How to choose the right international school for you

Whether you’re a seasoned traveller teacher or considering teaching abroad for the first time, selecting an international school that's right for you is vital

Grainne Hallahan

Choosing the right international school

If you’re looking to teach abroad there are some important decisions to make.

Top of every international teacher’s to-do list is working out what type of school  they want to teach at.

Here are seven things all teachers should consider before submitting an overseas application: 

1. What kind of school is it?

International schools usually offer attractive packages, which 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, however, 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.


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2. Is it a sponsored school?

Large multi-national companies often move staff abroad and may sponsor a local school. These 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 affect your interview chances.

3. What does the school website say?

International schools' websites are 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A shoddy website, with out-of-date information, slow email responses, broken pages or meagre information is a sure sign that things aren’t up to scratch.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.

4. 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 (COBIS) runs a programme, while the Council of International Schools is another accrediting body.

If you're looking for a school to do your NQT year, certain COBIS schools are allowed to take NQTs.

5. Is there an induction for new teachers?

Some schools provide an induction and ongoing support for new teachers, especially those arriving from overseas.

We have a Tes Podcast on the ultimate staff induction, have a listen and think about the sort of things you want from your new school.

6. 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 possible new locality. You can always continue more detailed 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.

7. 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 will bring peace of mind to know there are other jobs on the market.

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Grainne Hallahan

Grainne Hallahan

Grainne Hallahan is Tes recruitment editor and senior content writer at Tes

Find me on Twitter @heymrshallahan

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