Australia: My life as a teacher down under
Andrew Bacon describes the rewards of being a secondary school science teacher in Victoria, Australia.
We wanted to work and enjoy life, instead of just working to live so my wife, daughter and I emigrated to Australia. I started the ball rolling by emailing various states in Australia to see what was available. I got some interesting offers: one was a four year teaching post which had the added perks of a house and paid bills, but it was in the outback, which was a little too remote for us. I decided to go for a secondary school science teacher post in Victoria. Science teaching is a shortage subject here, so I was offered a permanent visa but we still had to find our own housing.
The visa application is very detailed and requires certified copies of everything from A-levels onwards, so you will need to devote time to do this. Lots of people use registered migration agents who are specialist advisers and well-informed about immigration requirements and processes. But if you’re prepared to go through every document with a fine-toothed comb, then you can do it yourself.
I work in a high-achieving Anglican private school with a total of 700 mixed pupils and some boarders (years 7-11). My first day was nerve-racking as I had to do supply work, which could have involved anything from maths to woodwork, or rowing to shooting. I survived!
A typical day involves a daily staff briefing and prayer followed by form time and registration. I teach five lessons per day, each one lasting around 50 minutes with form time at the end of the day.
The best thing about teaching here is that the pupils are extremely respectful of their teachers, far more so than in the UK. They are well behaved, work hard, complete homework and have high aspirations. The downside is the school terms are long (the current one is 11 weeks) and being a private school there are lots of reports, exams and meetings.
The pay is fantastic. I’m currently earning around £36,00 per annum and I’m also due to get a 10% pay rise plus a one-off payment because of my specialist post. This makes it one of the highest paid teaching posts in Australia and I actually now earn more than I did in the UK - with a vastly lower cost of living. A win-win situation! We are currently buying around four acres of land overlooking mountains and forests, and having a brand new house and pool built, with stables for horses later on.
If the idea of better weather, better standard of living, better teaching conditions, friendly staff, more money, hundreds of miles of beaches, mountains, parrots, kangaroos, koalas appeal to you, then come to Australia.
Finally, what key things have I learnt that I will bring back to the UK? That we will never come back! Give it a go, it will probably be the best thing you ever do.
My top tips:
- Email different Australian states to see what kind of teaching jobs are available
- Don’t take the first job offered; try working as a supply teacher (known as CRT in Australia) as this will help you to get to know different schools
- Find out general living information by visiting the government website Australian life
- Take time to decide where you will live; Victoria is a huge state, so explore different regions
- Teaching Australia is a government funded body to promote, support and unify the teaching profession and is well worth a visit, as is the portal for the education and training community, edna
Need more advice on working abroad? Visit Teaching overseas