What's it like to teach in...Europe?

With its rich culture and huge variety of teaching locations, it’s no surprise that so many teachers are working in Europe. We take a closer look at the continent

Tes Editorial

Barcelona At Sunset

Continental Europe has always been a popular choice for UK teachers considering teaching abroad. Interesting cultures, beautiful scenery and friendly locals provide a fantastic backdrop for teachers in international schools. 

Europe is the third most populous continent in the world, and with such a land mass comes a variety of different cultures and a diverse range of languages and opportunities. Politically, Europe consists of 50 sovereign states and is regarded as the birthplace of Western civilisation, following the age of discovery in Spain and Portugal, and the age of enlightenment across Europe, shaping the region into a hub of culture and development.

From the wild, thrilling countryside and beautiful scenery of the north, down to the picturesque cities of the Mediterranean in the south, and across the fascinating history and architecture in Eastern Europe, the continent is arguably the most diverse in the world.

There are many countries for teachers to choose from, but Germany and Italy are becoming increasingly popular. There are also lots of opportunities to teach at international schools in Greece, France and the Czech Republic.

Most international schools in Europe teach the Cambridge and Edexcel IGCSE syllabus or the International Baccalaureate, often used in combination with the UK national curriculum or other curricula. In fact, 89 per cent of British international schools follow the UK national curriculum, 73 per cent offer IGCSE qualifications and 21 per cent teach the International Baccalaureate Diploma.

Need-to-know numbers*


1,324 – the number of international schools.

£56,250 – the average teacher’s salary in Switzerland.

17 – the average class size in a private school in Turkey.


-28% – the cost of rent in Italy compared with the UK.

£343 – the average monthly rent for an apartment in Athens.

£1,373 – the average monthly rent for an apartment in Amsterdam. 

£3.45 – average price of a mid-range bottle of wine in Spain.

Find out more 

What’s it like living and working in Europe?

Liz Cowley taught at King’s College in Madrid, which she describes as “the best city I’ve ever lived in”.

“I think that your experience of international teaching is defined significantly by the place you choose to go, and Madrid was perfect for me,” she says.

“We started just after 9am and lessons finished at 4:30pm, although the time for break and lunch was much longer.”

“I also taught Edexcel A-level English literature and English literature and language, which was a good challenge,” she adds.

“Madrid has so many bars, clubs and restaurants that you’re never short of places to socialise, and this is made even easier by the fact that most places in the centre are relatively cheap and pretty much within walking distance.”

Teaching in Madrid was relaxed, she says, and this allowed her plenty of time to enjoy the cultural experiences the city has to offer.

“There are so many cultural things to see and do: parks, museums, theatre, concerts and day trips,” she explains.

Cowley enjoyed living in an international house with seven other people in a “hectic” home that was ideal for her at age 24, she says. She also enjoyed flying back to London to visit her partner regularly and found flight prices to the UK, as well as further afield to places such as Mexico and Morocco, very affordable.

Ready to make your next move? Find the latest teaching jobs in Europe and overseas.

*Figures from Relocate Magazine, Holiday Weather and Numbeo.