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Future shock;Career development

For many British teachers wanting to work abroad, the future could lie in educational exchanges which will enhance their professional development.The Government's Green Paper has proposed a huge increase in the number of teachers taking part in international professional development, from 2,000 a year at present to 5,000 a yearby 2002.

According to the Central Bureau for Educational Visits and Exchanges, the opportunities for more teachers to spend time abroad are already growing, thanks to the European Union education programme known as Socrates. And the exchange pattern has been swinging away from visits of a year to staying two weeks or even a few days.

Increasingly, schools are also milking as much as they can from the experience of the exchange teacher.

Exchanges will become much more focused on issues such as early literacy so that schools can make the best use of teachers when they get back, says Patricia Swain of the League for the Exchange of Commonwealth Teachers.

In Scotland, a consortium of education authorities based on the old Strathclyde region is doing just this. It has started a project on educational exchanges which will determine what sort of teachers will be required, the aims of the exchanges and a systemof feedback.

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