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Advice about my level of experience

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by 1FineDay, Aug 15, 2019.

  1. 1FineDay

    1FineDay New commenter

    Hi there,

    I have recently obtained my QTS certificate, and have a full-time, permanent NQT post lined up for this coming start of term. I also have 4 years experience as a teaching assistant (with some unqualified teaching of small groups) at a state school in the UK (prior to that I worked for a year as a caretaker in the same school - so total 5 years experience in a British school). The plan is to complete my induction year in the UK before moving abroad for September 2020. I am looking at Thailand, Hong Kong, Shanghai as first preference choices and then Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Kuwait as second preference choices.

    I spoke to a teacher who works in Dubai who said that NQTs are able to work abroad in the middle east.

    What are my options here? I will begin to contact schools next week to get an idea, and I already have some contacts in China, but I would like to know what the thoughts of you guys are? Will it be fairly easy for me to find a job in a private international school abroad?

    I have a degree in English and Spanish and PGCE in Secondary MFL.

    Many thanks,
    mymintpark likes this.
  2. TeacherMan19

    TeacherMan19 Occasional commenter

    I'd suggest completing your NQT year in the UK. You will get better support.
    1FineDay and afterdark like this.
  3. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    For some strange reason, a few misguided individuals try to contact a smelly old hippopotamus. The ancient beast may (or may not) know one or two things about teaching in international schools.
    1FineDay likes this.
  4. 1FineDay

    1FineDay New commenter

    I will be, as I thankfully have a full-time, permanent position starting in September. However, after that induction year, I would like to move abroad. Would I have enough experience for the majority of schools?

  5. blue451

    blue451 Lead commenter

    The answer here is always that the better schools will look for at least two years experience and that getting experience before you leave is definitely a good idea because you can't rely on having the same level of support overseas, but that there are always some schools willing to take NQTs - they just might not be the best ones.

    I'd go along with that advice i think, other than pointing out that there are some good international schools which recognise the value of having a range levels of experience on their staff and which are willing to support new teachers. They can be hard to find though.

    One thing you might find is that in some international schools, native speakers are preferred for MFL, rather than simply british qualified teachers. It will limit your options a bit, but not too much.

    To summarise, yes, you probably could get a job based on your current experience, but you increase your changes of getting a good job in a good school if you get a couple of years under your belt first.

    Good luck.
    1FineDay likes this.
  6. TeacherMan19

    TeacherMan19 Occasional commenter

    blue451 says it all. I had 3 years experience in England before moving abroad. Am now in China. There was always so many jobs in the Middle East that accepted NQTs. I'd definitely go for quality (good school) over quantity (money). I've done it recently so feel free to ask any questions too. Although thehippo has a lot of information.
    1FineDay likes this.
  7. T0nyGT

    T0nyGT Lead commenter

    Your teaching assistant years won't count towards anything unfortunately. You will still be viewed as having 1 year's teaching experience.

    As already mentioned, for MFL, native speakers are preferred. We're certainly not a top tier school and even we only have native speakers in the MFL department (with one exception who is on maternity cover).

    However, there are always schools who struggle for teachers towards the end of the year and you would definitely find a job somewhere. Many of these schools are in Kuwait as most people don't want to work there, but it seems you do and so you might be in luck.

    All you can do is apply for hope for the best. Once you've got your foot in the door things will be easier.
  8. PhuMyHung

    PhuMyHung New commenter

    Is there anyone on the forum who has obtained a decent international school job with 1 year's experience/while in the process of completing their NQT year (probation year here in Scotland)?

    I'm currently doing my NQT year and hoping to apply for jobs in November/December.
  9. frogusmaximus

    frogusmaximus Occasional commenter

    Dear OP

    I would really try and do 3 solid years in a UK school before taking the overseas option. It will support your own teaching - you are expected to run your classroom without any support in many cases - and let's face it, we learn to teach on the job as training is simply not detailed, exhaustive or applicable, especially if you've been guided by university people who know nothing about a classroom. It will also meet certain visa requirements set by the host country.
    agcb256 likes this.
  10. lucyrose50

    lucyrose50 Occasional commenter

    Contrary to what many people say on the forum, I have worked in and known staff in several top tier schools who have no issues about employing non-native speakers as MFL teachers, and who are willing to employ staff with only their NQT year as experience. Some international schools don't give staff a lot of support, it's true, but the majority spend vastly more on staff CPD than UK schools can, and the work life balance is generally much better than in the UK so you have the time to do a much better job - planning lessons, making resources, researching ideas, improving your subject knowledge, giving meaningful feedback to pupils and so on. My teaching skills have vastly improved since moving to international schools.
    Of course your previous experience in schools will be part of what employers look at, it probably wouldn't be counted in terms of the salary point you'd be put on, but it would put you ahead of another NQT who doesn't have that experience.
    I'd advise you to be open-minded about where you go and apply for as many jobs as possible, remembering that recruitment starts very early in the new school year - get your CV ready now, make sure it reflects all of your skills and experience including pastoral care, extra curricular activities and anything which suggests that you'll adapt well to life in the country you're applying to, and check the TES ads regularly. Accept that you may have to do a couple of years in a location or school that wouldn't be your first choice, in order to get some experience, but do your research on the schools and locations you apply to and make sure you'll be willing to spend at least 2 years there. Also make sure you make an excellent first impression in the job you're starting soon, as they'll have to give you a reference after a fairly short time!
    agcb256 and mymintpark like this.
  11. 1FineDay

