When the director of Hourglass Education recruitment agency visits Kingston, Jamaica, he will not be in the Caribbean for a holiday. Instead he’s on a mass recruitment drive for new teachers for the UK.
Similarly to the 1960’s when Britain turned to Jamaica to find tube and bus drivers, Geoff Brown has turned to the Caribbean country to help fill England’s classrooms.
In a previous visit to a hotel in Jamaica in June, Brown alongside other school staff was able to recruit 43 Jamaican teachers to start in September at an academy trust in West London, while a further 87 had been signed up on previous trips for the same start date. On his next visit he is looking to recruit a further 21 to start in January.
Brown told the Guardian that finding applicant will not be a problem, and expects to interview over 100 teachers to fill the 21 posts – which has already been shortened from a much larger number.
“Endless schools are advertising and not getting any applicants whatsoever,” said Brown. “There are two options: you go down the age-old route of hiring anyone who is warm and breathing, or – the more savvy – go overseas. Increasingly, schools are doing that.
“The prize places are Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and Jamaica. In my experience, those from Australia and New Zealand want to come over for a year, travel around Europe and take a month off for Christmas to go home. You get a Jamaican, he or she is here for life.”
The salary for teachers in Jamaica is on average a fifth of the salary of UK teachers Brown added. He also told the Guardian that classrooms are much larger, with 60 children in every classroom. Brown also said that their qualifications were similar to UK versions: “These teachers speak English, teach in English, their GCSE is based on our GCSEs, and their CAPE qualification is similar to our A-level. Increasingly, heads are turning to us. And we are turning to Jamaica.”
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