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Making Life Easier for International Schools During Recruiting Season

January 23, 2023


Recruiting the best possible international school staff is always a challenge.  Once you have top international educators, you really want to make sure you keep them!

In such a competitive market during international school recruitment season, it is important to stand out in a crowd. You also want to be seen and known to be the international school or group of international schools that look after its people. 

Employee benefits have been slow to come to the international school sector, but it is becoming a well-established tool that has already been used successfully by a number of international schools to attract and retain their staff.

It is important to look at how an occupational international retirement and savings plan can be a simple and effective method to provide a meaningful benefit to your staff; be they local, expatriate, short-term or career-focused.

Over the years there have been bad experiences in this growing sector with international teachers being sold inappropriate individual products that are too rigid in requirements, have expensive investment options and are opaque in their fees.  However, the desire to save is an important objective. It is vital that international educators make the most of working overseas from a career perspective, but also for financial benefit.

By providing an occupational plan, you can offer a simple and easy way to save as well as tailor it to your requirements.  So what does that mean?  The rules can be customised for international school management. The options allow you to: 

·   Decide who can join the plan

·   Provide an employer contribution but have different percentages for different categories of staff, to reward loyalty and seniority.

·   Provide a “signing on/contract completion” bonus.

·   Ensure employees finish their first contract or serve an amount of time before they receive the rights to any employer contribution/bonus value. 

·   Limit access to any employer contributions until they leave employment or retire, so they have a meaningful benefit when they leave.

·   Allow employees to make additional savings safely and easily via payroll at no extra cost.   This can be used for short to medium-term goals such as house purchase, marriage, education or hardship.

·   Allow local employees an easy and cheap way to save in international currency.

The good news is that the costs are simple and transparent and they can be paid by the international school, the employee or shared.

Easy to Administer

We know how busy international school boards and admin are.  Therefore Sovereign will use its expertise to learn what you want to achieve and build the plan to suit your requirements.  We’ll do all the heavy lifting, so you don’t have to.

·   We’ll deliver a co-branded employee booklet tailored to your membership

·   Deliver launch presentations to engage the population

·   Provide institutional class funds by Vanguard, Fidelity, iShares/Blackrock that are ESG focused where possible.

·   Provide a secure portal, so the members can self-serve thereby reducing traffic to HR

·   The good news is that HR only has to upload basic new joiner information.  Our system will automatically engage the employee.  HR will also need to upload a contribution file and send one lump sum payment at the frequency agreed.

·   Members and HR can view and export their information.

So as you can see: simple, effective and secure.  Check out the International Schools case study: International Solutions – The Sovereign Group

Why not act now and get the process started by contacting (Mrs) Jo Smeed on jsmeed@sovereigngroup.com

Jo Smeed has spent 25 years providing international retirement & savings schemes to employers of all sizes, locations and sectors and brings her expertise and experience to deliver the optimum solution.

The Sovereign Group is a global company with over 20 offices around the world. 

This is a sponsored article submitted to ISC via Sovereign Group.

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Highlighted Articles

Top 10 reasons why attending an international school recruitment fair is super fun!

January 15, 2023


So many teachers that attend international school recruitment fairs say that they are stressful and a pain. Others say that they are like meat markets. With many directors walking around and potentially sleeping in the next room to you, it is indeed hard to get a good night’s sleep while staying at the hosting hotel of the recruitment fair.  Nervous and sleep-deprived candidates…not fun.

On the other hand, there is a group of international school teachers that enjoy attending the fairs. Yes, that’s right. They look forward to and actually have a great time there.

So, what are the top 10 reasons why attending an international school recruitment fair is super fun? Maybe you can relate to some of these!

#1 – Getting to network with other international school teachers.

Sometimes it is all who you know at the fairs. It is fun chatting with and getting to know some of the other candidates at the fair. Networking with as many teachers as you can surely help you to get your foot in the door. Maybe you will meet somebody who has the right connection and can introduce you to some of your top schools.

#2 – Getting inspired by others to move to countries you never even thought you would go to.

A few years back, at the UNI fair, there was a panel of veteran international school teachers telling their stories of working abroad and answering questions from the audience. Almost all of them had worked in a country that they hadn’t really seriously considered during their job search. All of them said that they were so happy to have taken that chance because they all had such wonderful experiences. You might say that being in the international school community is all about taking chances and risks about living in foreign lands. It is exciting to hear from other international school teachers about their experiences in countries you don’t know about and haven’t visited.

