US set to poach British staff

8th December 2000 at 00:00
Rotterdam, New York and Berlin join London as the cities worst-affected by a growing global problem, reports Clare Dean

AMERICA needs to recruit up to 2.7 million new teachers and its state and school boards are now scouring English and Spanish speaking countries for recruits.

Britain's largest teacher supply agency, providing more than 1,000 staff to schools daily, is already looking to export to the US.

TimePlan estimates that it will send up to 300 British teachers to America next year with the number rising to 3,000 a year.

Ian Penman, chairman of the company, said he was taking supply staff only from areas such as Devon and Cornwall, where there is a surplus.

"We are very keen to do nothing that would thwart the supply of teachers in the UK," he said. But there are fears that the United States will poach the young teachers British schools need most.

An exodus of just 1 per cent of British teachers could create more than 2,000 vacancies here a year,according to recruitment analyst John Howson.

He said: "That thought terrifies me. The people they will target are the young, mobile teachers prepared to go anywhere."

States like Massachusetts offer a $20,000 (pound;14,000) signing bonus over at least three years with a minimum $8,000 (pound;5,700) guaranteed in the first year to "the best and brightest teaching prospects". In San Francisco, a $15 (pound;10) million apartment block is being built to offer teachers reasonable rents in one of the city's most desirable neighbourhoods.

Texas last month agreed to scrap its demand that prospective teachers have backgrounds in the subjects they planned to teach or degrees from schools of education in an attempt to encourage people to change career.

Chicago last year hired 36 teachers from more than 20 countries to teach in shortage subjects such as maths and science. By the end of this school year, according to the US magazine, Education Week, that number could reach 150.

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