Teachers flee UK for sunnier job prospects

26th March 2010 at 00:00
Staff in international schools soar by nearly 30,000 as budget fears, weather and interference from government prompt mass desertion

The freezing winter and the prospect of post-election funding cuts in education are contributing to a mass exodus of teachers to schools abroad, it has emerged.

Increasing government interference in the classroom has also been blamed for a doubling in the numbers of British-trained teachers seeking jobs in international schools.

New figures show some 70,000 British primary and secondary teachers are now working in international schools, compared with only 41,500 in 2005.

The scrum to jet off to sunnier climes has also been fuelled by a boom in the number of teaching jobs, particularly in central and east Asia.

British private schools, and global chains such as Gems, are now targeting the children of increasingly wealthy local families, as well as their traditional ex-pat base.

The number of English-medium international schools has leapt from 1,700 to 5,400 over the past decade, according to ISC Research, an organisation which monitors international school data.

But analysts have warned the "brain drain" to a booming international sector could force the Government to rethink its decision to reduce the numbers it recruits for secondary teacher training. Otherwise, Britain could be forced to import teachers from countries such as South Africa and Jamaica, as it has done in the past.

Recruitment experts have also warned teachers going abroad not to be seduced by higher pay packets or sunny weather, because other aspects of pay and conditions, such as pension provision, may not be same.

A lack of regulation means teachers and school leaders could find themselves in tricky situations if they have disagreements with their employers.

John Howson, a recruitment analyst who has worked closely with international schools, said: "Post-Cold War, the export drive for British education has increased, with significant growth in places like Moscow, Warsaw, Prague and Kazakhstan. There has also been immense growth in Dubai and on the Indian subcontinent.

"The British education system overseas has a very good reputation and is seen as a good way of preparing for a university education in the USA or Britain."

Professor Howson added that some teachers who fled abroad never came back, as carving a career in English-medium schools allowed them substantial freedoms.

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