Comparing the Schools and Comments

Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Kazakhstan

December 21, 2020

Around the world, there are countries (like Kazakhstan) that have more than one international school. Many times there is an American school, a British School, and an international school that uses an international curriculum.

The big question always is…how do the comments about each school compare to each other?

This blog series looks at comparing some of these comments, all coming from international schools in the same country.


Currently, we have 12 schools listed in Kazakhstan on International School Community.

9 of these schools have had comments submitted on them. Here are some that have the most submitted comments:

Haileybury Almaty (31 Total Comments)
Haileybury Astana (57 Total Comments)
Nazarbayev Intellectual school in Nur-Sultan (110 Total Comments)
Miras International School (Almaty) (21 Total Comments)
Miras International School (Astana) (13 Total Comments)

Amount of Money Left to be Saved

“One can save unto $3000 per month with a fairly decent lifestyle…” – Nazarbayev Intellectual school in Nur-Sultan

“You can definitely save at least 1000 USD a month…” – Miras International School (Almaty)

“Many staff are paying off a mortgage back in England on their second house…” – Haileybury AstanaA

School Campus

“In June 2017, Kazakhstan hosted EXPO 2017, the theme of which was “renewable energy”. This was a fantastic undertaking, and the legacy of the program is that many new buildings were constructed fairly close to the NISA campus. These buildings include a new mall called Silkway, which has a wide variety of shopping and dining experiences AND a cinema complex that features English-language movies fairly regularly…” – Nazarbayev Intellectual school in Nur-Sultan

“Large square building of three stories with ‘quad’ in the centre. Football pitch, swimming pool, assembly and dance halls, two libraries. To the south edge of town, in a still-developing area…” – Haileybury Astana

“It is a purpose-built campus, so it is inspiring to work in. The classrooms have Smart Board like boards which is nice. The fields are lovely and new and there is a wonderful view of the nearby mountains. I can also see the mountains from my classroom…” – Haileybury Almaty

Housing Information

“The school provides housing and they also pay for your utilities. Housing comes furnished…” – Miras International School (Astana)

“Housing allowance is 1200 USD. Teachers live all over the city. Finding an appropriate apartment can be a challenge though. Some teachers have the utilities included in their rent…” – Haileybury Almaty

“You can choose to live on or off-campus. There is a housing allowance if you live off-campus. You also get a monthly allowance to pay for utilities. All apartments come furnished…” – Miras International School (Almaty)

Pension Plan Details

“We get 10% extra in-lieu of a pension…” – Haileybury Almaty

“No retirement plan for teachers…” – Miras International School (Almaty)

“There is no retirement plan…” – Nazarbayev Intellectual school in Nur-Sultan

Are the Expectations High of Teaching Staff?

“Yes, most teachers have to do a compulsory 2 after school classes a week all year round, no pay. The workload can be heavy at times…” – Haileybury Almaty

“It depends upon many moving parts, but it is expected due to Covid that the class sizes will be increased and the expected hours will be near 30ish; but, it really depends upon department what that means for actual teaching…” – Haileybury Astana

“The expectations of the international teaching staff is very high, as they are seen as the experts in their fields, and are expected to share that knowledge. This means that much of the unit planning, detailed lesson planning, and teaching falls on the shoulders of the international teachers. This is in addition to a greater number of teaching contact hours than a local colleague…” – Nazarbayev Intellectual school in Nur-Sultan

(These are just 5 of the 66 different comments topics that are on each school profile page on our website.)

If you work at an international school in Kazakhstan, share what you know. Consider becoming a Mayor for unlimited free premium membership!

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Blogs of International Teachers

International School Teacher Blogs: “Jazzystan” (Two teachers that work in Kazakhstan)

November 17, 2016

Are you inspired to start-up a blog about your adventures living abroad and working at an international school?

