Teacher mobility within the EU

Teacher mobility within the EU

April 2016


A recently published article in the peer-reviewed journal Educational Research Review found that teachers are highly mobile professionals and that international teacher mobility and migration are increasing. As one example of this phenomenon, over 27,000 teachers working in Australia in 2010-11 were born in the UK according to OECD data.

In this Data Byte we look at the inward migration of teachers to the UK from the rest of Europe. European Directive 2005/36/EC facilitates the free movement of professionals within the EU by ensuring that, when a particular qualification is required to practise a profession, a European citizen’s professional qualifications will be recognised by the host country. Different professions are regulated in each EU country but they typically include medicine and law. Teaching is also a regulated profession in some countries, including the UK which requires teachers to have Qualified Teacher Status to teach in state-maintained schools. (Since 2012, QTS has not been a requirement for teachers in academies in England.)

The European Commission maintains a database (the Regulated Professions Database) of the number of professionals applying for recognition of their qualifications in host countries. Here we present data for foreign EU nationals applying for recognition of their teaching qualifications for use in the UK and for work as a secondary school teacher.

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What does the chart show?

The countries are shaded according to the total number of teachers from that country who applied to practise as secondary school teachers in the UK between 2007 and 2014. The most common EU countries of origin in this period were Poland and Spain. The trend lines for these countries are shown as an inset in the map with the minimum number of applications marked with a blue dot and the maximum with a red dot.

The number of secondary school teachers applying to practise in the UK has grown over this period from 1,925 applications in 2007 to 5,348 applications in 2014. Initially many of these teachers originated from Eastern Europe, from countries that were new entrants to the EU (especially Poland, Romania and Hungary) but since 2011 there has been a large increase in teachers originating from Spain.

Why is the chart interesting?

During a time of teacher shortages in the UK (as highlighted for England by the National Audit Office), the UK is benefitting from the experience of teachers who qualified overseas. To view these numbers in context, in 2014 there were 23,900 newly qualified teachers in England.

The recent increase in teachers of Spanish origin is striking and may relate to ‘push factors’ such as the high unemployment rate in that country (24.7% in 2014 according to the World Bank) . This has been discussed in the context of figures recently obtained by the TES for 2014–15 in England.

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