'It's not educational tourism';Career development

29th October 1999 at 01:00
Sonia Garland's Fulbright exchange was organised by the Central Bureau for Educational Visits and Exchanges, a division of the British Council. Currently 45 teachers in England and Wales are on the UKUS programme.

The name of Senator William Fulbright, sponsor of the 1946 act which started exchanges for academics and teachers, is better known in the US - the Central Bureau programme covering Sonia Garland's experience is more usually called "UKUSA Teacher Exchange". Exchange teachers have their travelling expenses covered, and receive their "home" salary. They take families at their own expense and arrange their own accommodation (often there is a house exchange).

All applicants are interviewed. Peter Gale, programme officer for UKUSA exchanges, says: "They have to show that they have a strong and clear professional purpose - it's not educational tourism. They also have to show that the school is not just behind the individual, but is supportive of the whole idea, believing that it will have a long-term impact."

There is, he says, some evidence heads are becoming more questioning of exchanges. "Because of increased government demands on schools, heads don't want to let anything slip. They are very concerned that the American teacher will be able to respond to local needs while still making their own contribution."

Peter Gale's department runs another programme which may interest heads: the UKUSA Adminstrator Exchange, a six-week job shadow on each side for heads, deputies, senior managers and other administrators in education.

The deadline for exchanges in 2000 is November 30, 1999. Details from: The British Council, 10 Spring Gardens, London SW1A 2BN. Tel: 0171 389 45954620. In Scotland, 3 Bruntsfield Crescent, Edinburgh EH10 4HD. Tel: 0131 447 8024. In Northern Ireland, 1 Chlorine Gardens, Belfast BT9 5DJ. Tel: 01232 664418.

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