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Teachers – here’s how to choose the right international school

international school
When choosing an international school to teach at, it's important to look past the bells and whistles for some warning signs. Source: Shutterstock

International schools are soaring in popularity, as evidenced by their growing numbers across the globe. 

ISC Research’s Global Opportunities Report 2019 showed that demand for international schools remains strong in Asia. 

For instance, in Southeast Asia, data show a 5.7 percent growth, increasing from 394,100 students in 2015 to 492,300 in 2019. 

The international school boom doesn’t only mean both local and expat parents are spoiled for choice in regards to their children’s education; it also translates to growing job opportunities for teachers across the globe. 

But while the facilities and benefits may draw you to a particular school, there’s so much more than the bells and whistles to look out for before you sign the dotted line to teach at a particular school.

Here are some considerations to mull over to help with your decision:

Get a feel of the school’s web presence

International schools’ websites are a primary medium of communication with teachers, parents and other stakeholders.

As such, a shoddy website with out-of-date information, slow email responses, broken pages or meagre information is a telltale sign that things aren’t up to scratch.

Teachers may also want to explore other schools’ websites in the area to compare trends and results, as well as its accreditation and if it belongs to any more established and reputable schools.

Accommodation 

Mark Steed, headteacher and CEO of Kellett School in Hong Kong, wrote is Tes that many international schools provide accommodation to teachers as a benefit for the first part of their term of employment.

But there are also many instances where schools do not deliver the type of accommodation promised at interview. The size may be different, it may be shared when it was advertised as private, the quality and location may not be expected, etc.

It’s important to do your due diligence on the school. Consider contacting teachers via LinkedIn or social media about whether the school delivered what was promised during the interview. This includes other matters such as how payment was made (banked in or cash), how long it took to get their work visas, and so forth.

Work visa


Steed also wrote on Tes that reputable schools will ensure that a work visa is in place before you start work, but some international schools expect new staff to enter the country on a tourist visa, which they will then change to a resident work visa later. 

As a tourist visa is typically valid for one to two months, teachers may find themselves doing “visa runs” – which entails leaving the country before re-entering on another tourist visa – until they receive a resident work visa. 

“I’ve heard of cases where teachers have had to go on visa runs throughout their first year working. Although the travel costs are usually picked up by the school, there is a personal cost in time (for example, a lost weekend) and in terms of settling in and establishing a normal life (a work visa is often required to get a local bank account),” he said. 

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