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What keeps me awake at night - The ugly side of working abroad

Four years ago, the British school at which I work was the subject of a particularly negative report by inspectors. It prompted a recruitment drive that was handled by an external agency. A large proportion of the teachers brought in, of which I was one, were non-British; the majority came from Canada, like me. Our mission was to turn the school around. With a lot of hard work, and with the help of a strong leadership team, we achieved this goal.

Rather than being congratulated, however, the non-British teachers are being abandoned. In the four years I have been at the school, there has been a natural coming and going of non-British teachers as their visas run out. What is occurring now, however, is a forced replacement of non-British staff with British teachers.

Rather than wishing to leave, the current non-British staff are eager to stay. But many of them are on Youth Mobility Scheme visas, and the school has to sponsor them in order for them to remain. The school is opting not to do this and so the teachers are being forced to leave.

The basis of this policy, as far as I can see, is that the school has to pay the external agency a fee for the non-British teachers that it provides. To cut costs, the school is opting to directly employ British teachers.

Although I appreciate that costs are important, I feel that some loyalty should be shown to the staff who turned the school around. I have had to wave goodbye to many excellent teachers as a result of this policy. I am still at the school only because I am more difficult to get rid of, being on an ancestry visa that enables me to stay for five years. The proof that these teachers are good at their jobs and are needed in the UK comes with the fact that they have secured employment elsewhere in the country.

For those of us who are left, the reward for turning around the school has been the wholesale departure of the colleagues who were instrumental in that turnaround. We have been left to pick up the pieces, trying to maintain the good work with an influx of new staff, while also fearing for our own positions.

The effect these replacements will have on the school is sure to be negative, yet there seems to be nothing that anyone can do to stop them.

The writer is a Canadian teacher working in Kent, England.

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