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How does my UK work-life balance compare to overseas?

Discussion in 'Teaching overseas' started by masty88, Nov 5, 2017.

  1. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    i think that it would be an exaggeration to say that there is no pointless paperwork and that there are no meaningless meetings at international schools.
    dumbbells66 likes this.
  2. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    true @the hippo, but in comparison to the UK there is a significant reduction...at least in my opinion and experience.
  3. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    Similarly, I left an outstanding UK independent school to teach overseas in an outstanding international school (albeit in Dubai) and returned after 2 years to a different outstanding UK independent school. My experience was also night and day - for me, all conditions of work are better here in Blighty than they were there.
  4. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    yes....but you went to Dubai !!!!! you should have known better ;););););)
  5. willow78

    willow78 Occasional commenter

    Think independent schools are bit different, unfortunately working in most state schools isn't that enjoyable.
  6. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    ^ agree, though it sounds as though the OP has one of the remaining goodish ones.

    Yeah, I know now :rolleyes:
  7. masty88

    masty88 New commenter

    Thanks again everyone :) Next question, when registering with a certain agency that has often been recommended on here, will I be able to view available jobs if I enter my referee's details? Or will the agency contact my referees for a reference before jobs become available to view? I'm just wondering whether I can list my referees on my application to the agency & delay informing my headteacher until I have found something I like & need an actual reference? Thanks again :)
  8. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    you cant look at anything until all your references have been completed.
  9. masty88

    masty88 New commenter

    Damn. Thanks dumbbells.
  10. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    In my experience, masty88, you just have to "go for it". Tell your head that you are planning to leave and then make shure that you get a new job. It is a bit scary, but remember that it works two ways. Just as you will be anxious to get a new job, so schools will be anxious to recruit new teachers. Sometimes on the international circuit you just have to bite the bullet and accept a job that is not quite everything that you wanted. Ho hum. You do your two years and then move on...
  11. Sherbear320

    Sherbear320 New commenter


    I am not in an international school I moved out to NZ and have to say have never looked back. I started off in a huge school in Auckland near 3000 kids and my workload was nothing like the UK. I am now at a small rural school average class size 16. Bliss great PD and support so supportive of new ideas. Will never consider returning.

    Good luck with whatever you guys decide.
  12. binza87

    binza87 New commenter

    @masty88 I know that the agency you refer to is recommended by many on this forum, but it is possible to get a role without using it. I had the same concern re referees as didn't want to burn my bridges (esp as my child was also at my UK independent school) so only applied to select roles through TES and got the job I wanted
  13. mrswallow

    mrswallow New commenter

    What Sherbear320 said, basically. I'm also in NZ and my work life balance is pretty good. I work in a medium sized rural school and the kids are reasonably okay, the SLT are pretty good, the town is nice. Y'know it's the little things- for example my commute is a <10min walk. Not having to drive 30+ minutes in rush hour traffic makes a big difference. Being able to walk out of work at the end of the day and go home and have the time and energy to take my kids swimming. Yes, there's paperwork and meetings and ball-ache, not as much bovine excrement as the UK. Oh, and Christmas in the summer after a couple of weeks off is so much nicer than Christmas in the winter after three days off.. NZ isn't perfect and there are problems and issues, but...
    Sherbear320 and T0nyGT like this.
  14. pink_reindeer

    pink_reindeer Occasional commenter

    I quoted this one as your first point is appropriate.

    I am in the Middle East where we work Sunday-Thursday. I get terrible Saturday blues. At least Sundays aren't full of gloom.

    School starts at 7.40. Nine 39 minute periods a day, 10 minute break in the morning, 35 minutes at lunch. I rarely get chance to speak to other adults. And if we do gather for a conversation (e.g. during morning courtyard duty), we are told the principal doesn't like it. I am on supervision from 7.20 in the morning, school finishes at 2.40, I'm on supervision until 3.30 most days, 3.15 on a Thursday. In the UK, school started for teachers at 8.15 (in my head, it was 8 because I liked 15 minutes socialising with my colleagues). For students, registration started at 8.25, 5 periods of 60 minutes, a 15 minute break in the morning, 55 minutes for lunch.

    I take work home every day. The curriculum is new to me. Also, the school has grade 11 for the first time, and I'm setting up the courses in Science and Chemistry for that. I am teaching stuff I've never taught before as the curriculum is different. The way the curriculum works and the way the school is run is very different. The amount of planning I have to do is so much more than I did in the UK. In the UK: Unit plans and Lesson plans, which weren't always the most detailed. Unit plans would be a team effort, more often than not. I appreciate that here I don't have a team. Here: Long Range plans, Unit plans, Daily lesson plans which must be on the online programme that they've chose, a fortnightly overview to send home to parents, I have to post summaries on Google Classroom for the students too. It's insane. Last year's plans aren't available to us.
    In the UK, at home, I didn't work as hard as I'm expected to here. Most days I would stay maybe an hour after school to photocopy, mark, prepare the next day's stuff. I would work for about two/three hours on a Sunday. Not great, but not awful.

