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What advice shall I give Tunisian schoolteacher seeking work in Britain?

(24 Posts)
mary170 Mon 02-Nov-15 16:23:37

I am asking this on behalf of a friend of my mother's.

How might a Tunisian schoolteacher go about finding a job teaching in a
state school in Britain?

She qualified as a teacher in Tunisia.

She has 10 years' experience teaching English in a school in Tunisia, at
both primary and secondary level.

She has a master's degree in English Language and Literature, from a
Tunisian University.

As I understand it - and I'd be grateful for corrections if I've got some
of this wrong:

a) as an "Overseas Trained Teacher" (OTT) she would be allowed under the "4 year rule" to teach in a British state school for 4 years without
gaining QTS

b) she would be most likely to find work in a school in a disadvantaged
inner-city area, the kind that many British teachers and teachers from
overseas with QTS would prefer to avoid (I have warned her of how
stressful things can get), or perhaps in a remote area somewhere

c) this is especially so, given that she would be teaching English but is
not a native speaker (even though her command of English is of a near-
native standard)

Am I in the right ballpark?

Three sets of questions...

1) Where she should look for job adverts placed by schools that might
take someone from Tunisia and be willing to do the extra paperwork that
might be required (?) compared to if they hired someone from the EEA or
US etc.?

And is there somewhere that she can register with that may then send her to one of many schools? (I've heard of the Preference Waiver Scheme, but am very much sailing by the seat of my pants here, and would welcome some info from someone for whom this is old hat. Excuse the mixed metaphors!)

2) Would she count as "unqualified" and come in at the very bottom of the salary scale? Again, please excuse my ignorance. If you aren't a QT, does that mean you are must be an NQT? Or is there a third category, that OTTs without QTS fit into? I'm wondering whether her 10 years' experience will be taken account of in her salary or not. Can someone advise as to what kind of salary she might get?

3) Is it normal to pay for an applicant's travel to get to interview? Or
is that only done for travel within Britain?

All advice very welcome :-)

Thanks in advance,


BoboChic Tue 03-Nov-15 06:50:55

Wouldn't your friend be best consulting an agency?

PotteringAlong Tue 03-Nov-15 06:53:00

There is an unqualified teacher pay scale that, without QTS in the uk she would be on - it should all be on the NUT website.

PotteringAlong Tue 03-Nov-15 06:53:45

BoboChic Tue 03-Nov-15 06:54:40

She might find work more easily as a French teacher.

sassytheFIRST Tue 03-Nov-15 07:07:06

Or, if she speaks Arabic, as an HLTA in a school with a high level of recent immigrants from Arabic speaking countries.

BoboChic Tue 03-Nov-15 07:11:43

I would imagine that this Tunisian lady's core teaching skill is in secondary age MFL (English). She won't be credible as a teacher of secondary English in the UK (her skills will be wildly off the mark - believe me, I have seen what happens when MFL teachers are asked to teach mother tongue and it is not pretty wink). But teaching French (which all educated Tunisians speak) will be fine.

LIZS Tue 03-Nov-15 07:21:43

Would she have an automatic right to work here? If not it might be better to go through an agency.

ottothedog Tue 03-Nov-15 07:49:51

I would think she has no chance of teaching English to native speakers, as another poster said, so she needs to think eal/supporting new arrivals with their english as a second language, french or arabic. I dont fancy her chances at all.

catslife Tue 03-Nov-15 08:52:18

I do know of overseas teachers from EU countries or Commonwealth countries where English is the fist language who have obtained work as teachers in the UK, but it may not be in their degree subjects and they didn't apply until they lived in the UK. Two from Spain with degree in English: one now teaches Spanish and the other works as language teaching assistant.
The main issue would be the visa and immigration requirements. Secondly they would have to do "conversion" courses as QTS obtained in other countries may not count in the UK if outside the EU. They would also need to do the skills tests in English and Maths that PGCE students do to make sure they have the competence needed to teach.
A friend from the USA was even told by a school that she would count as an unqualified teacher and that she would be on the lowest pay grade as they wouldn't count her teaching experience in the states! That was a few years ago and the system may have changed since but it can be very difficult.

ottothedog Tue 03-Nov-15 08:59:34

Have they looked at Canada? A lot used to emigrate there and it might offer more opportunities

mary170 Tue 03-Nov-15 12:50:01

Thanks everyone! She's been advised that she would get a work visa without a problem if she gets a teaching job here. The embassy will ask for evidence of her current job and income, but it's all above board. Just to clarify: a teacher in a state school in Britain is either QTS or an NQT - is that correct? Or is OTT a third category? If she'll be considered an NQT, then I guess 10 years' experience of teaching in a school will be taken account of somewhere along the line.

