Dear John: My partner and I wish to take a gap year. Will it hurt our careers?


My partner and I are both in our 4th year of teaching and trying to weigh up the pros and cons of moving abroad to teach for a year. Before we go any further I would like to hear your opinion as to how this will affect our career prospects when we return. I don’t want to resign from a post of some responsibility and come back unable to get a job! What is your experience of this situation? Any advice would be gratefully received!

Thank you!


Unless your school will offer you leave of absence for a year or you both can find a place on one of the exchange schemes operated by organisations such as the British Council you will be taking a risk. How big a risk depends upon where you teach and what you teach. At present, the spate of retirements means there are a good number of middle management jobs around each year: in a few years time that may not be the case.

More importantly, do ensure that both of you are equally committed to working overseas. This can be a big challenge if one person is really enthusiastic and the other only lukewarm, and can affect your relationship and your enjoyment of the time overseas.

If you only want a short period overseas, then think how you will use the experience to help your career back home afterwards. Do also remember that the further away you go the harder it is to return for interviews and that much of the southern hemisphere has a different school year to that here. This can affect starting and finishing dates.

Despite all this, a period overseas can be a wonderful experience and well worth the extra effort.