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Maeve O'Leary

COBIS has published new research on Teacher Supply in British International Schools, delivered in partnership with ISC Research Ltd. This research, based on c.1,600 survey responses from senior leaders and teachers, provides concrete data about the profile and motivation of teachers entering and leaving the British international school sector, the quality of their experience, the movement between sectors, the current teacher recruitment climate in international schools, and the impact of Covid-19. Responses were collected between January 2022 and February 2022.

Some key findings are:

  • 91% of British international school leaders find recruiting quality teachers ‘somewhat’ or ‘very challenging’. This is slightly higher than the response from early 2020 (88%), but lower than the 94% reported in 2018.
  • 40% of school leaders report a lower volume of applications for each post, compared to two years ago, and only 19% report that they are always able to recruit candidates that meet their expectations (down from 25% in 2020 and 26% in 2018).
  • Senior leaders report that Covid-19, school closures, and the delivery of remote or blended learning has had an impact on teacher supply, wellbeing, and workload. 68% of senior leaders report a negative impact on teacher recruitment; 56% report a negative impact on teacher retention; 94% report a negative impact on teacher wellbeing; and 88% report a negative impact on teacher workload. 66% of senior leaders have implemented enhanced staff wellbeing initiatives to support teacher retention.
  • Teachers choose to work internationally for a number of reasons. The main motivations continue to be travel and cultural exploration (59%) and enjoyment and challenge (59%). Other contributing factors include career growth (49%) and salary (47%). The percentage reporting dissatisfaction with the home education system as a reason for working internationally has decreased to 33% (down from 42% in 2020 and 47% in 2018).
  • Teachers move between the UK and international school sectors, and many see international experience as part of their global teaching career. 49% of incoming teachers say they are definitely or possibly planning to return to teaching in the UK in the future (up from 43% and  44% in 2020 and 2018).

Commenting on the research, COBIS Chairman, Trevor Rowell, said:

“This is the third iteration of this COBIS research, and it is positive to note that the UK Department for Education has responded to evidence presented in the first COBIS report on Teacher Supply in British International Schools (2018), for example with the development of iQTS, and initiatives to support and encourage returning to teaching in the UK. However, there is still a need for further action, and COBIS is making recommendations that would have a positive impact on teacher supply both domestically and internationally: Position teaching as a global profession; Value and recognise the breadth of experience and backgrounds within the global teacher workforce; and Extend and recognise international training opportunities.”

COBIS CEO, Colin Bell, commented:

“The international school sector, like other sectors, has faced significant challenges in recent years, but teachers and leaders have responded with tremendous resilience, and an ongoing commitment and determination to ensuring the best possible educational outcomes for children and young people.

COBIS continues to believe that recognising international experience as part of a well-rounded teaching career, facilitating the movement of teachers between sectors, and increasing training and recognition of teacher training in an international context will benefit both the UK and international education sectors, and enable the growth and retention of the global teacher workforce.”


Read the full research report