1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

Fork in the road moment. Advice needed!

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by jake290788, Jan 24, 2016.

  1. jake290788

    jake290788 New commenter


    I am a 27 year old trainee teacher, working in an academy school in London as a History and SEN teacher. I started training in September 2015 and I am really enjoying it. I was a graduate teaching assistant for a year before starting. The job can be extremely challenging, especially as a large proportion of the students I teach come from very unstable backgrounds. Nevertheless, I'm hooked on teaching and can't see myself doing any other job for the foreseeable future.

    My problem is I feel I've reached that 'Fork in the road' moment. The issue is not whether or not I want to teach, but where. I feel like my head is telling me to see it out here in London, even if it means another 2 and a half years to become fully qualified (I'm doing a slightly different training route). However, my heart is leaning more towards the adventure of teaching abroad and trying to make a success of that.

    No matter what, I am going to work in my current job until the end of July. That way I have a full year of teaching experience and confidence under my belt. I would really appreciate any advice as to what options I might have available from then with regard to teaching abroad. Is the TEFL route the only realistic option? This is not me wanting to travel and do a bit of teaching to fund it. I've had the backpacker experiences. This is me wanting to find out if I can seriously consider teaching abroad as a potential career.

    Sorry for the long post and thanks in advance for any help or advice.

    tillybeany likes this.
  2. davidbowiefan

    davidbowiefan Established commenter

    TEFL is ideal if you want to be ripped off by unscrupulous language school owners and be left with not enough money for food and accommodation.

    If you aren't fully qualified, who will want to employ you? How will you finish your training? How will you get a job when you come back?
  3. jake290788

    jake290788 New commenter

    Not the most constructive advice. If you are going to take the time to post a reply in a thread, at least take the time to read the initial post properly. Thank you.
  4. Jessaki

    Jessaki Occasional commenter

    It depends where you want to work. Language schools will take native speakers for TEFL, you have some teaching experience so you should not have many problems finding a job. But it won't be well paid and often there is no real job security, no benefits and no work between June and October.
    I was in a similar situation as you about 7 years ago. I was planning on saving up to do a CELTA, so I could teach abroad. However, I realised a PGCE (or training completing a training course where you gain QTS) made more sense because I would have more of a chance getting a job at an international school where there would be more of a chance of securing a role with job security and that would pay decent salary. Also, having QTS would then make it possible for me to still teach in the UK if I were to return.

    I did the PGCE, decided to stay at least a year to complete the NQT year and then one thing led to another I was still in the same place 5 years later as a HoD. However, I made the decision this year to apply for international schools, because that is what I wanted to do right at the very beginning, and I have just secured my first international role. I know for a fact, I would not have been offered this job without being a fully qualified and experienced teacher.

    You do not need 5 years experience, most international schools want 2-3 years, but if you want a secure job, where you earn a salary that you can live off comfortably and want the back up option of being able to return to the UK and work, then I would recommend you complete the training, gain your QTS and then apply for international roles.
  5. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    Finish your training, get some experience and get applying. If your qualification allows you to teach in UK state schools then you will be fine. Some countries do state specific qualifications for visa reasons (B.ed, PGCE etc). TEFL will only get you into language schools. Bare in mind that the IB alone has just over 5000 schools worldwide, not sure about the British schools, but it must be similar, so there is plenty of choice out there. One of your biggest problems will be your subject area. History (humanities) is massively over subcribed around the world. Remember you are applying against the world, so they get lots of applications from everywhere. Personally as a Brit i have been a minority nationality in all my international schools. SEN is a small but growing sector of the international circuit. It is very expensive to provide this service so a lot of schools avoid it. All i can say is get that qualification thing sorted, and then apply for everything....anywhere. good luck
  6. jake290788

    jake290788 New commenter

    Thanks for the advice, guys.
  7. davidbowiefan

    davidbowiefan Established commenter

    You sound extremely young for your age, probably too young to teach abroad. My advice about avoiding TEFL is based on experience. What are your own views based on?

