a class of 8 and 9-year-olds who wanted to see out the school year with their current teacher.

It's so unfair that the quality of any child’s education would be negatively impacted because of a government policy that, actually, no longer addresses the needs for this occupation and its job market.

So, a petition, a letter to the minister of immigration from a local member of parliament, a staff shortage and ongoing applications of sponsorship from my school proved fruitless for obtaining a Tier 2 certificate of sponsorship.

To have my visa rejected seven times month after month was devastating and the rejection never came any easier.

It's been a real struggle grieving for a loss of a job, my pupils and my lifestyle in London. 

I am still coming to peace with the idea of currently not being able to return to fulfil my role as a Year 4 teacher.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the headteacher, staff, and families at Buxton School for their ongoing support through this time of uncertainty.

Lucy Ferguson returned to New Zealand on 23 April.

Please support our campaign and sign the Let Them Teach petition. If the petition hits 10,000 signatures, the government is obliged to formally respond to it. If it hits 100,000 signatures, the issue will be considered for a debate in Parliament. To sign the petition, click here. 

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Lucy Ferguson

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