Teachers from across the globe will be able to attain qualified teacher status (QTS) under government plans to widen the net and increase the pool of staff available for English schools.
From 2023 a new professional recognition service called “apply for qualified teacher status in England” will be launched, and judge potential candidates against a consistent set of standards.
These include completion of teacher training at the same academic level as that in England and demonstration of a proficient level of English.
The current system only recognises teachers from a list of 39 designated countries, including across Europe, the United States and Australia.
Teachers from countries outside these parameters are required to retrain to gain QTS here. But the new service will be open to qualified teachers from every country in the world.
The Department for Education said the move was part of the commitment to deliver 500,000 high quality training opportunities by 2024.
The bid to increase job opportunities for international teachers comes after the UK’s exit from the European Union complicated overseas recruitment.
Around a third of secondary language teachers are EU nationals. New EU staff now need sponsorship, face costly visa and NHS fees and no longer qualify for capped tuition fees, loans or bursaries.
Schools minister Robin Walker said: “I want this country to be the most attractive place in the world to be a teacher – that means world class training, high standards and crucially, opportunity.”
Rather than eligibility being dictated by the country the teacher qualified in, today’s new policy paper sets out the standards international teachers will need to meet.
The international teacher must:
- Have an undergraduate degree of the same academic standard as a UK bachelor’s degree
- Have completed teacher training which is of at least the same academic standard as an initial teacher training course in England, and for at least the same duration
- Have at least a year of professional experience working as a teacher after qualifying
- Hold a qualification indicating that they have studied mathematics to a level equivalent to a grade 4 in GCSE; additionally, all who intend to teach primary, should hold a qualification indicating they have studied science to a level equivalent to a grade 4 in GCSE
- Demonstrate at least a CEFR B2 level of English proficiency (or alternatively come from an English speaking country, or have studied at degree level in English)
- Have the professional status needed to be a teacher in the country where they qualified, and not be subject to any conditions or restrictions on their practice
An early roll-out of the service will begin in 2023, with the countries included in this yet to be announced.
However, before this happens the government said changes to legislation are needed, as well as the development of a new digital service.
International teachers who are early on in their career will receive the same induction period as English teachers – including reduced timetables and access to a mentor.
A full roll-out will follow, the DfE said.
Teachers from Ukraine can work in England as a teacher without QTS before the new service is rolled out. They can do this for up to four years at a maintained school or indefinitely in an academy or free school.
These teachers will be able to apply for QTS recognition from 2023.
Plans are sign of ‘severe teacher shortages’
Julie McCulloch, director of policy at the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), welcomed the move but warned it “is a sign of the very severe teacher shortages being experienced by schools and colleges”.
School workforce census data, published yesterday, revealed thousands more teachers are leaving the profession.
The number of teachers leaving last year jumped by 12.4 per cent, with 4,000 more departures in 2020-21 than the previous year.
Meanwhile the number of teacher vacancies jumped to their highest level in more than a decade.
Classroom teacher vacancies hit 1,368 last November, up 45.5 per cent in 2020 and almost four times higher than the 355 vacancies in 2010-11.
McCulloch added: “The problem is that schools and colleges are underfunded by the government, subjected to an excessively harsh accountability regime, and that the government has presided over a lengthy period of pay austerity which has seen the real value of salaries eroded over many years.
“The government is attempting to remedy the situation with various initiatives but it is all a bit lacklustre and piecemeal.”