A place to milk rewards

28th November 2003 at 00:00
Martin Whittaker goes looking for a job in the Bailiwick of Guernsey. Where they offer a good salary, a slow pace and a relocation deal

Come again?

It's better known as plain Guernsey. The Bailiwick also includes the tiny islands of Herm, Alderney and Sark. The writer and one-time inhabitant Victor Hugo described the Channel Islands as "little bits of France dropped into the sea and picked up by Britain".

Guernsey is a self-governing UK Crown dependency - it lies 26 miles west of northern France and is just 12 miles long and nine miles wide.

Traditionally, its biggest industries have been tourism and money, though the island has made efforts to distance itself from its tax-haven image, preferring to be known as an international finance centre. It's also, allegedly, home to some of Shirley Porter's missing millions.

But does it have a Tesco?

I'm not even going to answer that. While you won't make your fortune teaching in Guernsey, the pay scale is certainly higher than in England.

Newly qualified teachers start on pound;20,538. According to the States of Guernsey Education Council, which covers three of the islands but not Sark, its schools are well resourced with good pupil-teacher ratios.

All teaching is based on the English national curriculum. The States of Guernsey runs 10 primary schools, plus two junior schools and three infant schools. The island has the 11-plus and pupils transfer to one of four 11-16 secondary schools or a co-educational grammar. There are also three fee-paying colleges with lower schools, for which pupils over 11 receive grant support from the States of Guernsey.

Over the next decade the islands' Education Council plans to build new schools, including two special needs schools, an FE college and three new 11-16 secondary schools.

Guernsey is also responsible for education on its neighbouring isles.

Alderney has a 5-to-16 school which has been advertising for a new headteacher, while tiny Herm has a school with just nine pupils. Sark runs its own primary school.Are there many teaching vacancies?

Guernsey does grow its own teachers, but with a population of just 60,000, it's not self-sufficient. The island tends to have enough primary teachers, but the authority does occasionally advertise. Its secondary schools face the same difficulties as those in London and the South East in recruiting for maths, science and modern foreign languages.

What's it like to work there?

Apart from good salaries and well-resourced schools, there are no Ofsted inspections. Instead, schools conduct self-evaluation and produce a report on their own strengths and weaknesses, which is then validated by inspectors.

As well as a bigger salary, you can end up with more cash in your pocket because Guernsey has lower income tax than England and Wales. However, there are strict controls on who can live and work on the islands.

Guernsey's Education Council is required to recruit from local residents first before advertising outside.

Anyone coming in to work has to have a housing licence - an attempt to control population density in such a small area. These are a formality for teachers who are granted one valid for up to five years; heads or senior managers get a 15-year version.

And what about the pace of life?

Gentler than in mainland Britain, though people do complain about too much traffic. Guernsey can be the hottest place in the British Isles in the summer, and even in autumn and winter it is not as cold as on the mainland.

Can I afford to live there?

House prices are very high - the average for the island for all types of property is pound;269,000. There are no figures on rented accommodation, though it is roughly on a par with the South East of England.

The islands' Education Council does offer a full relocation package to any UK or overseas teachers. From this year, it offered newly qualified teachers financial support to help them set up home.

Anything else?

There was a riot on Alderney last year, when a 30-strong mob lay siege to the police station and which, according to local newspapers, "sent shockwaves through the island".

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