VOL. NO: 39      DATE:
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Mick Brookes the secretary general of the National Association of Head- Teachers launched a scathing attack on the increasing numbers of overseas teachers working in British schools and warned that childrenís education could be put at risk as schools are forced to take on unqualified staff. 

He was responding to an annual Government survey of staffing levels in levels which revealed that there are approximately 11,800 overseas teachers employed in British schools. There has been a six- fold increase since 1993. 

Overseas teaching qualifications are not recognized in the UK. As a result they do not receive Qualified Teacher Status [QTS]. This is needed to be paid as a qualified teacher. There are a total of 18 000 unqualified/ overseas teachers working in schools in the UK. 

British schools are facing an impending teacher shortage crisis in the next 10 years because of an ageing workforce; almost half of the teachers are set to retire in the next 10 years. Furthermore there are chronic shortages in key subjects such as math and science as well as foreign languages and in certain geographical areas like inner-city schools. 

Overseas teachers provide invaluable relief because they are prepared to work in these tough and challenging schools in some of the most economically deprived areas of Western- Europe-where British teachers are reluctant to teach. Brookeís lack of acknowledgement of the chronic short, as well as long- term staffing shortages faced by these schools coupled with the extremely high dependence on highly skilled overseas teachers is perplexing. These schools have been highly dependent on overseas teachers for a prolonged period of time and will be for the foreseeable future. His statements defy logic; He has insulted the very people that will he urgently needs in the future. 

He went on to say that schools were employing these teachers because they could not afford those with qualifications. Closer to reality, there are a number of indicators which point to low morale in the teaching profession. As a result recruitment and retention of British teachers is a major problem. Figures released in April by one of Britainís largest teaching unions, the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers indicated that teacherís authority in south-west, eastern and in Scotland was contested every ninth minute. The same report indicated that teachers in the sampled area were subjected to appalling sexual threats. In a national survey by National Union of Teachers [NUT], 66 % of teachers indicated that they were sworn at on a weekly basis. Half of the respondents said insults were a regular every day occurrence. The most alarming feature was that 83 % of teachers experienced threats from pupils every week. 

His motivation for these remarks has to be questioned. He is leader of an organisation whose members are in crises. A record number of schools in the UK are searching for a head. In the first three months of this year, 1,340 schools in England and Wales were looking to fill a vacancy. This figure is up by 200 from the previous year. 

His remarks have seriously compromised the professional integrity of every single overseas teacher and have jeopardized their position of authority as well as their safety in the classroom.


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