The shortage of teachers is a real and pressing concern. He’s been growing for a while now and, like recent data from the National Foundation for Educational Research showedis likely to remain problematic unless urgent action is taken.
One way to address this problem, beyond raising salaries, is the recently announced decision by the Ministry of Education to offer a standardized pathway for all teachers around the world to apply for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in England, based on their local qualifications.
This opens up the possibility that a huge new pool of talented teachers will be available in English schools.
We don’t yet know which nations will be involved in the first wave, apart from Ukraine (which is welcome), but we won’t have long to wait, with the announcement expected in the fall and the applications open from next year. .
International schools already know the talent of local teachers and hiring local teachers remains a key aspect of their recruitment strategies. As such, for schools in England, it is an avenue to find new recruits whom they should welcome with open arms.
Teacher recruitment: iQTS must go further
This follows plans for the new International Qualified Teacher Status (iQTS) qualification which will allow teachers abroad to obtain a transferable and equivalent qualification recognized by the DfE.
As the iQTS will lead to the automatic award of the QTS, this may be suitable for teachers interested in working in England (subject to the appropriate visas).
The pilot for this begins in September, with six providers ready to offer access to the qualification – although at present only one of them offers it as a stand-alone course, rather than linked to a iPGCE or similar qualification.
After the pilot, it would be great to see more vendors offering more standalone iQTS programs. Increasing choice and generating the best global value is one of the keys to success.
Clearly, prohibitive prices are not only counter-intuitive, they will create significant barriers to access and success with iQTS.
To add to affordability, the golden thread of safer and unwavering recruitment practices of schools and training providers, as well as a commitment to high quality training, mentoring and quality assurance, remains to paramount importance.
Still, it’s a welcome step forward – although there’s still a lot to be done to clarify how the system works and clear up some misunderstandings, like making it clear that iQTS covers all subjects not just English , as some have asked, and describe how iQTS is converted to QTS.
On that note, it was nice to see the DfE explicitly confirm recently that anyone who receives the iQTS qualification “with an approved provider will automatically be awarded QTS”.
This is a point of confusion and contention that has hovered around iQTS since it was first announced, but with this confirmation it is now up to providers to ensure that they make it clear to potential trainees just how great iQTS could be. beneficial.
To help with this, COBIS recently hosted a webinar at the request of the DfE which aimed to clarify some of the myths and misconceptions around iQTS that have arisen. With over 500 registrations, it’s clear there’s a demand for more, so we hope the session proved useful.
For those who missed, see you here.
Problems with the insertion of teachers at the start of their career
However, there are still areas where more work could be done to improve the situation that the government needs to consider.
For example, how do iQTS teachers access the Early Career Framework post-qualification that allows them to practice what they have learned?
At present only international schools that have completed a British Schools Abroad (BSO) inspection can provide an Early Career Teacher Induction (ECT) – but this means that hundreds of schools that have received many other high levels of accreditation for the quality of their teaching and learning are excluded from doing so.
BSO has only been around for just over 10 years and therefore by definition cannot have dealt with the large number of international schools that exist and would be willing to be involved.
This is where the DfE should innovate and show insight by allowing schools that have achieved other rigorous accreditations – such as the COBIS Patron Accreditation and Compliance (PACc) Program – to provide initiation to the ECT.
The evidence, much of which was presented to the DfE, demonstrates the impact and popularity of this well-established quality assurance system. In fact, the numbers tell their own story, with more than 200 schools in 68 countries having committed to the COBIS program since its launch five years ago.
Unlike the DfE data, the COBIS system already has a footprint in more countries around the world than the DfE inspection system.
We therefore urge the government to officially recognize the COBIS accreditation system, as we believe – as do other organizations such as Council of International Schools – that it can complement schools’ ability to access the DfE Inspection Scheme for UK Schools Abroad.
We know member schools would also support this, with almost all schools that have achieved COBIS accreditation and compliance saying they believe this quality assurance route should be officially recognized by the UK government and that compliance with these Rigorous standards should be enough to allow them to offer ECT induction.
A world of talent
This is something that we are proposing in the last consultation on the appropriate body reform and induction evaluation in the hope that the message lands that expanding access to training and post-training opportunities around the world would not only benefit international schools but also the English school market.
We hope others will make a similar point.
Clearly, positive things are happening around how the international market can support not just international schools, but also those in England, and that is to be applauded.
Teaching is a global profession, so it’s fitting that we recognize the benefits, skills and qualifications that others possess around the world that could boost the sector at home and abroad. Yet in doing so, we must also recognize the quality of our own profession and use it to our advantage as well.
After all, the teacher recruitment crisis will affect us all, so we must join forces to ensure we have the talent supply line needed to give children everywhere the best possible start in life.
Colin Bell is the chief executive of the Council of British International Schools (COBIS)