Ofsted concerned as more teachers move overseas
Teaching in international schools becomes national story
Last week, Sir Michael Wilshaw, Chief Inspector of Schools in England and Head of Ofsted warned of an English ‘brain drain’ as teachers move overseas to international schools. The announcement follows revelations from Schools Week Magazine that more teachers left the UK (18,000) than trained on English post-graduate courses (17,000) last year.
Lucrative packages costing the UK?
The BBC reports that Sir Michael Wilshaw believes lucrative packages are tempting teachers overseas. He stated that teachers are accepting “enticing offers of competitive, usually tax-free salaries, free accommodation and often the prospect of working in warmer, sunnier climes".
This is a huge generalisation and important to know that it’s certainly not always the case. Such benefits can be important to some, but many teachers also move overseas to develop professionally and for more freedom in the classroom. In our most recent interview, Qatar-based teacher Janet Berg explains that her international job is helping her to develop significantly as a teacher.
“My experience teaching at an international school has given me a global understanding of cultural differences and similarities,” says Janet. “With the increasingly international student population in the UK, this has to be an advantage if I return to teach in Britain.”
Golden handcuffs not the solution
Ofsted chief Michael Wilshaw has suggested that ‘golden handcuffs’ might help teacher retention in the UK. This could offer NQTs financial incentives (such as money off their university fees) in exchange for staying in Britain. But it’s only a suggestion at this point in time and Nick Morrison from Forbes believes this will not be enough to stop teachers leaving for international schools.
International schools can offer teachers the opportunity to work with creative curricula like the IB and IPC, without the extensive workload that Ofsted targets require.
A better work/life balance
As part of its coverage, the BBC has spoken with several teachers working in international schools around the world. It shows that punishing workloads are a major reason why teachers are moving overseas.
The teachers reveal that there is less pressure and more free time in international schools, even though it may be challenging adapting to a new country. This supports Nick Morrison’s view that fundamental reform of state education in the UK is needed if it wants to compete with international schools.
A problem or an opportunity for the UK?
International schools should not be viewed as a threat by the UK government. Most teachers return to the UK after a few years, bringing with them an international outlook and global experience.
Working in an international school allows teachers to share best practice with their international colleagues, develop and deliver lessons to children who do not speak first-language English, adapt their teaching to new environments, and much more. Teachers return to the UK as well-rounded, experienced educators with a global perspective.
Teaching overseas is not a threat to UK education; it is an opportunity to better it.
You might also be interested in these informative articles:
TIC celebrates 10 years of international school recruitment
8 tips to find a good international school
International School Associations