Financial pressures of being in the outer hemisphere

13th February 2004 at 00:00
Edinburgh primary school in Walthamstow, north-east London, has just 210 pupils, but between them they speak 46 different languages and dialects.

"It's tough. But I wouldn't want to work anywhere else," said Hasan Chaudhry, who has been headteacher of this fast-improving school for the past four years.

He and his 10-strong staff have to manage the tensions that occasionally surface between different ethnic and religious groups. But for Mr Chaudhry, the vibrancy of the school, the multicultural community it serves, and of London itself seem to outweigh these problems.

His biggest bugbear is the artificial divide between inner and outer London which means that he cannot pay staff the full London weighting.

"We have the same pressures as inner-London schools but we have to work doubly hard to recruit and retain our staff," he said.

This hard work seems to have paid off. Although the school has had to replace five teachers since 2000, various development opportunities, including study trips abroad, have helped persuade the rest to stay.

Referring to visits that colleagues have made to New Zealand, India, Canada and the United States with British Council funding, Mr Chaudhry said:

"These have helped their professional development and the kids have benefited in a big way."

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