How do you know if you’re applying to a good international school?

Published on 12th October, 2014 by Gemma McSweeney. Published in For Candidates / TIC News

TIC's Recruitment Manager Gemma McSweeney offers some expert advice on how to choose the right international school for you...

As a teacher, the thought of moving overseas for the first time can be daunting enough without the added worry of knowing whether or not you are applying to a good school.

So, how do you know if the school you are interested in looks after its staff and students but also strives for academic excellence, offers the necessary resources and facilities required and provides YOU with the support needed?

Targeted research is essential. Start with the school website: how does their educational philosophy align with yours? How long has the school been established and how long has the Head been at the school? What curricula does the school follow? How many students on roll? What are the facilities like? How does the school compare with what you are used to? If you are happy with what you find take yourself through the following checklist:


Find out if the Council of International Schools has accredited the school. CIS is an organisation dedicated to the continuous improvement of international schools, so, you know that any school that is CIS accredited would have met certain criteria demonstrating their commitment to high quality international education. A fantastic resource is the CIS member directory. The school will often display the CIS logo on the website and may, on occasions, even allow the certificate to be downloaded as you can see here with the Harrow International School of Bangkok:

Member bodies

There are a number of international school ‘bodies’ that offer their member schools the chance to work together to provide a range of combined events for their students, professional development opportunities for their teachers, and collaboration on a range of matters that support the provision of education in specific regions. If the school you are interested in is a member of any of the following you can rest assured that they will be dedicated to PD, collaboration and continuous improvement. Schools that are members of any of the following bodies are worth looking out for:

FOBISIA – Federation of British International Schools In Asia
ECIS – European Council of International Schools
COBIS – Council of British International Schools
BSME – British Schools in the Middle East
EARCOS – East Asia Regional Council of International Schools
IB – International Baccalaureate
MSA – Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools

TIC recommended schools

TIC takes the job of placing teachers overseas very seriously. As such, we only work with international schools that we have vetted or visited. We have either taken the school through our own assessment criteria or we have personally walked the halls, met the Headteacher, interviewed teachers, and sampled the resources and facilities first hand. We conduct many video interviews and podcasts during our visits so please ask us for these. We only recommend schools that we think match with your requirements and are ‘good’, reputable schools.

TIC contacts

We have been doing international school recruitment for a long time and, as a result, we work with schools in over 70 countries and have placed teachers all over the world. We keep in touch with our teachers and are happy to put you in contact with them if they are currently at a school you are interested in. There is nothing more reaffirming than speaking to another teacher or leader who is actually living in that particular country and teaching at that particular school.

TIC advice

We have been recruiting for international schools for nearly 10 years and are happy to speak to you about any school you are potentially interested in. Even if you have an independent application, if we know teachers who have worked there or if we know the Headteacher, for example, we will let you know.

Taking all this into account our last piece of advice would be to make sure you are applying to a school because you think you will be happy there – two years is a big commitment so please don’t apply just because you want to live in a particular country. At the end of the day it won’t matter if you are in beautiful Seychelles or sunny Italy if you are working at a poor quality school that doesn’t support its teachers or students.

The future is bright

The good news for teachers and leaders is that, according to the latest data from ISC Research, the world of international schools is expanding. There are now over 7,000 international schools in almost every country of the world, and in most major cities; from Buenos Aires to Beijing, there’s at least one, if not many international schools.  Good luck in your search and don’t forget TIC is here to help you!

If you're a UK-based teacher and would like to find out more about how TIC can help you in your international job search, register for one of our upcoming seminars. These informative events cover a wide range of topics and even offer a one-on-one CV consultation with one of our recruitment experts.

If you would like to find out more about teaching in international schools, head over to the TIC Advice section where you can find FAQs, teacher interviews, podcasts and much more.

We have lots of positions available right now in fantastic international schools across the world. Just take a look at our Vacancies section and find your next overseas teaching position. You can also download the TIC App to stay up to date on all the latest TIC vacancies.

You may also be interested in these informative blogs:
Language teacher swaps UK for sunny Bermuda
The most common misconceptions about what teacher recruitment agencies do
Am I qualified enough to teach overseas in an international school?

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Gemma McSweeney

Gemma is our Associate Director, having joined TIC in 2009. With over 15 years experience of recruitment and selection methods, she specialises in matching teachers and leaders with our international school partners. She has attended many international education conferences and has visited a number of international schools over the years. She uses this experience to best advise our teachers, leaders and schools and manage our team and UK operations.