#3 – It is like Christmas morning when you go and check your “mailbox” folder in the candidates’ room.

The candidates’ room. So many nerves and so many folders!  It is easy to get butterflies in your stomach as you enter the room. As you get closer and closer to the tables with the ‘mailbox’ folders, you get more and more excited and nervous. You find the row of folders that start with the first letter of your last name. Opening your folder and seeing one note from a school is cool enough, but seeing notes from three, four or even more schools in your folder, now that is a good feeling. Checking your folder becomes an addiction during the fair, as you find yourself checking it multiple times throughout the day.

#4 – Pretending you are interested in a school by going to their informational session.

Even if you know a school does not have a position for you to interview for, it is fun to just go to their informational session anyway. Sure, the other people in the session might be actually interviewing with the school later on at the fair, but do not let that get you down. There might be a position for you down the road at this school, so keep a positive attitude and sit back and enjoy learning about a school that you might work at in the future!  It is fun to fantasize and pretend about these potential future schools for you.

#5 – Getting surprised, in a good way, that a school you are interested in actually has a position for you!

Thinking you know all the available positions at the schools attending the fair is a first-timers mistake. Anything can happen at the fair and things change fast. It is guaranteed that there will be last-minute vacancies that come up for many schools. So, make sure you check the master list of vacancies (if that is what your recruitment fair has) or take a close look at the posters behind each school at the round-robin sessions because there might just be a vacancy for you that pops up last minute.

#6 – Having intense dreams each night while you sleep, dreaming about what could be.

Yes, it is hard to get a good night’s sleep during the recruitment fair. But, the dreams you have are intense and exciting. Having a dream about your top choice can be just what you need to help you make the best decision. You might even have a great dream about another school you are interested in, moving it closer to the top of your list. It is true though that you cannot choose the schools or countries you dream about when you go to sleep at the fair. So, if you do have a dream about a school/country, it might be your subconscious telling you which school to seriously consider signing a contract with.

#7 – Making some pros and cons lists about the schools you are interested in.

You need to know you are making the right choice at the fair; if you are lucky enough to get multiple offers in which you are interested. When you make a pros and cons list of each of the schools you are considering, you get to think about your future life there. Fantasizing about you living with the school’s salary and benefits is what all international school teachers like to think and talk about. Additionally, you will be writing down the pros and cons of life working at that school itself, your actual job. The pros in that list could truly be the changes you have been looking for in your next school.

#8 – Getting to wear your dressy interview clothes.

Most teachers only get to wear their interview clothes once every 3-6 years. During the years while working at your current international school, there is typically not an appropriate time to wear them. Well, it is true that at some British international schools, you need to wear a suit and tie during parent conferences, etc. Maybe you are lucky enough to live in a country where you can easily and cheaply get some new interview clothes made for you at the local fabric market. How nice to show up at the recruitment fair with a custom-designed suit made specifically just for you. Nice interview clothes that you feel good in are important. You will be at your best (at the fair) when you are wearing clothes that make you feel comfortable and help you be yourself.

#9 – Enjoying the host city of the recruitment fair (who doesn’t want to go for a long weekend to Boston, London, Bangkok, etc.?)

It is true, you do not have that much free time to enjoy the host city of the recruitment fair. Most of your time is spent in your hotel room researching cities, countries, and schools. It is good though to take some time to get away from the fair. Get out of the recruitment fair hotel and explore the city a bit! Each recruitment fair is hosted in a cool city that most people would actually plan vacations at, so get out and have a nice dinner or take a walk around some cool neighborhoods. Maybe you have some family or friends that live there that you can hang out with as well. It is nice to have a good friend or family member there so that you have somebody to talk to about all the happenings at the fair that day.

#10 – Signing a contract on the first day of the fair and just enjoying the rest of your time at the fair.

Yes, these candidates exist. They interviewed with a number of schools before the recruitment fair even started. Once at the fair, they have that final interview and sign the contract shortly after, sometimes on the first day of the fair. Signing a contract with a school that you are seriously interested on the first day of the recruitment fair is a dream come true for most candidates. It definitely gets a load off your chest. You can just sit back and enjoy the rest of the fair and your time at the hotel and in the host city. It is still good to hang out around the fair though so that you can continue networking. You might just meet some people that have worked at the school you just signed a contract with, and they can give you all the insider information about your new school (hopefully mostly good things!).

