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Employing old gits

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by norwichred, Dec 7, 2019.

  1. norwichred

    norwichred Occasional commenter

    So on one of our date nights (that we never got until we moved abroad), al Fresco dining in 24 degrees at 10pm (so why on earth did we ever decide to go abroad???) myself and the missus got to talking.

    I”m 49 (how did that ever happen?) and she’s 41. We have a three year old and two year old child. We are currently in Kuwait, having been here for six months. My one year contract has been renewed. She has another year, my eldest starts school (at my place) in January. Everything is pretty good.

    We’re happy. So much happier than in the UK.

    But Kuwait is not the location to bring children up long term, methinks. We’ve been lucky - and we need to build up a little bit of money so we’re happy here at the moment. I could easily see us doing three or four years here. But then the children will be 6 and 5. And it would be time to try and move somewhere where we could live for a decade or a bit longer, see the children find stability in one school and see them into university.

    But at our age, it would mean trying to find a position (ideally Far East - Thailand, or somewhere similar) at 52 and 43. Is that a realistic possibility? Two older people looking for positions and schooling for their children? Would we be employable at that age?

    Or is it just a pipe dream? We need to consider the future carefully. We’re not the young spring chickens we were and we don’t have anything in reserve for the children as we were late in meeting and we both thought we would be carefree singles for life.....:)
  2. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    I am gloriously out of date with the 'circuit', having left it all of thirteen years ago to grow olives and write books but it never seemed to me that age was anything like the issue abroad that it was in the UK. As a headteacher recruiting staff my only concern was to employ good teachers. Older teachers and teachers with families add to the stability and cohesion of the faculty. Some of the fifty-odd-year-olds I appointed stayed ten years and more. If a school is happy to offer places for the children of thirty-year-old parents it costs no more to offer them to your children. Some schools may see things differently but others won't. Some advice:

    1) Consider all locations except those that are clearly unsuitable for young families.

    2) Don't be defensive about your age (certainly not in an application). How exciting to have taken the plunge and started a family in the prime of your lives. If I were still recruiting I wouldn't be able to resist interviewing you.
    alex_teccy and StrangePanda like this.
  3. bigfatgit

    bigfatgit Occasional commenter


    Bloody youngsters coming on here...
  4. yasf

    yasf Established commenter

    It shows what a sad state of affairs the UK is in when teachers think that 52 and 43 are in any way 'over the hill'.
  5. migratingbird

    migratingbird Occasional commenter

    I don't think it's the age that may create issues, it's the fact that you'll be an expensive hire. 2 school aged children and a dependent spouse. I'm in the same position myself and am finding it much harder to get into interviews than I have done in the past. If your aim is Asia, you'll probably have more luck than me (we're trying to move to Europe as options are better for my spouse there).
  6. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    If I read the OP correctly she is not a dependent spouse but a teacher currently on contract in Kuwait.
    Whether or not they are expensive salary-wise depends on the remuneration structure of the school.
    I have worked in a school where all overseas hire classroom teachers were on a flat rate and another where ALL teachers, local and overseas hire were on the same scale. Of course overseas teachers had benefits such as flights but age didn't come into it.
  7. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    I absolutely agree with bigfatgit. (Is this a first?)

    Well, honestly, it is ridiculous to go on about the problems of ageism when you are in your 40s or even 50s. As regular readers of the pachyderm's online ramblings will already know, I was retired at 59 and now I am in my second semester in my new job and heading towards my 61st birthday. When I was teaching in China, I had one colleague who retired when he was 68!
  8. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    Schools, some of them anyway, start facing age-based visa issues around age 60. So those schools will try to hire people at 58 and below to make sure of at least a couple years for a new hire.
    It is therefore a good idea to settle somewhere for your last post by around that age.
    The OP’s timeline allows for that, and even allows for an interim school in case the next post doesn’t prove suitable for the long term.
    Looking for a new post after 60 is hard. 54? You’ll be fine.
  9. norwichred

    norwichred Occasional commenter

    This is not what I expected to hear, but I am very very pleased to do so.....

    And it’s very reassuring. Shows that getting 3 or 4 years on the CV in my current school is a better idea than moving......

    Thank you.
    alex_teccy likes this.
  10. rideemcowboy

    rideemcowboy Occasional commenter

    If I remember correctly norwichred, you were returning to teaching after 10 years away and 12 months back were focused on getting onto the curcuit. Now that you are at a school that you are comfortable with, I would suggest staying 3 years and then testing the water by appling to all the schools you are keen on. SE Asia is certainly a better option for a young family. At 49 you have another 15 years ahead. Enjoy!
  11. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    I'm glad things are going well for you - I remember you were a bit worried about the school and the country, so good to hear you've settled.

