Why teaching in the UAE is perfect for me

Published on 19th June, 2018 by Gemma McSweeney. Published in For Candidates / TIC News

Tom Scott is from Leeds in the UK. TIC recently helped Tom be appointed as Head of History at The British School Al Khubairat in Abu Dhabi. Here Tom talks about his first year of teaching abroad:

“I decided to teach overseas for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I love to travel and moving to teach at an international school provided me with a new area to explore. Secondly, after three years in my first school in the UK, I was ready for a change. A new school in a new location was the perfect setup!

Teaching in the Middle East

Teaching at an international school feels different to teaching at a state school in the UK.

Here, I am Head of the History department, whereas back at home I was a classroom history teacher. I expected an increase in workload but I have more freedom and spare time as there's less paperwork and a greater trust in my ability to get on and do the job. I feel more relaxed as there isn’t the constant pressure of Ofsted, which allows me to focus on the teaching. However, I do work just as hard in this role as I did in the UK.

It didn't take me long to settle in. Once I'd found the photocopier, taught for a few weeks and worked out where all the important classrooms are, it felt like I'd never been anywhere else!

My social life in the UAE

The UAE is a fantastic place to live. The social life is great and there's something going on every weekend, whether it’s brunch in one of the hotels, a day on the beach, exploring the dunes or visiting nearby cities like Dubai. I immediately had a set of people to share experiences with as many expat teachers live in the accommodation that the school provides.

I think it's important to try to say ‘yes’ to opportunities at the start and to have an open mind and try things you wouldn't normally have done back in the UK. Exploring in the desert has been a new and beautiful experience for me. It's also useful to have a set of friends outside the work place. I joined a cycling team - I never imagined being able to ride my bike in shorts and a t-shirt through December and January!

I do miss a few aspects of life in the UK. Having a quiet weekend to recharge and catch up with friends and family on Skype, or planning to have visitors, can help you feel less homesick.

My advice to others considering teaching overseas

Do it! It's not always easy and don't think it'll constantly be beaches and sunshine. But grinding through the same old routine back in the UK isn't always easy either! Teaching internationally opens up your horizons and is an experience which you won't regret.

Using a reliable recruitment agency

TIC was great. I was guided through the whole process; from preparing for my Skype interview, to helping me through submitting all the relevant documents to my school. TIC even checked how I was settling in after I arrived.”

You may also be interested in these informative articles:
A break from Britain, not from teaching
Why teaching internationally is a dream lifestyle
From language student to world traveller and teacher

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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.