Teaching abroad: How to choose the right overseas school

12th January 2017 at 11:30
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Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or teaching abroad for the first time, selecting an international school that's right for you is really important.

If you’re looking to teach abroad there are some important decisions to make. The one that should be on the top of every international teacher’s list is what type of school do you want to teach at.
Here are seven things all teachers should consider before submitting an overseas application. 

What kind of school is it?

As more professionals work and take their families abroad, international schools are flourishing. These usually offer a very attractive package that may be far more lucrative than the job you’re leaving at home.

If you’re going to work in a state-maintained school, on the other hand, the salary may look alarmingly low. Don’t dismiss it as a lower cost of living may mean it is quite a decent salary, plus you’ll have a more profound cultural immersion in a local school.


Is it a sponsored school?

Large multinationals such as oil companies locate many staff abroad and may sponsor a local school. Such schools may have more lavish funding than other international schools, but a more commercial ethos.

Similarly, embassies sponsor and fund schools in remote outposts of the world. Be aware that such organisations may have a commitment to hire a quota of their own nationals, which could give rise to ‘us and them’ tensions among the staff.

Check the school website

For international schools their website is a primary medium of communication with teachers, parents and other stakeholders. A shoddy website, with out-of-date information, slow email responses, broken pages or meagre information is a sure sign that things aren’t up to scratch.

If you’re researching a local school, check other schools’ websites in the area to compare trends and academic performance and results.

Has the school been accredited?

Just as you would check the Ofsted report for any prospective school in the UK, you should research the equivalent for any overseas school.

The issue of accreditation is a particularly relevant one for teachers seeking employment in international schools purporting to be run along British lines. The Council of British International Schools runs a programme, while the Council of International Schools is another accrediting body.

Is there an induction for new teachers?

Sound schools provide an induction and ongoing support for new teachers, especially those arriving from overseas. For example, International School in Cape Town likes to ensure that from day one a new teacher is operating within some kind of comfort zone.

It recently hired the outgoing French teacher for a day to ensure the new teacher, an Irish national, knew the ropes. This kind of training is even more important for science teachers who take practical lessons and need to know local health and safety regulations.

Use social networks and email

The TES Teaching Overseas forum is a brilliant source of advice. While rules do not permit posters from naming individual schools for legal reasons, you may find some vital tips about your locality. You can always continue more details discussions using your private email address.

You could also try and find names and email addresses of staff in your prospective department, and get in touch with them direct.

Research the region’s job opportunities

It’s a good idea to not only research a specific school and job offer, but job opportunities in the region as well. If you fall in love with the region but the job doesn’t work out, it’s peace of mind to know there are other jobs on the market.

With the UK’s pending exit from the EU, foreign nationals could begin to return home. With experience gained in the UK they will provide stiff competition for jobs in your chosen country.

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