    I doubt you'll have a problem - you'd actually be fairly attractive, as a teaching couple with two kids attending the school. We were relatively late to teaching overseas too, in our early 40s with a child, but haven't had problems finding a job. Like you, we're fairly settled (have just signed up for another 2 years) but might move on after that.
    paradine and percy topliss like this.
  12. miketribe

    miketribe Established commenter

    I'm 70 and still working. My school here in Spain quite often hires teachers who have retired back in the USA and are looking for overseas experiences. The school likes it since the teachers have proven track records and don't mind working for rather lower Spanish salaries because they're collecting their (generous) American teachers' pensions.
    alex_teccy likes this.
  13. stopwatch

    stopwatch Lead commenter

    I didn't have many problems. If you have a good track record and fit the JD well, you should be snapped up by any decent school worth its salt.
    My overseas jobs were as follows:
    • Job 1 aged 44
    • Job 2 aged 47
    • Job 3 aged 50
    • Job 4 aged 59
    Didn't do me any harm
  14. percy topliss

    percy topliss Occasional commenter

    In Thailand you can certainly work until you are 60. Dependent upon your subject specialism and the school some teachers are kept on after that age. If you get the right jobs at the right school(s) you can save a good deal of money here and your kids will get a great education. Not sure about any of the surrounding countries though.

  15. pauljoecoe

    pauljoecoe New commenter

    My wife and I moved to Hong Kong to work for the first time abroad at 54/55. My wife got a vice-principal post and found it easy to get. I wanted a non-responsibilty position and I found that harder as there seems to be more interest in young teachers but I got there after a couple of months.

    Definitely a good move from the point of view of pay, stress and a great cultural experience.
  16. rouxx

    rouxx Lead commenter

    Once you have your foot in the door of international education then good schools will look at the criteria Stopwatch gave above.

    Yes some places visas become more problematic, but there are plenty of places where you can work.

    • Job 1 age 40
    • Job 2 age 44
    • Job 3 age 46
    • Job 4 age 54
    The 2nd job was the hardest to secure, but I put that down to my first o/seas post being in a very easy country and so I had neither recent UK experience nor a track record with what some would consider to be proper o/seas.

    Last round, I had the widest choice of places and turned good schools down. Although I was also turned down because of age (one school even contacted me to tell me that they didn’t think it fair to interview as they were uncertain if they could get a visa - cut off for that country is 55).
  17. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    I was thinking about this earlier, strangely enough. It's a bit of a weird balance that schools have to tread. On the one hand, they want teachers to be experienced, and to stay longer. And yet many schools still hire inexperienced teachers who are more likely to move on after 2 or 3 years,
  18. makhnovite

    makhnovite Established commenter

    It's all about the money! I was at an interview some years ago (it was in the UK but the example is still relevant). The interviewees were me (older, wiser and more experienced) and 5 NQTs, after one of the NQTs was appointed the Head asked to speak to me and said quite simply; while I was by far the best candidate she could employ three NQTs for the money she would have to pay me - Que faire!
  19. ToK-tastic

    ToK-tastic New commenter

    It's certainly about the money (salary costs etc) if a school balance sheet is very thin, or even in the red.

    However, where there's breathing space in the budget, or in a highly competitive environment there may be other factors to consider. First of all, teacher retention tends to improve student retention. A younger teacher may save the school money, but if higher teacher turnover (due to a younger staff profile) leads to lower student retention that initial apparent saving is a false saving. This effect is particularly marked because families tend to move all their children from a school rather than just one child. Further, in a competitive school market low retention has a catalytic effect through the system.

    Secondly, families do make decisions about which school to attend partly based on the teachers at the school. a mix is essential - a predominantly younger staff may appear inexperienced, whilst a predominantly older staff may appear staid. Of course, these characterisations maybe invalid, but causal in school choice.

    Thirdly, in a competitive market outcomes are important, especially in exam classes. If a teacher has a record of exam success this could easily off-set any extra costs that teacher may bring in comparison to a less experienced teacher. Again, this is particularly marked if the teacher is transferring from a similar school, or a school in the same region. Obviously this teacher's record of exam success is not solely down to that teacher, it's also due to the school set up, the intake of students they were teaching, all of their colleagues over the years who have also taught those students etc But in the mind of the Head who is recruiting is the thought that if they can put all of those other elements in place there is a very high probability that this teacher will enable the students to attain high grades at examination.

    There might be a GBP50k / year difference in costs between an experienced teacher (maybe with kids) and someone at the start of their career. However, with fees running between GBP15-30K it doesn't take many students to leave before you've wiped out any savings made by employing the younger teacher. Further, if that teacher is able to help the students to get high grades they will attract students to your school, particularly in the trickier subjects: sciences, maths etc. When they attract students to the school there's a positive multiplier effect through the system as students leave other schools to join yours.

    These have been my experiences in competitive markets in N.London and big Asian cities.
  20. nemo.

    nemo. Occasional commenter

    In general the tip tier schools are not ageist and the desperate lower tier schools. In between more likely due to mix of desire for a younger fresher cheaper face and shall we say "lower expectations" to be treated well!

    Obviously visa restrictions come into it but in SE Asia rules are flexible.....

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