Exclusive: numbers of teachers coming to Scotland from EU has ‘fallen off a cliff’
GTCS blames Brexit and immigration uncertainty for sharp drop in numbers of registrants from overseas
Teachers - stock
The number of teachers applying to teach in Scotland from the EU has plummeted this year, Holyrood can reveal.
Figures from the General Teaching Council of Scotland (GTCS) for 2018 show a sudden drop in applicants from overseas, with a marked decrease in the number from EU countries.
Only 14 EU teachers applied for GTCS registration up until June 30 in 2018, which the regulator says is a dramatic drop from previous years.
Previous years had seen the number of registrants from the EU rise, with 128 in 2015, 159 in 2016 and 186 in 2017.
GTCS chief executive Ken Muir told Holyrood he thought Brexit had been the leading factor.
“Having maintained numbers pretty high from the EU, they are falling off a cliff, and that’s absolutely down to Brexit,” he said.
The drop in teaching has been later and more sudden than in other sectors, which have seen a decline since Theresa May triggered Article 50 to formally leave the European Union.
“Whereas in the health and care industries two years ago the numbers it more or less started to dwindle, the teacher numbers kept up.
“Particularly from three countries in the EU, Greece, Poland and Spain, we get a good number of applicants, followed by the Republic of Ireland it has to be said - those four are our big hitters, and those numbers have dwindled to next to nothing.”
The overall figures for overseas teachers are also down this year, with 614 registrants from outside Scotland in 2016, 598 in 2017 but only 126 in the first half of 2018.
Muir said the direction of Britain’s immigration policy may have been a factor.
“It’s always been the case that immigration rules, tier two status and all the rest of it have had a role to play in that, but I think that, together with Brexit, means folk are asking ‘is it really worthwhile to come and teach in Scotland?’”
He added: “It compounds the problem we’ve got bringing teachers into the education system in Scotland.”
Scotland is experiencing teacher shortages, with around 700 vacancies reported at the start of the year and a growing shortage in certain subjects at secondary, particularly in rural areas.
Both retention and recruitment are challenges. Last year GTCS reported that around 700 to 800 teachers were lapsing from registration each year, while this year figures showed places on Initial Teacher Education courses were left unfilled.
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