The government is tendering for a £300,000 contract to recruit teachers from Czech Republic, Germany, Poland and the US in a drive to address the shortages of teachers.
It comes as the Migration Advisory Committee recommended widening the number of subjects for which schools could recruit from non-EU countries.
The committee held back from declaring a national shortage of teachers. Headteachers, most of whom have been struggling to recruit in all subjects areas, said the committee’s findings were “very disappointing indeed”.
The contract obtained by the BBC states it will focus on recruiting 50 Maths and Physics teachers, the subject areas that have the highest shortages. It involves employing a private company who will support schools in recruiting qualified teachers into English secondary schools. This will then be expanded to other subject areas that schools are struggling to recruit for, most recently it was revealed teachers for Computer Science and Mandarin were on the list.
Of the 21,400 new teachers who began teaching in 2010 a third of them had already quit the profession by 2015. This is a damning record number and since then the situation has worsened.
It is thought to be the first government-sponsored international recruitment strategy since the mid-1970s, when teachers were also in short supply.
Currently, schools recruit teachers from EU countries without any visa restrictions. However recruiting from outside of the EU is more challenging. Therefore placing these subject teachers on the shortage list effectively makes it easier for schools to recruit them, by lifting immigration controls on them.
The Department of Education (DfE) has failed to meet its teaching recruitment levels for five years in a row which has not eased the pressure on schools.
Malcolm Trobe, acting general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said it was good that the DfE had recognised this was an issue that needed addressing but added: “Fifty teachers in these key subjects is a fairly low target figure given the scale of the problem faced.”
The finding that there was no occupation-wide shortage of teachers “flies in the face of the evidence”, he said.
“That is the experience of schools up and down the country which are dealing with a full-blown teacher recruitment crisis,” he said.
“School leaders are reporting severe difficulties in recruiting staff in many subjects, and they are deeply concerned about the impact on their pupils.”
The ASCL had called for the shortage occupation list to be extended in order to make it easier for schools to recruit from outside the European Economic Area to help plug these shortfalls, Mr Trobe said.
“It was a shame that schools would be denied this opportunity in many subjects,” he added.
A DfE spokesperson said: “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 £1.3bn 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.”
But the Association of Teachers and Lecturers said it was deeply disappointed with the committee’s findings, adding that the crisis would get worse with the bulge in pupil numbers, making it hard for schools to find a teacher for every class.
The Migration Advisory Committee was asked by then Home Secretary Theresa May to assess whether there was a national shortage of teachers or just a shortage in some subjects.
January 27, 2017