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Will changes to the way overseas teachers become qualified to work in England lead to risks for the size of the teaching workforce? – Lords Committee

5 January 2023

The House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee has raised this and other concerns in its 24th Report after considering the Education (School Teachers’ Qualifications and Induction Arrangements) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2022 (SI 2022/1256).

The Regulations revise the way teachers with overseas qualifications can obtain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in England by introducing a single set of criteria from February 2023 by which applicants can be assessed. QTS is a legal requirement to be able to teach in maintained schools and non-maintained special schools in England and any overseas teacher who meets the criteria will be able to teach in maintained schools without further training or assessment. The Department for Education (DfE) told the Committee that the aim of the changes is to create a fair and consistent approach to ensure teachers with equivalent skills and experience can be assessed for QTS regardless of their country of origin. In addition, the Regulations make changes to training and induction periods and accredited teacher training providers.

The report notes that the initial information provided by DfE in the Explanatory Memorandum (EM) was cursory in nature, provided insufficient information about key aspects of the policy and included some wrong information. Although DfE eventually revised and re-laid the EM with additional information, this did little to allay the concerns raised by the Committee including:

  • Disappointment about the lack of information relied upon to formulate the policy in the original EM and a reluctance from DfE to provide it until prompted by the Committee.  The incomplete information initially provided hampered the Committee’s ability to perform its scrutiny function effectively.
  • Little evidence that the policy is part of a clear strategy to maintain the teaching workforce in England. The report notes that domestic recruits to teacher training are falling sharply and DfE’s own projections suggest that, following the changes, overseas QTS recruits will be well below the levels of recent years. The data used to support the changes shows that any “increase” in QTS numbers is only relative to the unusually low 2021-22 figures. Overseas QTS awards are projected to be 40% lower than those in 2019-20.
  • The fact that representatives of parents and school governors were not part of the consultation process during testing of the policy.

In conclusion, the report recommends the House may wish to probe the Minister on whether there is a coherent and holistic approach to teacher recruitment in England.

The Earl of Lindsay, Member of the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee said;

“While we acknowledge the policy intention behind these changes, it remains questionable whether the Regulations will deliver any real term increase in the number of suitably qualified teachers from abroad, or address shortages in the domestic teacher workforce. By DfE’s own projections, expected overseas QTS awards are likely to be below those of 2019–20 and 2020–21 and additional information provided has done little to allay our concerns.

“We are also very disappointed to note that, once again, there was insufficient and partly erroneous information provided in the version of the explanatory material laid alongside the instrument. Practices such as this undermine the Committee’s ability to scrutinise secondary legislation properly and advise the House accordingly and overall limit Parliament in delivering its scrutiny function effectively. These are points we have made previously in our Losing Impact and Government by diktat reports.

We have suggested that the House seek further information from DfE to address the numerous concerns raised in our report.”

Further information