The government plans to spend up to £10 million recruiting and training hundreds of foreign physics, maths and languages teachers to meet increasing demand for new school staff in England.
A tender published by the National College for Teaching and Leadership reveals proposals to recruit 600 overseas teachers, train them up to qualified teacher status and secure their passage into the country and their subsequent acclimatisation over the next three years.
Overseas recruitment will be pursued as a supplementary avenue of teacher supply
The government blames improvements in the economy, a shrinking graduate pool and greater competition in the labour market for making it “more difficult for the education system to meet the demand for additional teachers domestically”, and says overseas recruitment will be pursued as a “supplementary avenue of teacher supply”.
Despite initially allocating £4.1 million for the scheme – just £6,800 per teacher – the government has now admitted the project will cost between £6 million and £10 million, which will be spent on three phases: recruitment and selection, acclimatisation and development and “bespoke training”.
It comes after the School Teachers’ Review Body, which makes recommendations on teacher pay, warned of the impact of restricted pay on growing school recruitment problems, and said it was “deeply concerned” about falling retention rates and missed teacher training targets.
Nearly 35,000 teachers left the profession in 2015 (not including retirees) – a figure that has risen each year since at least 2011.
It also comes after the government’s migration advisory committee (MAC) added three subjects to its shortage occupation list, meaning that mandarin, computing and general science teachers can be recruited from outside the European Economic Area.
Maths and physics teachers have been on the list for some time, but the MAC ruled earlier this year that it was “not sensible” to fill shortages in the subjects using teachers from outside Europe.
The government says it is yet to finalise how many companies will be asked to work on each phase of the recruitment project, but each of the three “lots” comes with significant responsibilities and duties.
Suppliers appointed to work on recruitment and selection will have to navigate overseas markets and carry out international relations work in order to “target, tailor and market” the DfE’s requirements, which will include multi-lingual publications and services in candidates’ home countries.
They will also have to sort out pre-screening services including DBS checks, provide migration advice for schools and work with visa and immigration services.
The acclimatisation and development side will include assessment and quality assurance of teachers and trainees, putting together pre-arrival support packages, delivering teacher networking and running a national residential acclimatisation event lasting between five and ten days.
Teachers will require the necessary experience to receive QTS before they can be in post
During this phase, candidates will need to be briefed on England’s curriculum system and how Ofsted works.
In the final phase, candidates without qualified teacher status will be supported in progressing to QTS and provided with language proficiency services and placements in schools, alongside ongoing assessment.
However, candidates will “require the necessary experience” to receive QTS before they can be in post, according to tender documents, which also set out a requirement that providers of the training element of the project will need to “fast-track” the award of QTS where applicable.
The government is specifically looking for companies experienced in operating in overseas countries with “education standards as high as the UK”.