The Recruitment of International Teachers in England

Carol Robinson

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


    Teacher supply and retention is a longstanding issue in England. National Audit Office (NAO) data shows that rates of vacancies and temporarily filled teaching posts have increased from 0.5% of the teaching workforce to 1.2% between 2011 and 2014 (NAO, 2016). Employing teachers from overseas is one solution for filling teacher vacancies. However, following the UK's decision to withdraw from the European Union (EU) it is unclear whether headteachers in England will be able to continue to recruit teachers from EU countries. It is also unclear what the implications may be for existing European teachers working in England in terms of visa and migration arrangements.

    Matthias (NCTL, 2014) found that some teacher candidates born overseas and now living in the UK were relatively unfamiliar with the UK education system and requested targeted support which helped them with this, and with specific issues such as the equivalency of their qualifications. The availability of such support is likely to be especially important to prospective teachers not currently resident in the UK. Halicioglu (2015) found that where teachers work in a country which isn’t their home country, they are faced with challenges relating to identifying a school they would like to work in, adapting to the culture of the host country, and developing a familiarity with the school curriculum, the school philosophy and the academic and pastoral expectations placed on them.
    One major challenge in recruiting international teachers is being able to identify teachers who are likely to remain in the country and in the teaching profession, so schools do not experience a rapid turnover of staff. International teachers also need to be committed to the education system they are entering, and are likely to require some form of mentoring support to help them adapt to the education system they are entering (AMF Report, 2009). However, there is little existing evidence on schools’ approaches and motivations, and the perceived benefits and barriers to recruiting international teachers. The research discussed in this paper addresses this gap in the evidence base.
    Research questions:
    1. What are schools' motivations for and specific practices in recruiting teachers from abroad?
    2. What do schools perceive to be the benefits and barriers to recruiting internationally?
    3. What is the role of intermediaries such as agencies and Multi Academy Trusts in supporting international recruitment and what leads to successful recruitment?
    4. How do schools support international teachers during recruitment and once employed and how effective are these approaches in retaining international teachers?
    5. What additional benefits do international teachers bring to schools?
    6. What are the longer term intentions of schools in relation to international recruitment?
    7. Why do some schools not recruit internationally, and do these schools share certain characteristics?
    8. What motivates international teachers to apply to teach in the UK and what are their experiences of recruitment?
    9. For those who take up posts what is their experience of working in schools and any support received?
    10. What do international recruits (both those who do take up employment in the UK and those who do not) perceive to be the enablers and barriers to working in the UK?
    Data and methods:
    In November 2016, Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Brighton were commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE) to study the recruitment of international teachers in England. The aim of the research is to gather evidence to inform and improve support and guidance provided for schools and teachers looking to fill vacancies in shortage subjects. There are two empirical strands:
    1) A survey of all teachers who have trained abroad and applied for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in England over the past three years. This yielded over 3,000 responses. It explored the experiences of international teachers applying for QTS, visas and jobs, perceptions and experiences of teaching in England, and future intentions.
    2) Interviews with head teachers’ or other senior leaders in 43 secondary schools, exploring their attitudes to and experiences of the recruitment of international teachers, along with the perceived benefits, barriers and drawbacks associated with international recruitment.
    The report is due for submission to DfE in March 2017. We will present findings from both strands of the research. The paper will be of interest to policy-makers, school leaders and researchers interested in teacher recruitment and retention, and labour mobility/migration.
    Brown, J. (2015) 'The flow of higher qualified new teachers into challenging UK high schools' Research Papers in Education, Volume 30, Number 3, pp. 287-304
    DfE (2016a) Schools workforce in England 2010 to 2015: trends and geographical comparisons. Available online at: accessed on 27th October, 2016
    DfE (2016b) Educational Excellence Everywhere. Available online at: accessed on 27th October, 2016
    Migration Advisory Committee (2016) Call for Evidence: Partial review of the Shortage Occupation List. Available online at: accessed on 27th October, 2016
    National Audit Office (2016) available online at: accessed on 27th October, 2016
    Matthias, C. (2014) Qualitative Research with Shortage Subject Teaching Candidates: The Journey to Teacher Training. NCTL National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) (2015) NAHT Recruitment Survey. Available online at: accessed on 27th October, 2016
    National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) (2015) Should I stay or should I go? NFER analysis of Teachers Joining and Leaving the Profession. Available online at: accessed on 27th October, 2016
    NCTL (2015) National College for Teaching and Leadership: Annual report and accounts: Available online accessed on 27th October, 2016
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2017
    EventEuropean Conference for Education Research - University College, Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
    Duration: 22 Aug 201725 Aug 2017


    ConferenceEuropean Conference for Education Research


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