    1FineDay New commenter

    Hi all,

    Many thanks for the range of replies and advice, all of which I find greatly helpful in getting started. It seems that two years of experience could certainly be a good way to go - for benefits to teaching practice and employment opportunities. However, if it is possible to get an application together before the end of the first term, then I would look to do so simply for the experience and to see what happens. The obvious downside to doing this would be employer relations - as the school would need to be made aware of my desire to depart - would there be complications with relations and then signing off my induction at the school (if I then made it clear that I hadn't been successful and needed to stay on for an extra year)?

    Regarding MFL departments in international schools - I was interested to learn that there are so many schools who prefer native speakers. I would be looking for 11-16 (KS3-GCSE) posts, which I am fully-qualified for. The average linguistic level of a top grade student at GCSE is A2 (below intermediate) so I would hope many schools would realise that my degree and training are relevant qualifications and therefore not have blanket policies excluding non-native speakers. However, the reality may be such and I am prepared to have some doors closed, but I would have thought that there should be plenty open still, as MFL is shortage?

    Many thanks again and I may well be popping up in some of your inboxes for further questioning.
  12. adrixargentina

    adrixargentina Occasional commenter

    I am concerned about this attitude to MFL also. Just because you are a native speaker of a language doesn't mean you know how to teach it successfully. Knowing the curriculum is so important. We had 2 native PGCE students in our department and they weren't interested in getting to know the curriculum at all, so they had little impact.
    agcb256, 1FineDay and makhnovite like this.
  13. mymintpark

    mymintpark New commenter

    Hi lucyrose, I would very interested in any additional advice on building a CV geared towards international schools - are there CPD’s, experiences outside of school, support roles, extra curricular activities that would be valued over others? Thanks if you can add to above.
  14. 1FineDay

    1FineDay New commenter

    Funnily enough, the 3 people who dropped out of my course were native speakers, with a common gripe being "the british system". That's not to say there aren't excellent teachers out there in the British system, who speak a different native language than English, of course. I do feel there is little substance to the "native speakers make better high school language teachers" - which therefore leads me to conclude that I wouldn't like to work under a manager who has that short-sighted view, anyway.
    agcb256 and adrixargentina like this.
  15. adrixargentina

    adrixargentina Occasional commenter

    1fineday: I agree 100%
  16. T0nyGT

    T0nyGT Lead commenter

    It's less to do with the actual quality of the teachers and more to do with the expectations from the parents
  17. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    T0nyGT has a very valid point. Most international schools are fee-paying businesses and therefore they have to "keep the customer satisfied", in the words of the old Simon & Garfunkel song.
  18. 1FineDay

    1FineDay New commenter

    I find it difficult to believe parents have that much sway over who gets hired in British curriculum schools? Any good headteacher would back his qualified staff to the helm, not pander to parental ignorance. It also screams of hypocrisy as native FL teachers teaching within the British curriculum also have to demonstrate a high enough level of English to be able to teach effectively. I really hope it isn't as extreme as some have made it seem.
  19. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Well, yes, 1FineDay, you are absolutely correct, to a point. But unfortunately headteachers simply cannot ignore the wishes of the parents and the owners of the school may also have their own ideas as well. Very often there will be a large number of candidates applying for a teaching post and most HTs are inclined to appoint native speakers.

    When I was teaching in the UK, I knew a Russian lady who was teaching English. Her school thought very highly of her abilities and gave her a permanent contract (originally she had been given a temporary one). Unlike a lot of English teachers, this Russian lady actually understood English grammar.
  20. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    1FineDay, it would be great if that were so but unfortunately it isn't (I can think of one person who I suspect was appointed through parent pressure.) If anything, the level of parent pressure on management in international schools is higher than it is in the UK, as the parents in those areas (Middle East, Middle Kingdom, SE Asia) tend to think of themselves as customers of education and therefore expect their demands to be met. What you need then is strong management - but bear in mind the parents are basically paying salaries, so this doesn't always happen.

    I try to liken it to a hospital - a child has stubbed their toe and it is cut badly, so parent takes the child to the hospital. The doctor has a look and says "OK, some stitches and a bandage, and you can go home." Would the parent then insist that no, the cut is worse than that, and the toe or even the foot should be amputated? Unlikely - the parent sees the doctor as the expert and trusts their judgement. Unfortunately, they see us as servants at times, alongside the ayi and driver, so they know what's best - see outdated attitudes of many parents towards homework.

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