Life's a beach: sunny spells but the grit gets everywhere

2nd February 2001 at 00:00
Ah, heart of the commuter belt!

Yes, it is very handy for London. West Sussex is actually a varied place, stretching from the south of the capital, down along the coast from Chichester to just west of Brighton. On one hand, over half the county is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. On the other hand, there's Crawley and Gatwick airport.

What's wrong with Crawley?

Nothing! Nothing at all. Won't hear a word said against the place. It does have a bit of a negative image though. Try saying it a few times.

Crawley? Crawley. Hmm. See what you mean Anyway, let's not upset the good people of Crawley. It does have the advantage of the outer London allowance should you decide to move there to teach.

Talking of which, many jobs?

Yes, lots. Like much of the rest of the UK, West Sussex has a recruitment problem, worsened by that old house prices chestnut.

The county has four nurseries, 228 primaries, 25 middle schools, 36 secondaries, 15 special schools and two pupil referral units.

Teaching vacancies are advertised online at www.westsussex.gov.ukpsuTeachmainindex.htm What is the authority like?

Its mix of urban and rural schools is one of its selling points, says Carol Taylor, West Sussex education authority's recruitment strategy manager. "You can get a wide variety of experience within one county: you can teach in a large urban schol or in a small village school," she says.

"One of the things that struck me about West Sussex is the quality of professional relationships. Although it's quite a large county, people know each other."

Professional mobility is also good. "Even if you start in West Sussex, lots of people move across the county borders for promotion into Hampshire, East Sussex, Brighton and Hove, Portsmouth and Southampton."

The authority is bracing itself for a visit by the Office for Standards in Education this month.

But life isn't all work Shhh! - not within earshot of OFSTED, please.

If you are into golf, the county has around 30 courses and nine driving ranges. But if, like Mark Twain, golf to you is nothing more than a good walk spoiled and you would rather just have a good walk, West Sussex has many country parks and beauty spots such as the Sussex Downs and High Weald.

Apparently Bognor Regis has the most sunshine in the UK.

I suppose we ought to face up to the house prices They are high. According to the Halifax building society the average price of a three-bed semi for the county as a whole is around pound;144,000. You would pay around pound;125,000 in Crawley or slightly less to live in sunny Bognor. To rent the same in Crawley would cost up to pound;800 a month.

Not to be confused with I East Sussex. Or for that matter, any of the rest of the South-East.


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