Should I stay or should I go?

Making your mind up about moving overseas to teach is not easy. Every teacher in the world thinks the same two things: ‘What am I leaving behind?’ and ‘What will I be moving to?' Heading to the unknown on your own is always daunting.

However it’s not an unknown and you’re not on your own if you take responsible steps in the planning process.

Easter is the time of year when many teachers around the world make this life-changing decision. Here are eight questions most people ask at this stage:

1. Will I still have the same level of stress as I’m getting here at home? 

Many national systems, such as the UK education system, are controlled by government policy which sets standards, requirements and budgets that can be far removed from the needs of an individual school. This can cause overwork, overstress, too much paperwork, not enough focus on teaching, too little time for planning during work hours, and insufficient staff support.

Because most international schools are independent, they set their own standards, budgets and work hours based on the needs of the school. There are accreditations to meet and many schools participate in formal inspections, but these typically focus on proactive models designed for supportive school improvement.

Wherever you’re based in the world, as a teacher you will always work hard and, working in an international school you will face the demands of delivering very high standards of learning and teaching. But you can rest assured that you will not face some of the stressful bureaurocratic ssues that you could well be facing if you are currently working in a national system.

2. Aren’t international schools just for privileged, rich kids?

Not at all. Yes, they are fee paying, but fees range significantly between schools. Most international school children today are local children whose families are investing a huge percentage of their entire family income because they want their children to get the best possible education and career opportunities. As for many expatriate children, who might be travelling from one country to another with their parents’ jobs, an international school is the centre of their life while based in a particular country. These children may be considered privileged in some ways, but expatriate children need particular teacher support and understanding to help them through their transient lifestyles.

3. Is this the right thing to do with a family in tow?

Moving overseas with a family can be the biggest worry for parents.  However, many teachers do it and their children benefit enormously. Some international schools offer free or subsidised education for the children of their teaching staff, and some provide family - appropriate accommodation and services. Children benefit from the international minded approach of the international school culture and the learning approach, and there’s often far more time at weekends and holidays to enjoy the locality, to travel and to spend quality time with your children.

4. Does this make sense financially?

Teacher salaries and benefits vary from country to country, and from school to school. On the whole, international school salaries are comparable or more favourable than most national school systems. In addition, the benefit packages are usually more extensive, with many international schools providing accommodation or an accommodation allowance, medical insurance, pension, travel, and some  schools are located in tax-free countries too. Many international school teachers say they get more chance to save than they did back home.

5. What about my family I’m leaving behind?

Leaving family and friends back home is, of course, a big concern. Many international schools appreciate this and provide travel allowance to visit home in the holidays. Today’s extensive communication options such as Skype, FaceTime and social media make staying in touch and sharing your new life experiences very easy and cheap for everyone. And you may get to see family and friends more often than you think when they realise they have an affordable holiday destination with a built-in tour guide!

6. But I have a home with a mortgage.

Many international school teachers choose to rent out their house while they’re away, which means someone else will be paying towards your mortgage for you.  This is a very normal option and today you can find many support services to make home rental for expatriates an easy and trouble-free possibility.

7. It’s such a big decision. What commitment do I have to make?

International schools recognise this.  They also recognise that many teachers want to take the opportunity to work in two or three different countries while they are working overseas. So initial contracts are often short – usually 1 or 2 years. This gives you the confidence to try international teaching without an extensive commitment.

8. Will I have any problems getting a job when I return home? 

International school experience is now valued by many national and independent schools around the world. If your international school experience enables you to gain experience of teaching internationally-recognised curricula, such as the highly regarded International Baccalaureate, you will be gaining in your skill set. You will also acquire extensive experience of teaching children where English is their second or other language; a skill valued by many schools around the world today. And a huge number of international schools follow national curricula, particularly the National Curriculum of England which is used in half of all international schools (many others follow an American style curriculum). So if you choose your school well, you will not be losing touch with the curriculum requirements of home.

9. How do I find a good school, that’s right for me?

Perhaps that’s the most important question, because if this decision is well made, then many of the above concerns will be addressed. There are over 7,000 international schools around the world and half of them will currently be advertising in such places as the TES, the Guardian, through recruitment fairs and on a range of websites. So how do you know which is the right job and the right location? The recruitment advisors at Teachers International Consultancy (TIC) are specialists at helping to advise you. This is a completely free service and every single day of the year we help teachers make these decisions.  TIC only works with reputable and accredited international schools. TIC is the sole recruiter for some of the best schools in the world. TIC gets to know about you, your skills, your needs and your circumstances before suggesting any jobs so that you are only offered jobs that are right for you. TIC has full details of all vacancies it promotes, including the job role, salary package and benefits, so you won’t have to go through an exhaustive search. TIC has ex-international school teachers and leaders on staff so we can give you first-hand knowledge and support. So… TIC will help you find a good school, that’s right for you.

10. What do I do to make the next step?

Just register on the TIC website. There is absolutely no cost or commitment. The TIC online registration system is highly protected and totally discrete. We only ask for information that we’ll need to help us find the best possible job opportunities for you. Please take the time to complete all the questions and to upload your CV or resume, so that we can do the best possible search of appropriate jobs. This will take about five minutes. Then one of our specialist advisors will be in touch to support you through the job-hunting process; with absolutely no pressure, and with practical support and advice if and when you need it.

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