What type of Teacher are International Schools looking for?

Interested in moving overseas to teach but where do you start? If you haven’t already done so read the first blog post in this series. This blog post is in response to the questions that Laura has asked in the comments of the last post, she is considering moving overseas with her family:

Thank you for your blog first of all, really helpful. Can you give me any insight on how likely international schools are to hiring teachers with families. I have 2 year old twins and a husband (not a teacher). You were obviously hired when you had a family, but you had a senior position. Do schools look for teachers with dependents or are you likely to go to the bottom of the pile so to speak. I’d like to think I have a strong CV and have taught abroad (TEFL in Japan and France) for many years before I returned to the UK to gain my PGCE. After 5 years teaching in London I want to make the move internationally, but don’t know how feasible that is now with a family. Any advice would be encouraging.

What type of Teacher is an International School looking for?

Young, free and single versus married with a family?

The first thing I have to say is that I can only speak from my own experience but when recruiting as a Headteacher in an International school I was looking for the best teacher for the job regardless of their personal circumstances and I am sure that for the majority of International schools it would be the same. So whether they were single or had a family didn’t influence who was the best candidate but it was of course important to know.

It was important for me as the leader of an International school to get to understand the candidates’ personal situation and to ensure that they had seriously given thought to their personal needs if they were to be successful in their application. I believe that this is more necessary when recruiting for an international role compared to here in the UK because for the school it is a huge investment financially when you add up the cost of recruitment and relocation and so the applicant must be a success and more importantly must integrate into life overseas as you don’t want them to be unhappy and leave before their contract ends.

Remember the interview is a two way process

As discussed in the last blog post about finding the right job for you, you need to make sure that it is the right fit for you so make sure you ask many questions at the interview this is really important.

It may seem unusual but I used to spend time telling potential candidates all of the negative things about the school and living in the country, I wanted to minimise the risk of the right candidate not liking it and returning home. It is important to be open and honest with each other, it is a significant commitment to uproot your whole life and move abroad so you have to be as certain as you can that it is the right fit, several times in an interview candidates would ask me ‘are you trying to put me off?’ but it was important to cover this. As I said it is about assessing and managing the risk of the investment.

So what type of teacher makes the stronger candidate and lower risk?

Teachers who have previous overseas experience or those without?

Naturally you would think if someone has experience of teaching overseas then that would make them a stronger candidate and you would be right to a certain extent however it depends on their experience and employment history. There are many seasoned veterans doing the International circuit and they will of course have potentially the upper hand compared to you if you haven’t taught overseas. The school will know that they are experienced at relocating and living overseas and have the resilience and the right expectations however they can also potentially carry a risk. Most international schools offer short term contracts for example two years so many experienced teachers may move regularly so how easy is it to measure the quality of the impact that they make? If you haven’t taught overseas you are more likely to have spent longer in one school which could be also seen as an advantage.

Single teachers or those with families?

Naturally you would think that a teacher relocating by themselves would be a stronger candidate as it would be much easier for them to relocate as all they need to worry about and all the school needs to worry about is them. For the school it would be much cheaper for several reasons; such as fewer flights to pay for, smaller accommodation, lighter shipping load, fewer complications etc. However the challenge will be whether the individual can settle down and make roots for example friendships and not get lonely and perhaps also retaining them as if it is easier for them to relocate to you it will also be easier for them to move on to somewhere else. There are advantages for recruiting families as they will move as a unit, there is a togetherness there so they won’t get lonely but it will cost the school more to relocate them and there will probably be more complications. The school can provide free school places for the children which is great for both parties and it is important that the school supports the partner who is relocating with the teacher. For example if they are a teacher then perhaps they can be offered a job too or if they are not then helping them gain employment in their profession will ensure a greater success in the family settling.

Ultimately as I have said earlier in the post the International school will be looking for the best teacher for the job!

If you have any comments or questions about this then please get in touch.

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