UK schools suffering ‘brain drain’ as new teachers ‘flock abroad’

The Guardian is reporting that Sir Michael Wilshaw has warned the country is facing a “teacher brain drain” at a time when schools across the country are already struggling to fill vacancies amid rising pupil numbers.

…In his regular monthly commentary as head of the schools watchdog, Ofsted, Wilshaw writes: “Anyone regularly perusing the job vacancy pages of the education press cannot help but notice just how many of our elite public schools are busy opening up international branches across the globe, especially in the Gulf states and the far east,” he says.

“Two years ago, there were 29 of these overseas franchises. At the end of 2015, there were 44 and the number will rise again in the coming months with several new campuses scheduled to open soon.

“Famous institutions like Harrow, Marlborough, Shrewsbury and Brighton College – to name just a few – are clamouring to meet a growing demand for a ‘traditional’ English education among the burgeoning middle classes of these countries as well as the increasing number of British ex-pats who have relocated there…”

To address the teacher recruitment and retention crisis, Wilshaw once again called for financial incentives to ensure trainees start their teaching career in areas where they are needed most. “As far as I’m concerned, that means Barnsley not Bangkok, Doncaster not Doha, and King’s Lynn not Kuala Lumpur.”

He continued: “Is it fair that the offspring of overseas oligarchs are directly benefiting from UK teacher training programmes at the expense of poor children in large parts of this country?

“Is it unreasonable to ask someone who has been trained in our system to make a contractual commitment to teach in that same system for the first few years of their career?

“I would, therefore, once again urge policymakers to consider the idea of some form of ‘golden handcuffs’ to keep teachers working in the state system that trained them for a period of time.”

Teachers’ leaders welcomed Wilshaw’s intervention, and made their own suggestion that the government should write off teachers’ university tuition fees as an incentive to keep newly qualified teachers in English state schools…

More at: UK schools suffering as new teachers ‘flock abroad’, warns chief inspector


Read Sir Michael’s comments in full at: HMCI’s monthly commentary: February 2016


Your thoughts on this intervention into the teacher recruitment crisis from Sir Michael?

And what of his suggestion for there to be some kind of golden handcuffs or financial incentives to encourage those trained in our system to remain working here, especially in areas most in need?

Please give us your feedback and reactions in the comments or via Twitter…


Should there be ‘golden handcuffs’ to incentivise teachers trained in this country to stay and work here?

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  1. Alan OSullivan

    There are many teachers who have been in the profession for a number of years who are also leaving in the pursuit of an improved work/life balance. What incentives are THEY being given to stay?

  2. TW

    Or maybe just fix the problem of people not wanting to be teachers in England, except for a some foreigners who are unaware of the malign role of Ofsted and government privatisation policies.

  3. I’m no fan of Sir Michael Wilshaw and have been critical of him on many occasions but on the subject of teacher recruitment, training and retention he’s spot on.  He, unlike Nick Gibb, recognises there’s a teacher supply problem.  He makes pertinent points about NQTs being inducted abroad as is now permitted.  He asks whether it is right that the children of the world’s rich benefit from teachers trained in the UK at the expense of children, particularly disadvantaged ones, in the UK.  And he recognises the value of qualified teacher status: teacher education, induction and continued professional development.  This is important when the Govt allows academies and free schools to recruit non-qualified personnel as ‘teachers’.

    The tone of his letter is different – there’s none of the school bashing which has characterised previous comments from either himself or his Regional Directors.  He recognised teaching was an important vocation and admitted 8 out of 10 schools in England were good or better (a refreshing admission after recent blanket condemnations of some LAs).

    It’s a pity, then, that he says teacher recruitment and retention problems will undermine ‘well-intentioned reforms to school structures, curricula and assessment regimes, of this and previous governments.’   Hasn’t he considered these ‘well-intentioned reforms’ are causing teachers to leave the profession?

  4. Nairb1

    Presumably nothing will be done while Nick ‘I’m correct about everything’ Gibb continues to deny there is a problem and Morgan continues to do her excellent rabbit in the headlights impression.

  5. I deal weekly with the requirements of teachers WANTING to return to teaching in the UK, so it’s not all doom and gloom. The problem is they need to pay for their re-training themselves, so an initiative to cover their costs, and I am not just talking about the NCTL returning teachers pilot for Ebacc Secondary only, would be appreciated.

  6. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Is this the UK education that media and politicians tell us is rubbish but millions around the globe rate quite highly? Ok

  7. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove All this is saying is that those who can move away from the UK to teach; perhaps politicians/media ought to wonder why

  8. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Golden handcuffs’ll only put more off teaching. Perhaps look at why teachers are going abroad? Improve conditions possibly?

  9. AlfredoNokez1

    SchoolsImprove New teachers enter schools & are hit by a wave of justified cynicism from experienced colleagues who’re ground down by work

  10. shaunh0pper

    SchoolsImprove Suggestion by ATL to link service to paying off student loan sounds good. But doyou stop paying student loan if tchng abroad

  11. TeacherTrainer

    Be alert teachers – without the PGCE you won’t be finding it easy to work overseas. Those ‘QTS’ only courses are trapping you in the country,

  12. BarnsleyNASUWT

    SchoolsImprove There are many places throughout the world teachers can work. Sadly for homegrown talent, the UK is falling behind…

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