MPs urge Damian Hinds to back #LetThemTeach

Importance of Tes campaign highlighted in Parliament

John Roberts

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MPs have pressed Damian Hinds to back Tes’ Let Them Teach campaign to prevent non-EU international teachers being turned away from Britain.

The education secretary was told that international teachers being sent home because of Visa rules was adding to the recruitment crisis and disrupting children's lives. 

The launch of the campaign follows a Tes investigation, which 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.

To stop this from happening, Tes is calling for the entire teaching profession to be added to the "shortage occupation list", which gives higher priority for visas each month.

The importance of our campaign was highlighted by MPs questioning Mr Hinds at a Commons Education Select Committee hearing today.

Mr Hinds said that he had spoken to the Home Office about the issue but suggested changes that would exempt NHS staff from a Visa cap would free up room for teachers.

Hull MP Emma Hardy, who is backing #LetThemTeach, told the education secretary: “The campaign is exposing how non-EU teachers have been unable to get visas and how many of them are being sent back to their countries, which is fuelling the recruitment crisis.

“Heads are being prevented from hiring talented teachers from abroad.”

She asked Mr Hinds whether he had spoken to the Home Office about the issue.

“This is contributing to the recruitment crisis we are currently facing," the Labour MP added.

Mr Hinds said he welcomed the decision to take NHS staff out of the tier two visa cap, which “creates more space for other professions, including teachers”.

The education secretary also said that some teaching subjects were on the shortage occupation list.

He said: “I don’t think it would be right to think that a large part of the recruitment challenge that we have is to do with this area but it is the case that the changes that come in on 6 July that will create more headroom for the teaching profession.”

Ms Hardy said that currently only four subjects are on the shortage occupation list were physics, maths, Mandarin and computer science.

She added: “It's not just about the recruitment crisis. It's also very disruptive for children as you can imagine if their teacher has to leave part way through the year because their teacher cannot get their visa renewed when they have already been potentially teaching in that school for a number of years. And it's very unfair. Surely this is something you should be talking to the Home Office about.”

Mr Hinds told her that he had talked about the issue to the Home Office but insisted changes coming in this July would relieve pressure on the visa cap for professions such as teaching.

Labour MP for the Colne Valley, Thelma Walker, asked why all teachers could not be put on the shortage occupation list?

Mr Hinds' response was that the migration advisory committee advises the government on shortage areas.

But Ms Walker responded: “Well we are 8,000 primary school teachers short and they are not on the list.”

Tes launched the #LetThemTeach campaign this week with a letter from editor Ann Mroz to the education secretary and the home secretary, Sajid Javid. 

The letter – which you can read here – has been signed by the leaders of England's major teaching unions. 

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 it will be considered for a debate in Parliament. To sign it, click here. 

Find out more about Tes’ campaign by visiting the Let Them Teach homepage.

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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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