Eight top tips for teaching overseas

11th January 2017 at 17:30
A teacher at the airport
Perhaps you’re toying with the idea of teaching overseas, but before you gleefully hand in your notice and start packing your swimwear, there are a few things to think about.

Teaching overseas is a great way to explore the globe and experience school life in a far-flung country. You could even increase your salary. But before you book your flights there is lots to consider. From accommodation costs to cultural differences, you’d be wise to do some research before you head off.

1. Try to learn the local language 

Even if you can just say a few pleasantries, it will go a long way. If you can find a local person who would be prepared to teach you for a few months, then that would be even better. It will enrich your experience, open up new circles of friendship and could increase your personal security.

2. Be aware of cultural traditions

Buy a good guide and read up on the country. Be sensitive to cultural differences; it might be acceptable in the UK to flash your midriff as you go about your daily business but some countries expect women to dress modestly or have other customs so be courteous.

If there are political tensions, what is the impact of this on day-to-day living? Check out any regional and national security issues and follow any guidance. Contact the foreign office to see if they have any advice. Keep a copy of your passport for emergencies.

3. Check out the overseas school

Ask loads of questions and do some research. You’ll be in a better position to decide whether to take up a post. See if you can find a former teacher online and ask a few questions.

4. Read the contract thoroughly 

And make sure it is signed at the beginning of the school year, otherwise you might not receive redundancy pay if the school runs into difficulties, for example. Watch out for legal loopholes such as whether promises are enforceable under the local country’s laws.

Also, if you leave before the end of the contract, which may run into years, you may have to pay a financial penalty and have air fares or gratuities withheld.

5. Check what resources you’ll have available

Find out as soon as possible the year group or year groups you will be teaching and which subjects. Send off an email or two and try to find out what the school has in terms of resources, but in the meantime start saving your TES resources.

6. Check your qualifications count

For teachers taking the migration rather than ex-pat route to teaching overseas, this is important. Commonwealth countries which base their education system on the UK’s, do not necessarily recognise UK qualifications, which has implications for salary and promotion.

7. Keep your paperwork in order

The bureaucracy of some countries is horrendous and may require you to re-apply for a work visa each year. If you live in Australia and fancy moving to a different state, you will have to be re-licensed all over again.

Once you’ve successfully gone through the process, hang onto the bits of paper. Make sure your passport has several years to run before you set off on your overseas adventure.

8. Think about your return home

You should remember that, in the UK, employees’ statutory employment rights such as protection against unfair dismissal and rights to redundancy payments are generally dependent on length of continuous service.

Your ‘continuous service’ will be broken for many purposes by your period of employment abroad.

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