Teaching overseas with a young family
"Just arrived and it’s going well!" says teacher David
It’s a big decision for anyone thinking about making a new life in a new country, let alone someone with a young family. Teacher David Atkinson and his wife made the decision to move from the UK to begin a new life in Luxembourg with their baby daughter.
We’ve caught up with David to find out how he and his family are progressing. It’s still early days - he moved just three months ago, but David has plenty to share with us already.
What a difference a year makes!
This time last year David was working in a state school in Wales. In the summer, he crossed the Channel to teach at St. George’s International School in Luxembourg.
His wife and daughter joined him three weeks after he’d moved, giving David time to settle in to his new location and get acclimatised with the school. “I missed them of course,” he says, talking about that time apart. “But I used the time to find an apartment, arrange registration, and start processing social security,” he says.
Accommodation provision for expatriate teachers varies from school to school. Some international schools will provide teacher accommodation so that all you have to do is turn up and move in. Others will put you in temporary hotel accommodation and pay towards housing, but leave you to make the selection. Some schools do not give financial assistance but most offer valuable advice and support regarding accommodation. If you are concerned about the accommodation support that you’ll get, any reputable recruitment agency will be able to offer advice.
David and his family are now enjoying Luxembourg with its many parks and open spaces. “The city has a very family orientated feel to it and great public transport,” says David.
Language differences are not a barrier
In St. George’s, David says the children are from a wide range of countries but all lessons are taught in English. “They speak numerous languages but their English is a good standard so there are no barriers,” he explains. All, or the majority of subjects, in international schools, wherever they are located in the world, are taught in English.
David points out that the majority of people in the city also speak English. “But a knowledge of French would be advantageous,” he adds.
High expectations a reality
In Wales, David had double the size of class that he now has in Luxembourg. He explains that this means he’s now able to focus more on teaching and learning instead of classroom management: “Both the school and parents have high expectations, but with a smaller class size, this is realistic,” he says.
The staff at the school have been very supportive and welcoming and David feels that he can ask them advice when needed. “The school has provided me with a mentor who I can speak to about anything in an informal manner,” he adds.
Be prepared. Research before you relocate
David’s advice to other people preparing to move overseas with children is do your homework about what you need to take, so you are well prepared for a smooth transition for all the family. “Know what documents are needed when transferring to another country’s social security system including healthcare, especially for a non-working partner,” he says.
Expert support is essential
David says the support he received from TIC Recruitment was important. “TIC made it feel like an easy and straightforward process when finding a position abroad and there was good and prompt communication between school, TIC and myself,” he says.
He thinks he’s settling in well to his new role at his new school and is very positive about the year ahead. “I feel much more relaxed working here, and I have learnt a lot from staff and the children already. I think the experience will be of great benefit for my teaching career,” he adds.
We’ll get back in touch with David later in the year to see how he is getting on during his first year teaching overseas.
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