It’s no secret that more and more qualified teachers are leaving the UK to teach internationally. In January 2017 there were a total of 8,646 international schools – 3326 of those teaching a British Curriculum. There is a predicted growth forecast of 16,900 international schools to be built by 2027 so qualified British teachers will become even more in demand!
It’s often believed that those teachers leaving the UK are young professionals. Young teachers that after some years experience teaching in the UK embark on an exciting adventure living and teaching internationally. As well as looking for adventure, some young teachers go with the aim to save enough money for a property deposit for their return to the UK – that is arguably true of many teachers abroad. Rising property prices are making it increasingly difficult for teachers early on in their careers to be able to save enough money for a property deposit but with the international teaching package and wage (sometimes tax-free!), it becomes more of a reality and therefore very appealing. Young teachers without children, a mortgage and other commitments are able to travel the globe living and teaching in different exotic locations. Many places such as Dubai, Madrid, and Bangkok attract young professionals due to the lifestyle, nightlife, culture and more.
Conversely, there are many other teachers with families that are showing that not only is it, of course, possible to teach abroad with a family in tow but that teaching abroad can provide them with a wonderful and enjoyable quality of life. This is especially true of couples where both spouses are teachers. The international teaching package is just as, if not more, attractive for couples with children. Annual flights, accommodation and healthcare are often provided for the whole family. Many international schools offer their staff guaranteed child places at the school too – either with a significant discount or full discount (but usually for a maximum of two children but this does vary considerably). Teachers who are parents that work at the school are often supported with childcare for inset days, meetings and so on too. Their children can access a high-quality education with the British or American curriculum. An additional benefit many see is that their children can be part of a multicultural and diverse society and become well-traveled young people. In an international setting, the language barriers are being broken down due to the large expat communities. A number of teachers who own properties in the UK rent their house out to pay the mortgage whilst they live in accommodation provided for by the employer.
Of course, for families there are challenges as many teachers with young children often miss the support from family that they would receive at home. However, within most expat communities there is a closeness, unlike the UK. In the UK teachers are surrounded by their friends and family out of work. Internationally with the absence of friends and family colleagues become very close, very quickly. A fair number of teachers with families that teach internationally choose to get extra support with a nanny or maid which is possible due to the international package and wage. Families with children are less likely to travel between different international schools and countries because of the impact this can have on their children. That said, some teachers do and many children cope well with the change. Some, however, can struggle with culture shock and feel unsettled. If teachers can find the right school in the right setting then they can happily settle for several years. Spending time doing your research before accepting a contract can make a huge difference in making sure the move is the right move for you.
Many people have said to me that I have done the right thing teaching internationally whilst I’m young, unmarried and without children but when people say this to me I will now challenge this idea! The belief that teachers should go teach abroad whilst their still young, mortgage free or without children is simply wrong. Families are proving that not only is it possible to teach internationally but actually they can embrace it and gain even more as a family than a single teacher can. Teaching internationally definitely isn’t just for the young… it can be for any teacher, at any age, at any stage in their career.