No Teacher Shortage?
One of the petitions we helped organise last year was for primary and senior school teachers to be included on the Shortage Occupation List. It did not capture the public imagination like our first major petition did. There may have been too much technical jargon, it may have been too specific in focus, or maybe by the time we published our teacher-dedicated petition everyone had heard about the settlement threshold and it was longer surprising news. Our first petition gathered 114,636 signatures. By a strange coincidence, the petition to put teachers on the Shortage Occupation List gathered exactly 114,000 less. When it closed on 5th January 2017 it had merely 636.
When the teacher's petition was published, 6 months prior to January 5th, the Migration Advisory Committee had already been contracted by the Home Office to research the teacher shortage. They performed thorough research, receiving evidence from many sources including Stop35k. At the end of January, they published their results and their conclusions.
They recommended against putting all teachers on the Shortage Occupation List.
They pointed out that there 'seems to be' a shortage of maths, physics, chemistry, computer science and 'modern foreign languages' (specifically focusing on Mandarin). This is informed by the future curriculum - that is, the priorities of the Department for Education will translate into the market's demand. Given these demands it is sensible that the MAC would recommend them for the SOL.
Of course we are disappointed in the petition's impact, and that the MAC did not find evidence of teacher shortage in other schools subjects. Many organisations have insisted that there are nationwide shortages in all subjects: school leaders, teacher's unions, headteacher's unions, Ofsted, TES, and the National Audit Office (which found in 2016 that the Department for Education had missed its own recruitment targets four years in a row). Many of these organisations have also voiced disappointment in the MAC's conclusions.
Stop35k's own research leads us to believe 2,814 teachers will be forced to leave the UK due to the £35k settlement threshold.
It seems as though the window for including all the teachers on the Shortage Occupation List has closed, if it was ever open to begin with. However there are other ways to save 2,814 people from being forced from their jobs, homes and lives - and the 30,000 or more Tier 2 General skilled workers who are not teachers. We are also pursuing these.
Meanwhile there are other petitions devoted to other sectors. One petition to exempt all NHS staff (not just nurses) from the £35k settlement threshold has already got 7,100 signatures by the time of writing. Started by Anand Kumar, he has been tirelessly working to achieve with his petition what the petition for teachers could not.