In an effort to expand the recruitment of ethnic minorities into teaching and respond to a wider European Union call for refugee support in member states, the Scottish Executive, General Teaching Council (GTC) and University partners came together to establish “Refugees Into Teaching in Scotland” (RITeS). From 2005 to 2011, the program set out to get teachers eligible for professional service by establishing official refugee status, recognizing equivalent qualifications, and assuring English proficiency. 

The Department for Education and Skills’ National Recognition Information Center helped coordinators compare “degrees, teaching diplomas and even school leaving certificates gained at, perhaps, Harare High and the University of Pristina with those awarded at, for example, Cumnock Academy and the University of Glasgow.”

Blane, Douglas. “Rites of Passage.” TES Connect, February 17, 2006. Last modified May 12, 2008. 

When faced with exceptional barriers, such as that of one woman from Kosovo whose university was bombed, thereby destroying the records of her degree certificate, GTC was creative: “We took oral testimonies from her, in which we went through her education in great detail, right from schooldays. She had shadow placements in Glasgow schools and was a big success, with the teachers confirming our judgment that she was the genuine article.” Beyond shadow placements, RITeS facilitated access to university retraining, upgrading and English courses, coordinated practice teaching opportunities in Scottish schools, guided GTC registration, and helped with the job search, interview techniques and work placements. 

In 2009, five years after its launch, the RITeS program supported 262 teachers, mostly from Zimbabwe, Iraq and Pakistan. By May 2010, 41 of the 301 registered teachers had achieved GTC registration.


Blane, Douglas. “Rites of Passage.” TES Connect, February 17, 2006. Last modified May 12, 2008. 

Kum, Henry, Ian Menter and Geri Smyth. “Changing the Face of the Scottish Teaching Profession? The Experiences of Refugee Teachers.” Irish Educational Studies 29 (2010): 321-338.

Smyth, Gerri and Henry Kum. “When They Don’t Use It They Will Lose It’: Professionals, Deprofessionalization and Reprofessionalization: The Case of Refugee Teachers in Scotland.” Journal of Refugee Studies 23 (2010): 503-522