Hired for being good on camera

20th July 2001 at 01:00
Overseas teachers complain of poor treatment in London schools, while heads are now recruiting without meeting candidates

Nine schools in the South-east have taken on 17 overseas teachers on the basis of taped video interviews, it was revealed this week.

Humanities teacher Deborah Delano was asked by Wembley-based teacher supply agency Blythegrove Management Ltd to recruit teachers from Nigeria for UK schools.

"Seventeen have now been placed - seven in three secondaries and a primary in Surrey and the others in Croydon and Lewisham. The headteachers took the candidates on the basis of video footage, the candidates' credentials and their CVs," she said.

John White, head of education personnel at Surrey County Council, said he put the agency in touch with the schools last week as they said they had a surplus of good-quality maths and science teachers from Nigeria. The council has warned parents that schools may have to operate a four-day week next term to cover nearly 500 full teaching vacancies.

Mr White said: "Within 24 hours, two of our schools had taken five of the teachers from Nigeria between them. The agency had brought back taped interviews with the teachers and the schools took them on that basis - it is up to the school if they are satisfied on that basis." He said that he had been inundated with calls from agencies offering teachers they had recruited from overseas.

A former Bulgarian history teacher, Roumi Morton, set up an overseas teaching recruitment agency, Morton Consultancy based in Eastbourne, in May. It has already placed 14 teachers in schools in Southampton, Andover, East Sussex and south-east London.

Mrs Morton said she liaises between the schools and the Bulgarian teachers by interviewing candidates in English, ensuring they have a teaching qualification and have been checked by police in Bulgaria.

Select Education, another recruitment agency, has used video conferencing to recruit around 100 of its estimated 1,050 overseas teachers in the past six months. Heads were able to have face-to-face interviews with prospective staff.

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