Isle of Man wants working women too

16th March 2001 at 00:00
I've always wanted to be a tax exile.

Then this could be the place for you. The Isle of Man is not part of the UK - it's a self-governing Crown dependency. It has its own levels of income tax, which have long been lower than the mainland's. It also funds its own education system.

The island has the world's oldest parliament, the Tynwald, which dates back to the Vikings. Today the island's government hopes for a fresh invasion of skilled professionals from outside: the island's economy has boomed in recent years, coupled with a decline in local population.

Does that include teachers?

"We could always do with more," says Ralph Cowin, the Isle of Man's director of education. He cites generous relocation allowances and low income tax as some of the advantages.

The island's industry has changed in recent years from tourism to financial services and more recently e-commerce. It has good digital networks and schools are also ahead in the information and communications technology stakes. All 750 of its teachers are equipped with laptop computers.

There are five secondary schools, 35 primaries and one pre-school assessment unit, and special needs pupils are integrated into some mainstream schools. There is also one public school, which takes children from nursery age through to sixth form.

The education department operates a pool system for recruiting primary teachers. At seondary level it is finding difficulty recruiting in modern languages, maths and science.

Sounds more like the Isle of Dreams.

It does rather. It is somewhat affluent and conservative with a small 'c' - the Isle of Man government emphasises that "old values" are respected.

"It's also a very safe atmosphere," says Mr Cowin. "Living on an island, everyone tends to know each other - it's a community that cares about its people."

Can't be cheap to live there, what with all that offshore banking?

House prices are more like the South-East than the North-West. Expect to pay between pound;120,000 and pound;140,000 for a three-bedroom semi-detached house with garage. There is a shortage of affordable housing at the lower end of the market.

The island's government helps to house incoming teachers. It will also meet the difference of any mortgage increase for two years.

I bet the weather is lousy.

Not particularly. The climate is temperate and lacking in extremes. It can be windy, though.

So, lots of windsurfing on days off?

Lots of everything outdoors - scenery, walking, fishing, sailing I It has more golf courses per head of population than the Costa del Sol, and there are the annual TT races. There are also pubs, restaurants, clubs and theatres in the main town, Douglas.

Not to be confused with I The Isle of Wight, the Isles of Scilly, the Isle of Dogs.

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