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Never mind the lovely-ugly town, look at the coastline:Looking for a job in Swansea

Ah, Swansea. Dylan Thomas's "lovely-ugly town".

Yes, though these days the local authority prefers to call it the "city by the sea". And while Thomas's description is still preferable, you can see its shortcomings as a marketing slogan.

Swansea has seen a lot of redevelopment. It was heavily bombed in the Second World War and now the city is a curious mix of old and new architecture. There are other contrasts. On one hand, it has plush new waterfront developments; on the other, big disadvantaged housing estates.

Swansea tends to get overshadowed by Cardiff. Its biggest asset is the scenic splendour surrounding the city, most famously the Gower peninsula with its grand coastline and beaches.

Good for holidays then, but what about teaching jobs?

Swansea's schools haven't had problems recruiting but they are beginning to get some difficult-to-fill vacancies at secondary level, particularly in teaching science, maths and Welsh.

Primary schools are not short of staff and the authority has a big pool of supply teachers. There is very little turnover of teachers in the city's schools, due to a certain insularity. An education authority spokesman explains: "There's a reluctance among Swansea people to move from Swansea."

You mean apart from Catherine Zeta-Jones?

Well, yes. But she brings Michael Douglas home to see the in-laws.

Anyway, back to teaching.

The local education authority is the City and County of Swansea, a unitary authority formed from the old Swansea City Council and West Glmorgan. It has two nursery schools, 11 infant schools, 10 juniors, 72 primaries including nine Welsh-medium and six voluntary-aided schools, 16 secondaries, one of which is Welsh-medium, and two special schools.

Swansea doesn't offer any incentive packages to lure teachers since there is no recruitment crisis.

So what's the big attraction?

The coast around Swansea is magnificent. The Gower peninsula was Britain's first declared area of outstanding natural beauty and there is the attractive seaside village of Mumbles. The Pembrokeshire coast isn't far away and inland are the Brecon Beacons.

Swansea itself has a big shopping centre, Wales's biggest indoor market, its share of pubs, clubs and restaurants and a reasonable cultural scene with theatres, concert halls and cinemas. There is a Swansea Festival of Music and the Arts and I er I Swansea Sea Shanty Festival.

To be enjoyed while indulging in the local fayre of laverbread and cockles, no doubt?

Quite.

Can I afford to live there?

There is a big range of affordable housing in and around Swansea. A three-bedroom semi-detached house would cost anything from pound;50,000 up to pound;90,000, depending on the area. A posh two-bedroom apartment in the city's new marina development would cost more than pound;100,000.

You can rent a three-bedroom semi for pound;75 to pound;110 a week.

Famous sons and daughters?

Sir Harry Secombe, singer Bonnie Tyler and, of course, Catherine Zeta-Jones. Oh, and let's not forget Dylan Thomas.

Martin Whittaker

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