In June, then UK Home Secretary, and now prime minister, Theresa May, commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to determine whether teachers should remain on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL). It’s unclear what the committee will determine, but the hope is that teachers will remain on the SOL.
The UK is struggling to hold on to teachers
The National Audit Office (NAO) found that 54% of head teachers at schools servicing disadvantaged students have difficulties holding on to their teachers. In non-disadvantaged servicing schools, 33% of head teachers revealed it is becoming increasingly difficult to retain their top teachers.
In addition to this, new Tier 2 regulations (for all professions) will set the salary threshold for “experienced” employees on a Tier 2 visa at £30,000 a year. Since most teacher salaries fall well below this limit, it will be even more difficult for schools to hold on to their experienced foreign teachers.
Sponsorship certificates are now harder to issue
Previously, employment agencies were able to sponsor teachers for their Tier 2 visas. A recent rule change means that this can no longer be done. Now, the employer of the teacher has to be the sponsor on the sponsorship certificate. This puts an additional administrative burden on the schools themselves when searching for teachers.
In addition to this regulatory hurdle, the monthly cap on Tier 2 sponsorship certificates is reached every month. This makes it almost impossible for schools to bring the number of teachers needed.
Darryl Mydat, MD of the London Teacher Pool, has been vocal in highlighting the problems facing schools in the UK. Mydat has called for occupations that are on the SOL to be excluded from this limitation.
Have your say: Contact the MAC
On 6 June, the MAC called for evidence to motivate why teachers, both primary and secondary, should be retained on the SOL. In their preliminary report the committee revealed: “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”
Currently, schools rely on foreigners who wish to teach in the UK to fill the empty spaces in their schools. It is hoped, given the facts on the ground, that the value of foreign teachers will be obvious and the MAC will decide to keep school teachers on the SOL.