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24th November 2000 at 00:00
Ah, Ealing! The queen of the suburbs!

Yes. This west London borough is leafy, lively and cosmopolitan, probably most famous for Ealing Studios, home of great British comedy films such as The Lavender Hill Mob, The Man in the White Suit and Kind Hearts and Coronets. Time was you could rub shoulders with the likes of Alec Guinness, Alastair Sim and Frankie Howerd in the bar of the Red Lion, Ealing Green.

Isn't teacher recruitment something of an Ealing comedy?

Like the rest of London, Ealing has problems getting enough teachers. The borough is a popular place to live - one of the attractions is its good schools - and has seen some of the biggest house price rises in the capital. Ealing council tries its best to make home hunting easier for newly qualified teachers by providing accommodation lists and it is having discussions with housing associations to try to resolve the problem in the longer term.

What about the schools?

There are 65 primary schools, 13 secondaries, seven special schools and two early years centres.

There are vacancies across the board in primaries and secondaries, particularly in design and technology, sciences and languages. Ealing faces its first inspection by the Office for Standards in Educaion in the new year but is quietly confident that it will be seen as an improving authority.

"We have a lot of headteachers in the authority who started out here as new teachers years ago and they have stayed," says authority spokesman Bob Anderson.

"Ealing is a place where teachers can really grow. We have everything here in terms of support, development and variety, so they can stay in the authority and have a really happy and productive career."

So what's the big attraction?

Ealing itself, mainly. Lots of green spaces, plenty of pubs and a reputation for good restaurants. Ealing Broadway is one of the biggest shopping centres in London. Socially the borough is varied too: it has a big Asian population in Southall.

Ealing is excellent for getting around. You can be in central London in half an hour, there are all-night buses and it is close to the M40, M4 and Heathrow airport.

I think I'm ready for those house prices now!

Are you sitting down? A Victorian three-bedroom terraced house in the centre of Ealing would start at pound;300,000, while you would pay more than pound;400,000 for a four bedroom semi-detached. If you are looking to rent, a one-bedroom flat starts at pound;700 a month.

Martin Whittaker

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