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Overseas Checklist for New Teachers in the UK

The UK’s education system is one which provides plenty of opportunities for teachers who wish to pursue a career in a variety of educational positions. From mainstream primary and secondary to special needs and further education, there are a number of roles available to those who wish to come from overseas to work here.

There are routes into teaching in the UK for both teachers who have trained overseas and graduates who wish to train as a teacher in the UK, so many teachers who want to relocate to the UK from overseas find it relatively easy to secure a teaching career in the UK. Teaching is a profession which offers a range of opportunities to overseas applicants, but there are a few things to think about before committing to a teaching career in the UK.

Subject Specialisms

For teachers who are already qualified in another country, especially for those who have qualifications in the much-sought-after subject areas of maths and physics, the UK’s education system provides a wide variety of opportunities.

For teachers of some subjects, there is additional help from the government to find work. Currently, maths and physics are highly sought-after subjects and it is possible to register with government agencies who are already in contact with schools which are keen to recruit teachers with the relevant skills and could help secure a position for an overseas teacher.

Qualified Teacher Status

All teachers working in the UK need to have Qualified Teacher Status, known as QTS. QTS is awarded by the National College for Teaching and Leadership for teachers who train in the UK as well as those who come to the UK from other countries.

For some teachers coming to the UK from overseas, this doesn’t require any additional training or assessment. Teachers who have trained and qualified in the European Economic Area, Australia, New Zealand, the USA or Canada may be able to convert their existing qualifications to enable them to teach in the UK.

Teachers who are recognised as qualified teachers in EEA member states can apply to the NCTL for QTS in England. Teachers who qualified outside the EEA, but whose qualification is recognised by an EEA member state can also apply for QTS so long as they have had three years’ experience teaching in that member state. Swiss nationals are also eligible to apply for QTS in England. 

For overseas teachers who meet these criteria, applying for QTS can take up to four months. Once QTS is awarded, applicants will be exempt from having to serve a statutory induction period and will need no further training to work as a teacher in the UK school system.

Overseas teachers hoping to work in the UK can apply for QTS online and will be notified by email if they are successful. A letter confirming their status can be downloaded in order to demonstrate that they have been awarded QTS when applying for jobs.

Teachers who have qualified in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA can also apply for QTS from the NCTL. They can apply through the online system and will simply need to supplement their application with a letter which confirms that they are qualified and eligible to teach on a permanent basis in the relevant country. This letter will need to be issued by the recognised authority in order to be accepted.

The NCTL will then ascertain the status of the applicant and check that they have not been barred from teaching before awarding QTS and adding the applicant’s name to the database of qualified teachers in England.

Teachers who have trained outside the EEA in a country other than Australia, New Zealand, Canada or the USA will need to complete an accredited training programme in order to obtain QTS. This will provide them with the relevant skills and training that they need to allow them to take up a permanent teaching post.


Teachers from outside the EEA may need to apply for a visa in order to work in the UK. There are a number of different types of visa, and the eligibility criteria are different for all of them. For example, secondary teachers who are qualified in areas which are considered ‘shortage subjects’ by the Home Office, currently maths and physics, can be sponsored for work visas more easily to encourage them to come and work in the UK.

Fully qualified teachers who are coming from outside the EEA are also covered by the immigration rules which will require them to meet some basic criteria in order to qualify. These include earning a salary of £20,800 or more, which is usually achievable by teachers whose starting salaries are normally between £22,000 and £27,000, and being able to produce a certificate of sponsorship from an employer, which a school will be able to provide for applicants.

There are several tiers of visa including temporary and ancestral categories and it is the responsibility of the applicant to ascertain which is the most appropriate for them. The UK border agency is able to provide specific and up-to-date advice about the requirements for obtaining a visa, so overseas teachers who wish to ascertain the likelihood of being granted leave to work in the UK can contact them for details of the requirements in their particular case.

Disclosure and Barring Service

All teachers working in the UK will need to undergo an enhanced check from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), a UK police check which can take up to six weeks to come through before an overseas teacher is able to take up a position in this country.

Teachers who wish to work in the UK should ensure that they have an up-to-date police check from their home country in order to be allowed to work with children and to minimise the time it will take the Disclosure and Barring Service to process their application to enable them to work in the UK long-term.

Most teaching agencies will help overseas teachers to obtain a DBS check, and those who are sponsored will usually have their check completed directly through the school they are working for, but having all the right paperwork to hand will ensure that the process is as swift and smooth as possible.

