School staffing gaps due to a shortage of trained recruits in the UK is forcing teacher supply agencies to search as far afield as Canada and Singapore to plug the gaps.
Up to 60 teachers recruited from the USA to start work in September are unlikely to start, as they have been refused permission to work due to strict limits on work permits.
Supply agencies have written to the Education Secretary Nicky Morgan to lift the ban.
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The managing director of TimePlan, Tish Seabourne, told the Independent: “I just fail to see how in any way a special needs teacher from America is going to damage the UK economy if they come over here to teach”
“Yet when we applied for the Tier Two visas (the necessary work permits) in June – we were told the annual quota had been filled. It was the same story in July.”
Two agencies, TimePlan, which has around 1,200 teachers on its books and Aquinas, with 200 teachers on its books, have been looking to Canada for recruits. Australian and New Zealand recruits are also being targeted.
The deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers said that recruitment to teaching has been hit by a “four times whammy”, including a rising pupil population that requires more teachers and teachers leaving due to the workload.
The education managing director of Aquinas – which said it is targeting Ireland and possibly Singapore as well as Canada, said: “We’ve gone for English speaking countries first and Singapore because of the quality of the maths teaching there.
“We’ve certainly seen a gap in the market this year and schools are struggling much more to fill places.
“The main problem is there is a lack of respect for teachers and a lack of earning potential.”
Ms Seabourne, from TimePlan, added that they have recruited abroad in the past, but was having to increase its efforts as a result of the shortage of trained teachers now available in the UK.
“It’s not just maths, chemistry and physics teachers we’re short of,” she said. “It’s geography, special needs and even early years in London because of the increase in the population.”