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Friday, 15 March, 2002, 13:08 GMT
Concern for overseas teachers in the UK
Australian teacher in English school
Travelling Australians often stop over in England
Head teachers say schools are having to rely on recruiting staff from abroad, sometimes after just a telephone interview, to fill teacher vacancies.

The Department for Education does not know how many overseas teachers there are in England's schools.

Its figures show it issued 6,000 work permits for people coming from outside the European Community last year alone.

At its annual conference in Bournemouth on Friday, the Secondary Heads Association is discussing the shortage amid concerns that overseas teachers often struggle to fit in.

Discipline

The association's general secretary, John Dunford, said recruitment agencies, local education authorities and individual schools now recruited abroad, sometimes after no more than a telephone interview.

His members' concern is not about the quality of the overseas teachers, which is often very high.

Kate Griffin
Kate Griffin: "Some teachers struggle"
But many struggled in what was for them an unfamiliar school system.

Large numbers are being recruited from Commonwealth countries, often with a serious effect on schools there.

Jamaica, which lost 600 teachers last year, has complained that increasingly "aggressive" recruiting by British agencies is draining its schools of their best and most experienced teachers.

But those from the Caribbean, South Africa and India, in particular, often find the relative lack of discipline in UK schools comes as a shock.

Moving on

Kate Griffin, head of Greenford School in Ealing, west London, said she had recruited over the telephone - because "you have to".

"But some do struggle and then they move on," she said.

"They look for alternative jobs, perhaps going to work for temping agencies - or, if they are a science teacher, going to work as a lab technician.

"We do everything to make sure we hold on to good teachers."

See also:

15 Mar 02 | Features
UK 'poaching' Jamaican teachers
31 Aug 01 | Education
In at the deep end
28 Aug 01 | Education
The cost of finding teachers
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