Home is where the rejection slips are

I felt depressed today, and it had absolutely nothing to do with the cold, wet weather outside. I'm a returnee from overseas - 10 years in Singapore. Instead, my dark mood arose as a direct result of yet another rejection letter from a British, or more precisely English, school. Let me explain.

The decision to work abroad is not an easy one to take. I was lucky in that I went to work in a co-educational international school with a fine reputation. It has a liberal philosophy, is academically successful, and is committed to social service and to all those features designed to educate an individual in the broadest sense of the word.

I made the decision to come back to Britain to study for a master's degree in education because I believe - I really do - that the qualification will help me in my quest for advancement beyond head of department. But not, it seems, here in good old England.

My rejection letter today (for the post of senior teacher, no less) stated: "Unfortunately your lack of experience in a British school with the age range 11-18 placed you at a disadvantage compared to other candidates."

So the problem with my last school was that it was multinational (the British were the largest grouping) and taught to international curricula (IGCSE and IB), making my experience there a positive hindrance back here in Blighty. I should not have been surprised as research would suggest that this is commonly the case with returnees. Good grief, Carruthers, he's been out there too long. Heat has probably got to him, poor chap.

In an age of globalisation and an increasingly multi-cultural and multi-ethnic Britain, I would have thought, naive fool that I am, that some enlightened heads of schools would welcome applications from someone who has worked overseas in a progressive and successful international school. But no.

It seems in order to get on I must return overseas and Go Native again. Well, chaps, if this is the state of parochialism in schools here today, I think I would prefer to.

Mark Eagers is an MA student at Bath University and a senior examiner in history (IB). He is a former head of history at the United World College of South East Asia, Singapore

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