Thinking of teaching abroad or already in the circuit?
The current number of British teachers circulating overseas is ever increasing, with educators deciding to throw in the towel on paperwork mounds, bad behaviour and the stresses from OFSTED. Last year alone, there were more qualified teachers leaving the UK than postgraduates completing a PGCE. If you too are jumping ship or moving on once more, here’s how to get closer to the job you think you want, or, potentially the job you don’t yet know you want!
The Early Bird Catches the Worm
This is not just a cliché but very valuable advice. Recruitment season begins as early as September and peaks between November-February. There are some schools who like to get applications in by early or mid-December or even hire before Christmas to get the first pick of candidates. Most however, normally have applications open until January and will start interviewing during recruitment fairs or via Skype. For those making a late search, there is a second wave of positions becoming vacant around Easter. I find the best place to look is on the TES website, or by searching the recruitment section of specific schools you’re interested in. By submitting a speculative application will show you are keen AND by taking the extra 5-30 minutes to research the e-mail address of a Principal as opposed to HR, will ensure it gets where it needs to!
Choosing where to move should take precedence over merely which schools have vacancies open, otherwise you could find yourself living in Pattaya. The location can change everything. If you are deciding to teach in Spain simply because it’s hot and close to the UK, then chances are you may learn the hard way. Gather your thoughts to determine your personal goals and assess your interests, then consider a few destinations that may allow you to achieve them. Researching the average teacher wage vs cost of living should be a major factor in your decision making, as your money will go A LOT further in places like Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia as opposed to Spain, Portugal or Singapore. With this in mind, you should be thinking about where will allow you to save enough money to get to your ideal holiday destinations as opposed to moving to your ideal a holiday destination; work is work and you WON’T be spending all of your days on a sun-lounger sipping Mai Thai’s!
This is possibly the most crucial stage of the application process and shouldn’t be overlooked. As well as there being many wonderful international schools in existence, there are many bogus ones too! If you’re interested in a particular one, find out about what certifications they have, for example if they are COBIS or COIS accredited. Investigate other important factors, like if they are non-for-profit or owned by a big cheese director who is more likely to buy a Porsche instead of pencils and textbooks. Read their social media content, website, ethos and newsletters. There are also some big International School groups dominating the market. Try engaging with online reviews to find out which are the better ones to work for as they will not all be the same.
“I’m teaching for the money!!” said NO teacher EVER.
We all know that teaching is well known for being a fairly low-paying job for all the work and responsibility that goes along with it. However that does not mean that you should short-change yourself and agree to work for peanuts! For some reason, there appears to be a huge secret with many International Schools who do not reveal pay scales, until you have received the job offer.
Be astute and see what info you can find online, perhaps signing up to a couple of informative websites, like ISC or ISR. On these sites, teachers can comment on salaries and packages, as well as school and city specific information. If you want to go a step further, paying a higher premium for recruitment agency Search Associates may be worth your while (I do however find many of their client schools to be either American or lower tier, but there are a few gems hidden in there.) The website provides full school profiles, including salary & packages and they organise recruitment fairs located in various global locations, bringing us to…(drum roll…*&?<!@£’….)
Many jobseekers attend fairs as it can be a convenient way to get hired due to the large number of schools at your fingertips. Some are International School group specific although most are organised by a few large organisations. If seeking a teaching job abroad from the UK, the Council of International Schools hold one in London from 20-22 January (the sign-up deadline for this is 6th Jan.) Non-UK based ISS have two fairs coming up in Bangkok and San Francisco. Another big player is the Search Associates collection of fairs which span from Canada, to the USA, London, Asia and Melbourne. After recently half-attending their Melbourne one, I only believe it is worthwhile if there’s a good selection of schools from various locations AND if you’re not that fussed about where in the world you emigrate to. This one had most of their schools from China, China and oh, wait…China! Although on the flip side, if you’re Thailand-or-nearby-bound, their Bangkok fair looks to have a better selection of schools attending.
Surviving Skype Interviews*
Skype can be a daunting medium in which to be interviewed. Not only are you talking into your computer and probably dressed from the bottom half in your PJ bottoms, but technology often fails you at the most crucial of moments. Plan ahead and ensure everything is working okay before it’s crunch time and try putting some board games under your computer to raise the camera, so your interviewers don’t get a perfect gaze up your nose!
Personally, I have only yet been interviewed for international posts via Skype and have obtained all of my jobs this way. Like anything, the process gets easier the more you practice and the most important thing is to be yourself. Your interviewers want someone who can ‘fit in’ to their organisation, so it’s always a good idea to relax and show a bit of your personality, whilst still maintaining professionalism.
So, whether you are a seasoned teacher abroad or yet to discover the realms of the circuit, now is the time to take a deep breath and rehearse your best ever interview answers to bag that dream job. AND, always, remember to research well before jumping in head first, pose the right questions during interviews and ask to speak with a few members of staff for an ‘insider’s insight’ before impulsively saying, “I accept!” You will be thanking yourself in the long run if you do!