Building a network

Most teachers form strong friendship groups while they are training and many stay in touch with their peers once they are in a teaching role. Teachers who come from overseas may want to connect with others in a similar position to them, and there are a number of online resources, forums and social networking groups aimed at helping overseas teachers to network with one another.

These forums can help teachers to familiarise themselves with the realities of what it means to work in a school in the UK. From understanding staffroom etiquette to getting a feel of the best way to approach the curriculum, having colleagues to bounce ideas off and ask advice from really makes a difference, especially in the first few weeks when things can seem a little overwhelming.


Teachers working in a school will be paid directly by that school and usually have tax and National Insurance deducted from their wages before they are paid. Most schools have a bursar or business manager who is responsible for ensuring these payments are correctly calculated and who will be able to answer any questions about deductions, tax codes or anything else to do with the financial side of working as a teacher.

Teachers who are employed through agencies on temporary, short-term or supply contracts will need to ensure that they have their finances in order. Some agencies will process teachers’ wages through their own payroll system and pay their tax and National Insurance on their behalf, and others will point their staff towards companies which will manage their finances for them

Overseas teachers who are not sure of how they are being paid should check with the school that is employing them or ask their employment agency for details to ensure that they understand how they are being paid and to make sure they are paying tax at the correct rate.

Coming to work in the UK from overseas is an enjoyable and rewarding experience, so teachers who want to secure employment should ensure that they have all their paperwork in order to make the process of finding work, qualifying and securing a visa as easy as possible.

Umbrella companies

Umbrella companies specialise in employing temporary workers in the UK.  Many supply teaching agencies use umbrella companies as a vehicle for them to outsource the costs, risks, and administration of employing supply teachers directly.  This enables the agencies to focus on what they specialise in, namely supporting their supply teachers, and finding the best assignments for them.  It is best to register with an umbrella company whilst you are overseas, and before you have booked your flight tickets to come to the UK. This is so that you can claim for certain relocation costs you may have incurred in coming to the UK.

Choosing which umbrella company to use is a very important decision.  Remember, you are selecting a company who will be your employer and will be responsible for ensuring you get paid accurately and on time.  Here are a few tips for what to look out for when deciding what Umbrella Company to go with;

  • Make sure the Umbrella Company is fully compliant with the latest legislation. Look for the FCSA logo. Make sure they are full members, and not just associates. The biggest difference between the two is the colour of the logo. Full members have an orange logo, whilst associate members have a blue logo.
  • Make sure they are experienced and have been around for over 10 years.
  • Look through their social media to check to see how popular they are. A reputable Umbrella Company will have over 1000 followers on the main social sites such as LinkedIn or Twitter.
  • Establish if they specialise in Education. Or are they a general umbrella company. The more dedicated the Umbrella Company is towards supply teachers, the better it is for you. For example – Orange Genie Education.
  • Don’t forget it’s not just about paying you on time every time. You deserve more than that. You should investigate what other add-ons (employee benefits) the Umbrella Company can offer you such as; currency exchange, providing useful tips about UK curriculum, help with CPD, safeguarding courses, on-going support etc.
  • Endorsement – popular and trustworthy sites such as c and will provide an honest, non-biased recommendation for Umbrella Companies.

    To find out more about how Orange Genie Education could help you with your employment please call us on 01296 468 483 or email

    Why Orange Genie Education?

    We employ and pay thousands of supply teachers and education support staff every year. Our employment portfolio stretches over 10 years in the umbrella industry making Orange Genie Education one of the most trusted umbrella brands. With this in mind, there’s no wonder we have long lasting relationships with hundreds of recruitment agencies all over the UK. Upon joining Orange Genie Education you become an employee of ours benefiting from:

    Single employer for all assignments

    • One payment for all different agency assignments completed in a week
    • Simplified and efficient taxation from single tax code
    • Guaranteed pay for the work completed
    • Continuous employment rights
    • Maternity and Paternity pay
    • Sick pay
    • Access to a workplace pension
    • Statutory rights
    • Improved personal credit references and rating
    • Extraordinary employee benefits including 24/7 access to a GP, councelling, support, fitness resouces, and discounts & offers worth hundreds of pounds in day to day savings

    Reassurance our supply teachers are employed by an FCSA member that protects and supports contractors. Our aspiration is to improve the lives and wellbeing of supply teachers and education support staff.

    Get started HERE with OrangeGenie Education and get paid on time every time >>

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