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Teachers leave Britain to find rich life abroad

Record numbers of teachers are quitting Britain to work abroad, raising fears of an exodus that will leave British schools understaffed.

india Updated: Jan 26, 2009 12:55 IST

Record numbers of teachers are quitting Britain to work abroad, raising fears of an exodus that will leave British schools understaffed, the Guardian reports.

The number of qualified teachers who have left to take up posts in schools overseas where the national curriculum is the same as in England and Wales has risen by 26 per cent in three years, new figures reveal.

There are now 74,264 teachers from Britain in such schools - known as British international schools. That number is equal to almost 14 percent of teachers in Britain state schools.

ISC Research, which analyses the international schools market and collected the figures, predicts that by 2013 the number will have risen by a further 54 per cent to nearly 115,000.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, warned that the flight of teachers from Britain could exacerbate a shortage of maths and science teachers across the country.

Meanwhile, Christine Blower, acting general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, argued that schools could struggle to fill Britain vacancies because the new points-based immigration system meant there were "major constraints" on schools recruiting teachers from overseas.

"The exodus of a large number of British teachers could at some point lead to teacher vacancies," she said. "The government needs to address this potential major imbalance."

The departure of so many teachers is mainly a result of hundreds more British international schools opening across the world, according to ISC. In the last three years, their number has grown from 1,282 to 2,129, it has found.

ISC's managing director, Nicholas Brummitt, said Qatar, Hong Kong, Dubai and Switzerland still have "nothing like enough places to satisfy demand".

He added: "British education still has considerable cachet overseas. Many parents strongly believe that they are securing their children's future by sending them to a school that teaches in English."

Brummitt predicts that by 2013, Asia will have more than 1,600 British international schools. Teachers at the schools are seldom paid as much as they would be in Britain, but salaries are often tax-free, with free rent, flights home and medical insurance added.

Hannah Brunton, 26, who moved in August from a primary school in St John's Wood, north London, to a British international school in Beijing, said moving abroad was particularly appealing in an economic downturn.

"I had worked in London since graduating and found my bank balance to be no healthier than when I was a student," she said. "I'm saving money and have a better quality of life. My contract is for two years, but I may stay longer."

Thousands more teachers are thought to have quit Britain for schools that do not follow the English national curriculum, but do teach in English, the newspaper said Sunday.