27th October 2000 at 01:00
"WHAT should they know of England, who only England know?" wrote Rudyard Kipling; his poetry may no longer be fashionable, but travel to other countries is immensely more popular than it was when he was writing. Which makes the fact that only 33 teachers have applied for 500 government-funded overseas study visits all the more mystifying (News, page 2).

Of course, many would not want to spend precious holiday time on career development - and the scheme's architects did miss a trick by not building in some cash for supply cover, as the most enlightened confernce organisers already do. This lack makes the offer look out-of-touch with teachers' real lives, as well as less practicable for many. Those who are parents, for instance, cannot necessarily spend a chunk of holiday time away on their own.

But surely there must be 467 adventurous classroom teachers who would leap at the chance? Seeing how schools operate in other countries can make us question our assumptions, and throw a revealing light on our own practice. And such visits forge bonds - both professional and personal - which can last a lifetime.

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