Schools are increasingly opting to employ migrant teachers on strict two year-only visas.
The government’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) published its “review of teachers” report last week calling for computer science, Mandarin and general science teachers to be added to the government’s official occupation shortage list – jobs where there are not enough resident workers to fill vacancies.
To plug shortfalls, listed professions can be recruited with fewer restrictions from outside the European Economic Area (EEA).
The committee found 887 teachers were were recruited to schools in 2015 under tier 2 visas, a school sponsorship scheme traditionally used to employ non-EEA teachers.
But they also found an increasing use of tier 5 visas – a youth mobility scheme that allows graduates from restricted countries such as Canada, New Zealand and Australia to teach in the UK for a maximum of two years with no possibility of an extension.
Mary Bousted, the general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said the review’s finding “speaks volumes” about the “growing” teacher recruitment crisis and warned it would have “huge implications” on a school’s ability to perform well.
She told Schools Week: “Schools are so desperate for teachers they are prepared to hire them on these short-term visas even though it means there will be rapid turnover of staff.
“We know that successful schools have a relatively stable staffing structure while fragile schools have a much greater turnover.
“This has real problems for pupils in terms of continuity of their teaching, knowing who you are as a teacher and knowing how things are done in the school.”
Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that 42,000 tier 5 entry-clearance visas were granted in the UK last year. The Home Office does not collect job title information for these migrants so it is not possible to accurately identify how many are teachers.
The MAC report said at least 30 recruitment agencies that placed teachers had data suggesting the numbers of UK migrant teachers under tier 5 “may significantly exceed those being brought in under tier 2”.
Bousted said: “Teachers teaching outside their subject area is rising, one in five maths and English lessons are now taught by people with no more than a GCSE or equivalent in the subject.
“This is just yet another symptom of the malaise that is affecting schools where school leaders cannot find enough teachers.”