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Employment of Overseas trained teachers and the hypocrisy of the four-year rule.

Comment 27th July 2010

Currently in this country there is a four year rule with regard to Overseas Trained Teachers (OTT) which states that OTTs can work as teachers in maintained and non maintained special schools in England for a period of up to four years, but must, during that period attend an Overseas Trained Teacher Programme or a Graduate Teacher Programme to achieve Qualified Teacher Status and be able to continue to teach in this country.

I believe that this four year rule needs to be revised, because not only does it waste time, but is an additional financial burden to many schools and education authorities which fund the QTS training for OTTs, a cost that many can't afford in the current economic situation. Surely Headteachers and Heads of Departments are more than able to assess whether a teacher meets the standards required to teach in England.  Even the submission of a portfolio and an independent inspection would save time and money and allow all teachers, even overseas trained ones, to get on with their jobs.

Why does this matter?

My idea to review this four year rule is important, as I believe it bars many well qualified OTTs from gaining full access to the teaching profession. For example, as in my case,  I am a British Citizen, I have trained in an English speaking, Commonwealth country, where the standards of Teacher Training are very high and easily verifiable.  In addition, I have a Bachelor of Education degree, rather than a Post Graduate Certificate of Education, and I feel that my qualifications are well above the minimal QTS standards required in this country.  I have an MA from Leeds Metropolitan University and a Diploma in the Theory and Practice of Counselling with Exeter College. I have had extensive teaching experience in this country in Special Education and Secondary Teaching, which I undertook before this four year rule was introduced. Furthermore, my managers, colleagues and students from my current school of employment would attest to my performance and agree that I am a dedicated, hard-working and popular teacher. Yet I am not able to continue teaching in this country next year unless I gain QTS, the path to which is all but barred to me, since the various training options do not take into account individual circumstances, such as teaching part-time and having other fixed commitments, as in my case, working as a counsellor.  As a result, my school will loose a dedicated and hard-working teacher, as I imagine will many schools around the country. 

Moreover, I do not understand why the Labour government, and now the current coalition government, regard OTTs as ‘good enough’ to teach for four years, but not thereafter.  In this sense, this rule seems to be somewhat hypocritical.  Surely, to allow a teacher that is not seen to have met the standards required to teach in English schools, to actually teach here for four years, can be potentially detrimental to the education of many students, or so we are led to believe.  Either an OTT meets the standards or not, surely you cannot meet the standards for four years only.

As far as protecting jobs for British teachers, this too is ludicrous, as there are many OTTs that have British citizenship such as me.  Surely an OTT could easily be inspected and assessed by a trained invigilator, saving time and money for both schools and the current Government? Will the new government consider revising this incongruous rule and allow good teachers, whether trained overseas or not, to get on with their jobs.

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