Canadian teacher at Scottish school has visa fast-tracked

A Canadian teacher forced to leave the UK and her teaching job in Scotland due to visa issues will be back in the school next month.

Third year maths university student to help out while school attempts to fill two vacancies.

Heather Cattanach - now McIver since her marriage - was working at Applegrove Primary in Forres, Moray, when the Home Office telephoned her to say she had no right to work in the UK and should stop immediately.

Mrs McIver, 33, who married Gary McIver, a Scot, in July last year, had to return to Canada and re-apply for a married visa, despite being recruited through the TimePlan scheme at a jobs fair at her university in British Colombia, Canada.

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She started working at a school in Southampton in 2015, but began an application process with the General Teaching Council of Scotland to be allowed to work north of the Border and transferred to Applegrove Primary School in Forres in January 2016.

Moray has been hit by a shortage of teachers. Picture: Ian Rutherford

The Spousal Visa process she was told to apply through normally takes nine months, but after pressure from Moray’s MP Douglas Ross and the council’s director of Education and Social care, Laurence Findlay, the application has been fast-tracked.

Mrs McIver emailed education chiefs in Moray on Thursday informing them she would be returning to Applegrove Primary in the first week of February.

Councillor Tim Eagle, Moray Council’s chair of children and young person’s committee, welcoming the news, said: “This is fantastic news to welcome a good and popular teacher back to Moray.

“Thankfully the Home Office responded to those that championed Heather’s case and moved a lot quicker to get her back to Moray.”

Moray has been hit by a shortage of teachers. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Applegrove has been struggling to fill vacancies and is currently using a number of supply staff to plug the gaps.

Mr Findlay, who wrote to the Home Office questioning the length of time the case was taking, said: “The school has significant long term vacancies which we are struggling to cover on a day-to-day basis and her ongoing absence was giving us an unnecessary extra burden.

“I’m glad the Home Office saw a way to ease that.”