This story by Charlotte Santry in the TES 14th May 2018

Council of British International Schools reveals plans to help it find 230,000 extra teachers over the next 10 years

British international schools would be able to award qualified teacher status (QTS) to career-changers and recent graduates, under plans aimed at tackling the recruitment crisis.

The Council of British International Schools (COBIS) has published a set of proposals that it says have been “warmly welcomed” by education secretary Damian Hinds.

The plans would involve British international schools, which will need 230,000 extra teachers over the next 10 years, working with universities and school-centred initial teacher training providers (SCITTs) in England to award QTS to employees.

These employees could include graduates, support staff, spouses of employees, and local residents who meet certain criteria.

This would also help the teacher recruitment crisis in England, COBIS says, because British teachers who move overseas for work tend to return home over a period of time.

Currently, employees of international schools can obtain QTS through the “assessment only” route, but COBIS says this is unsuitable for those at the beginning of their career, or looking to change career.

The reform would allow prospective teachers to train at British international schools and gain QTS without having to return to the UK to take the professional skills tests required under the “assessment only” route.

COBIS says it would not expect the government to provide funding for the scheme, but that it would require changes to the rules governing how teachers gain QTS.

It also wants the government to promote teaching as an international career option, to be able to gain teaching school status, and to make it easier for staff to return to the UK.

Plan ‘could exacerbate teacher shortage’

Survey findings published today by COBIS show that just over a quarter of returning teachers worked internationally for between three and four years.

Tes understands Mr Hinds has asked officials to explore COBIS’ suggestions, and that representatives from his office will meet COBIS to discuss them later this month.

COBIS chair Trevor Rowell said: “Teacher supply is the most important issue facing us. It is crucial for our country’s skills growth at home and our export success in the world. We propose solutions that are constructive, optimistic, cooperative and thoroughly positive.

“Our proposals have been warmly welcomed by Damian Hinds.”

John Howson, visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University said the QTS suggestion was an “interesting idea”, but worried it could add to teacher shortages in this country.

He said: “The risk is that we persuade more people to work in international schools who never appear in this country at all. If we train people in this country, we might be able to persuade them to hang on.

“What we should be doing is stemming the flow of teachers out of the profession and ensuring that we’re doing everything possible to keep them.”

As revealed by Tes last month, England needs 47,000 extra secondary school teachers by 2024 to cope with an explosion in the number of pupils.

Emma Hollis, executive director of the National Association of School-based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT) supported the idea in principle. She said: “It’s not going to solve the recruitment crisis, but why wouldn’t we want people to gain QTS if they’re at a British school, teaching the British curriculum?

“It’s almost preferable that people are training there, rather than taking from the diminishing pool here.

“We’d be very keen to work with whoever was setting it up.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The department is discussing with COBIS ways to improve our success in recruiting and retaining the teachers we need.”


  1. David Parker on May 21, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    For Damien Hinds to support this is madness. We have no need to help international schools at the expense of UK schools. This could only make recruitment more difficult – as it is International Schools recruitment is the largest single reason for teachers leaving my school this year.

  2. Emma Hollis on May 22, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    This was my first thought too, Dave. However, when I looked into the proposals further, and spoke with the people behind it, I was persuaded that this might not be as disastrous as it first appears. The research they’ve undertaken shows that most people who teach abroad return to the UK after around three years. They can also point to a pool of people that they would be seeking to train (local staff and the spouses/families of the teachers they have recruited) who would not have even considered qualifying as a teacher in any other circumstances. We will always lose a proportion of teachers to the bright lights of foreign adventure (and I think these proposals might even save the tax payer some money on those that train here with the intent of going abroad straight away) but if there’s a way to achieve a net gain in returning teachers over time then it has to be worth exploring.

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