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Recruiting quality teachers remains challenge – COBIS

Teachers “remain positive” about their experience in the international schools sector, but nine in 10 school leaders find recruiting quality teachers ‘somewhat’ or ‘very challenging’, research has shown.

The majority of teachers report that the pandemic has had a moderate or significant negative impact on workload (73%), wellbeing (72%), work/life balance (67%), and job satisfaction (65%). Photo: iStock

Some 52% of senior leaders reported a decrease in applicants moving from the UK

The Council of British International Schools’ Teacher Supply report found that school are addressing teacher supply challenges with increased recruitment of local staff and engaging with training new teachers in their locality, adapting recruitment practices, and an increased focus on supporting staff wellbeing.

While 91% of British international school leaders indicated recruitment was challenging it is lower than the proportion saying the same in 2018, when 94% reported it as a difficulty.

The research, delivered in partnership with ISC Research, was based on some 1,600 responses and also showed that 40% of school leaders reported a lower volume of applications for each post, compared to two years ago. Further, only 19% reported that they are always able to recruit candidates that meet their expectations (down from 25% in 2020 and 26% in 2018).

“The international school sector, like other sectors, has faced significant challenges in recent years, but teachers and leaders have responded with tremendous resilience, and an ongoing commitment and determination to ensuring the best possible educational outcomes for children and young people,” COBIS CEO, Colin Bell, noted.

The survey found that many teachers see international experience as part of their global teaching career that gives them the opportunity to “develop personally and professionally, and plays a clear role in retaining teachers in the profession”.

Travel and cultural exploration and enjoyment and challenge continue to be the main motivating factors for teachers to work internationally, the survey found, with 59% of respondents indicating so.

Other contributing factors include career growth (49%) and salary (47%). The percentage reporting dissatisfaction with the home education system as a reason for working internationally has decreased to 33% (down from 42% in 2020 and 47% in 2018).

Some 52% of senior leaders reported a decrease in applicants moving from the UK, while they also recorded fewer applicants travelling with families (41%), and experienced teachers (39%).

A further 53% recorded increases in local applicants, 39% international applicants, 39% younger applicant and 38% applicants already working internationally.

“COBIS continues to believe that recognising international experience as part of a well-rounded teaching career, facilitating the movement of teachers between sectors, and increasing training and recognition of teacher training in an international context will benefit both the UK and international education sectors, and enable the growth and retention of the global teacher workforce,” Bell added.

The proportion of teachers suggesting they are planning to return to teaching in the UK in the future rose to 49%, from 44% in 2018 and 43% in 2020.

“There is still a need for further action”

The UK Department for Education developed the iQTS, introduced within the international education strategy, following the first COBIS report on Teacher Supply in British International Schools in 2018, COBIS chairman Trevor Rowell noted.

Other initiatives “also support and encourage returning to teaching in the UK”, he continued.

“However, there is still a need for further action, and COBIS is making recommendations that would have a positive impact on teacher supply both domestically and internationally: Position teaching as a global profession; Value and recognise the breadth of experience and backgrounds within the global teacher workforce; and Extend and recognise international training opportunities.”

Responses were collected between January 2022 and February 2022.

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