    The questions I asked you are realistic and sensible. If you're going to respond in this way rather than think about the answers, you are showing an irresponsible attitude to your career.
  8. TonyGT

    TonyGT Established commenter

    I don't understand what he missed from your post.

    You might not want to hear it but everything he said was pretty sound. If you are nearly qualified as a teacher why would you be considering doing TEFL? You don't need QTS to do TEFL and therefore it would be quite a waste of the qualification you nearly fully have.

    You're going to have to wait until you have a few years of teaching under your belt. Patience is the key here.
  9. stopwatch

    stopwatch Lead commenter

    Most, good, schools overseas will quite rightly expect a minimum of 2 years UK experience as a fully qualified teacher before considering an application. Also, whereas in the past there was only a small percentage of teachers willing to uproot and go overseas, it has changed a lot and become a much more popular option to working in the UK.
    As others have said, get qualified, do a couple of years and then reconsider.
  10. davidbowiefan

    davidbowiefan Established commenter

    Is the OP even aware that if you drop out of teacher training you don't get another go at it?

    Unless he has extenuating circumstances he won't be able to join another training programme. Extenuating circumstances would be things like illness or bereavement, not travel abroad.
  11. jake290788

    jake290788 New commenter

    Perhaps I need to be clearer for davidbowiefan and TonyGT. I am not nearly qualified, I am not enrolled on Teach First, PGCE or Schools Direct. As stated, I have the opportunity at my current school but it will take the rest of this year and another 2 after that. All I was simply trying to find out was whether there are any viable options abroad in the education sector. At no point did I mention that I wanted to go away and teach abroad for a couple of years and then return to the UK and carry on my training. Despite what certain people in this thread have concluded, this is a big decision that I am taking seriously. I am simply trying to weigh up all the options before committing to what will be a huge decision.
  12. Jessaki

    Jessaki Occasional commenter

    To be fair, your first email does suggest (or at least not make it clear) that you are already on training course. You say "I'm doing a slightly different training route" which suggests you are already on it. Nevertheless, without QTS you will only be able to do TEFL, as international schools (reputable ones) will not employ an unqualified teacher. If your goal is to teach abroad, then advice would be to complete your training, gain QTS, get 2 years experience and then make your move. You will be in a much better position, professionally and financially. It is worth the wait.
  13. davidbowiefan

    davidbowiefan Established commenter

    Your first post states that you are a 'trainee teacher' and you are 'doing a slightly different training route'. Also that you are 'hooked on teaching' and will 'have a full year of teaching experience' by the end of July.

    If you aren't on a recognised programme which leads to QTS, you are not training as a teacher and do not have teaching experience. (Even if you were on a recognised programme, you would only have a year of training experience, not teaching experience.)

    Have you actually looked at the international job ads on TES? Most state that they are looking for two years of post-qualification experience. Even the ones who accept NQTs will need you to have a BEd or a PGCE. These qualifications and experience are hard-earned and nobody will offer you a job instead of people who have them. Why would you think otherwise?
    TonyGT likes this.
  14. TonyGT

    TonyGT Established commenter

    OP, I don't understand. Are you a teacher or not?
  15. Dramakween

    Dramakween Occasional commenter

    No, I don't understand either. You introduce yourself as a '27 year old trainee teacher' and say that you have another two and a half years until you become fully qualified. Davidbowiefan's reply might sound harsh to you but it is completely fair and realistic and merely tells you it like it is. Sorry, but that's the reality. If you're not fully qualified you would be well advised to stick with it, get your qualifications plus some experience and then look at options abroad. Listen to TonyGT: patience is the key.
  16. Anon (2018)

    Anon (2018) New commenter

    As I understand it, the OP is working in either an Academy or an Independent School as an untrained teacher and being put through on-the-job training. It sounds like the OP simply plans to take up TEFL (rather than teach in an international school) instead of staying on for another 2 years.

