International schools face double hit from Covid-19

Warning that schools in the sector could face a struggle to recruit teachers as well as dwindling pupil numbers after coronavirus

Catherine Lough

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International schools could face a double hit from lower pupil numbers and difficulty recruiting teachers because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a leading figure in the sector.

Colin Bell, chief executive of the Council of British International Schools (Cobis), said teachers might be wary of moving abroad during the pandemic because of fears for vulnerable relatives and friends.

He told Tes: "There are obviously lots of human impacts, negative impacts that Covid has provided for all society, not just teachers.

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"But for example, for teachers who are looking to go overseas for maybe their first job, or they might be looking to move further away from Europe, the fact that they may have vulnerable ageing parents or vulnerable friends or groups of people in their life - they might have second thoughts about travelling the other side of the world at this current time."

Mr Bell said there might also be fewer pupils at international schools because of the crisis.

"Also there are potentially some schools, not just in Cobis but in the international sector as a whole, that might well be having a reduction in terms of student numbers or those ex-pat families that are still positioned or based in employment overseas," he said.

"So there may well be less of a growth in terms of recruitment and vacancies for this coming short-term period ahead, so there’s that sort of impact as well."

Last week, Tes reported that more than eight in ten international school leaders found recruiting teachers a challenge.

The 2019 Cobis survey also showed that the proportion of teachers leaving to teach internationally for a better salary had risen by 5 percentage points since 2018.

Mr Bell said teachers had shown "remarkable resilience" during the Covid-19 crisis.

"It’s different pictures in different places, but I think the number one message is the reassurance that good schools whether they’re here in the UK or overseas, good schools are really preparing well for welcoming back students and their families, so in terms of support for new teachers to our sector or existing teachers, they need to know that schools are taking it very seriously," he said.

"And teachers have shown remarkable resilience and resolve and they’re facing these things with a very realistic lens."

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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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