-9 months, securing an overseas teaching role
I would expect, this is the post you were anticipating or wanting to read? Ideally in some form of “how-to checklist” no doubt? I will do my best however referring back to earlier posts, first a brief outline about the “types of school,” the common “organisational structure/roles” and “recruitment cycles.”
As far as my research shows me, there are three types of international school.
- British school, British curriculum, British school leadership staff, local teachers / mixture of teacher, local students.
- British school, British curriculum, British school leadership staff and teachers. Mixture of local and international students.
- British school, British curriculum, British school leadership staff and teachers and predominantly international students.
Next, two distinctions. International schools are either for profit and not-for-profit. Simply put – not-for-profit are often perceived as being more appealing, academic with reputedly higher salaries.
As far as organisational structure/roles. It appeared that more schools appear to have an all-through structure, some co-located and some partnered or groups of school. Large(r) schools are often managed/led by a Director, with Heads of Secondary and Primary Schools. Thereafter, it is relatively familiar. With a growing global shortage of teachers, the transient nature on international teaching (2 year contracts and shorter average tenure of approximate 4 years) and the fact that British teachers are well-respected, roles/promotion appears to be more readily available.
Finding the right role
I made one key connection. Bill and Alison Turner of Search Associates were just that, as well as knowledgeable and genuinely supportive. Bill was recommended and I can confidently extend that recommendation.
Search Associates are a recruitment education listing site – there are numerous international recruitment-style businesses, like Leopardfish and LSC Education, for example. Many of these recruiters carry the same international teaching vacancies and it is not uncommon for teachers to use multiple sites. Another way to look at it, as one recruiter told me, is
Simply, the more lines in the water – the more chance you will get a bite.
Then there are personal recommendations, LinkedIn and recruitment fairs. Which helps me explain the recruitment cycles.
Typically most international schools recruit annually (rather than three times a year) often on two year contracts. Staff employed by international schools are often contractually required to provide a “letter of intent” by the end of October for the following year. Hence the recruitment cycle follows.
Director/Headteacher/Head of School roles are often prioritised, a handful of senior roles are listed in advance of November (also note that many home-based senior leaders are required to provide two-terms notice). Recruiting heats up in December and January.
For reference the Search Associates London teacher recruitment fair for the year ahead has already opened to candidates, registration closes at the end of November, with the fair itself, January 17th-20th. Their second London teacher recruitment fair, March 20th-22nd, is considered their “late season recruitment fair.”
Understanding the contractual commitment
It is impossible to service all the questions you may have regarding contracts. Remember, every overseas experience is unique. Contracts are not only unique to you, your experience and your circumstances, they will be unique to the country labour laws and your school.
I benefited from a number of conversations with serving International School Headteachers from Qatar, Oman, Al Ain and Sri Lanka. Here are the contract basics and a few usual pointers they raised about contracts.
Confirm the length of the contract (though your contract may in fact be with the Ministry of Education)? What is expected from you, of your role and responsibilities. What are the required and contractual additional duties? Extra-curricular plays a big part in many schools. Check the leave and in-service dates as well as the annual calendar (different for every country). I know you will not want to be thinking about this right now, however I would advise that you review probation, notice agreements (many Ministry contracts are 3 months both ways) how you terminate your contract before it ends or when give notice and what this will mean for you, your spouse and dependents.
Contracts are typically made up of the terms of service and three common components; salary, allowance and benefits (usually clearly defined).
Let me offer two common factors. Are you a single teacher or a teaching couple? In the same school or two different schools. Are you a teaching couple where only one of you is going to teach? Your circumstances directly impacts upon the costs incurred by the school.
Dependents? How many and ages of the children? What are school fees and what type of school fees (older children tend to be more expensive). In addition, this directly impacts on the accommodation costs and insurances incurred by the school?
For this reason I would discourage purely salary comparisons (though I know you will) and I would advise you compare the overall package/experience, set against the cost of living in that country and your key motivations from the very start of the process.
Salary: Dependent on your experience and the expectations of role? Referenced monthly and summarised yearly. Paid monthly.
Allowances: Accommodation (1, 2 or 3 bedrooms? Utilities? Internet? Furniture?). Provided or chosen? Single occupancy or sharing? Are you with other staff? How far from school? Transportation to school? Referenced monthly and yearly. Taken at source.
If you take the accommodation allowance and secure your own accommodation it is far more complicated. For that reason many schools do not allow new staff to take a housing allowance in their first year. Additional consideration; how/when this allowance is paid, eg monthly, termly, annually? In your salary or direct to the landlord. How many cheques (yes cheques) need to be post dated to the landlord (covering a years rent). What deposits are required? What utility deposits are required? What is the estate agents fee? 5% of the annual rent? I will stop there.
Benefits: Schooling, health and medical cover, (and for whom?), relocation/shipping, visa and qualification accreditation costs, transport, and flights.
- How many school places for dependents? When and how are these paid?
- Health and medical – what is included? Are you a teaching couple thinking of growing your family? What are the maternity/paternity leave packages?
- Is there a shipping allowance?
- VISA application and qualification accreditation process and costs.* These can get expensive the more qualifications and dependents you have. Is there a contribution from the school?*
- Relocation / shipping / arrival support?
- Gratuity – remember there is no pension contributions. This is in part covered by an end-of-service gratuity. It is worth knowing how this is calculated.
- Is transport to/form school provided by the school?
- Flights – directly purchased by the school or reimbursed later.
VISA application and qualification accreditation process and costs* We will come back to this point once a contract has been have secured.
For now – commit to getting your personal statement updated, notified your references ahead of time, shortlisted and completed your preferred job listing sites / agencies and sorted your annual bills right?