Nearly one in six teachers starting in England’s schools last year qualified overseas, according to official figures obtained by the Times Educational Supplement (TES).
In the year to March, 6,179 teachers who qualified elsewhere had their qualifications recognised in England, suggests Department for Education data.
This amounts to 16% of 38,746 teachers who gained qualified status that year.
England faces a “major shortage” of teachers, said a head teachers’ leader.
“Schools will recruit anybody who meets the standards and has the relevant qualifications,” explained Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, which represents secondary heads.
The overall figures on the number of overseas teachers who achieved qualified status in England last year are from the annual report of the National College of Teaching and Leadership.
The TES also obtained Freedom of Information figures on the countries from which these teachers came.
Almost a third (1,851) qualified in Spain, 10% (610) in Canada and 9% (574) in Poland.
The figures also include small numbers who qualified in Scotland (250) and Northern Ireland (99).
The government allows teachers who qualified in the European Economic Area, as well as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US to register their qualifications to obtain qualified teacher status in England.
A Department for Education spokesman explained: “Outstanding teachers are in demand across the globe and where schools wish to recruit from overseas we want to ensure they are able to do so from those countries whose education standards are as high as our own.”
To be awarded qualified teacher status in England, applicants must have been fully qualified and trained in countries that are recognised as comparable teaching standards, said the spokesman.
Teacher recruitment expert, Prof John Howson, a visiting research fellow at Oxford University’s department of education said the UK’s shortage of teachers was “beginning to suck in people from other countries where there’s a surplus of teachers”.
Prof Howson suggested high unemployment in Spain and the need for Spanish language teachers in England could explain the large numbers of teachers from Spain in the figures.
“Given the high level of unemployment in Spain, it’s not surprising that someone has sussed out there’s a way you can get a job as a teacher in England if you trained in Spain, since Spanish is a popular language”, he told the TES.