'Border reivers' go on a staff snatch south of border

31st August 2001 at 01:00
ABERDEEN has become the first authority to hard-sell the post-McCrone educational nirvana north of the border to teachers in England and Wales.

If the city succeeds, it could exacerbate the recruitment crisis south of the border where schools are 5,000 teachers short as the new session begins, according to a TES survey (page six).

Aberdeen is finding recruitment difficult in specific subjects and neighbourhoods and has launched a more aggressive strategy by advertising more than 20 vacancies in The TES north and south of the border.

Key selling points for a career in the north-east include substantial agreed pay rises over the next three years and vastly better working conditions. Aberdeen is drawing sharp contrasts such as Scotland's 35-hour week, limits on class contact time, time for preparation and correction, and school agreements about the remaining time. It could add limits on class sizes, but doesn't.

For Sue Thorburn, a Huddersfield early years co-ordinator who is moving north in January, the main reason was the quality of life and environment in Scotland.

"I also feel very dissatisfied with English primaries because of the emphasis on literacy and numeracy. It's become so prescriptive. In the national curriculum you do this for 10 minutes, that for 20 minutes.

"We are just processing children. The Scottish system is far more child-centred," Mrs Thorburn says.

She works up to 60 hours a week and believes the 35-hour week in Scotland will prove attractive south of the border. Pay is on a par with England and class sizes are smaller. "Some of my colleagues are teaching classes of 36," she says.

More English teachers would come north if they realised they could meet the General Teaching Council for Scotland standards, Mrs Thorburn said.

Leader, page 18

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