Oh, to be in England, now term is here

3rd October 2003 at 01:00
Within weeks of arriving in Britain, Colleen Melck was delivering a lesson in front of an inspector.

It was an abrupt introduction to the joys of the English system, said the special needs teacher.

"It was scary and stressful," she says. "I felt under a lot of pressure. I was writing reports two or three times to make it look as though everything was being done to the book."

Ms Melck, 29, came to London from South Africa in August last year. She was keen to come to Europe, and knew other teachers who had found work in Britain easily. Through 1st Contact recruitment agency, she arranged a year's work in a school for autistic children in west London.

She found it challenging. "Behaviour was more extreme than I'd imagined in my wildest dreams," she said. The biggest challenge was administration. "I spend more time on health-and-safety administration than teaching."

But there are advantages. In South Africa there had been 42 pupils in her class, here there were eight. "I'd never had a teaching assistant before," she said. "But here I had two. You learn not only to manage children, but also other staff."

And she feels that she is well-compensated for the stress: her salary of pound;22,000 is nearly three times what she earned at home.

"I consider myself well-paid. I'm definitely planning to extend my work permit."

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today