THE use of teachers from abroad has been praised by Foreign Secretary and Blackburn MP Jack Straw.

He, like other cabinet ministers, supports the use of European resources to benefit British public services.

Already, Spanish nurses are being used in Lancashire's hospitals. And some people in need of operations could go abroad under plans unveiled by health secretary Alan Milburn last weekend.

Mr Straw said: "We live in a single market. It is entirely right that we should look for teachers from elsewhere as qualifications from abroad are recognised here. Enough Britons work elsewhere in Europe."

Blackburn with Darwen Council this week announced it was to look at bringing in teachers from Europe and said it would only take on people with the relevant standard of qualifications.

Mr Straw added: "I campaign strongly for both education and Blackburn in cabinet and Blackburn with Darwen Council is doing a very good job."

The council's director of education and lifelong learning Mark Pattison said all applicants would have to meet the same high standards as English teachers and said he believed it was the best way forward.

Agencies recruiting teachers from abroad are understandably keen on the idea.

Amanda Brownell of southern-based Initial Education Personnel flies to places like India to find new teachers who can work in Britain. She says the standard so far is impressive -- although teachers are held in much higher regard there.

She said: "By and large, there's a real consensus that teaching is one of the most, if not the most, honourable and important professions, to society and to the future of India.

"And parents are incredibly supportive of teachers and reinforce essentially what teachers are trying to do."

The Government insists that foreign teachers are just one option. New incentives -- like cash payouts to teachers starting out to teach subjects like science and maths -- and better working conditions are being implemented to keep people in the profession.

It has also resolved to improve the retention rate -- around three in every ten teachers quit after just three years.

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