Can teaching in an international school help you get a better job when you return?

Published on 11th May, 2016 by Owen Richards. Published in For Candidates / TIC News

Professional development opportunities in international school jobs

Teacher Claire Woodhouse in Dubai with her class sailing

Teacher Claire Woodhouse in Dubai with her class sailing

This week, the Times Educational Supplement (TES) journalist Ed Dorrell wrote an opinion article emphasisng the opportunities international schools can offer to teachers and the UK education system. In response to Sir Michael Wilshaw’s ‘brain drain’ comments, Ed Dorrell suggests that teachers moving overseas could be “a huge opportunity that the profession’s recruiting sergeant majors had been missing”.

The article goes on to propose that teaching abroad should become part of a young teacher’s rite of passage. “This temporary migration could be good for the wider English education system, too (assuming that the majority will eventually head home),” Ed says. “After all, who wouldn’t want a teaching population with broader cultural experience?”

So what can international schools offer teachers professionally that UK schools cannot? Here is what some teachers that TIC has recruited for international school jobs have to say:

Mhairi Flood-McCaw

Mhairi is a Languages teacher from the UK. She’s currently teaching at the Somersfield Academy in Bermuda.

“Since being at Somersfield Academy I've definitely developed as a teacher. The IB Middle Years Programme allows me freedom and the opportunity to be creative in my teaching. As I no longer have to follow a national curriculum I can teach topics that really interest me. For example, there's more opportunity to teach arts and cultural subjects with the IB. The programme also encourages students to lead their own inquiries, which I think is wonderful. If I return to the UK, I will definitely try to teach in a way that is more creative and student led.”

Ian Robertson

Ian Robertson is a Maths teacher originally from Glasgow, Scotland. He moved to Beijing to teach in Harrow International School, where he has since become Head of Mathematics.

“Teaching internationally has been a great step in my career development. Harrow International School is brilliant. I'm working with wonderful teachers and children, and I'm learning so much about my profession.

"As I'd come straight from the Scotland's Curriculum for Excellence, teaching at Harrow was (and continues to be) an amazing opportunity to learn about different qualifications. I've learnt about IGCSEs and A Levels. I was a very confident teacher in Glasgow, and knew the Scottish teaching system well but I was ready for a challenge. When I started at Harrow, I felt like an NQT again and that was exciting. It re-awoke my passion for teaching!”

Ian Wigley

Ian Wigley is an English teacher currently working at the European School of the Hague in The Netherlands. Before TIC helped him find his international school job, Ian could only find substitute work in Doncaster.

“The curriculum is a European version of the National Curriculum of England, so it is quite similar to the curriculum I used back in the UK. However, we are given objectives that we must complete in lessons that sometimes you cannot fulfil with this curriculum, so there is space to be creative. I use various curricula, a teaching scheme/website called InterMath, and my own 11 years of experience to help make the lessons as interesting and relevant as possible.

"Using various curricula is a great way to develop your skills as a teacher. Finding a way to explain topics to such a multi-lingual class can be a challenge, but one that is a highly useful skill in education. Learning to teach with a European, multicultural approach has broadened my horizons and helped my teaching flourish. After my contract expires I might return to the UK, using my new skills to get a job I would not have got before.”

Claire Woodhouse

Claire Woodhouse is a British English and Drama teacher, currently working at ACS Doha International School in Qatar.

“The teaching and learning environment at ACS International School has really helped me to develop professionally. I’m teaching the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme, which has a very different focus and skill set to the UK curriculum. It took me a while to get used to this way of teaching, as it’s far less data and progress-driven than the UK system, but the benefits are great!

"Should I return to the UK, I would be happy to teach the IB again – learning the programme has made me a more marketable teacher! Even if I returned to teach the national curriculum, I would still add elements of the IB into my classes. I would encourage students to think more laterally and creatively for example. I also think aspects of the IB programme would be particularly beneficial for SEN and EAL students.”

You can read Ed Dorrell’s full article on the TES website. To read more teachers’ experiences in international schools, head to our Teachers’ Stories section. Register at absolutely no cost with TIC Recruitment today to find out how teaching in an international school can advance your career. We are the experts in international school teaching and leadership jobs and we are here to help you.

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Owen Richards

Owen works in media relations and marketing. His main focus is working with the press on features about teachers who have moved overseas to teach internationally.