What happened when I swapped the UK for teaching overseas

Published on 2nd September, 2016 by Andrew Wigford. Published in For Candidates / TIC News

Life is the UK was good but life out here is great!

Richard Downs is from Norwich, England. TIC recently helped Richard get a job as House Master and Economics teacher at Harrow International School in Bangkok. Here Richard talks about his experiences of teaching overseas and living with his wife and two young children in Thailand:

Teaching is a great profession. But teaching in the UK didn't enable my family to lead the kind of lifestyle I wanted us to lead. I felt the UK education system was beginning to go down a path I disagreed with, with a momentum that could not be stopped. I started looking around for reputable schools overseas, which would be both suitable for my children to attend, but also located in a place where we could enjoy new experiences, and have great holidays...And that's how we ended up in Bangkok!

Adapting to teaching in Bangkok

In England, the majority of the children in my classes were local or from a European background. It's very different in Asia. Here at Harrow, the majority of children in my classes are from the ASEAN community (the Association of South East Asia Nations).

As a result of teaching at Harrow Bangkok, my style has changed and adapted and my teaching toolbox has grown. My attempt to instil a love of learning in pupils hasn't changed, but my understanding of how to get there has grown a great deal. For example, I'm now spending a considerable amount of time educating students about study skills. I believe being adaptable is one of the fundamental traits of successful teaching and learning.

Life with my family in Thailand

Thailand is vastly different from the UK in most aspects; from the weather to the food. This has been interesting, enjoyable and sometimes frustrating, all at the same time! I've enjoyed the change in weather the most. To live in sunshine 80% of the time is something which now would be hard to give up. We also have world class holiday resorts just down the road and money to be able to enjoy them. I have a family of four and I have been on more holidays and mini-breaks in the last ten months than I had in ten years in the UK.

I would definitely recommend teaching overseas to other teachers. I am giving my family opportunities and a lifestyle that I do not believe they could get back in the UK. My children go to a world class school, we live in superb accommodation, eat good food, have fantastic holidays, are financially comfortable and have made good friends from a large variety of backgrounds and cultures. The UK offered some of these things but not all. I intend on teaching overseas for the next ten years. This plan is flexible but my first years' experience has made me want to have at least another nine more. Life is the UK was good. Life out here is great!

If you would like to read more stories from teachers that have made the move overseas, take a look at our Teachers Stories section. If you're ready to see the opportunities available in international schools, register with TIC Recruitment today and take a look at our vacancies.

You might also be interested in these informative blogs:
Could Brexit mean opportunity for teachers working in international schools?
What do international school Heads really look for when hiring?
The Telegraph - ‘Brexit shows how much we need international education’

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Andrew Wigford

Andrew is Managing Director of TIC. He has been involved in international education both as a teacher and Headteacher for over 25 years and has worked in Germany, Colombia and Austria. He set up TIC recruitment in 2005 to help teachers find great jobs in great international schools.