What’s it like to teach in Mauritius?

We find out from the Head of Primary at the International Preparatory School in Mauritius

Bruce Ashton recently moved to the International Preparatory School (IPS) in Mauritius. IPS is one of three international schools in the village of Labourdonnais, located in the north of the island. It provides early years and primary learning for 380 children from ages 3 to 11.

The school is built on the former Labourdonnais Sugar Estate and the estate’s established gardens and employees cottages still exist; used now as offices and learning areas. It’s a green and pleasant location with leafy trees shielding the tropical sun. The school has two purpose-built, fully air-conditioned classroom blocks with high speed Wifi internet, two libraries, an art studio, music room, a learning support centre, gym, sports fields, an outdoor amphitheatre, playgrounds and an outdoor eating area.  The school achieved accreditation in 2007 from the Council of International Schools.

Bruce worked with TIC to get his job at IPS. Here he shares his thoughts on the school, on working in Mauritius and advice if you’re looking for international school jobs:

Discovering Mauritius

“Mauritius is known as the pearl of the Indian Ocean. There are lots of tourists, but once you get off the main highways you gain a better appreciation of what everyday life is like. In the north of the island beautiful beaches abound, while in the south the former volcanic cones provide a rich tropical forest in which to hike and explore.

It's similar to my home country, New Zealand, in many ways. Both are small islands, members of the British Commonwealth, and are isolated in the middle of very expansive oceans. Mauritius definitely has the upper hand weather wise! Most days have been very sunny and warm.

I was really surprised when I first arrived in Mauritius. It's modern and progressive in so many ways, but there are also many reminders of the past. There are lots of museums which tell the stories of how indentured workers first came to Mauritius to work on the sugar cane plantations. You can still see the buildings where the sugar cane was processed.

Settling into life in Mauritius

Adjusting to living here has been fairly easy as the population is well versed in English. English is actually the national language, although French and Creole are probably more commonly spoken.

The first thing I wanted to know when arriving was where the supermarket is located! I was surprised to find that our local supermarkets carry everything you would find in a UK or North American supermarket. Another concern of mine was whether there would be good internet connection at my accommodation – I'm sure other international teachers can relate to this concern! I was pleased to find that our home came with a fibre optic wireless internet set-up that keeps everyone very happy.

My best experience so far, has been my family arriving after a month of us being apart. I'm so pleased that they have fallen in love with the country and its people!

Working at an international school in Mauritius

IPS differs from previous schools I've worked at as there's more of an international community here. Many of the staff are local, but have studied and worked in the UK or France. They've returned to Mauritius to be closer to family. Working at IPS provides them with the best of both worlds – they can be at home, and teach at an international school.

We have a wide and varied student population. Students come from Canada, UK, France, Spain, India, Poland and South Africa to mention a few.

The school is forward thinking. Here we use a curriculum which is inquiry based. Our school strategy plan aims to increase teacher understanding of better instruction and to increase student achievement, both of which go hand in hand.  I'm looking forward to the rest of this year.

Advice for those considering international teaching

Do your homework – ask as many questions as you can to be sure you're making the right move for everyone in your family. And trust your gut instinct; if the school doesn't feel like it's the right fit, it's probably not going to be – don't be afraid to look for something else!”

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