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Why support locally hired teachers’ professional development?
  • Professional Development
  • Teacher Supply
  • Teacher Training

This blog is from one of COBIS’ Supporting Associates.

Written by Laura Liguori, Director of EducatorsAbroad

International school leaders are aware of the teacher supply crisis. According to 2023 ISC Research, there is an ‘unprecedented demand for teachers and this trend is expected to continue into the next decade’. In the COBIS Annual Research Survey 2023, results show that ‘42 percent of the teacher workforce are UK nationals (down from 47 percent in 2022) and 30 percent of the teacher workforce are local nationals.’

Ref: COBIS Annual Research Survey 2023

As the teacher supply crisis grows and the landscape of international education shifts, international schools are considering strategic approaches to recruitment and retention, including the notion of ‘home growing’ teachers by offering opportunities for professional development including supporting routes to acquiring teacher licensure. In addition to the global teacher supply crisis, other factors are shaping the way international schools seek to expand their teaching talent pool. So, what are these factors?

Rise in Hybrid Curricula

Over the last few years, an increasing number of international schools have shifted towards hybrid curricula which adapt ‘foreign curricula’ to meet the needs of local contexts. There are reasons for this including mandates set by governments in certain countries where students are required to study parts of the local curriculum. Also, parent demand has influenced schools to adopt hybrid curricula which represent a truly international education with the belief that this will improve chances of gaining admission into universities across the world. According to an ISC White Paper (2024) ‘the number of students solely following a UK curriculum dropped by 6.2% in 2018 to 2023. This trend is mirrored in new schools opening with around two-thirds of schools that opened between 2018 and 2023 doing so with a hybrid curriculum.’

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Since 2020, there has been a noticeable increase in recruitment efforts to foster diverse and inclusive environments. By recruiting a diverse pool of educators, these schools can provide students with multicultural perspectives, promote empathy, and create inclusive learning environments. Increasingly, international schools are acknowledging that local hires from the host country can provide a deep understanding of the local culture and context. So, what are the barriers to supporting locally hired teachers to gain internationally recognised teaching qualifications?

The perception amongst parents that locally hired teachers are not as skilled as expatriate teachers puts pressure on international school administrators to prove that locally hired teachers are qualified, skilled, and experienced professionals. A hesitancy in professionally developing these teachers comes with the concern that fee-paying parents are not getting ‘what they paid for’. With a shrinking pool of qualified teachers, particularly in subject specific areas such as science and mathematics, the need to increase salary and benefits packages becomes greater to attract and retain teachers that meet the expectations of the school community. However, more international schools are beginning to change the narrative by providing in-school support for locally hired teachers to gain internationally recognized teaching qualifications. By gaining the Department for Education - England - Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), locally hired teachers will have proven their ability to meet the DfE Teaching Standards and to teach to the quality and level expected of expatriate teachers with the same qualification.

With qualifications on offer such as iQTS and Assessment Only Routes to QTS (AOQTS) locally qualified teachers now have different paths to gaining internationally recognized qualifications. However, barriers still exist for these teachers to elect these paths. A major reason for this is cost. With iQTS fees ranging from £7,950 to £9,950, this route may be out of reach for locally hired teachers who are not normally on expatriate packages and therefore cannot afford to invest in their own professional development. Then there is the question of time. So, what are the options?


When looking at existing talent within schools, international school administrators may need to prioritise levels of support given budgeting constraints. Considering teachers or teaching assistants who hold a bachelor’s degree, Level 4 equivalent GCSEs, and who have at least two years’ experience, a flexible and more cost-effective approach to gaining internationally recognized fully qualified teacher status is available - AOQTS. The Assessment Only route is not a teacher training programme; it is a pathway to licensure for experienced teachers. This programme can be completed in as little as 12 weeks, but some providers, such as EducatorsAbroad, allow flexible completion timelines. In addition, the EA AOQTS programme will provide personalized supervisory support to teacher candidates, minimizing the time a school spends supporting the teacher.

To increase the teacher talent pool and effectively recruit and retain teachers, consideration should be given by international schools to ‘growing their own local hires’ by offering this form of professional development and wholly or partially funding it, to be fully prepared to navigate the ongoing teacher supply crisis.


Visit the EducatorsAbroad website