Our 46th blog that we would like to highlight is called “Jazzystan”  Check out the blog entries of these international school educators who work in Kazakhstan

teacher blog

A few entries that we would like to highlight:

Ode to the Almaty Pigeon Market

“Last Sunday, Anna and I had our good friends Frankie and Keith to visit from Bishkek, where they have recently moved. Keith used to live in Almaty and Frankie had been before so it was trickier to wow them with the ‘go-to’ visitor activities. (The top choices being Big Almaty Lake, Kok Tobe etc. which are great by the way.) So we decided to go a pigeon market we’d heard of. We have actually tried to go to this pigeon market a number of times but always end up lolling about having brunch and missing it as it closes at 12. But, finally, we made it there and it was definitely worth the wait.

The market is right next to Kazan Cathedral, the oldest Orthodox Cathedral in Almaty, debating back to 1854. The cathedral is plainer than most orthodox churches I have visited before and has a refreshing amount of fresh flowers. It is also home to a cat and a small but nifty little gift shop. I’d highly recommend the gift shop if you really like gold things with saints faces on which I really, really do. To work out where church is- check out the map on this Tripadvisor page…”

How fun to visit the local markets in your host country. You really get a firsthand look at the locals and what they are buying and selling. Of course, the best ones are the ones that are selling things that you would consider a bit strange; crickets, exotic animals, and pigeons!

After searching the keyword “market” on our Comment Search page, we found 76 comments. Here is one of them from Qatar Academy (Sidra): “Once the weather cools, there is an outdoor market next MIA (museum of Islamic Art) they sell food from around the world – Indian, Arabic, Thai, American, etc…clothes, art, knick knacks. It’s a nice way to spend the weekend outside, it’s one of the largest green spaces in Qatar and great for families too. I generally bring a blanket and a book during the winter months when it’s not hot and the sun isn’t intense for long periods of time (though there are shaded areas too.)”


“Most people in Almaty are bilingual and many speak three or four languages. The two big languages in the city are Russian and Kazakh. Linguistically unrelated, Russian is a Slavic language whereas Kazakh is Turkic. Kazakh is on the rise but in central Almaty Russian is the language you hear floating around the streets. Both are written in the Cyrillic alphabet but Kazakh has some bonus letters added. In 2015, the Minster of Sports and Culture announced that there would be a gradual move to transfer Kazakh into the Latin alphabet. We hope this doesn’t happen. The Uzbek government has been promoting the use of the Uzbek in the Latin script since the early 2000s.  However, the strange mixture of Cyrillic and Latin Uzbek all over Tashkent hurt our eyes and brains.

It is interesting the language abilities of the local people. Good to know about these abilities before you move there so you can get prepared. Luckily, we have a comment topic related to the language of the local people. It is called: “Languages of the host city and the level of English spoken there.” Here is a sample comment from this topic from Alexandria International Academy: “Language in Egypt is Egyptian Arabic. Many younger people people some English, though the level is usually fairly low. It’s generally easy enough to get around with a basic understanding of Arabic, but the locals can tend not to be very helpful when language difficulties arise.”


Want to work for an international school in Kazakhstan like these bloggers?  Currently, we have 17 international school teachers that have listed that they currently live in this country. Check them out here. We also have one member that is from this country.

* If you are an international school teacher and would like your blog highlighted on International School Community contact us here.

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Highlighted Articles

Teachers International Consultancy: International School Teachers from UK and USA Support Education Reform in Kazakhstan

December 21, 2012

Kazakhstan may not spring to mind as an obvious destination for either vacation or career, but for UK teacher Ian Shotter, it’s proving so successful that he’s hoping to stay for another five years if not more. “I’m really enjoying the opportunities that the position has provided me with,” he says, talking about his job as ICT teacher at the NIS school in Almaty.

Now well into his first year of teaching in Kazakhstan, Ian says the experience is both challenging and rewarding. “We use a curriculum provided by Cambridge,” he says referring to the new Kazakhstan curriculum which has been written in association with Cambridge University and is introducing rigorous skill development and progression to the country. ”The ideas are sound and we hope that the curriculum format will improve the learning of students here,” Ian explains. “The students soak up everything that you are prepared to give them. It is my intention to stay in Kazakhstan for the next five years if there’s a position here for me.”

