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Eligible to apply to International Schools in Malaysia?

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by Bal1000, Sep 26, 2017.

  1. Bal1000

    Bal1000 New commenter

    Hi All,

    Some background on my situation: I have recently moved from Australia to Penang with my wife (who is Malaysian). I am in my late 20's and have a background in academia. I've got a bachelor and PhD degree in chemical engineering and worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at a university in Australia for 2 years. I have spent the majority my time as a PhD and postdoc conducting research, though I have spent the equivalent of about 3 years tutoring university subjects part time. I am looking to move into a teaching role because it is what I enjoy doing (I initially moved into academia to be a teacher, before realising that it is mainly a research based role).

    I am looking to start applying for some teaching positions (secondary school, maths and science) in Penang but I have no idea how to go about it. I have no formal teaching qualifications and no experience with the Malaysian job market. From what I've read/heard I think international schools may be a good option for me as they teach in English, though I do not know if I am eligible to apply. All the schools websites in Penang say a minimum of 2 years experience and teaching qualifications are required. If anyone in this forum has some advice with the following topics I would be very grateful.

    1. How I should go about applying to international schools
    2. If international schools would be the best way of getting into the teaching profession
    3. If I need study for a year to get qualifications first

  2. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    You can always apply, but expect some challenges. The best schools probably have nothing for you, but the mid and lower schools might consider anyone with MT English and foreign degrees. You'll be paid probably more than locals with teaching credentials and less than expatriates with.
    Use your time in a challenging school to earn a credential and hone your teaching skills. In a couple years, move to a better school.
  3. cel90

    cel90 New commenter

    Look into completing a PGCEi.
    grdwdgrrrl likes this.
  4. Bal1000

    Bal1000 New commenter

    Hi cel90, thanks for your suggestion. In Australia, it is common to do a graduate diploma in education to move into a career as a secondary school teacher. Do you know if international schools prefer a PGCEi compared a grad. dip.? I am reading through forums about the PGCEi and there seems to be some scepticism about a low amount of in-class teaching time within the degree. Any thoughts?
  5. Bal1000

    Bal1000 New commenter

    Thanks for your reply gulfgolf. I am planning to scour international school websites and job boards (such as jobstreet) for position openings. Is this the norm for teaching job positions in Malaysia, or are recruiters or career expos better options? Any suggestions?
  6. tinker000

    tinker000 New commenter


    There are several uni offering PGCEi but only the one with practicum will likely be accepted by international schools, but there is no guarantee though. A friend of mine did the PGCEi from Sunderland two years ago, she currently works in a good IB intl school in HK.
  7. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    Applyi directly to schools is your best bet since you need to work where you live.
    Another option is to make yourself available as a sub. Even the better schools may hire you on a daily basis. It would get you known and make you a logical candidate if a position opens up, assuming you prove yourself.
  8. Bal1000

    Bal1000 New commenter

    Hi tinker000, thanks for your insight. Any anecdotal evidence helps :) I think I'll have to do a bit more research, ask some employers and talk to the Aussie government to see if the PGCEi is adequate for secondary school teaching in aus before I make a decision. Cheers.
  9. Bal1000

    Bal1000 New commenter

    Thanks gulfgolf, applying as a sub is a great idea that I hadn't thought of!
  10. gilderbeast2000

    gilderbeast2000 New commenter

    Most schools will look for a PGCE and QTS with further relevant experience. They seem to dismiss, offhand, any experience prior to your PGCE.

    There is another route in, however. If you have experience teaching English and with your current qualifications, it may be possible to apply for an EAL teaching role. This will develop your skills and experience and then you could move onto other subjects. Every International school has an EAL department. You could also complete a TEFL course in the next few months to add to your experience. EAL teachers usually also need a PGCE and QTS but if a good TEFL teacher appears, with a good background in education like you, it increases your chances.

    I would recommend not doing the PGCEi. I've known many TEFL teachers who went that route and they are still teaching English in state schools or language centres. The best schools value QTS and experience in the curriculum.

    I would advise moving home to do your PGCE and obtain QTS as well. It will only take two years. I did it and I'm now in a good international school with all the benefits. My friends who tried the PGCEi route or the EAL route are still struggling to find good jobs.

    Finally, if your subjects are maths or science based then you will find a job much easier than other subjects. If this is going to be youyr chosen career then get properly qualified from home. It will be worth it in the end and the two years at home will fly!

    Good luck...
  11. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    Why two years? The PGCE is only one. You don't necessarily need to stick around for the NQT year.
  12. gilderbeast2000

    gilderbeast2000 New commenter

    The PGCE is one year of study and placement. Your first year's teaching after that is your NQT year, when you gain QTS. Any 'top' international school will require those two years as a minimum. ( 1+1=2)..
  13. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    Nqt is only for british state schools. Unless you are going to a very "old school" British curriculum school, most International schools wont even know what it is, or even care. It might be handy if you are considering ever returning to the UK, but definitely not required.
  14. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    experience at international schools will get you much further than a lowly NQT certificate. the chances of anyone getting into a "top" international school without significant experience internationally is very slim. its not impossible, but unlikely.

    it often makes me laugh on here when people heroically state "i have secured a role at a TOP international school".....who is telling them this?...the school thats employing them !!!! or have they just read it off the school website. the likelihood is its much lower level school. once you have been on the circuit for a while you will know which schools are the top ones in each region. from my experience very very very few are ever British curriculum schools.
  15. Bal1000

    Bal1000 New commenter

    Hi gilderbeast2000, thanks for your in depth reply. Unfortunately travelling back to Australia does not fit in with my current situation. Also, teaching english is definitely not what I am interested in, though I can see some logic in developing my skills in one area of teaching, then changing to math and science later. I am just a bit apprehensive about getting pigeonholed in this line of work. Is the PGCEi the only teaching qualification that I can obtain in Malaysia that will be recognised by international schools (that is less than 2 years in length)?
  16. Bal1000

    Bal1000 New commenter

    dumbbells66, would you suggest trying to work my way up from lower ranked international schools to higher ones through experience? What teaching qualifications would you suggest for me to look into? Also, are you saying that if I want to work at a top international school that my best bet would be to try and get experience with American curriculum schools?
  17. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    No. You gain QTS with the PGCE.

    The NQT year is nothing to do with being qualified, it's about being suitable to work in UK maintained schools.
  18. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    yes i would highly recommend this. this is how many many fully qualified teachers do it.

    no not at all, but you should look into the IB. it is much bigger on the International circuit, with many many more schools than the British curriculum schools. a lot of schools that have American in their title are actually just IB schools. i am a fully qualified UK teacher, but have taught in 3 IB schools around the world.
  19. Bal1000

    Bal1000 New commenter

    Great! Thanks for the advice!!

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