Teaching unions back change on work permits

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TEACHING unions have welcomed proposals to enable secondary school teachers to get a job in the island without the requirement for a work permit.

The Department of Economic Development (DED) will seek Tynwald approval for the change at next week’s sitting.

It follows talks with the Department of Education and Children (DEC), which highlighted that there was a difficulty in recruiting sufficient secondary school teachers.

Association of Teachers and Lecturers branch secretary Andrew Shipley said it was a ‘necessary move in light of difficulties in attracting specialist secondary school teachers to positions in the Isle of Man’.

And he said he hoped Tynwald would support DED’s proposal.

Mr Shipley said: ‘The issue of work permits has caused concern and upset, as well as uncertainty in the past.

‘This move will allow schools to appoint the best person for the job at interview, without a period of not knowing what will happen.

‘It also removes uncertainty if the situation changes slightly.’

National Union of Teachers island branch secretary Karl Flint said: ‘Those who work in secondary education in particular or those with responsibility for the delivery of secondary education know how increasingly difficult it is to get highly qualified specialist teachers in a wide variety of fields that are absolutely vital to the successful delivery of the curriculum.

‘While I fully understand the decision to require work permits for members of the primary sector, where we don’t appear to be experiencing quite the same problems, the secondary situation is becoming dire.’

He added: ‘We are losing out and at the end of the day, we owe it to our students as much as we owe it to the Manx people to provide them with the opportunity to do as well as they can in specialist areas.’

Education Minister Tim Crookall MHK told the House of Keys last week recruitment of secondary school teachers was a ‘matter of serious and growing concern’ for the DEC and secondary heads.

He said while preference would always be given to Manx workers ‘we have to cast the recruitment net as wide as possible to ensure secondary schools are fully staffed’.

Economic Development Minister John Shimmin MHK said the Tynwald order ‘should provide greater reassurance to parents that government will use its powers to ensure appropriate resources are provided for their children’s education.

‘This order does not disadvantage newly-qualified teachers who are Isle of Man workers providing they are able to teach the subjects where vacancies are available.’

Ballakermeen High School head teacher Adrienne Burnett said island schools were losing out because they could only make candidates offers conditional of being able to get a work permit. In the meantime, head teachers of English schools would be calling making them unconditional offers.

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