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Advice needed: Sabbatical to travel/teach abroad

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by just_keep_swimming, Dec 31, 2011.

  1. Hi,
    I am in my 7th year of teaching - 5 years at my current school. I am very happy there and see myself teaching there for a long time to come...however I am very eager to travel. I am more than willing to combine this with some voluntary work in schools/with children, especially if I can use what I have learnt from these experiences to benefit the school when I return (i.e. sharing good practice from schools in other countries or developing language skills as there is no MFL co-ordinator at present at my school). The timing seems perfect as my school is currently restructuring and will therefore definitely need to recruit one teacher a year for the next 3 years, however I would MUCH prefer to be granted a 'career break' or sabbatical to prevent the stress of having to reapply when I return. I don't yet have a firm plan of exactly where or when I would go, or how long I would go for as I feel I don't want to get too far down the line with planning the trip of a lifetime only for it to be kyboshed by the governors/head.
    My head is very approachable and I am keen to discuss this with her at an early stage but I would appreciate some advice from the many wise folk on here before I speak to her!
    1) Are governors likely to grant a career break? Are they more likely to grant for one, two or three terms? I think my ideal would be to leave at the end of the summer hols and return at Easter but I am not sure if the Govs would go for this. What would governors see as 'benefits' that I could bring back with me? How far in advance do I need to apply to governors for a career break? I am considering leaving in Aug/Sept 2012.
    2) How easy is it to arrange work experience/voluntary work in schools abroad? Started looking with STA Travel but I would have to pay several hundred pounds for a week working in a school through them and I am sure there must be a cheaper way to set up work placements (esp if they are voluntary!). I have a few friends scattered around the globe at the mo and it would be great if I could stay with them and work in a local school. Does anyone have any useful links/websites that could help with this?
    3) I am assuming that as this would be unpaid leave, my payments to the Teacher Pension Scheme and the Student Loan Company would be suspended until I return - does anyone know if this is the case?
    I am also keen to hear from anyone who has done something similar - any stories? Hints and tips?? Are visas needed to undertake voluntary work in Oz/NZ?
    I know its a long post with LOTS of questions but if anyone can take the time to answer even one of them I would be very grateful! Have posted this in several forums as I am keen to hear a range of viewpoints.

    Thanks!
     
  2. CarrieV

    CarrieV Lead commenter

    The only person I know who has been granted a sabbatical worked at a church school and arranged a placement with a school in Nigeria through her church, the Governors were happy to develop links with a school in a developing country-I don't think voluntary work in Australia or New Zealand would be seen in quite the same light. I think you have to differentiate between the two. Do you want to volunteer to work in an overseas school in a developing country-in which case I would think being granted a sabbatical more likely, or do you want to travel- in which case I suspect you might need to resign first.
     
  3. VSO might be worth exploring. Although their placements are classed as volunteer placements you will actually receive a local wage so it won't end up costing you lots of money. Most of their placements are for two years although they do have the occasional 12/6 month placements
     
  4. Thanks for the replies. I know I am prob trying to have my cake and eat it as I genuinely want to do both - travel and experience schools in other countries. I totally see your point about the voluntary work in Oz/NZ though! I think I'm mostly looking for voluntary work in central/south America but at the same time, I have contacts in Oz and North America and am unlikely to undertake a trip like this again so would like to combine everything together in one trip! I suppose I need to try to work out what the governors at my school are likely to offer me and I can then plan around that as I really don't want to resign and not be able to return to my current school, which is a fab place to work!
    Thanks for the VSO link - a bit longer than I was thinking of but lots of info on the site and definitely food for thought!
     
  5. Tigger1962

    Tigger1962 New commenter

  6. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    If you're going to do it, ask as soon as you get back. There's no harm in offering as much notice as possible, but plenty in doing it too late.
    Bear in mind that whilst it might technically be the governors who approve it, if your head tells them not to they're most unlikely to against her. Bear in mind also that you're asking a massive favour and no sort of 'benefit to the school' can even compete with the potential disbenefits, i.e. having a temp in who might well require a lot of support and might not be anywhere near as good for the children as you in that time.
    If they refuse, you've got two choices, one of which is resigning and the other is not doing it at all.
    Given the job situation these days, I'd strongly advise against resignation.
     
  7. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Talk to the head, and ask them what they think. If you can be flexible to fit in with what works for the school, then maybe it can work for everyone. If the planned expansion means they'd be recruiting for Sept 2013, then maybe you going off for a year just means recruiting that teacher in 2012. Coming back at Easter probably works less well as then the vacancy to cover you won't join up with the vacancy for the extra class, so they can't make it a permanent post. Christmas to Summer might work but they'll get a better field for a September start, especially if they can advertise early.
     
  8. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    I know someone who has just been granted a sabbatical to travel and teach for a year from next summer. She was refused last year as she didn't have a well thought out plan of what she would be doing and so what the benefit to the school would be. This year she sorted out her plan and applied early to the headteacher and governors in writing and has been successful.

    I understand the not wanting to get ahead with planning before you know you can go, but you will need some clear statements and contacts to show what you will be doing. "I'm thinking of travelling and hopefully teaching and so should be able to use the experience when I come back" would not be enough.
     
  9. Thank you guys! Great advice! Appreciate the replies.
    Minnieminx - that's what I thought may happen so I think you are right that I need to do a little more research and find some contacts, (certainly before I put in any formal requests!) but like Middlemarch says I think there is probably little harm in sounding out the head early on - esp as she is approachable.
    Middlemarch - was thinking it would end up coming down to that decision!
     
  10. Frustrum - yes was thinking these would be considerations, esp coming back at easter. They will be recruiting in Sept 2012, 2013 and 2014. Looks like talking to the head is the way forward!
     
  11. Two schools I've been in have granted a sab to staff - both primary.Both were for a year, sept - sept, because then the disruption to the children was lessened, one of them did supply work for a few months as she wasn't leaving until Feb so worked through the Autumn term (doing some supply at our school as well as others) before leaving, and neither were for teaching abroad or anything else charity etc, they were both just for pure travel, including Oz and NZ :)
    If it were me, I'd just sound out the head - if they are very enthusatic about the simple request, its more likely they will go for just a break, or if they are less enthusastic about it the worthy side could come out - it depends really what is the most important to you with it all though. Just do a list of pros for the school, so you have things to back up your request :)
    Good luck and enjoy.
     
  12. Thank you happy pixie - this is encouraging to hear! Sounding out the head seems to be the way forward. Was trying to think of a way I could go for a 2 term sab but like you say, I think I knew in my heart this would be quite disruptive to any class of children!
     

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