Measure for measure, the Bard's home is as you like it

23rd March 2001 at 00:00
Ah! Shakespeare's county.

Yes. Its best-known town, Stratford-upon-Avon, has become a Mecca for tourists keen to pay pilgrimage to Shakespeare's birthplace.

Actually it's a good job Americans are still enthusiastic about the Bard since he seems to be losing favour here. It was recently reported that pupils would no longer have to study Shakespeare under new Government proposals to modernise GCSE English.

So, things are just going from bard to worse?

But not in Warwickshire, it seems. The county is rural and mainly prosperous, with easy access to Birmingham and leafy towns such as Warwick, Rugby and Leamington Spa.

And lots of little hamlets?

Enough Bard jokes already. As well as being a beautiful county to live, Warwickshire education authority is also one of the best in the UK.

The LEA was inspected almost two years ago and came out rather well. The Office for Standards in Education said it was a well-managed authority with many strengths and no major weaknesses. It also has close working relationships with its schools and the pupils perform above the national average.

It's a big county with nine nursery schools, 200 primaries, 37 secondaries, 11 special schools and three pupil referral units. There is a diversity of school types too: comprehensive, grammar, rural, urban, ranging from 40 pupils up to 2,000.

Many teacher vacancies?

Warwickshire is not much different to anywhere else: it is shrt of teachers in subjects such as modern languages, maths and English.

The authority is running a recruitment and retention strategy, initially focusing on supply teachers but aiming to expand it to newly qualified teachers. It offers supply teachers a free development programme, including a variety of refresher courses.

The county advertises teacher vacancies on the Internet: see Is there much to do when the marking is done?

Well, there is a rather good theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. But the rest of the county has much to offer too. Historic Warwick is a fine town with pubs and restaurants and a splendid castle.

The authority's personnel officer, Sinead Hurst, emphasises the quality of life: "It's a beautiful place; very rural, but Coventry and Birmingham are nearby if you want a more cosmopolitan lifestyle. There's something for everybody in Warwickshire."

Such as affordable housing for teachers?

The average price for a three-bedroom semi-detached house in Leamington Spa is around pound;125,000, while in Warwick they come slightly cheaper at pound;116,000.

To rent the same in Warwick would cost around pound;700 a month.

Any famous sons, daughters or residents?

Eh? William Shakespeare.

Apart from him!

Mathematician and architect Sir Christopher Wren, Frank Whittle, inventor of the turbo jet, and Thomas Hughes, author of Tom Brown's Schooldays.

Martin Whittaker

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