The Department for Education has restricted a scheme designed to alleviate the shortage of secondary school teachers in certain subjects.

Despite missing its secondary school recruitment target by 50% last year, the government has decided that trainee languages and physics teachers from overseas should no longer be eligible for a £10,000 relocation payment next year.

The move was described as “inexplicable” during a recruitment crisis by one professional body.

The international relocation payment pilot was launched in September 2023 for those applying to train in England to become language or physics teachers, as well as established teachers in those subjects wanting to join the country’s profession.
James Noble-Rogers, executive director of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, said: “This inexplicable decision will make it even more difficult to schools to recruit the languages and physics teachers they so desperately need.”

Payments were supposed to be available in both the 2023-24 and 2024-25 academic years, to cover the cost of visas, the immigration health surcharge and relocation.

However, the Department for Education has announced that only established teachers, already qualified in their country, will be eligible for the scheme next year. The payment will also be made in two £5,000 instalments in 2024-25.

While the launch of the relocation payments scheme contributed to a surge in applications, a higher rejection rate meant that the number of enrolments did not rise in proportion with the number of applications. A report from the National Foundation for Educational Research showed that in physics the number of applications was up 253% but this had led to only 13% more physics enrolments. The same trend was seen in languages.

It forecast that subjects including languages and physics were on “track for slight improvements in recruitment this year”.

Noble-Rogers added that the changes “must cast doubt on the government’s commitment to tacking the teacher supply crisis”.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “While our domestic strategy remains our priority, we are running a two-year pilot of the IRP [International Relocation Payment scheme] and have recently adjusted the guidance for who can apply for this to ensure the best value for both the teacher workforce and the taxpayer.”

Yesterday, work visa/sponsorship fees and salary thresholds rose as part of the government’s plan to reduce immigration. Many commentators and experts have warned the changes could exacerbate skills crises in many industries.

Original Article: Personneltoday

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