    I have to write reports four times a year. We had a week to write the November ones. In the UK, every term we would send out interim reports, with just a traffic light for progress towards achieving a level at the end of a key-stage and an effort level. Parents were invited to respond by letter if they had concerns. Here, I have to write subject comments, give a grade as far as achieving an outcome and a percentage based on assignments and tests etc.

    Behaviour is an issue in this country, and this school. There is little support from above. We have to be the main contact with parents - at my school in the UK, it tended to be pastoral team, with input from class teachers. But I have to email, phone and meet with them during prep time. On my schedule, I get lots of prep time, roughly 4 periods, so 160 minutes. Not bad. I had three hours per week in the UK. But I can't prep during this time here; I meet with parents, I email parents, I have Leadership meetings etc.... (such meetings were after school in the UK).

    I am a science teacher with no equipment. I am responsible for trying to source equipment and prepare it/clean it once the activity is done. I have no technician to help me. In the UK, I had a technician who would HELP me, and I don't just mean bring me chemicals. She would clean up after the practicals, she would prepare the chemicals, she would ensure the labs were stocked with scissors and glue and paper etc. She would photocopy if I was pushed for time. I know not all UK schools have them as good as her - she was perfect.

    Large classes (not as big as the UK though) with arrogant, spoilt children who don't listen to me. Parents will say the right thing in meetings, but honestly, they don't care. We are baby-sitters as far as many of them are concerned. As I said above, little we can do about it.

    More money than I was on per month in the UK due to being tax free. I can't save efficiently though due to still not having a bank account as I still don't have a VISA because this school couldn't organise a ****-up in a brewery.

    School pays for my accommodation, which is located in, quite frankly, a ****-hole. The other day, I nearly stood on a dead rat that was outside my apartment building. It was still there three days later. There is litter EVERYWHERE! There are nice places in the city, however, this is a taxi ride away.

    NO resources. I have to go and buy my own glue sticks, white board pens, coloured paper etc. Though all the kids have chromebooks to work on??
    2 photocopiers in the entire school - from KG-grade 11, so work out how many staff that is!! The photocopiers we have don't staple so you have to waste your tine doing that nonsense. And they also don't print in colour. We aren't allowed to print double sided on one of the machines as it takes too much time.

    Yes, on the weekend, I can choose to do nice things - shopping is good here, there are beaches and pools (mostly a 30 minute or so taxi ride away if there's no traffic!), I can travel a bit further if I wanted to. But last weekend, after a walk on the beach, I got a taxi home - it took 45 minutes and all I could think about was the work I needed to do before I went to bed. I could even travel out of the country. If I had my VISA, that is.

    I get up at 5.30 to make sure I am in work by 7 (a 5 minute walk) so that I can get **** done before supervision. I am literally exhausted. I got up at 5.50 in the UK so I could get to work (a 30 minute drive) by 7.15 to start school at 8.

    I would like to stay here to see out my contract, but honestly, I don't know if I can.
  15. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    Seriously, not all international schools are like this. You are in a bad school, in a region that has a terrible reputation for many things. Start look elsewhere. You are a science teacher, you have better prospects than if you were an English or Humanities teacher.
  16. pink_reindeer

    pink_reindeer Occasional commenter

    Thanks, yes, I was very aware that my post was negative. I'm sorry for that OP, they're not all bad, I'm sure. And not everyone at my school cares as much as I do, so they don't worry about the stuff that I do. I guess you'll never have a truly objective account; it's all opinion and personal struggles.

    I am told I'm in a bad school. I'm sort of torn about leaving. I kind of want to make a go of it because if I'm successful, I'll be really successful if you know what I mean?! And I'll be able to take that experience elsewhere. I just don't know if it's worth the struggle in the meantime.
  17. StrangePanda

    StrangePanda New commenter

    Wow. This sounds like a particularly bad situation. You definitely have more options available to you, especially as a science specialist.

    I’ve only worked in two international schools but neither have ever been remotely like this. Are there others around you who are raising eyebrows?
  18. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Dear pink_reindeer, I sympathize. I really do. You sound like a really dedicated and hard-working teacher, so it is appalling that you have to put up with some much garbage. Send me one of those TES Conversation things and maybe I can help you. Yes, you should at least finish this academic year, but really you need to start looking for the exit. Your health will suffer if you do not get out of this toxic atmosphere sooner rather than later.
  19. Jessaki

    Jessaki Occasional commenter

    If you can leave early, I would. There is no point in staying somewhere that makes you miserable. There are better schools that will appreciate a dedicated teacher and where you will still be able to make an impact. Breaking a contract is not great, but it doesn't ruin a career. I hated where I was last year, though the school was ok. I love where I am now and so glad I didn't stick it out.
  20. litesport

    litesport New commenter

    12 years in international schools and no intention of returning to the UK. Have lived and worked in Europe, Middle East and Asia. One of our kids was born overseas.
    Do your research. Start with internationalschoolreview. You do need to pay a subscription to access the reviews and some of those reviews are posted by admin trying to talk their schools up or disgruntled ex staff who have an axe to grind. But you soon learn to read between the lines.
    As for agencies, Search Associates of COIS are two reputable ones. Do you wish to stay teaching in the British system or go into IB schools?

    Whatever you do, do your research!
    Good luck.

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