Foreign teachers lured to UK 'quit within weeks'

Developing countries are being 'sucked dry' of staff they can ill-afford to lose because of acute shortages in Britain
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The Independent Online

Teachers lured from developing countries to fill staffing shortages in Britain's classrooms are quitting within weeks because of the poor behaviour of pupils, it was revealed yesterday.

Teachers lured from developing countries to fill staffing shortages in Britain's classrooms are quitting within weeks because of the poor behaviour of pupils, it was revealed yesterday.

One in three recruited by one of the counties with the highest numbers of overseas staff – Essex – leave within a term of their arrival, the annual conference of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) in Cardiff was told yesterday.

Robin Bevan, from King Edward VI School for Boys in Chelmsford, who revealed the figures, based on a countywide survey, said: "They leave because when they enter schools they find the combination of behaviour and working conditions aren't what they expected or what they are used to. In their countries, there is automatic respect for them as teachers and good discipline.

"A typical secondary school teacher in the UK has to earn respect.''

Some of those who quit take non-teaching jobs in the UK such as bar work, teachers said.

Colin Newcombe, a teacher from Cheshire, added: "How are people from abroad attracted to come and teach in this country? By her own admission, Estelle Morris [the Secretary of State for Education] can't fund teacher pay bonuses or pay student teachers fairly. The transport system infrastructure is crumbling and the health service can't meet the people's needs. The teachers who come here think they've come to Great Britain or Cool Britannia. The reality is that they've fetched up in a Third World Britain.''

The union overwhelmingly backed a motion deploring the necessity for the UK to recruit thousands of teachers from Third World countries "who can ill-afford to lose their expertise'' and called for compensation be paid to those who had trained them.

Delegates said developing countries such as Jamaica and South Africa were being "sucked dry'' of teachers to meet the needs of British schools.

Peter Smith, general secretary of the ATL, said: "To raid countries in desperate need of qualified teachers such as South Africa and the Caribbean is the worst kind of chauvinism. It is irresponsible in terms of failing to face up to the teacher shortage problem we have in the UK.''

Latest figures show there are 5,000 vacancies in British schools.

Michael Catty, from Hertfordshire, said one of the five private teaching agencies recruiting from overseas had estimated that on any one day it had 1,000 supply staff teaching in London schools alone. He said many were lured by adverts on the internet which claimed there had never been a better time to teach in the UK and that a job was "only a telephone call away''.

David Forbes, also from Hertfordshire, said Jamaica had lost at least 400 teachers in a year through jobs being offered abroad with the result that pupils were having to learn science through the internet because of a shortage of staff.

David Britten, from Hackney in east London, said: "I started my teaching career working in Zambia and Nigeria. Now Hackney reminds me of Zambia as we have managed to reduce parts of our education service to a Third World country.''

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