Fall in European teachers choosing Scotland

25 July 2018, 15:21 | Updated: 25 July 2018, 15:22

school classroom

The number of teachers from European countries who are applying to come to Scotland has fallen "off a cliff", new figures show.

The General Teaching Council of Scotland (GTCS) said only 14 requests for registration had been made in the first six months of 2018 from applicants hailing from European Union (EU) countries and Switzerland.

That compares to 128 applications in 2015, 159 in 2016 and 186 last year.

GTCS chief executive Ken Muir attributed the decline to the decision to leave the EU.

He told Holyrood magazine: "Having maintained numbers pretty high from the EU, they are falling off a cliff, and that's absolutely down to Brexit.

"Particularly from three countries in the EU, Greece, Poland and Spain, we get a good number of applicants, followed by the Republic of Ireland it has to be said - those four are our big hitters, and those numbers have dwindled to next to nothing."

The overall number of applicants from outside Scotland has also fallen with only 126 in the first half of 2018.

That compares to 614 registrants in 2016 and 598 last year.

Mr Muir added: "It's always been the case that immigration rules, tier two status and all the rest of it have had a role to play in that, but I think that, together with Brexit, means folk are asking 'is it really worthwhile to come and teach in Scotland?'"

Responding to the figures, SNP MSP Gordon MacDonald said: "The consequences of Brexit and damaging Tory policies around immigration are now hitting close to home - in our local schools and communities.

"Despite the best efforts of the Scottish Government to attract and retain the talent we need in our teaching sector, this work is being completely undermined by Westminster.

"The existing cap on the number of qualified teaching professionals allowed to enter the UK has already left some schools denied a teacher they had recruited, but these new figures are absolutely devastating."

Ross Greer MSP, the Scottish Greens' education spokesman, said: "Through no fault of our own, a clear message about Scotland is being sent to EU nationals and those from further afield, a message that we are closed to migrants, including those who wish to come here to teach.

"This is yet another way in which Brexit, which Scotland overwhelmingly rejected, is already damaging our society."