Thousands of experienced teachers from abroad will be sent home under new immigration rules if they do not earn £35,000 a year.
Schools are already struggling to find enough teachers, with many recruiting from countries including the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. However, Department for Education sources have admitted they are unlikely to win concessions from the Home Office, the Times Educational Supplement (TES) reported yesterday.
This means teachers earning less than £35,000 would have to leave after six years unless they teach maths, physics or chemistry.
The Home Office is to explore exempting teachers from restrictions on non-EU workers. But DfE sources told TES that it was highly unlikely that the profession as a whole would be included on an official “shortage occupation list”.
A high-level source said: “There is not going to be, across the board, every single teacher included.”
Unions have warned that schools will lose thousands of teachers because of controversial reforms introduced in April by Theresa May, the home secretary, which prevent non-EU workers from staying in the UK for more than six years unless they earn more than £35,000 a year.
Geoff Brown, managing director of Hourglass Education, which specialises in bringing teachers from abroad to work in the UK, said: “It is a disaster waiting to happen unless somebody, somewhere, starts to investigate the impact of this rule on education.” The NASUWT teaching union said that the change would lead to “several thousand” teachers having to leave the UK.
The Home Office said that its clampdown would result in 37 per cent of primary and 9 per cent of secondary teachers on visas for non-EU skilled workers being forced to leave.
A DfE spokesman said: “We want all schools to be able to recruit the teachers they need, but we recognise that there are challenges in some subjects — that’s why we are investing over £1.3 billion up to 2020 to attract new teachers into the profession.”
A report from the Commons’ Public Accounts Committee said yesterday that almost £1 billion will be spent enticing top graduates into teaching by next year with no proof that it works.