It sounds like a good idea for her to seek advice from an agency, but can someone please recommend one? This isn't my field at all. Are there one or two big agencies that many people use? Of course she speaks both Arabic and French as native tongues, but she has taught English for 10 years and has a master's in Eng Lang and Lit. I'm sure she could discuss the various options with them.

Last - where are the best places she could look for vacancies? I've advised her to speak to some schools that are actually offering jobs she might want to do, and see what they say.

Thanks again!


mary170 Tue 03-Nov-15 12:51:49

@ottothedog - A lot of who used to emigrate to Canada? smile

mary170 Tue 03-Nov-15 12:56:36

She'll have done maths I'm sure for the Baccalauréat.

By the way, is there a way to edit posts after you've put them up? I'm new here. Sorry for the multi-posting.

SettlinginNicely Tue 03-Nov-15 12:56:52

Perhaps she should put her Arabic skills to use? I know at my DDs private high school they are considering offering Arabic. They see it as an important MFL because there is such a shortage of educated, Arabic speakers available to work in the Foreign Service, NGOs, Military, MI5, MI6, etc.

mary170 Tue 03-Nov-15 13:06:44

That's an interesting idea, @SettlingInNicely. She hasn't ever taught Arabic, though. I will mention it to her, although I think she's very set on English. She aims to do a PhD here, part time, in the linguistics of English, even if I'm not quite sure what that's got to do with teaching English in a school!

At the independent school my DS attends, there's a big take-up for the classes in Mandarin, but as far as I'm aware Arabic isn't on the horizon there.

SettlinginNicely Tue 03-Nov-15 13:14:44

I don't know if many high schools are offering yet, but there is definite interest. If your friend's main interest is to find work here and establish herself, perhaps she should look on some of the government job websites and see whether she would be an attractive candidate for roles requiring Arabic/English speakers.

PotteringAlong Tue 03-Nov-15 13:15:15

QTS = qualified teacher status. You have done your training year and your qualifying year.

NQT = newly qualified teacher. Ie you've done your training but you have not done your first year in schools. If you train to be a teacher you must complete your NQT year within 5 years else you have to retrain. You're not properly qualified until you've done both.

Your friend won't be an NQT as she's not qualified in the uk. She will be paid as an unqualified teacher, regardless of her experience elsewhere.

PotteringAlong Tue 03-Nov-15 13:16:17

To look for vacancies go to the TES website - it's where most teaching jobs are advertised.

PotteringAlong Tue 03-Nov-15 13:16:55

FinallyHere Tue 03-Nov-15 13:27:24

Well, yes, if she gets a job then her employer would sponsor a visa. However, a school, or any other employer, is unlikely to go that route, unless they really, really can't get the skills they are looking for anywhere else? Why should they? Is that likely in this case?

It might be worth her approaching some international schools in the UK, to ask them for opportunities. Her other language skills may make her a more attractive prospect.

I wish her all the best, F.

ottothedog Wed 04-Nov-15 18:12:59

Canada - A lot of people from french speaking north africa who choose to emigrate, i guess cos of the french/english part.
Frankly her chances are absolutely minute of getting a job teaching english, as a non native speaker and teacher of english as a foreign language, to native speakers as a first language gcse. Two different skill sets. Unless she works in an international/uk or us type school and teaches it to native speakers? If she was a maths or science teacher for instance she might stand more chance. It just wont be worth the schools while to look into visas etc. French in the uk is probably not that in demand either, possibly arabic might work
If she lived here already/had visa it would be different
If she is thinking phd abroad, advise her to look at other countries if she is hoping to stay. Uk is a nightmare atm. They will send her straight back after phd finishes. Other countries let you stay and work for period of time after

ottothedog Wed 04-Nov-15 19:14:54

Sorry, i think i was wrong and you can still stay for a year after phd. Who knows if you will in a year or two tho. Until they remove internat students from the migration stats they will keep cracking down

prettybird Thu 05-Nov-15 11:00:05

If she's prepared to move to the North East of Scotland, Moray are piloting a scheme which would allow people who have qualified as teachers outside of Scotland to be provisionally registered while they undergo top-up training.

BBC report here

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