Exclusive: Warning that Brexit could drive away thousands of EU teachers

24th November 2016 at 15:27
Mary Bousted called for the government to reassure European teachers following the Brexit vote.
New figures show big rise in overseas teachers coming to England before Britain voted to leave the EU.

The government must act to prevent Brexit causing an exodus of thousands of teachers from the European Union who are helping to address England's teacher recruitment crisis, a union leader has warned.

New government figures released today show a near 2,000 shortfall in the number of people starting initial teacher training courses this year.

However, the initial teacher training census also highlights a 10 per cent rise in qualified teachers from the European Economic Area  - the EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway - awarded qualified teacher status in England in 2015-16.

That represents an increase from 4,351 in 2014-15, to 4,795 in 2015-16.

The biggest rise was from teachers coming from crisis-hit Greece, whose 572 qualified teacher status (QTS) awards represented a 46 per cent increase. Another 1,977 came from Spain, up 4 per cent, with 545 from Poland, down 6 per cent.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL teaching union, described them as “highly-trained people prepared to work really hard to teach our young people in areas where we know there are massive shortages”.

She said: “The stability of teachers in schools is really important, and if they, because of Brexit, feel less secure and less able to commit long-term to our education system - and that route [of attracting teachers] is increasingly important - that adds to the already serious and growing problem of teacher recruitment and retention.

“A strong and clear statement from government that EU nationals will be welcome to remain, and will have secure employment and secure status within the UK would be very helpful.”

The report also shows a 27 per cent jump in qualified teachers from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the USA – whose numbers increased by 51 per cent to 379.

In total, 2,031 teachers from these counties were awarded QTS in 2015-16, compared to 1,598 the year before.

The report says that obtaining QTS does not necessarily mean that qualified teachers from overseas are currently teaching in England.

TES has approached the DfE for comment.

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