If you’ve decided to shake up your working life, you might be considering working abroad. But is that choice all it’s cracked up to be?
It seems that increasing numbers of teachers, particularly those who are new to the profession, are choosing to spend time teaching overseas. While this has caused some concern in certain quarters, it’s an option that remains open to anyone who can secure a job to suit.
Last year Sir Michael Wilshaw, the Chief Inspector of Schools in England, warned that newly qualified teachers were being lured away from teaching in the UK by warm climates and competitive salaries. Warnings of a brain drain might be premature, although concerns about the high numbers of teachers leaving have been widely expressed, but it is worth considering the benefits to be derived from having people in the teaching workforce with experience from beyond the nation’s borders; assuming some of those teachers return, at some point, to teach in the UK.
Need to know basics
There are clear issues for policy makers to resolve when it comes to UK-trained teachers taking their skills elsewhere to work. Resolving why that might be happening would be a good start. But in the meantime, what do teachers who are thinking of making the move need to know? Here are some pointers:
Do your research…
You need to be absolutely sure that any job you seek abroad can actually deliver the experiences you desire. Asking simple questions before applying can save a good deal of potential heartache. Who would your employer be? Would you have any employment rights? Who would you be teaching? What if the job doesn’t materialise – would there be compensation for you? Where would you be living? What language would you be teaching in? What language would you be expected to use when working with colleagues? What would your salary include? How long would the notice period be? Who covers the cost of travel? This list is by no means complete. Just make sure you that nothing is left to chance.
Make a plan…
Do you want to leave and never come back or would you like to keep your options open? You might like to consider asking for unpaid leave if you know you want to be away for a limited period. If you want to go long term, don’t burn any bridges. You never know what the future may hold!
Are you suitable for the job? Can you envisage yourself being happy working there? Is there a prevailing pedagogy or teaching style expected of all teachers? Are you comfortable with the school’s set up, values and priorities?
Are you able to teach in your chosen country? You need to consider immigration regulations and qualification requirements at the very least. It’s also important to find out as much as you can about your tax liabilities.
The British Council, which runs year-long and six-month paid placements for language assistants, is in no doubt that time spent teaching abroad can be beneficial. A British Council spokesperson said: “Although English is the third most common first language (behind Mandarin and Spanish) it’s increasingly seen as the world’s lingua franca with up to a billion people speaking it. It’s this growing demand that has led to a need for quality English teachers abroad. Learning to communicate and contribute across cultural and language barriers can help you become resilient, self-sufficient, adaptable and so much more.”
Find out more…
For further information about teaching abroad and to land your perfect job, take a look at our international teaching advice.
About the author
After graduating with a degree in Politics and International Relations from the University of Reading, Elizabeth Holmes completed her PGCE at the Institute of Education, University of London. She then taught humanities and social sciences in schools in London, Oxfordshire and West Sussex, where she ran the history department in a challenging comprehensive. Elizabeth specialises in education but also writes on many other issues and themes. As well as her regular blogs for eTeach and FEjobs, her books have been published by a variety of publishers and translated around the world.