The number of teachers applying to teach in Scotland from the EU has fallen dramatically this year, the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) has said.
GTCS chief executive Ken Muir blamed Brexit for the falling saying EU teacher numbers were “falling off a cliff”.
Only 14 EU teachers applied for GTCS registration up until June 30 in 2018, according to the regulator. Previous years had seen the number of registrants from the EU rise, with 128 in 2015, 159 in 2016 and 186 in 2017.
Read more: Teacher numbers to be hit
Politicians expressed alarm at the figures which were outlined by Mr Muir in an interview with Holyrood magazine.
Mr Muir said: “Having maintained numbers pretty high from the EU, they are falling off a cliff, and that’s absolutely down to Brexit,” he said.
The GTCS chief executive said the fall in teacher numbers had occurred later and more suddenly than the drop off of EU workers experienced in other sectors.
“Whereas in the health and care industries two years ago the numbers it more or less started to dwindle, the teacher numbers kept up,” Mr Muir said.
“Particularly from three countries in the EU, Greece, Poland and Spain, we get a good number of applicants, followed by the Republic of Ireland it has to be said - those four are our big hitters, and those numbers have dwindled to next to nothing.”
The overall figures for overseas teachers are also down this year, with 614 registrants from outside Scotland in 2016, 598 in 2017 but only 126 in the first half of 2018.
Muir said the direction of Britain’s immigration policy may have been a factor.
“It’s always been the case that immigration rules, tier two status and all the rest of it have had a role to play in that, but I think that, together with Brexit, means folk are asking ‘is it really worthwhile to come and teach in Scotland?’”
He added: “It compounds the problem we’ve got bringing teachers into the education system in Scotland.”
Read more: Schools recruitment crisis
Scotland is experiencing teacher shortages, with around 700 vacancies reported at the start of the year and a growing shortage in certain subjects at secondary, particularly in rural areas.
Both retention and recruitment are challenges. Last year GTCS reported that around 700 to 800 teachers were lapsing from registration each year, while this year figures showed places on Initial Teacher Education courses were left unfilled.
Gordon MacDonald MSP, who sits on Holyrood’s Education Committee, said: “The consequences of Brexit and damaging Tory policies around immigration are now hitting close to home – in our local schools and communities.
“Despite the best efforts of the Scottish Government to attract and retain the talent we need in our teaching sector, this work is being completely undermined by Westminster.
“The existing cap on the number of qualified teaching professionals allowed to enter the UK has already left some schools denied a teacher they had recruited, but these new figures are absolutely devastating.
“They prove the Tories put their own Brexit obsessions ahead of what’s good for our kids’ education – that is completely intolerable. They’re actively driving talent away.
“The Tories should drop their anti-migrant obsession and drop it now – and give Scotland full control over immigration so we can design a better system, suited to our needs, with the right skills in our schools to give our children the best education we can provide.”