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Expanding opportunities to work at international schools: prepare yourself to teach abroad!

November 30, 2014

Who wouldn’t like a life of world travel, acquiring new languages and learning firsthand about new cultures?  Many teachers find the opportunity of working at an international school too hard to pass up!

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Over the past 14 years, there has been a 35% increase in the number of teachers employed at international schools. International teachers are mostly from the United States, Canada, U.K., and Australia, but not necessarily limited to these countries.

Currently, there are more than 7,300 international schools throughout the world with over 3.7 million students attending. The reason students attend international schools is varied.  Some are children of embassy personnel, other families are business expats or work for international organizations.  Like the children who attend them, international schools can be very different. The majority of schools use English as the main language of instruction, although there can be a preference for British or American English.  There are also bilingual schools or schools teaching in a foreign language such as German or French. Though many schools have a truly international student population (i.e. up to 40 or more languages and cultures represented in their student bodies), there are other schools where host-country nationals make up the vast majority of students. Regardless of the differences, there is a growing demand for trained teachers to teach abroad at these international schools.

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One of the main differences is found in the type of curriculum international schools use. International schools typically offer one of the following curricula: USA, UK, or the internationally recognized IB programme (International Baccalaureate). Need to get prepared:  When researching international schools, find out what curriculum they use and what qualifications are necessary to teach it. Though not always a prerequisite, most international schools recruit teachers experienced in teaching their curriculum. The minimum requirement is often a valid teaching license, two years of teaching experience, and a Masters degree in Education.

The life of an international school teacher can be fascinating and exciting. There are so many reasons which make teaching abroad desirable, but it typically boils down to these five: money, love, travel, location and career. In general, international school teachers who want to live a successful, happy expat life need to be tolerant of diversity and uniqueness, flexible and adaptable as well as curious and open-minded to try new things. They live abroad in order to  explore more of the world. Need to figure out: Your own reasons for wanting to move abroad and your flexibility with the location and type of school.  At best, teaching abroad can enrich your career and change your life. At worst, it can be stressful, expensive, and sometimes dangerous. Thus, it requires independence, resilience, and a lot of question-asking. In other words, do your homework!

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An international school teacher exploring the local culture.

Teaching abroad has its perks, that is for sure. Some of those perks can include a housing allowance, a relocation package, and a flight to and from your home country at the beginning and the end of your contract to name a few. Another benefit that is often offered is an annual Professional Development (PD) allowance. To get school support to explore more of what you are personally interested in learning more about is a dream come true for most teachers. Need to research: Because benefits and packages can vary enormously, it is important to do your research. Network with experienced international school teachers to gather all the information you can. The International School Community website also has numerous submitted comments about benefits that members can check out regarding hundreds of different schools.

You might have heard that one of the biggest perks to take a position at an international school is to earn lots of money!  Many teachers want to earn more than they are making in their home countries. They also desire living in a location where there is a lower cost-of-living and where they can pay little to no taxes, thus providing them an excellent opportunity to save money.  Even if you get a position at a top international school with an excellent salary and benefits, it is not so easy to actually save that money you were hoping for. You need to be smart with the money you are making abroad. It is important to research the cost-of-living for the location in your host country and then compare that to your take-home salary and benefits. Couples can live on one salary in some places, but in other areas of the world that can be problematic.  Furthermore, if you move to a new international school every three to five years, have a plan for your pension and retirement accounts!  Need to know: Monthly take-home amount and in what currency, allowance amounts (housing, flight, baggage, etc.), savings potential and about the school’s pension plan or your private pension plan options.

If you have figured out your goals, made a plan and gathered all the information about an international school, the next step is to get that interview! It is becoming increasingly more convenient to land a job at an international school. There are recruitment fairs that have been around for decades, like the UNI Overseas Recruiting Fair, but now an increasing number of schools are recruiting over Skype. It can be expensive for both parties involved to attend an international school recruitment fair, so the internet has become the way of the future for hiring. Need to do: Start researching prospective international schools in the spring or during the summer a year before you plan on moving. Have a good cover letter, update your CV, and setup an online teaching portfolio. Figure out if going to a recruitment fair is the right thing for you to do. Get prepared and read the Nine Lessons Learned Regarding International School Recruitment Fairs and spruce up an area in your home to potentially do some Skype interviews.

