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Silver Linings

Is the teacher recruitment crisis a hidden opportunity for your school?

There has been a lot in the news recently about the “teacher recruitment crisis”, with Education Secretary Nicky Morgan accused of being “completely complacent and in total denial” about the situation.[1]

According to Ofsted’s recent report, there will be 900,000 more school-aged children in the UK over the next ten years, amounting to over eight million pupils by 2023.[2] While schools minister Nick Gibb has been busy asserting that there is no “crisis”, only “a challenge” which the government is “managing”, we’ve been looking into how schools can be proactive about handling a potential shortage.[3]

One of the greatest learning experiences is to step outside of your cultural viewpoint and study a topic from a whole new perspective. With UK classrooms comprised of pupils from all over the world, and representing multiple different cultures and ethnicities, it makes sense that international teachers could help bring a new and enlightening perspective into the classroom.

While the UK is facing a recruitment crisis, other countries around the world face the opposite problem. In New Zealand, for example, there have been reports that single teaching positions have attracted more than 150 applicants.[4] Similarly, in Singapore, a nation which recently topped the OECD educational rankings, teacher recruitment has been scaled down.[5]

With graduates from top educational systems eager for work, it’s possible that teacher recruitment issues faced in the UK offer new opportunities for our schools. This could be a chance to enable pupils to experience different perspectives and methods of teaching, an influence which is positive to the development of a broad and balanced education.

It’s unrealistic to suggest that overseas recruitment would in any way import the types of educational successes experienced in Singapore; however, that is not (and arguably should not be) the goal. While countries like Singapore perform well in high-stakes testing, the country’s focus on the “transmission of conventional curriculum knowledge and examination performance” is not necessarily something UK schools should aspire strictly to.[6]

Though Singapore performs well educationally, it resides in a very specific cultural, historical and governmental configuration, one which makes its education system difficult to import into other countries. Culturally too, there need to be questions about what the UK wants from its education system. Is high achievement on OECD tests the be all and end all? Are other skills and fresh understanding more appropriate for the building of this country’s future and the unique society here?

A recruitment drive towards international teachers could be a way for UK schools to broaden their achievement criteria, as well as boosting their marks. Check out more helpful documents on this here.

[1] Labour shadow schools minister Kevin Brennan via TES (2015) ‘Government ‘complacent and in denial’ over recruitment crisis, says Labour’ <https://www.tes.co.uk/news/school-news/breaking-news/government-complacent-and-denial-over-recruitment-crisis-says-labour> [Accessed: 28 July 2015]

[2] Graeme Parton (2015) ‘Ofsted warns of looming teacher recruitment crisis’ <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/11285171/Ofsted-warns-of-looming-teacher-recruitment-crisis.html> [Accessed: 28 July 2015]

[3] Richard Vaughan (2015) Schools minister: ‘There is no recruitment crisis’ <https://www.tes.co.uk/news/school-news/breaking-news/schools-minister-there-no-recruitment-crisis> [Accessed: 28 July 2015]

[4] Amy Jackman (2015) ‘An ongoing glut of new teachers causes job search headaches’ <http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/70440509/an-ongoing-glut-of-new-teachers-causes-job-search-headaches> [Accessed: 28 July 2015]

[5] Sandra Davie (2014) ‘Ministry scales down recruitment of teachers’ http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/ministry-scales-down-recruitment-teachers> [Accessed: 28 July 2015]

[6] David Hogan (2014) ‘Why is Singapore’s school system so successful, and is it a model for the West?’ < http://theconversation.com/why-is-singapores-school-system-so-successful-and-is-it-a-model-for-the-west-22917> [Accessed: 28/07/2015]

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