Statistics released in a UK Government National Audit Office today reveal that in 2014, the recorded rate of vacancies and temporarily filled vacancies in schools in England and Wales rose to 1.2% – that means over 5,000 unfilled posts in England alone. This is because the birth rate is rising – the school population is estimated to go up by 10% to 10.4 million by 2025 – and because not enough teachers are being trained, especially in Maths, Science and Languages. Teaching is naturally a demanding job, too, as well as being a great job, and there is a high turnover of teachers. All this means that headteachers of UK schools report increasing difficulty in recruiting staff, and figures published before Christmas showed that almost two thirds of UK schools had struggled to get the right teachers to fill their posts in the previous year.
At the same time, the number of Australian teachers on the waiting list for a permanent post in NSW has reached an all-time high of around 45,000. It doesn’t take a mathematician to work out that the UK is a great destination for Australian teachers, especially as Australian teaching qualifications are usually transferable to the UK with no extra study needed, and because there are a number of different visa options. It can be very straightforward to get a visa in the shortage subjects of Maths, Physics and Chemistry, too.
This was the topic of the Courses and Careers Show with Steve Price and Danny Bielik on 2GB Radio today, and it was a pleasure to contribute to it. Teaching is an incredibly important profession, and it needs good people – the last thing anyone in education wants is for well-trained teachers to be underemployed when there is a huge job to be done to educate the global generation of tomorrow. If there is an oversupply of teachers in one part of the world, why shouldn’t these teachers consider teaching somewhere else for a time?
The starting salary for teachers in the UK is £22,244 per annum, or £27,819 in inner London – accommodation costs are very high in London, of course, but drop dramatically in other parts of the country. Overall – especially with the weak Australian dollar – the average UK teacher salary of £37,400 is attractive for teachers in their first decade of teaching. UK schools have a reputation as being very innovative places, with leading edge pedagogy and research-driven initiatives. Some schools are very challenging – where in the world is this not the case? – but this challenge can be exciting too.
International teaching experience brings a wealth of opportunities: living and working abroad enables people to learn a huge amount about themselves, and they develop their personal resilience; they learn too a huge amount about other cultures and other ways of life. All of this sticks with them when they return home, and it makes them better teachers to young people who themselves need to become globally mobile if they are to make the most of what the 21st century has to offer them. International experience calls … why not make the most of the opportunities now?
Useful websites for teachers looking to work in the UK:
UK Department for Education
UK Visa information