Be careful not to get your hopes up too much when you are job searching for a position at an international school. It can be a challenge to stand out and be at the top of the list when you are first starting out in this community. Like many businesses, it is all about who you know. Many international schools value experience teaching abroad (especially at other international schools). The idea behind this is that it will be a better “gamble” on the school’s part to hire somebody who already has experience living abroad and working with an international student body; having worked with English as an Additional Language students will be to your advantage. But do not worry if you are new to teaching, there are many international schools willing to hire candidates just starting out in their teaching career. Getting a position is basically all about luck and timing regardless of your background experience.  When you finally land a job, you must prepare yourself for the big move and for the first few months after your arrival in your new host country. Need to read: Take a look at the Ten Commandments to Relocating Overseas.

Some people just want a change in their life; they want a new and exciting challenge.  International school teachers seek out this challenge. The catch is once you start in the international school community, it is hard to stop. The lifestyle you live is one that allows you many more opportunities than if you were teaching back in your home country. If the time is right for you to take a chance and make the move abroad, remember to do your research so that you are well-prepared.  Finding a good fit for you and your goals is paramount. The international school community is waiting for you!

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Highlighted Articles

The number of children at international schools reaches 3 million!

March 22, 2012

The latest figures published by ISC Research show that the number of children attending the world’s international schools has passed three million. This is phenomenal growth in just ten years. In 2002 there were one million international school students. It is this increasing demand for places which is driving the rapid expansion of international schools worldwide; a trend that ISC Research predicts will continue for the foreseeable future.

Ten years ago, the typical international school student was from an expatriate family. Today, that student is from a local family. The number of expatriate children attending international schools has not decreased, indeed there are many more . What has changed is the recognition by local families that international schools are a means of advancing to further education at some of the world’s best universities. “Parents of the next generation are looking towards international schools to satisfy the need for critical thinking rather than learning by rote,” says Clive Pierrepont, Director of Communications at Taaleem which owns and manages 13 schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. “The parents clearly see international schools as a route through for university opportunities.” It is this recognition, coupled with increased income, which is making attendance at an international school a real possibility for the wealthier local families. Today 80% of students at international schools are local children.

In a number of cities, this demand from both expat and local families, is outstripping supply. Hong Kong, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha all have significant problems. So much so, that many relocating expats with families are now demanding security of their school places before accepting new placements. In certain locations, it is the availability of good school places that is driving job decisions by expats rather than salaries and destinations. As a result of this demand, a number of countries are actively encouraging the growth of international schools including China, India, Malaysia, Korea, and the UAE.

International schools are typically fee-paying schools that deliver the curriculum wholly or partly in English (outside an English-speaking country). The good quality of learning at international schools is recognised the world over. Many of these schools follow, to a large extent, the English National Curriculum. Others deliver such highly respected international curricula as the International Baccalaureate and the International Primary Curriculum. Others deliver alternative national curricula such as American or Dutch. The best international schools have extremely good reputations, are accredited, and are used as models by national schools the world over.

ISC Research, the organisation that researches and analyses data on international schools worldwide predicts that the number of students in international schools will reach six million in another ten years and that the number of international schools will increase from 6,000 today to 10,000.

Managing Director of ISC Research, Nicholas Brummitt, says “The international school market has become big business. There are now a number of highly respected, multinational groups of schools driving growth forward. Examples of these are Taaleem with schools throughout the UAE and partnerships in other Middle East countries, WCL with schools in the US and Qatar, Nord Anglia with schools in China and Europe, Cognita with schools in the UK, Europe and Asia, ESOL with schools in a number of Middle East countries, Yew Chung Education Foundation with schools in Hong Kong, China and the US, and GEMS with schools in many parts of the world.  Most of these groups are expanding aggressively, either by buying existing schools, expanding current operations, or building new schools. There are also schools with campuses in several countries. These include a number of UK private schools with international operations such as Harrow (in Beijing, Bangkok with a third school in Hong Kong  opening in September this year) and Dulwich which has schools in China and is opening several more in Asia over the next few years.”

For more information about the international schools market visit www.iscresearch.com. ISC Research is the only organisation that supplies data and market analyses covering all the world’s English-medium international schools; data that it has been tracking for over twenty years. The latest market updates plus individual school information, news, statistical overviews, and country reports are all available from ISC Research.