This top 10 list was submitted to us by a guest author and International School Community member. All guest authors to the ISC blog get one free year of premium membership to our website. Email us if you have a top 10 list idea and would like it to be highlighted on our blog!

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Highlighted Articles

ICT for Learner Autonomy at International Schools

January 8, 2023


Are you looking to increase learner autonomy in your English language classroom? Integrating technology, specifically ICT (Information and Communication Technology), may be the way to go.

Studies have shown that when students have access to ICT in the learning environment, they have more control over their own learning process. They are able to monitor their progress, identify their learning needs, and construct their own knowledge based on the information available. This can lead to a more positive approach toward learning and increased efficiency in the learning environment.

Here are a few more examples of using ICT to enhance learner autonomy:

  1. Online language learning platforms: There are many websites and apps, such as Duolingo, Babbel, and Rosetta Stone, that offer interactive language-learning activities, such as vocabulary drills, grammar exercises, and listening comprehension practice. These resources allow students to work at their own pace and track their progress.
  2. Virtual language exchange programs: Tandem, HelloTalk, and ConversationExchange are platforms that match students with native speakers of the language they are learning, allowing them to practice speaking and listening skills through live conversations. This can be a great way for students to take control of their own language learning and engage in authentic communication.
  3. Collaborative document editing: Tools like Google Docs allow students to work on writing projects together in real time, regardless of their physical location. This allows for peer editing and feedback, as well as the opportunity for students to take on different roles and responsibilities within the group.
  4. Podcasts and video lectures: Students can use their own devices to access recorded lectures or podcasts on a variety of language learning topics. YouTube and iTunes are both great sources for language learning podcasts and video lectures, such as The English We Speak and BBC Learning English. This gives students the freedom to review the material at their own pace and revisit specific sections as needed.

However, it’s important to note that many students may not be familiar with using ICT resources for language learning. That’s why it’s important for teachers to provide orienting activities, such as introductions to the ICT tools and instructional objectives, to guide students through the learning process and reduce anxiety.

It’s also crucial that the use of ICT is relevant to the students’ needs and interests. Both teachers and students must be willing to adopt new roles and use technology appropriately in order to truly benefit from technology-based learning activities.

In conclusion, incorporating ICT into your language learning curriculum can be a great way to increase learner autonomy. Just make sure to provide the necessary support and structure to ensure a smooth and effective learning experience.

This article was submitted by Ayoub Chaouch, a teacher with 6 years of experience in teaching English, history, and geography at primary and secondary education levels.

He is currently working at Shenzhen Chenghan Experimental School in Shenzhen, China as a Secondary Education High School Geography and History Teacher and Middle School English and Language Arts Teacher. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Management at Keele University.

His skills include lesson planning, facilitating engaging classroom discussions, helping students improve their language skills, and evaluating student progress through assessments. He is skilled at guiding and counseling students with academic problems or special academic interests. You can reach him at ayoub.chaouch@live.com

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The Earth Prize: a sustainability, project-based learning opportunity for secondary students and teachers worldwide

November 20, 2022


I am a big believer in bottom-up education policymaking. Despite the long work hours, the low remuneration, the lack of resources, and the innumerable other challenges teachers face worldwide, what happens in the classroom – how teachers bring policy to life within their classrooms and how they choose to teach – has a profound effect not just on pupils’ learning but also on educational structures.

I have also heard and seen, again and again, how environmental education is relegated to a secondary role at best, outright ignored at worst, in most education systems across the globe.

However, there is no question about the need for it. Our world is undergoing dramatic and potentially irreversible environmental changes and our youth is demanding action and tangible steps toward sustainability more than ever. So what do we need in order to bring environmental education to the core of educational curricula and into classrooms across the world?

It is clear to me from my experience interviewing teachers for my master’s thesis a few years ago that teachers’ actions are defined by personal drive and access to the right educational tools. Now, I do not think there is much anyone can do about teachers’ personal commitment to raise awareness about sustainability among their pupils. However, there are loads to be done to provide them with the right teaching resources!

The Earth Prize, an annual, global, $200,000 environmental sustainability competition for students between the ages of 13 and 19 that rewards the best ideas to solve environmental problems, is one of such resource.

Apart from very appealing prizes ($100,000 for the winning team to be split between team members and their school or $10,000 for one teacher selected as the Educator of the Year), The Earth Prize provides students and teachers with exclusive learning materials covering key environmental sustainability topics and featuring young entrepreneurs who came up with revolutionary environmental solutions when they were only teenagers.

