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Find out more about Tes’ campaign by visiting the Let Them Teach homepageLast week a Tes investigation revealed that desperately needed international teachers are being forced to quit their jobs and leave the country at short notice because they cannot renew their visas.
In response to this, Tes has launched a campaign – "Let Them Teach" – calling on the government to support adding the whole teaching profession to the "shortage occupation list", which gives higher priority for visas.
To launch our campaign, Tes editor Ann Mroz has written to the education secretary, Damian Hinds, and the home secretary, Sajid Javid. The letter is also signed by the leaders of all of England's major education unions.
Here is the letter in its entirety:
Dear Mr Hinds and Mr Javid,
Teacher supply in England is in crisis. The Department for Education has missed its target for recruiting to initial teacher training for the last five years. According to Tes analysis, the country needs an additional 47,000 secondary teachers by 2024 to cope with an explosion in the number of secondary school pupils. At primary level, an extra 8,000 teachers are required. Mr Hinds, since becoming education secretary, you have rightly identified tackling these issues as a key priority.
However, despite this acute shortage, valued teachers in British schools are being forced to leave their jobs – and the country. A Tes investigation published this week shines a light on the issue of teachers being refused tier 2 skilled worker visas. In some instances, this has prevented schools from awarding jobs to talented teachers from abroad – having already found it impossible to fill a vacancy via domestic recruitment. In more troubling cases, international teachers already working in the UK have been forced to leave the country because they have been unable to obtain a new visa. The rules have created teacher-less classrooms and have torn relationships apart. Those Tes spoke to described feeling “devastated” by having to abandon jobs that they loved, and pupils with whom they had formed a special bond.
The present situation has occurred because monthly applications for tier 2 visas are severely oversubscribed. This has pushed up the minimum salary threshold required to obtain a visa, thereby excluding the vast majority of teacher applicants. Mr Javid, while the measures you have announced exempting doctors and nurses from the monthly cap will improve the situation, experts still fear that teachers could struggle to get visas.
Currently, teachers in a handful of subjects – maths, physics, computer science and Mandarin – are listed as ‘shortage occupations’, which are prioritised for visas each month. But teachers in other subjects and at primary level are not on the list, and there can be no doubt that these areas also face grave shortages – in 2017-18, teacher-training targets were missed for all but two secondary subjects. And in May, applications to train as a primary teacher were 18 per cent lower than at the same time in 2017.
Given the above, Tes and a range of partners have launched a campaign – "Let Them Teach" – to pull down the official barriers that are preventing international teachers from working in British schools. We are writing to you, in your capacities as the education secretary and home secretary, to ask you to support adding the teaching profession as a whole to the shortage occupation list. We believe that our international teaching colleagues – and our children – depend on it.
Ann Mroz, Tes editor
Geoff Barton, general secretary, Association of School and College Leaders
Paul Whiteman, general secretary, NAHT
Chris Keates, general secretary, NASUWT - The Teachers’ Union
Mary Bousted, joint general secretary, National Education Union
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary, National Education Union