Overseas-trained teachers (OTTs) are a strong feature of schools in England, particularly schools in London, other large cities and the south-east. Most schools welcome the fresh perspectives OTTs bring to the teaching staff, their professionalism and the opportunity they provide for students to meet someone with a different life experience.
Since 2001, OTTs have been permitted to teach in the UK for four calendar years without gaining Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in the UK. QTS is compulsory for teachers in the UK and is awarded on the basis that a teacher has met a number of specified professional standards. This 4 year ‘exemption’ has enabled many overseas teachers to be able to teach in the UK without the need for additional assessment.
4 Year Rule
The four year rule for OTTs states that you can teach for up to four years before you have to be awarded QTS. The four year ‘clock’ starts from the first day that you teach in a mainstream school in England, and includes any time out of service.
Up until 2007, there was a ‘loophole’ within the four year rule. This loophole allowed OTTs to continue working after the 4 year deadline if they were on an employment based route to QTS (ie working in a school to gain QTS as opposed to university). This loophole was closed by the government last year as part of new regulations put in place and so the 4 year rule is now absolute. Any OTTs that were on an employment based route at the time of the new regulations, will have up until August 2008 to complete their programme.
From 1 September 2008, OTTs who have not obtained QTS within four years will not be allowed to continue teaching even if they are undertaking employment based training leading to QTS.
So what happens if you are over the four year limit?
If you wish to continue working as a teacher in the UK, you will need to complete a programme such as a flexible Post Graduate Certificate in Education to gain QTS, or gain employment in an independent school to continue teaching. The overseas teachers helpline run by the Training and Development agency can provide more assistance on this if required on 01245 454321
Alternatively, you will be able to work as an ‘unqualified teacher’ or Instructor in UK schools but this may make it more difficult to secure a permanent position. If a school is unable to fill a vacancy, it is possible to advertise it as an instructor role. Headteachers who wish to employ OTTs who have not obtained QTS within four years as instructors, may do so providing they satisfy the statutory requirements for employing instructors - namely that there is no qualified teacher (or person on employment based training) available to fill it.