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Issue 4 - October 2000

They sum from a land down under

They sum from a land down under LONDON education authorities have gone on a round-the-world tour in a bid to fill teaching job vacancies in key subjects including maths.

South London's Croydon Council drafted in more than 20 Australians when officers realised they wouldn't otherwise be able to fill the posts by the start of this term.

The unprecendented move - dubbed Operation Kangaroo - will also see a further 15 flying in to Britain to fill posts before the year's end.

Four Croydon head teachers decided to go Down Under to the cities of Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide to interview around 100 teachers over two weeks this summer.

Their brief was to find suitable candidates to take 40 jobs which had remained vacant after several months.

In a similar move, nearby Greenwich, in south-east London, is scouring Canada and Australia for new recruits, and may consider the prospect of looking in New Zealand, South Africa and parts of Europe.

The east London borough of Hackney is reportedly looking in New Zealand, Australia, Dubai and South Africa.

Local taxpayers need not fear that they are footing the bill for the marathon trips, however, as both Croydon and Greenwich councils used a recruitment company which funded it.

Croydon and Greenwich's Aussie army will be employed on a supply basis for two terms, after which the schools are free to take on the teachers on their own pay scales.

They will only be taken on if they are fully qualified, and take part in an induction programme before setting foot in the classroom.

As well as maths, the teachers will tackle English, drama and science in primary and secondary schools.

* THE Government has responded to claims that maths education is suffering because of a lack of qualified teachers.

The charge was raised in a new book of essays edited by Alison Wolf and Claire Tikley of the University of London's Institute of Education.

The book, entitled The Maths We Need Now, states that a shortage of specialists could create an innumerate generation and blames politicians for underestimating the importance of the subject.

A spokesman for the Department for Education and Employment explained: "The Government has taken steps to address the problems in these essays.

"It has implemented the numeracy strategy for primary schools which has begun to deliver improvements both in the quality of teaching and performance of pupils, particularly at key stage 2."

Source: The Guardian

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