Poor pupil behaviour drives away overseas teachers

Stem international recruitment scheme attracts teachers to England - but research shows that only half wanted to stay

Helen Ward

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Overseas teachers are put off working in England's schools by poor pupil behaviour and heavy staff workload, an evaluation of international recruitment programmes suggests.

The findings, revealed today, suggest that around a quarter of teachers recruited through the Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) international recruitment programme were dissatisfied, citing poor student behaviour or heavy workload.

The report, carried out by CFE research for the Department for Education, also shows that some recruits to schools in England enlisted through Spain’s Visiting Teachers Programme had left because they "struggled to cope" with pupil behaviour management.   

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The evaluation of the Stem programme was based on a survey of 21 of the 58 international teachers who had been recruited over 2016-17 and 2017-18, and interviews with teachers and school leaders.

Overseas teachers 'put off by behaviour'

The scheme gives schools the chance to recruit a maths or physics teacher from Australia, New Zealand, Canada or the USA through a Department for Education-approved recruitment provider who arranges interviews and provides support with visa processes.

It was found to have a positive impact on attracting teachers – with only five of the 21 teachers surveyed saying they would otherwise have come to England.

“However, the long-term impact of the programme may be limited since over half of those interviewed and surveyed were considering leaving England to teach in their home country,” the report states.

One of the teachers interviewed was quoted as saying: “Here in [my home country] I teach two subjects, physics and chemistry. I teach the same class three times, the same three physics classes, then I teach two classes of chemistry, exact same class. I get over there and suddenly they tell me I’m teaching eight different classes including biology and maths, which I am not qualified to teach. I have never taught those. It was like drinking from a fire hose.”

The evaluation found that the overall experience was positive with one teacher describing it as “an adventure” – but 12 of the 21 teachers surveyed planned to leave England.

The researchers concluded: “Only one survey respondent stated that they would be critical of the Stem International Recruitment programme if asked, while 11 respondents would speak highly of their experiences and eight would speak neutrally about it.

“Overall, these findings imply that – while the majority of the survey respondents valued their experience on the programme – this does not inherently mean they will remain in England.”

The researchers also interviewed four heads who had recruited six Spanish teachers in September 2017 through the separate Spain’s Visiting Teachers Programme, when it was being piloted.

The interviews took place between December 2017 and March 2018 – but by then already only three teachers were still in post and two of those had said they would leave at the end of the school year.

The teachers who left cited stress and/or homesickness.

The research report states: “All [school leader] interviewees whose teachers had left or planned to leave, particularly for those who left due to stress, said that, despite receiving additional support and mentoring, these teachers had struggled to cope with the transition to teaching in England. This particularly related to pupil behaviour management, and also in adjusting to living in the UK, away from family and friends."

It concludes that school leaders felt that the "recruited teachers had the potential to impact positively on schools and pupils in a number of ways" but notes the high drop-out rate and the need for schools to support teachers in adjusting to living and working in England.



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Helen Ward

Helen Ward

Helen Ward is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @teshelen

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