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Canadian teacher back at Forres school after visa fast-tracked

Press release   •   Jan 12, 2018 12:17 GMT

Heather with her husband, Gary McIver. Picture courtesy of Forres Gazette

A Canadian teacher who was forced to leave the UK because of visa issues will be back at school next month.

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

Heather ,33, who married Scot Gary McIver 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.

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.

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.

Heather emailed education chiefs in Moray last night (Thursday) to say she was returning to Applegrove Primary in the first week of February.

Moray Council’s chair of Children and Young Person’s Committee, Cllr Tim Eagle, said he was delighted.

“This is fantastic news to welcome a good and popular teacher back to Moray,” he said.

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

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

Director Laurence Findlay, who wrote to the Home Office to question 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.”

Famous for its colony of dolphins, fabulous beaches and more malt whisky distilleries than any where else in Scotland, Moray is a thriving area and a great place to live. Nestling between Aberdeenshire and the Highlands, Moray stretches from Tomintoul in the south to the shores of the Moray Firth, from Keith in the east to Brodie Castle in the west.  

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