Two-way traffic

2nd March 2001 at 00:00
The number of British teachers in New Zealand has doubled since 1997 to 180 - 30 per cent of the overseas teacher workforce.

Last year New Zealand education officials flew to England to hunt for teaching staff. Overseas teachers - and New Zealand teachers who choose to come home - are offered a government-funded international relocation grant of NZ$3,000 (pound;900).

But increasingly the flow is in the opposite direction, as Britain moves to ease its teacher shortage. Seven teacher recruitment agencies are hunting for New Zealand teaching staff to fill British job vacancies, placing advertisements in school newspapers. The recently relaxed entry requirements for overseas teachers mean those from New Zealand can now stay at English schools for up to four years without an English qualification.

But New Zealand's Post-Primary Teachers Association says the country is facing its own staffing crisis, having suffered a net loss of 300 teachers overseas - mainly to Britain - in 1999, an needing an extra 2,500 teachers to cope with a predicted peak in the secondary school roll in 2007.

Outward-bound New Zealand teachers say they are drawn to the higher wages in Britain. Those with just a few years' experience can expect almost double New Zealand rates. In New Zealand, secondary teachers earn a basic rate of NZ$33,000 to $50,300 (pound;9,800 to pound;14,900), while primary teachers at the top of the basic scale earn just over $40,000 (pound;11,900).

British teachers seeking to work in New Zealand have to register with the Teacher Registration Board - a prerequisite for a work permit - while their qualification must be assessed by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority. Once they have a job offer - by applying direct to schools with vacancies or working with an approved agency - they have to apply for a work visa.

While New Zealand teachers working in Britain usually intend to return home, 70 per cent of British teachers in New Zealand stay and seek residency.

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