Credit: Douglas Neiner

Working Visa/Permit requirements

If you are thinking of coming over to teach in the UK it is a good idea to check the UK Border Agency website frequently for current and up-to-date information about coming to the UK for the purpose of work. 

For those teachers who are not eligible for entry based on their UK residency status, ancestral background or passport from a member country of the European Economic Area (EEA), other entry clearances are available under the tiered points-based immigration system. 

  • Australians, Canadians, Japanese and New Zealanders aged between 18 and 30 can apply for a Working Holiday Visa (Tier 5 – Youth Mobility) and work as a teacher on a supply basis but not on a permanent basis (a day-to-day or long-term contract placement). If you wish to stay longer than your (Tier 5) Working Holiday Visa allows you can seek a permanent position with sponsorship before your Working Holiday Visa is expired.

The following tiers are most likely to apply to teachers wishing to teach in the UK:

Tier 1 Highly Skilled Workers: Tier 1 allows highly skilled people to come to the UK to look for work or self-employment opportunities. Unlike Tier 2, Tier 1 visa holders do not need a job offer or sponsorship to apply. Points are given for qualifications, previous earnings, previous UK experience, age, language skills and proof of savings.

Tier 2 Sponsored Skilled Workers: Tier 2 offers routes into the UK for skilled workers who have a job offer from a UK-based employer. The employer must be a registered sponsor, recognised by the UK Border Agency. In addition to meeting the points criteria for this tier, workers will need to present a certificate of sponsorship from their employer.

  • Sponsorship from an employer: Teachers have been added to the list by DES (Department for Education and Skills) of skills and vocations experiencing a shortage. This means that if you do not qualify for any of the other visa or passport types you may be able to get a sponsored work permit where an employer applies for a work permit on your behalf for a specific position.

You will need to consult the online points calculator provided by the UK Border Agency to find out whether or not you are eligible for any of the entry clearances in the new tiered system. Relevant and up-to-date information on different types of working visas and their application requirements can be found here.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office provides information regarding foreign embassies in the UK.

National regulations 

Terms and conditions

The UK Government provides information on terms and conditions of employment for workers in the United Kingdom, in particular about:

Contracts and Working Hours, including information on the different types of contracts (fixed-term), the employment status, workers\' rights (in particular for agency workers) and changes to contracts.

Redundancies, Dismissals and Disciplinaries, including information on procedures to solve a workplace dispute, how to calculate redundancy pay, your rights as an employee (reasons for dismissal, notice periods, payment arrangements, helpline, etc.).

Your rights at Work and Trade Unions, including information about joining a trade union, your rights against discrimination and bullying/harassment, pregnant employees’ rights, etc.

Taxation

The information provided by the UK Government guides you on how to pay income tax in the United Kingdom. UK tax and National Insurance will be deducted directly from your fortnightly pay (i.e. every two weeks). This is termed PAYE (Pay As You Earn). The current basic rate of tax is 20%. Most employees will be entitled to a Personal Tax Allowance of £6,475 per tax year (current rates). This allowance is not given all at once, but spread over the 52 weeks of the tax year. After the taxable allowance, any remainder is taxed at 20%. National Insurance contributions will also be deducted from your salary. Altogether, you will pay approximately 30% of your salary in tax and National Insurance contributions.

Health requirements

Migrant Teachers who intend working in the United Kingdom for a period longer than six months may have to obtain a health certificate confirming that they are free from infectious tuberculosis (TB) before submitting their Visa Application. Nationals of countries listed in Annex T of the Immigration Rules must produce a medical certificate from an approved UK Border Agency showing that they are free from active pulmonary TB.  For further information on the above, please visit UK Border Agency website.

Working as a teacher

Professional requirements

If you qualified as a teacher inside the European Union, mobility laws apply. This means you can access teaching positions in the same way as home-trained teachers. 

  • From 1 April 2012, teachers who qualified in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States of America (USA) will be recognised as qualified teachers and awarded qualified teacher status (QTS) in England without being required to undertake any further training or assessment. They must apply to the Teaching Agency for the award of QTS before they can be recognised as qualified teachers.

If you qualified as a teacher overseas and outside the European Economic Area (EEA), you may be eligible to teach in the UK as a temporary, unqualified teacher for up to four years before you must achieve QTS. 

  • OTT four-year rule: The four-year rule for overseas trained teachers (OTTs) states that you can teach for up to four years before you have to be awarded QTS. If you have not achieved QTS in this time, you can no longer teach. The four years start from the first day that you teach in a maintained school or non-maintained special school in England, and includes any time out of service. If the four-year rule applies to you, you will need to complete a programme such as a flexible PGCE to gain QTS, or gain employment in an independent school to continue teaching.

Employment-based initial teacher training (EBITT) programmes are on-the-job programmes that allow you to qualify as a teacher while you work

  • You may be eligible for a training grant, please contact your employment-based initial teacher training (EBITT) provider for further information.

To be eligible for QTS, you must be qualified as a teacher overseas and working as an unqualified teacher in a school in England. In addition, if you qualified outside the European Economic Area (EEA), you will need:

1. a qualification equivalent to a UK bachelors degree

2. to demonstrate that you meet a standard equivalent to GCSE grade C in mathematics and English

3. to demonstrate a standard equivalent to a grade C in a science GCSE if you intend to teach primary or key stage 2/3 (ages 7-14)

Visit the National Recognition Information Centre (NARIC) website to find out whether your qualifications are of an equivalent level to UK GCSEs and an undergraduate degree

If you can demonstrate that you already meet all of the standards for QTS, without the need for any further training, you may apply for Assessment Only (AO) route to QTS. The AO requirements and supporting advice are available from the AO guidance. If you would like to apply for the AO route, you can apply directly to an approved provider.

Conditions of service 

The national Teaching Agency provides information on what being a teacher is actually like: timetable, the teaching week, teachers’ stories, etc. Also, please visit the Teaching Agency\'s Facebook page where you can talk to actual teachers.

The Pay Scale is different for qualified and unqualified teachers (see paragraph above to know more about professional qualifications and the Qualified Teacher Status).

Pay Scale for Unqualified Teachers from 1st September 2012 is:

- London fringe: £16,856–£26,052

- Outer London: £18,789–£27,992

- Inner London: £19,893–£29,088

- Rest of England and Wales: £15,817–£25,016

  • Where you fit into these scales will depend on your position, experience and location, as well as on your individual school.

The UK Government provides annual detailed information about Qualified and Unqualified Teachers Pay scales, allowances and conditions of employment in the School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document. 

Type of employment available for teachers

Employment for teachers in the UK exists in a wide range of school types, variations in contracts and for all subject areas. 

Teaching positions can be available in either of the following institutions:

- State Funded Schools – state funded institutions maintained by both the local and central government. These schools are managed by LEA’s (local education authorities) OR

- Independent Schools – do not receive state funding and are largely supported and maintained by parents.

Complaint mechanisms 

The UK Government provides specific information about workers’ rights and unions, as well as a specific section on agency workers’ rights and where to get help.