Islands job swap provokes furore

14th January 2000 at 00:00
Clare Dean on a row over the Isle of Wight's link with a West Indian resort

A LUCRATIVE Government contract to provide education services to a paradise Caribbean island should have been something of a coup for the Isle of Wight.

Instead, education director Alan Kaye finds himself embroiled in an unpleasant argument over the handling of the deal worth almost pound;300,000, and his personal life held up to scrutiny.

For Mr Kaye has a number of Caribbean connections - it was where he began teaching and he has relatives there.

Tory councillor Roger Mazillius, a member of the IOW's education committee, has accused Mr Kaye of "swanning off with his mates" and is threatening to call in the district auditor.

IOW Conservatives complain the first they knew of the contract to provide management and curriculum advice for the ministry of education in Anguilla and its one secondary school was after it had been agreed.

Graham Nichols, its group leader, insisted that: "It was all signed before we knew anything about it."

The contract was awarded by the Department forInternational Development and work began last week.

It will involve local teachers working in Anguilla. Mr Kaye will spend a maximum of two weeks there. Senior staff from Anguilla will visit the Isle of Wight and Anne Edwards, deputy at its only secondary school, has already been over.

Anguilla, an eel-shaped island measuring just 10 miles by four, is a tropical paradise which has fabulous white coral sand beaches.

Mr Kaye denies suggestions that he has abused his position. He said: "The lawyers and the chief executive looked at this. The chairman took the decision that it was fine. I have done absolutely nothing wrong."

There are just a handful of black teachers in the IOW's 70 schools. And Mr Kaye said: "We believe our visitors will enrich our schools with their different culture and traditions."

That view is shared by Chris Avery, head of Cowes high school, one of the five IOW schools which are due to take part in the tempting project. He said: "This is an extraordinarily, exciting opportunity. It is not about teachers going off on freebies."

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