NIS schools lead educational reform

CIMG0077 There are NIS (Nazarbayev Intellectual School Network) schools in several locations throughout Kazakhstan including the capital Astana and the cities of Semey, Kokshetau, Ust-Kamenogorsk, Taldykorgan and Uralsk, all of which are leading a programme of educational reform in the country. The aim is to develop a new way of educating local Kazakh students and the NIS Network is enlisting the skills of qualified, experienced English-speaking teachers to spearhead the progress. Ian is one of these teachers. He trained as a teacher in the UK and had worked for several years in secondary schools and academies in England which helped in his recruitment to NIS. “The way teachers teach here it is quite different to the UK way and you need to adjust to the language barriers but I think that I have adjusted reasonably quickly,” he says.

Ian is teaching ICT in English to local students in collaboration with local teachers. This mentoring process is one of the specific roles for the expatriate teachers and involves supporting the Kazakh teachers with teaching, planning and assessment.  Corey Johnson is doing the same as a Geography teacher.

Gaining from cultural differences

Corey is a Social Studies teacher originally from Missouri, USA. “The curriculum is very different from the one I used in America so I had to learn a lot about it very quickly,” he says. “Doing this was hard work at the beginning, but I have quickly adapted. The teachers I work with are very diverse, and that is different than the schools I worked at in America. Also the students come from a different culture and background and this means I have to be aware of cultural differences, and adapt my teaching to fit my students. Even though all of these teachers and students come from different backgrounds they find a way to work together in harmony, and I think that is pretty amazing,” he adds.

In addition to their teaching, both Corey and Ian are enjoying discovering many new social experiences in Kazakhstan too. “Adjusting to life in a new country is always challenging, but it is also rewarding,” says Corey. “The food here is great. I was surprised at how friendly and kind the people are; it really helps the transition to living here.”

Corey has now been teaching internationally for seven years and says that each time he moves to a new country, he gains more experience. “Saying goodbye is a hard thing to do, but knCIMG0126owing that a grand adventure is waiting for you out there is very enticing,” he says, adding that flexibility, adaptability, strength of character, and an adventurous spirit are all necessary qualities for teaching internationally. He offers advice to others considering it as a career option: “Take everything for what it is, and don’t compare where you are to your home country. Of course it’s not the same; things are different, and some things are hard, but that is the adventure of it all. Enjoy yourself, and you will have a lifetime of memories to look back on after your time is finished.”

Increasing options for international teaching

Since taking on his first international posting in 2005, the opportunities available to Corey in international schools have increased significantly. “The number of international schools around the world is growing at a phenomenal rate,” explains Andrew Wigford, Director of Teachers International Consultancy, an organisation that specialises in the recruitment of teachers for international positions. “Many international schools provide excellent learning provision for both expatriate children and for local children who are seeking an English-speaking education. Most international schools have a very good reputation for learning and for the higher education opportunities that they provide, and this is fueling their growth.  There are some regions of the world, such as Dubai, where the number of international schools is simply not meeting the demand and so right now schools are continually expanding. There are other regions, such as Singapore, where the international schools are helping to support new global business development due to the education infrastructure suitable for expatriate students that is being put in place.  And there are other places such as Kazakhstan where international schools are actually changing the face of education throughout the country. It’s a very exciting time for teachers who have good experience and skills and who want to travel. Not always is it sunshine and sand that motivates a teacher to select a destination. Corey and Ian are both examples of teachers who have selected their teaching job for quite different reasons. Being part of educational reform is a compelling, challenging and rare experience and one that they are bound to gain from both professionally and personally.”

The Nazarbayev Intellectual School Network is continuing to recruit experienced English-speaking teachers to support Kazakhstan’s education reform.

Teachers International Consultancy offers a recruitment, placement and advisory service for qualified teachers from all over the world who are looking for jobs in international schools including those at NIS in Kazakhstan. The service is completely free to teachers. For more information visit

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