Overseas recruits enrich lives

21st September 2001 at 01:00
Your article "Why we're relying on aid from Africa" (TES, September 7) quotes Nigel de Gruchy as saying that "heads should be prepared to send pupils home rather than use overseas staff".

The justification for this pronouncement from one of the littlest Englanders of them all is that these teachers are often desperately needed in their own countries.

In some cases this may be true - India, for example. However, the fact remains that many of the poorer countries are simply unable to pay all of their teachers to work in schools. Increasingly, teachers who find themselves without paid work can take advantage of shortages in other countries to remain in the profession, at least until circumstances improve in their country of origin.

In doing so, they make an invaluable contribution to the richness and diversity of school life for countless British children, many of whom do not enjoy the economic privilege which allows Mr de Gruchy to travel the world.

A few paragraphs later, we see what the leader of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers is really up to. "This is basically covering up the Government's deficiencies," he asserts. Mr de Gruchy, of course, would rather exploit perceived "deficiencies" in order to strengthen his negotiating position. It seems not to matter to him that children should go without a teacher to suit his political purposes.

Ian Penman Chairman TimePlan Education Group Ltd 20-21 Arcadia Avenue, London N3

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