Teacher shortages spread to computing and general science

Computer science, general science and Mandarin are recommended to join maths and physics on teacher shortage list, but chemistry teachers will be removed

Helen Ward

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There is a national shortage in computer science, general science and Mandarin teachers that justifies schools recruiting from abroad, the Home Office Migration Advisory's Committee (MAC) said today.

Secondary school teachers in maths and physics are already included on the shortage occupation list, which allows employers to bring in workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to fill vacancies with fewer restrictions than for other teachers.

Chemistry teachers have been removed from the list. 

The report also says there appears to be evidence for a shortage in modern foreign language teachers, but this could be filled by teachers from inside Europe.

Committee chair, Professor Alan Manning said: "The report shows there is no occupation-wide shortage of teachers but that there are shortages in some subjects,"

Home secretary Theresa May asked the committee to consider the demand for teachers in all teaching subjects and special needs teachers, after the Department for Education had said that there was also a case for including teachers in Mandarin, computer science and design and technology on the list.

The committee has to consider whether there is a national shortage of certain skills, and not just local difficulties.

Maths and science teachers have been on the shortage occupation list since 2008, but biology teachers were taken off the list in 2011.

The report said: "It also came to our attention that schools are often trying to recruit science teachers required to teach physics, chemistry and biology. We thought it sensible to place general purpose science teachers on the [shortage occupation list] on the understanding that such teachers are expected to teach physics as part of their role."

The committee was also asked to look into why the shortage in maths, physics and chemistry had continued, despite their inclusion on the list for the past eight years. It concluded that pay differentials between teaching and other professions gave an "indication of how difficult it might be to persuade graduates in these subjects to enter teaching".

The review came after unions had already warned that schools will lose thousands of teachers because of controversial reforms to prevent any non-EU worker from staying in the UK for more than six years unless they earn more than £35,000 a year. 

A DfE spokesperson said: “The Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) review underlines the importance of ensuring schools can continue to recruit the teachers they need in key subjects including Maths, Physics and Computer Science.

“While the MAC’s report highlights that there is no shortage of teachers nationally, we recognise there are challenges. That is why we are spending more than £1.3billion over this parliament to help attract the brightest and best into the profession,  including offering generous tax-free bursaries and scholarships in key subjects and through our  teacher recruitment campaign: Your Future: Their Future.”

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Helen Ward

Helen Ward

Helen Ward is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @teshelen

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