Last year, I had the chance to collaborate in the creation of these unique learning materials. They include 17 powerful short videos created with the help of university professors and a film production company based in the UK, and accompanying written chapters with up-to-date, easy-to-digest, and interactive information on the key topics of each video. They are available on-demand for all registered competition participants, including for team supervisors and teachers to watch and use in their own classes. You can have a sneak peek here: https://www.theearthprize.org/learning-content.

In its first-ever edition, The Earth Prize attracted over 500 schools in 114 countries and territories, from some of the most prestigious institutions in Switzerland and the UK to schools in UNRWA refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon.

The Earth Prize is not just a competition; it is a great platform for teenagers to bring their ideas to the table and make them a reality, and the ultimate project-based learning tool for teachers interested in weaving environmental sustainability into their classrooms.

Interested secondary teachers and students can register for the competition on The Earth Prize website until November 30th: www.theearthprize.org. Teams will then have until January 31st to submit their ideas.

To read more about The Earth Prize competition, please visit: www.theearthprize.org/schools

To watch the competition’s trailer: www.theearthprize.org/trailer

Diana Conde Moure is the Head of Communications and Operations at The Earth Foundation, the nonprofit organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, behind The Earth Prize competition. Diana is an alumna of United World College Costa Rica and holds a master’s degree in Comparative International Education from the University of Oslo, Norway. Her experience includes working and volunteering for numerous organizations in the nonprofit, government, and academic sectors. Passionate about education, Diana brings her knowledge and expertise in the field to help The Earth Foundation in its strategic development.

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Highlighted Articles

International School Recruitment Season: In-Person Recruitment Fairs are Back!

October 17, 2022


Recruitment season for international schools and for international school teachers has definitely changed over recent years (mostly because of the pandemic).

Long ago, getting a teaching position at an international school almost exclusively happened at various recruitment fairs across the globe (London, Bangkok, Boston, San Francisco, Iowa, etc.). At least 20 years ago that was surely the case.

During the pandemic, recruitment fairs were canceled and almost all new hires were done so via the internet. Now it seems in-person recruitment fairs are back. Will they still play an important role during the international school recruitment process?

You can’t deny that increasingly teachers are getting hired via telephone and/or Skype. In fact, if you were hired at an international school in the past 2-8 years, a high percentage of you were probably hired via Skype which resulted in you and your new school not having a face-to-face meeting in person.

Recruitment fairs, like Search Associates, are back to providing in-person fairs to attend, but more importantly, they provide a large database of teaching vacancies. If you are a registered candidate with Search Associates, you will have unlimited access to those vacancies. Even though you may be signed up to attend one of their fairs come January/February, they often encourage you to contact schools directly and try to arrange an (online) interview or at least a pre-interview before the fair. If you are lucky, you will get offered a position via this Skype interview which will in turn cancel your trip to the recruitment fair (saving you time and money).

Having access to a constantly updated list of job vacancies is definitely a valuable tool in your search for a teaching position. You can also look at the school’s own website (via their employment page), but it is possible those lists aren’t as updated as much or worse don’t even exist. One bit of advice for international schools is to create a useful, updated, and informative employment page on their website!

To repeat, we (the teachers) strongly request that international schools make sure their list of vacancies is consistently updated with the latest information (on their website, on a recruitment fair website, etc). There is nothing worse than preparing a unique cover letter, carefully adjusting your CV content, and a writing personal email message all for not. We understand that vacancies can take a long time to fill as some schools’ interview processes can take a long time. But if the school indeed has secured somebody for a position, it is their responsibility to update their list of vacancies accordingly.

There are many reasons why Skype is becoming more and more used during the international school recruitment process. One reason is that it is cheaper for both parties involved. No paying for the recruitment fair fees, no paying for hotel reservations, and no paying for all flights involved. Another reason that Skype is being more used is that it saves time, a lot of time in some cases. When interviewing candidates from all over the world, it is a hassle to take off a long weekend or miss a whole week of work just to attend a fair. A third reason Skype is being used more is that it indeed still gives the school and the candidate a good idea of each other’s personality and demeanor.  The ultimate goal for both parties involved is to find the “best fit”.

In the end, there really isn’t a clear answer though to which is better: going to a recruitment fair or just using Skype. At this point, it is still recommended to use a combination of the two. Utilizing both covers all your bases; giving the candidate the best chance in securing a position.

This article was submitted anonymously by an ISC member.

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