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The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is set to determine whether teachers should remain on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) in the UK. It’s unclear what the committee will determine, but if educators are removed from the SOL it will become more difficult for foreigners to teach in the UK.

UK schools have been struggling to fill vacancies

According to the National Audit Office (NAO), 54% of head teachers at schools catering for disadvantaged students have difficulties holding on to teaching staff. In non-disadvantaged servicing schools, 33% of head teachers revealed that it is becoming increasingly difficult to retain their top teachers.

It’s clear that all schools in the UK are in danger of becoming increasingly under-staffed. Unfortunately, there are not enough British teachers to fill the shortfall. This is why so many foreign citizens, particularly those from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, have been able to teach in the UK.

Currently, recent Tier 2 regulations (for all professions) set the salary threshold for “experienced” employees on a Tier 2 visa at £30,000 a year. Teacher salaries typically come in well below this limit; their exclusion from the SOL will make it virtually impossible for British schools to hold on to their experienced foreign teachers.

Schools can no longer use agencies to employ teachers

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.

Nothing has come of this plea and, with Brexit dominating the headlines and government sub-committees, it is unlikely that these issues will receive significant attention any time soon.

The MAC calls for submissions

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 vacancies. 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.

For help with Tier 2 visa applications give a 1st Contact immigration expert an email, or give us a call on 0800 003 163 (in South Africa), or 1800 039 300 (in Australia).


 



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