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Gove to widen overseas teacher poll

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Overseas teachers could automatically be entitled to work in England’s schools under government proposals, Michael Gove has said.

The education secretary said he intends to make changes so that teachers who qualified in Australia, New Zealand, the US and Canada do not have to retrain to enter an English classroom.

Mr Gove said: “One of the aims of my department is to make sure that the most talented people possible are teaching our children, and it is already the case that teachers from the European Economic Area can teach in our schools.

“Today I want to extend that freedom to teachers from the Commonwealth countries such as Canada and New Zealand and Australia, and I hope that other Commonwealth countries like South Africa, Jamaica and Singapore can join in due course.”

Under the present system, fully trained teachers from the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand must undergo further training and assessment before being considered ready to teach here.

But Mr Gove said research shows that international teaching qualifications from these countries are equivalent to those in the UK.

Ministers will be changing rules to recognise teaching qualifications of the four countries from next year.

Further research will be commissioned to see if the same changes could be applied to teachers from other nations in the future.

Schools and local authorities who sponsor foreign teachers will still have to check their individual suitability.

Official figures show that 750 people completed the Overseas Trained Teacher Programme in 2009-10, down from 1,330 in 2005-06. In the autumn term last year, 270 overseas teachers completed the programme.

According to the Department for Education, around 22,200 full and part-time unqualified teachers were working in England’s schools at the end of last year.

This figure includes overseas teachers who have been teaching for less than the four years they are allowed without gaining qualified teacher status (QTS), as well as trainees working towards QTS and instructors with specific skills.

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