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US placements

The Visiting International Faculty (VIF) programme is a cultural exchange service that gives British teachers the chance to experience life at the chalk face in the United States. It also brings teachers from around the world to work in UK classrooms.

Some 300 British teachers are working in US schools under the scheme. "It's a remarkable opportunity for professional development," says Mary Beth Gill, the faculty's regional director.

The faculty fills teaching vacancies in the US states as they arise, the cost being paid by the recruiting school. The scheme offers up to three years working in the US, based on three renewable one-year contracts. "More than 75 per cent of our teachers stay more than one year," she says .

VIF, set up in 1987, is not merely a placement agency. "We give teachers extensive support, from supplying a car and finding a place to live to teaming them up with a local adviser."

Many British teachers study for an MA while on their placement, and VIF can even get reduced fees for particular courses.

The main demand is for primary, special needs, maths and science. "Skills shortages affect the same syllabus areas the world over," explains Ms Gill.

VIF now also offers two-year teaching positions in Britain to overseas teachers . "They take on the role of cultural ambassador during their stay, leading assemblies and giving presentations, to share their life and culture with the school," says Graham Weston, another VIF director. Stand C344

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