On 26 May 2016 UK Home Secretary, Theresa May, commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to assess whether there is a shortage of primary and secondary school teachers in general or only teachers in certain specific subject areas. MAC was also asked whether it would be 'sensible' to fill teaching vacancies with non-EU migrants on Tier 2 visas.
Under current UK immigration legislation, schools, academy trusts, and businesses can sponsor applications for Tier 2 visas for non-European Union (EU) and non-EEA citizens. However, according to a report published by Schools Week, the difficulties in obtaining UK visas under the Tier 2 visa system is 'forcing schools to abandon their recruitment plans.'
Sanwar Ali, Editor of workpermit.com News has the following comments to make:
At the moment in the UK there is enormous public interest in the EU referendum about whether or not the UK stays in the European Union (EU). People have complained that the EU is a huge expensive unaccountable bureaucracy. It seems that it is very possible that "Brexit" will occur and Britain will leave the EU. If this occurs will it become even more difficult to find suitable teachers for primary and secondary schools? It is currently the case that teachers from other EU Countries can easily live and work in the UK.
Lets not forget that there are other serious problems with the current UK immigration system which can make things more difficult still to bring in teachers and others from outside the EU. In our experience UK Visas and Immigration and that thoroughly awful organisation the OISC (Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner) "sponsored by the Home Office" frequently behave badly and are involved in human rights abuses. Examples of shocking behaviour by the OISC include openly producing falsified and fraudulent documentation, covering up for criminals, facilitating breaches in human rights law, trying to prevent freedom of speech, etc.
Serious Misconduct by OISC (Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner)
In addition the OISC provides information to the Home Office resulting in some immigrants having to unjustly leave the Country. Somewhat bizarrely they have become part of the Government's system of immigration control. You cannot trust the OISC with sensitive information in case it is provided to the Home Office.
The OISC tries to cover up misconduct and bad behaviour within their own organisation. Complaints are mysteriously "lost" or "forgotten" about. This is especially shocking after revelations that large organisations such as the BBC have in the past covered up other types of unacceptable behaviour such as the paedophile conduct by Jimmy Savile. What "skeletons in the cupboard" remain at the OISC we wonder?
Covering up for known criminals who the OISC, again somewhat bizarrely, seems to be overly friendly with is just as shocking. Surely these are the types of people who are more likely to be involved in people trafficking. This behaviour by the OISC also encourages corruption and fraud.
It is to be hoped that even if Britain decides to leave the EU it will still be a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights. If we cannot trust Government bodies or crypto Government bodies to behave in an honest and ethical way then in some cases we should continue to be able to go to the European Court of Human Rights. Sometimes we need to be protected from our own Government!
UK Immigration Tier 2 Visa Rules leading to shortage of Teachers
Strict UK visa rules have seen a number of schools having to turn away candidates from outside of the EU. The struggle to recruit foreign teachers is likely to worsen in April 2017, when new restrictions come into force, most notably an increase in the Tier 2 visa salary threshold, for "experienced workers" to £30,000.
Schools, agencies and sector leaders have urged the MAC, for which Sir David Metcalf of the London School of Economics is chairman, to adopt a 'more flexible approach.' Managing director of The London Teacher Pool, Darryl Mydat, said: "Agencies which would previously sponsor groups of foreign teachers to be used for supply or permanent posts could no longer do so since the rules changed, which require the employer to be the sponsor."
Mydat added that the monthly tier 2 certificates of sponsorship (COS) cap means fewer tier 2 visas are available making it impossible to bring in teachers when the designated monthly limit is reached. Schools willing to sponsor immigrants on Tier 2 visa are unable to bring in the teachers they desperately need as you need a Tier 2 COS to apply for a Tier 2 visa.
Highlighting the difficulties in bringing in teachers, Mydat revealed that in 2015 he had 25 teachers sitting in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA who had job offers from schools, but they couldn't get into the UK. He'd like to see the cap lifted for those with any skills shortage occupations.
Teachers unable to meet Tier 2 visa salary threshold
Commenting on the upcoming salary threshold increase, Mydat stated that most teaching salaries will fall well below the required band, raising concerns that teacher shortages will worsen. With only maths, chemistry and physics teachers exempt from the threshold, teaching shortages across other subject areas could increase.
A report published by the National Audit Office (NAO) in February 2016 found that a lack of teachers across highly-specialised subject areas meant that students were often being taught by 'non-specialists.' According to the NAO, 28 percent of secondary school physics classes were being taught by teachers holding qualifications no higher than 'A' level in the subject.
NAO scrutinises public spending on behalf of Parliament, holding the government to account for the way in which money is spent by central government departments, government agencies and non-departmental public bodies. They found that 54 percent of headteachers working in schools primarily made up of disadvantaged children found it difficult to attract and keep good teachers, compared to 33 percent of other schools.
MAC looking for comments about keeping teachers on the Tier 2 Visa Shortage Occupation List
On June 6, 2016, the MAC issued a call for evidence document to determine whether teachers should be retained on the Tier 2 Shortage Occupation List. A MAC statement on the UK immigration website said: "The government's commission relates to all teaching professionals in primary and secondary education in both the state and private sectors."
"This means that it is limited to jobs that fall within the following Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes
- SOC 2314 Secondary education teaching professionals
- SOC 2315 Primary and nursery education teaching professionals
- SOC 2316 Special needs education teaching professionals"
The closing date for responses to the MAC's consultation is midnight on 16 September, 2016.
The MAC's call for evidence document 'outlines the questions on which the MAC seeks views and evidence from partners.' A meeting has been scheduled by MAC for 1 July, 2016 in London to discuss this further.