Recruiting international teachers: a 2-way exchange of rich minds

Recruiting international teachers: a 2-way exchange of rich minds

As international recruiters, we know that you have to reach wide to catch the best talent.


At Eteach, our specialist recruiter teams in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the UAE place UK candidates in international schools as well as source teachers to bring to the UK.


Britain is currently enduring one of the harshest teacher shortages in history – with around 20% of teaching positions still vacant at the start of each academic year.  This teacher recruitment crisis is by no means a localised issue: the deficit of classroom leaders is happening internationally with Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia struggling most. South Asia is set to need 15 million teachers by 2030.


Global teacher market: a fair exchange issue


We are experiencing keen appetite for our British teachers in international private schools who use a British Curriculum model and teach in English, so UK-trained staff are a premium resource. The number of International schools teaching in English-medium is expected to increase from 8,000 to 25,000 by 2025.


This poses a problem for the UK government – who can’t compete with the pay packages and lifestyle attraction of teaching in other countries. The UK is the largest exporter of teaching talent. The International School Consultancy (ISC) reported that in 2015, around 18,000 teachers left the UK to teach abroad, that’s more than the 17,001 who graduated from university PGCEs.


Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector of England’s schools is worried that 100,000 full-time teachers from the UK are now working in international schools instead of at home and suggests that UK policy makers consider invoking ‘golden handcuffs’ for a period of time “… to keep teachers working in the state system that trained them.”


Unfortunately, in the UK system where the trainee has not only paid significant university fees to train and, in most cases, not received any sort of bursary but also worked unpaid for the best part of the training year to qualify, it’s difficult to argue that they owe anything to ‘the state system’.


What would work better is a respectful, manageable workload and a competitive salary. Many international salaries are higher than in the UK and in some countries, not liable for tax. This demonstrates not only an immediate motive to take your skills out of the country but a longer-standing culture of valuing the work done by a teacher. It’s unsurprising that our teachers would flock to the Gulf for a few years’ experience.


UK schools should approach the issue as a 2-way exchange of rich minds instead


UK schools now need to be open to other markets, particularly international recruits for placements up to five years allowed on a standard UK visa for earners under £35,000.


Non-UK nationals already make up one-sixth (6,179 of 38,746) of teachers according to the National College for Teaching and Leadership. Teachers qualified in the EU, Australia, New Zealand and Canada are allowed to register their qualifications and gain QTS in the UK.  


Furthermore, it could be argued that if the UK is not committed to EU immigration figures, it would have more freedom to import talent from Commonwealth countries.


However, to compete internationally, UK schools need to market their employer brand- ask what have we got to offer?  We too can offer a high standard of living, class environment and good quality CPD.


If your schools are considering widening your net to a more global reach, contact us for global advertising reach that is unrivalled.


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