For more information about what it is like to work at many of these international schools, make sure to visit www.internationschoolcommunity.com

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Highlighted Articles

More International School Places Needed in Hong Kong

January 17, 2012

Hong Kong is struggling to meet the demand for places for children at its international schools even though the number of these schools has grown significantly in recent years.

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It is as a result of a surge by British and American expats to Hong Kong since 2010, fuelled by job opportunities in the banking sector, coupled with an increasing desire for local families to have their children educated at the international schools that is creating the huge demand. There are now over 15,000 British and almost 30,000 American expats living in Hong Kong and those with children are requiring places at the international schools there, many of which already have waiting lists for September 2012.

According to ISC Research, the organisation that researches and analyses data on international schools worldwide, in the year 2000 there were 70 schools in Hong Kong teaching 37,800 students. Today that number has increased to 164 international schools teaching 64,300 students.  On Hong Kong Island alone there are 74 schools, with another 37 in Kowloon, and 45 in the New Territories. 21 of these schools including Island School and the Chinese International School, both on Hong Kong Island, have an intake of well over 1000 students. 42% of all these international schools follow the English National Curriculum, 10% follow a US curriculum and 14% follow an international curriculum such as the International Baccalaureate; all popular choices not only for UK and American expats but for the local families too who see this as a route to better opportunities for their children in the worlds most respected universities.  It is the significant increase in the number of local students applying to the international schools, along with the surge in expats to the area that is driving this high demand.

Nicholas Brummitt, Managing Director of ISC Research Ltd says:  “There is an acute shortage of places in Hong Kong. The existing schools are responding by rapidly expanding existing facilities wherever they can, but demand is predicted to outstrip supply for a number of years. A great many new schools are opening over the next couple of years. These include more schools linked to prestigious parent schools in the UK such as the brand new, state of the art Harrow International School located in Tuen Mun in the New Territories and which will open in September 2012.”

But for expats, the situation currently looks tough and the word from schools is apply as soon as you can.

Highlighted article by ISC Reasearch.  ISC Research is the only organisation that supplies data and market analyses covering all the world’s English-medium international schools; data that it has been tracking for over twenty years. The latest market updates plus individual school information, news, statistical overviews, and country reports are all available from ISC Research www.iscresearch.com

Check out the latest comments and information about international school teachers submitted by numerous international schools from around the world at International School Community.

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Great Resource

ISC Research: There are now over 6,000 English-medium international schools throughout the world.

December 13, 2011

International Schools reach 6,000!

There are now 6,000 English-medium international schools throughout the world. It is a market that has been growing significantly in recent years as a result of increased mobility by expatriate families and a dramatic rise in the number of local children attending international schools as a route to improved educational opportunities.

ISC Research, the organisation that analyses data on international schools worldwide, announced the news today. The figure refers to the total number of English-medium international schools that deliver their curriculum wholly or partly in English outside an English-speaking country. ISC Research anticipates this number will continue to rise to 10,000 international schools by 2021, teaching a total of 5.7million students and employing 545,000 English-speaking staff.

“The international schools market has doubled in size in the last ten years and will undoubtedly continue is dramatic growth over the next ten years,” says Nicholas Brummitt, Managing Director of ISC Research Ltd. “ The greatest demand is coming from increasingly wealthy families in Asia, including the Middle East, wanting an English-medium education for their children. Almost two thirds of the growth in schools and student numbers continues to be in this area.”

There is an acute shortage of international school places in some areas, particularly Hong Kong, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha. As a result, a number of countries are actively encouraging the growth of international schools including China, India, Malaysia, Korea, and the UAE.

“The future will be dominated by for-profit international schools, bilingual to varying degrees, located in residential communities, with more of an emphasis on local language and culture but at the same time increasingly international in terms of curriculum and outlook, albeit with a British or other national orientation and style,” says Nicholas Brummitt.  “This huge growth will increase competition for the best opportunities, the best teachers and the best students.”

ISC Research is the only organisation that supplies data and market analyses covering the world’s English-medium international schools; data that it has been tracking for over twenty years. The latest market updates plus individual school information, news, statistical overviews, and country reports are all available from ISC Research www.iscresearch.com.

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