To transition successfully to a new school in a new country, it may be necessary for globetrotters to overcome challenges…
A growing number of British teachers are realising that working abroad is a fantastic way to have a prosperous career, and to make a fresh start – and money. But to transition successfully to a new school in a new country, it may be necessary for our globetrotters to overcome challenges.
“Dealing with different cultures, languages, financial planning and safeguarding children are all common hurdles new international school teachers face,” says Sakina Zafar, director of academic development at the Council of British International Schools.
“When applying to jobs abroad, they will need to do their due diligence,” she adds. “Teachers should find out whether schools have been inspected and accredited by the Council of International Schools or by the COBIS Patron’s Scheme.”
Pearson spoke to Brits who’ve taught in far-flung places about the headwinds they faced.
From Surrey to Saudi Arabia
Jonathan Andrews moved from Surrey to Nairobi six years ago. In 2015, he joined the British International School, Riyadh.
“I have always enjoyed travel and I felt life was too short simply to live in one country all my life,” says the science teacher. “British-trained teachers are extremely lucky as they are in demand all over the world.
The downside is the distance from friends and family back home. When coupled with the ‘culture shock’ of a completely new city, language and culture, it can be tough.
You have to be resilient to do it and to remain entirely positive throughout.
There are times when you ask yourself if you have made the right decision, when you end up missing family weddings or see photos of your old friends on Facebook and you are thousands of miles away.
In addition to the emotional side, there is the administration. You spend an enormous amount of time and money on flights, visa processes, and endless passport renewals. It isn’t for people looking for a simple life!
Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. If you think it will be an easy ride and a free holiday, then you are in for a shock.”
I left my family behind while teaching in Oman
Kai Vacher left London to become Principal of the British School Muscat in Oman in 2011.
“I was in the UK state system for over 20 years. It was a tough job. I used to go home on a regular basis and wonder if I still wanted to be in education.
I thought about moving abroad, but it’s a scary thing to do and I always found excuses not to.
Then I was contacted by a recruiter about the post in Oman. It sounded like an exciting opportunity.
At the time, my daughter was starting Year 11. I did not want to disrupt her GCSEs. So, I spent the first year in Oman on my own. My wife stayed with the kids back home.
It can be difficult for children to leave their friends and home behind. Make sure you are confident the move is worth doing for your whole family. Seek support from your school if you are unhappy or need advice.”
Teaching in The Tropics
In 2012, Dan Roberts was a deputy headteacher in Cornwall. He left to become headteacher of a British international school in the Seychelles.
“My wife and I have always wanted to live and work abroad. There were opportunities available to us internationally. And when I was offered the job in the Seychelles, we decided to give it a go.
Moving my entire family to a country with a different language and culture was challenging.
You will encounter obstacles. It’s important that you are resilient. Your school will play a vital role in making the transition easier.
I used to work as a recruiter for international schools. I was not just recruiting teachers, but entire families. We would do everything for them. I set up jobs for spouses; made sure the kids had places at local schools; found accommodation.
It’s important to do your research. Check how the school is run and who it is associated with and owned by. You need to ensure that certain standards are met.
I sometimes hear horror stories about teachers who have gone abroad and had a terrible time. Some people don’t realise that some schools in the Middle East are owned by businessmen who just want to make money.”