    For the OP, some good schools (i.e. good management, good reputation and well paid) do provide training support for unqualified teachers with experience and will put you through an international PGCE qualification (without QTS in the UK though, although you mention that you may not have plans to return). Essentially you would stay in the same school to complete it though, without the breadth of experience. I have only heard about this for Primary and Sports Coaching though. As you can imagine, the places are extremely sought after, so you would need to be an exceptional candidate!

    If interested in TEFL, I would highly recommend completing the CELTA during the month of August as a back-up, if you are able to. It is highly intense and, if you are not a language teacher, will prepare you very well.
  17. miketribe

    miketribe Established commenter

    In the 40 years I've been teaching abroad, I've only run into two cases of schools helping unqualified staff qualify. Both were 30-odd years ago. Both were working as class assistants, one in early years and one in primary PE. I think it would be HIGHLY unlikely that you would find a school that would hire an unqualified history teacher.
    As far as TEFL is concerned, I don't agree that it is impossible to earn a living doing this. I know several people here in Madrid who make a reasonable living at it. However, there is no job security and many would find the work horribly boring. If the OP does decide to take this on, I agree with Lucy that the CELTA would be a necessary first step...
  18. TonyGT

    TonyGT Established commenter

    Another important thing to consider OP, is let's say you do go out and do TEFL: You say you have no plans to come back to the UK and continue your training - what will you do then? TEFL might be a nice eye-opening way to see the world and experience some adventures but it's hardly a long term plan. How would you ever afford to buy property or retire? Unless you have a spouse supporting you or already have a substantial amount of money to live in, then it's not really a sustainable life-style beyond living with the absolute basics and no more. Even fully qualified teachers struggle to make ends meet in some countries.

    So my advice would be to stay where you are, get your qualification and then think again about moving. Better to wait a bit and be in a good position than run and jump in to a situation you end up regretting.
  19. tillybeany

    tillybeany New commenter

    I agree the OP wasn't clear enough on his present situation. If he is currently in the middle of teacher training then it would indeed be folly to leave the course before completion for no other reason than 'itchy feet.' Not smart.

    BUT If he's actually in some kind of Cover Supervisor/HLTA role with teacher training just a distant hazy possibility...then my answer is different. Why not take the TEFL route for a year or two? He's young with seemingly no ties and he wants a bit of an adventure. Where's the harm? I was 27 when I took the CELTA, upped sticks and taught in first Asia and then Europe. It can be a great experience and really, if you can't take a bit of a risk in your 20s, when will you?

    All the people urging him to immediately go for the PGCE + 2 years experience then International Schools route need to remember. The PGCE is a tough year, the NQT/RQT years can be even tougher. Teacher training is a massive commitment of time, money and energy. Maybe the OP is not ready for this commitment yet and really, who can blame him?

    Contrast that with the CELTA. Just a month and about a grand (I mean, that's still a lot of time/money but not comparable to a PGCE course). A much lighter commitment and if it all goes wrong you haven't lost too much. Admittedly some parts of the TEFL industry can be rather, ahem, rough and ready. But there are reputable schools/employers out there. Even some who pay you enough to save a little! Do your research before committing to anything. I say enjoy the adventure and don't worry - there'll be plenty of time for PGCE/pension/mortgage once you hit 30.
    ejclibrarian likes this.
  20. davidbowiefan

    davidbowiefan Established commenter

    My own advice, and no doubt that of other contributors, was based on the OP saying that he is a 'trainee teacher'. Now it appears this isn't the case.

    The one thing he needs to do is clarify what kind of programme he is on. If it isn't a recognised one which leads to QTS he is not training to be a teacher. In this case then obviously his only option is TEFL (why would he think otherwise?) and a year or two of backpacking won't do his teaching aspirations any harm.

Share This Page