Lure of foreign climes ‘risks a UK headteacher brain drain’

4th January 2019 at 00:00

The lure of foreign climes, set against the crumbling UK education system, could prove too tempting to resist for many leaders, one leading independent headteacher has warned.

Gwen Byrom, who will end her tenure as president of the Girls Schools’ Association this month, says that we are running the risk of a headteacher “brain drain” as more leaders leave the UK for international teaching posts.

Byrom is one of those leaders. She has quit as head of Loughborough High School and is moving to Bangkok to become the founding principal of the Thai capital’s new North London Collegiate School International. Byrom said that leaders moving overseas was exacerbating the already growing shortage of teachers who are willing to step into senior roles in the UK. “Sometimes there is sadly such a feeling of negativity surrounding teaching in the UK that people think, ‘I want to be free of that,’” she told Tes.

“There are more and more of us that are heading towards retirement, and it has been hard to make headship look attractive at times.”

This is perhaps no surprise after numerous studies have brought the growing strain on school leaders in Britain to the forefront. A report by the Education Support Partnership charity revealed late last year that 80 per cent of heads described themselves as “stressed”, and the proportion of senior leaders showing signs of depression had risen from 25 per cent in 2017 to 40 per cent.

While our model for work-life balance in teaching may not be popular, the British style of education certainly is. A record number of UK independent schools are currently expanding overseas to meet this growing demand for British-style education, in particular in Asia and the Middle East.

More than 100 new international schools opened in 2018 alone, including 18 in China, 12 in Malaysia and five each in Vietnam and Thailand, according to ISC Research.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now