Highlighted Articles

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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Comment Topic Highlight

Teacher well-being and high staff morale at int’l schools: How to get there.

January 16, 2022


We all want to work at an international school that is a positive working experience and where there is high staff morale.

High staff morale means that you are happy to go to work, all your basic needs are met (e.g. you have good benefits and you get paid well and on time), and you are excited to work together with other staff members, the admin, the students, and the parents.

But keeping a high staff morale at an international school is not as easy as one might think. There are many factors that can affect this. And with ever-changing staff and students, the strategy needs to be ongoing.

Internationals schools can create a harmonious state of well-being by putting time and effort (and probably money) towards a number of different areas. Some of these areas being: sending out care packages when times are rough (e.g. remote teaching), giving Happy Teacher’s Appreciation Day notes/gifts, providing free (really nice) lunches and opportunities to relax with friends and colleagues, offering a well-organized onboarding process, etc.

But it is not just the admin that has the responsibility to do these things to promote a harmonious state of well-being, the other stakeholders can also play an important role in this effort.

Some international schools have a Sunshine Committee that provides a number of positive things to staff and also hosts events/parties throughout the school year. Even parents can offer different things to promote high staff morale like holding teacher appreciation buffet lunches on special days.

Each international school is on its own journey with creating a harmonious state of well-being amongst its staff. Before taking a job at an international school, it might be a good idea to find a way to ask about the current state of staff morale, why it is that way, and what is the school doing to address this topic.

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Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of staff morale and well-being. In this comment topic, our members can share what their experience has been working at various international schools around the world. There are a total of 510 comments (January 2022) that have been submitted by our veteran international school teachers on this specific comment topic (one out of the 68 in total) called – “What does the school do to create a harmonious state of well-being and high morale amongst its staff?”

Here are a few of those submitted comments:

“Morale is good at the school currently even though we have had a roller coaster of both face-to-face and online learning due to the rise and fall of Covid. Teachers have been given shared planning time and we meet weekly on Wednesdays (early dismissal for students) as a staff to work on both professional development and other school/staff priorities…” – The American School of Kinshasa (Kinshasa, Congo (DRC)) – 84 Total Comments

“The school tries to place an emphasis on a work and life balance. It is trying to promote a healthy working community. With almost all the staff living on campus, this is very much needed as there can be a working all the time feeling and that you are always at work. The Christmas holidays is a welcome break after a long semester…” – Keystone Academy (Beijing, China) – 143 Comments

“The staff has pretty high morale, and that is shown again and again at the end of the year climate survey. The middle school tends to be known as the happiest division. The school has been working to increase wellbeing by adding wellness options (fitness, culture, fun activities) at each PD day, allowing mid-day workouts in the school gym, mental health days in addition to sick days, and a surprise Thanksgiving bonus this year…” – American International School of Budapest (Budapest, Hungary) – 73 Total Comments

“There is a wellbeing committee that is allowed to host wellbeing days. But this feels artificial when we aren’t structurally creating an environment where wellbeing is sustainable. Teachers with more than 5 preps (sometimes multiple preps in the same class), teachers who have obligatory after school contacts year-round, teachers who are chided for taking mental health days, not hiring enough teachers to support the programs, and acquiescing to demanding parents to change courses/grades/teachers. Not the conditions for wellbeing…” – Shanghai American School (Pudong) (Shanghai, China) – 197 Comments

“Last year they provided a masseuse and a free one hour massage to all staff who wanted it. They also gave Christmas ornaments to teachers and presents to kids. There are staff BBQs, pool parties, trivia nights, and more…” – Schutz American School (Alexandria, Egypt) – 61 Comments

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