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Overseas Qualified Teachers (Outside EEA)

Overseas-trained teachers from outside of the European Economic Area and Switzerland

1. This is guidance on employing overseas-trained teachers (OTTs) to teach in state maintained and non-maintained special schools in England. In this guidance, OTTs are people who have qualified as teachers in a country outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland having successfully completed a course of initial teacher training which is recognised by the relevant authorities in their home countries.

2. The Education (Specified Work and Registration) (England) Regulations 2003 (SI 2003/1663) and the Education (Specified Work and Registration) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2007 (SI2007/2117) set out the conditions under which overseas-trained teachers are allowed to carry out specified work.

The four-year rule
3. OTTs are allowed to teach in state maintained schools and non-maintained special schools in England as unqualified teachers for four calendar years. However, they are not permitted to teach in pupil referral units (PRUs) until they have been awarded qualified teacher status (QTS). The four-year period an OTT is allowed to work as an unqualified teacher begins on the first day the individual taught in a state maintained school or a non-maintained special school in England and expires exactly four years later regardless of whether the OTT has taught throughout the four-year period.

4. For example, if a teacher first teaches on 10 September 2006, they are allowed to teach without QTS until 9 September 2010. The expiry date remains 9 September 2010 even if the teacher did not teach for the whole period between 10 September 2006 and 9 September 2010 unless they are eligible for one of the statutory extensions in paragraph 10 below.

5. Teachers who qualified in countries outside of the EEA and Switzerland are still subject to the four-year rule even if they do not require Home Office permission to work or remain in the UK.

Advice for OTTs
6. It is essential that schools, local authorities and employment agencies make OTTs aware on their appointment that there is a legal limit on the length of time they are allowed to teach without QTS. It is strongly recommended that the following action is undertaken by OTTs either before or shortly after arrival in the UK:

(a) They should arrange a check with UK NARIC (0870 330 7033) to establish whether their home qualifications are equivalent to a UK first degree and also to a GCSE grade 'C' in mathematics and English (and science if the person is a primary teacher). It is important that these checks are carried out at an early stage as some teachers may need to top up their qualifications before they can undertake QTS training and extra time is not available for this purpose.

(b) They should arrange to undertake an employment-based training course leading to QTS by contacting the Training and Development Agency for Schools' Overseas Trained Teacher helpline on 0845 6000 991.

7. The Department has produced a publication Overseas-trained teachers: What you need to know, hard copies of which  which can be obtained from DCSF publications on 0845 6022260 (quote the reference 00898-2007LEF-EN). It would be helpful if the leaflet is issued to OTTs when they take up post.

Provisional registration
8. From 1 September 2009, in order to teach lawfully in maintained schools and non-maintained special schools in England, overseas-trained teachers from outside of the EEA who have not been awarded QTS must be provisionally registered with the General Teaching Council in England (GTCE). Further information is available on the GTCE website.

The position of OTTs after four years
9. In order to teach after four years, OTTs must have been awarded QTS by the General Teaching Council in England. OTTs who have been awarded QTS by the end of their four-year period become qualified teachers and are allowed to continue teaching subject to UK Border Agency permission if required under the terms of their UK entry.

10. It is unlawful for OTTs to continue teaching in state maintained schools and non-maintained special schools in England beyond four years if they have not been awarded QTS. OTTs without QTS may only continue teaching after four years if:

(a) they have taken statutory maternity, paternity, adoption or parental leave or pregnancy-related absences during the four-year period. In such cases, the OTT is eligible for extra time equal to the amount of statutory maternity, parental, adoption or parental leave taken under the Employment Rights Act 1996.
For example, if a teacher has taken 34 weeks statutory maternity leave during her four-year period, she is allowed an extra 34 weeks to obtain QTS.

(b) they are employed as an instructor who fills a teaching post but only when a school is unable to recruit a suitable qualified or trainee teacher. The requirement is that an instructor must have skills, qualifications and experience relevant to the teaching post in question. The instructor appointment should only be made when a school cannot recruit a qualified or trainee teacher. It is a temporary appointment until the post can be filled by a suitable qualified or trainee teacher.

11. If there is no resident qualified teacher or instructor, and providing the overseas person has scored enough points under the new points based system, a certificate of sponsorship may be issued for an instructor for one year initially. Future applications to extend the certificate of sponsorship will also be subject to the above advertising requirements.

UK Border Agency requirements for bringing overseas trained teachers to the UK
12. You can read or download advice on the UK Border Agency requirements for bringing non-EEA teachers to the UK.

The Support for Overseas Trained Teachers project
The NASUWT has launched a website, Support for Overseas Trained Teachers, which provides online information and advice to OTTs about a wide range of issues.

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