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Looking for an overseas teaching job? Do your research up front

Career | Published 12 January, 2012 | By: Helen Beckett

There are few things worse than being stuck in a school from Hell abroad. Read our seven golden rules to help you to choose the right overseas school

1.     What kind of school is it?
As the world becomes a global village and more professionals work and take their families abroad, international schools are flourishing. These usually offer a very attractive package that 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 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.

2.     Is it a sponsored school?
Large multinationals such as oil companies locate many staff overseas, sometimes in under-developed regions, and may sponsor schools. Such schools 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 give rise to ‘them and us’ tensions among the staff.

3.     Check the school website
For international schools their website is a primary medium of communication with teachers, parents and other stakeholders who may be travelling or in different countries: a shoddy website, with out-of-date information, slow email responses, broken pages or meagre information is a sure sign that things aren’t up to scratch.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, or indeed if there is any inspection system. The issue of accreditation is a particularly relevant for teachers seeking employment in international schools purporting to be run along British lines. The Council of British International Schools Accreditation – COBIS– runs a programme, while the Council of International schools is another accrediting body.

5.     Is there an induction for new teachers?
Sound schools provide an induction and ongoing support for new teachers, especially those arriving from overseas with specific orientation needs. For example, International School, Cape Town, likes to ensure that from day one, a new teacher is operating within some kind of comfort zone. It recently hired the outgoing French teacher for a day to ensure the new teacher, an Irish national, knew the ropes. This kind of training is even more important for science teachers who take practical lessons and need to know local health and safety regulations.

6.     Use social networks and email
The TES Teaching Overseas forum is a brilliant source of advice. While our rules do not permit posters from naming individual schools for legal reasons, you may find some vital clues, hints and tips about your locality, and you can always continue more details discussions using your private email address. Another idea is to ask if you may have email addresses of staff in your prospective department, and get in touch with them.

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’s peace of mind to know there are other jobs on the market. Many people dream of moving to Australia and New Zealand, for example, but there is currently a surplus of teachers in these countries. And as the UK’s economy worsens, like other Western European countries, communities such as South African nationals are returning to their homeland, with hot skills and local knowledge, which makes for a competitive workplace.

 

Don’t do what I did
“I was hired as a specialist subject teacher by a company that owns a group of international schools, with specific plans to teach IB. I gave up a great job to take this one, partly because of the country and partly because I wanted to teach IB as a career builder. The company cancelled the IB program suddenly and we are expected to just teach to GCSE. I am now in the situation where I am not even teaching A level and have been told that the expectation is for me to do more primary level teaching.”

Where to go for more information on teaching abroad

Read the conversations on the TES teaching overseas forum.

 

Check out the main accreditation bodies

Council of International Schools (CIS)

New England Association of Schools and Colleges

Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Schools

Council of British International Schools

 

Check the organisations of international schools

Council of International Schools (CIS)

European Council of International Schools

Headmasters’ and Headmistresses Conference – Overseas member

Latin American Heads’ Conference

British Schools n the Middle East

Near East South Asia Council of Overseas Schools

Federation of British International Schools of South East Asia and East Asia

East Asia Regional Council of Overseas Schools (EARCOS)

Association of China and Mongolian International Schools

Mediterranean Association of International Schools

Japanese Council of International Schools (JCIS)

Swiss Group of International Schools

National Association of International Schools in Spain

Association of International Schools in Africa

 

Check the Educational school groups

Some of the most prestigious international schools in the world are part of groups including:

United World Colleges

English Schools Foundation

GEMS Education

Dulwich College Management International

World Class Learning Group

Educational Services Overseas Limited

Yew Chung Education Foundation

 

Finding a teaching job overseas

We list hundreds of international teaching on the TES website every week, here are some of the most popular job searches:

Take a look at all the international teaching and lecturing jobs currently advertised on TES

Check out all the headship jobs in international schools

View all the classroom teacher jobs overseas

Find all the overseas head of department roles

Find all the Director/principal jobs overseas

Find all the deputy headteacher jobs overseas

 

International jobs by workplace

Overseas teaching jobs in secondary education

Overseas teaching jobs in primary education

Overseas teaching jobs in nursery education

Overseas teaching jobs in further education

Overseas teaching jobs in special education

 

Overseas jobs by regions

Overseas teaching jobs in North America

Overseas teaching jobs in South America

International teaching jobs in Africa

International teaching jobs in Europe

Overseas teaching jobs in Asia

International teaching jobs in Oceania

 


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Comment (3)

  • if you have no contact with the school before you go - don't go. in my expereince the school sent me the contract and then did not answer my questions, this has led to me finding my own accomodation and the job not being clear. do think twice about going overseas you are giving up everything to go overseas - not just a job but your social life, friends and sunday chats with a friend - skype is not the same.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    13:48
    30 December, 2012

    teapot12

  • Do all schools use agencies or can I look for jobs on their websites?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    19:15
    5 January, 2013

    4SC

  • @4SC - the vast majority of applications that I have made have been through each international schools own websites. By using this method schools will also avoid agency fees.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    19:32
    8 January, 2013

    Andrew Turner

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