PUBLISHED: 13:09 12 October 2006 | UPDATED: 13:33 04 May 2010
Your Standard forces a Government U-turn YOUR campaigning Ely Standard has taken on the might of the Government - and won. We challenged the Home Office over its immigration policy when it tried to block the appointment of a Zimbabwean teacher ... and it
Your Standard forces a Government U-turn
YOUR campaigning Ely Standard has taken on the might of the Government - and won.
We challenged the Home Office over its immigration policy when it tried to block the appointment of a Zimbabwean teacher ... and it backed down.
Our victory means youngsters and staff at Witchford Village College welcomed their new food and technology teacher today (Thursday) after her work permit was extended by a year - and it's all thanks to your caring Standard.
College principal John Shield had struggled to fill the post for more than 12 months when he recruited 33-year-old Tambudzai Choto, pictured above.
But in September, just two days before she was to start her new job, immigration officials blocked her appointment - even though the Government had directed all schools to put cookery lessons on the timetable for pupils.
Miss Choto had previously been told in a work permit letter from the Department for Education and Skills that she had until August next year to gain British Qualified Teacher Status (QTF) , allowing her to teach in the country.
But last summer the DfES changed the rules, ordering her to achieve the qualification by September 10 this year or forfeit her work permit.
The move meant Miss Choto was unable to take up her new job and faced the prospect of returning home.
But the Ely Standard stepped in and exclusively reported her story in the same week the Government launched its drive to beat obesity by teaching children how to cook.
We also called on South East Cambridgeshire MP Jim Paice to put pressure on the Government to overturn the ruling.
Mr Paice wrote to immigration minister Liam Byrne, calling for his intervention in the case.
In the meantime, Mr Shield pledged to hold open Miss Choto's job in the hope the situation could be reversed.
And, on Tuesday morning, just a month after we began our campaign, he received a letter from the Home Office giving Miss Choto until July 31 next year to achieve QTS, meaning that she could start work at the college.
"This is wonderful news," said Mr Shield.
"We can't thank the Ely Standard enough for taking up this case and putting pressure on the Government.
"Now Miss Choto will be trained by us and go to college to achieve QTS. We have the opportunity to make a new teacher. This is great news."
Miss Choto, who lives in Nightall Road, Soham, with her partner
and young son, said: "I can't believe the Government has changed its mind.
"I never expected this could happen and I am delighted that the Ely Standard has helped me. Thank you so much.
"I am going to work as hard as I can to make sure I get my training. This is a new start for me."
MP Jim Paice said: "I am very pleased indeed. The Government had given Miss Choto an original timescale of next summer to complete her training and it would have been outrageous if they had backed away from this.
"This is not only good news for Miss Choto it is also good news for the school."
Mr Paice planned to visit Witchford Village College today to welcome Miss Choto.