No Ofsted guaranteed on island paradise

7th November 2003 at 00:00
Napoleon Bonaparte was forced to make his home on Saint Helena, ensuring the island will forever have a place in history.

But it is not just history that the new headteacher of Saint Helena's only secondary school will need to know.

For pupils on the South Atlantic island - a British overseas territory - follow the national curriculum, use the literacy and numeracy strategies and do the national tests, GCSEs and A-levels.

Unlike other English schools, however, it is beyond inspectors' inquiring eyes as the Office for Standards in Education declines to visit it.

Prince Andrew community high in Francis Plain is advertising for a new headteachereducation officer. And despite its location - 700 miles from its nearest neighbour Ascension Island - many things will be familiar to British teachers.

Three first schools, three middle and one high school, cater for the island's 800 pupils.

Priority for the high-school job will be given to people born on the island, those who have lived there for five years, or those who have been in residence for three years and are married to a St Helenian. But applications for the pound;20,000 a-year job are welcome from anyone willing to relocate to the 47-square mile tropical island.

Pamela Lawrence, chief education officer for Saint Helena, said: "Although the pace of life is slower, the job is going to be hectic.

"As well as being head of the 400-pupil school they will be part of the senior management team in the education department. Education is the number two key priority for Saint Helena after access."

The education department may re-organise provision as the number of school-age children has dropped to a quarter of what it was a generation ago.

Miss Lawrence said: "As rolls drop we are looking at the number of schools.

And at the top end of education there is a need for more than just the 16-to-18 provision. There is a need for adults to be trained or retrained to fit the skills market."

Because there is no airport, visitors must take the Royal Mail Ship St Helena, which sails from Cardiff direct to the island four times a year.

The voyage takes 14 days. But most visitors fly to Cape Town or Acension Island to catch a more frequent boat service.

For more information on the post contact the personnel department 3 Main Street, Jamestown, St Helena Island STHL 1ZZ. Tel: 00 290 24182720 Fax: 00 290 24550 or email barbara@sainthelena.gov.sh

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