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Monday, 25 June, 2001, 17:10 GMT 18:10 UK
Peckham primary recruits in Russia
Irena Leontieva:
Irena Leontieva: Chance to travel
A primary school in London is recruiting teachers from Russia after getting no replies to job adverts in the UK.


I lose teachers into industry and I have got to compete now in a world market.

Head teacher John Mann
Gloucester Primary school in Peckham needs nine new teachers for September.

It had advertised three times, at a cost of 3,000, and had no applicants - such is the teacher shortage.

But when the head teacher got special permission to try in eastern Europe, he was swamped with replies - even getting one from a university chemistry professor.

High quality

The head, John Mann, had the idea because his wife runs an agency introducing "Russian ladies" to English professionals.

st petersburg
A far cry from Peckham
He also already had a Bulgarian teacher among his increasingly international staff.

"We had two hundred replies in Russia and four hundred in Bulgaria," he said.

"We were very excited by them - it was evident from the beginning that the quality of people replying to us was very high.

Language

"They have a strong pedagogic training - they know about teaching," he said.

"And they have a very thorough understanding of the English language - far higher than people in Britain, I have to say. We were quite humbled when interviewing them."

Welcome to the numeracy strategy
One of his recruits in St Petersburg is Irena Leontieva, who trains teachers and earns the equivalent of 45 - high by the standards of a Russian teacher.

Her one fear about coming to work in an English school is violence - she has been warned that Western children can be difficult to manage - but she hopes that won't be a problem in a primary school.

For all its problems, the Soviet school system left a legacy of high literacy levels, good discipline - and respect for teachers.

But Ms Leontieva says gradually all her younger colleagues have drifted away into better-paid jobs.

playground
The Peckham pupils are a lively lot
"They are all fond of this profession but they leave. They are not able to stay here because they are enthusiastic but enthusiasm is not enough for well-being, for surviving.

"Unfortunately although I love this profession, I love this place - I graduated from this college - financially I am not able to afford much."

She wants to travel and Peckham offers the chance to realise that dream.

She is one of five Russian recruits John Mann has found, and he will be passing on other names to a teacher supply agency.

head teacher
John Mann: Global player
He appreciates that by offering the teachers far higher wages than they can earn at home, he is adding to the damage to their own country's education system.

"But it's an international economy, a world economy, and this is just one feature of it," he said.

He had a duty to put competent teachers in front of the children in his charge.

"This country has to compete. I lose teachers into industry and I have got to compete now in a world market. No-one else is going to do that for me."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Mike Baker
"Other schools may well have to follow this imaginative move"
See also:

31 Oct 00 | South Asia
13 Jul 00 | UK Education
27 Apr 01 | UK Education
18 Jan 01 | UK Education
11 Apr 01 | UK Education
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