Council under fire for failure to sponsor overseas teachers

MORAY COUNCIL has so far failed to register as a sponsor for visas for teachers from overseas – despite facing one of the worst recruitment crisis faced by any Scottish local authority.

The issue has been highlighted by local MSP Richard Lochhead after he had been contacted by a teacher from the United States who is registered with the General Teaching Council for Scotland – and desparate to teach in Moray.

The music teacher cannot get a teaching job in the region, however, because she does not have a required visa – and she cannot get that visa because she does not have a job.

While other local authorities in Scotland are registered as sponsors for visas, including neighbouring Aberdeenshire, Highland and Aberdeen City councils, Moray has not yet exercised that option. Now the SNP MSP is questioning the Council on why it has not taken up that option to attract workers from overseas – in particular at a time of severe recruitment issues.

Mr Lochhead said: “Given the well-publicised recruitment issues the Council has faced in recent years, I have to admit that I was quite surprised to discover that the local authority isn’t a registered visa sponsor for workers from overseas.

“So here we have a qualified teacher from the United States, who is registered with the GTCS, and is desperate to teach in a Moray school and can’t get a job without a visa, but the Council isn’t registered to sponsor her to get one.

“For some time now Moray has struggled to fill teacher vacancies – and we continue to compete with other areas to attract staff to work in our schools. In my view it is vital that the Moray Council does absolutely everything in its power to fill vacant posts.

“To me, it seems like registering to become a visa sponsor would be a no brainer for the Council and I’m keen to understand why Aberdeenshire, Aberdeen City and Highland Council have taken this approach but Moray Council hasn’t.

“Whilst I appreciate that we won’t be able to solve our teacher recruitment problems completely by looking to people from overseas, if sponsoring visas means we can fill even a few of our current vacancies then I think it is important that the Council explores this option.”

A spokeswoman for Moray Council defended their stance, saying: “While we’re not currently sponsoring visas for any profession, we already offer a range of generous incentives to encourage people to move to Moray, such as a £5400 relocation package.”