THE Home Office must bring in a new immigration loophole to stop foreign teachers being locked out of the UK, an MSP says.

Moray’s Richard Lochhead wants all teachers to be included in the “shortage occupation list” to ensure skilled people are not blocked from taking up posts in Scotland’s classrooms.

The call follows news that Canadian Gaelic speaker Sine Halfpenny was barred from teaching at Bunessan School on Mull – even though she was the only applicant for the job.

Lochhead is backing the #LetThemTeach campaign launched last month to support teachers from non-EU countries.

Currently only those working in maths, physics, computer science and Mandarin are covered by the shortage occupation list, and the Times Educational Supplement (TES), which is behind the push, found visa rules on salaries has forced many others from the UK and prevented more from arriving.

Meanwhile, a report published by the Scottish Affairs Committee this week has called for Westminster to reconsider its rules to address Scotland’s needs.

Lochhead, a member of the Holyrood Education Committee, said: “We need to be able to attract the best talent to Scottish schools, colleges and universities, and capping the number of muchneeded qualified teaching professionals that are allowed to enter the UK is a completely self-defeating policy.

“The Scottish Parliament backed calls for a differentiated approach to migration in Scotland earlier this year, and Scottish Government research also showed that the Tory government’s immigration targets could cost the Scottish economy up to £10 billion by 2040.

“The Home Office needs to scrap the Tier 2 visa cap on the number of teaching professionals that can enter the UK each year as a matter of urgency.

“The Tories need to drop their anti-migrant obsession.”