Underfunded schools recruiting science teachers from EU

The Government is sponsoring a £300,000 drive to recruit teachers from the Czech Republic, Germany Poland and America in an attempt to plug a physics and maths shortage by September, it has emerged.

A bid specification document, seen by The Daily Telegraph, invites recruitment companies to apply for the contract which will begin next month.

It is thought to be the first Government funded international recruitment strategy since the mid-1970s, when teachers were also in short supply.

The initial focus will be on signing up maths and physics teachers, but “there may be flexibility to increase the scope to cover other subjects that are challenging to recruit to”, the bid specification document says.

John Howson, chair of the teacher recruitment site TeachVac and a visiting professor of education at Oxford Brookes University said: “I am frankly very surprised that in the middle of the debate on Article 50, that the Government is busy going off to these European countries to try and attract teachers.

“In terms of the wider political debate it is a very odd approach to be trawling round a bunch of countries which we are trying to cut off association with.”

It comes as the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), recommends widening the number of subjects for which schools could recruit from non-EU countries.

The MAC, which was asked by the Government to review the labour market for teachers and secondary education last year, recommended that Mandarin and general science teachers should be designated as “shortage occupations”.

The Department for Education (DfE) has failed to meet its targets for recruiting maths and physics teachers every year for the past five years.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: “This crisis will get worse with the bulge in pupil numbers, make it hard for schools to find a teacher for every class and risk the quality of education for children and young people in England.

“The Committee’s failure to stop the loss of highly qualified overseas teachers may well be the straw to break the backs of our underfunded schools.” ...