Rush to work in Falkland Islands

28th January 2005 at 00:00
They are 8,000 miles away from home, have no theatres or professional sport and only six direct flights to the UK every month, but British teachers are desperate to work there.

The Falkland Islands government has been inundated with enquiries after advertising for five teachers and a primary head in The TES this month.

Sylvia Cole, Falklands education director, said: "We have had a lot of interest. I think it is probably because it is a nice place with big open spaces, little pollution and wildlife that you wouldn't see anywhere else in the world.

"Crime is very low, people don't lock their doors here."

The British overseas territory also has some particular attractions for teachers.

Education is well-funded, pupil-teacher ratios are good and discipline problems rare. The main primary school in the capital Stanley has only 220 pupils with classes sizes of around 18, while the secondary, has 160 pupils and classes of around 20.

John Farrow, who retires as headteacher of Stanley infant and junior school in July, said: "Whoever gets my job should be very pleased. They will be teaching very responsive children who are a joy to work with."

The 59 year-old fell in love with the Falklands when he first taught there in the Seventies and found that things had become even better when he returned five years ago.

"I didn't really expect to find such an immensely forward looking progressive place. I am fortunate enough to work in a school with facilities that would be the envy of almost every primary school in the UK," he said.

There has been radical change in the past three years. Because exam boards began cutting the number of GCSEs that could be sat in November Mrs Cole decided to change from a southern hemisphere January-December academic year to fall in line with England.

Meanwhile improved facilities mean that children with serious special needs can be educated locally, rather than having to be flown to Britain.

Mr Farrow said: "If I were a teacher in my 20s I would jump at the chance to come here. It is hard work but the experience is wonderful."

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