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International Schools Review - bolting the stable door!

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by stopwatch, Aug 14, 2018.


Have you used the ISR?

  1. Yes

    44 vote(s)
  2. No

    8 vote(s)
  3. I have never heard of it

    4 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. stopwatch

    stopwatch Lead commenter

    Out of curiosity I have just paid the £22 for a years worth of ISR. I don't need it now as I retired in June but thought I would see what was written and how schools that I had worked at, were portrayed.

    So, what did I learn?:
    • That, on the whole it would be a very useful and informative tool to those seeking international jobs
    • That, due to the ability to write without censor, there is probably an imbalance of negative reviews and positive reviews (with more negative than positive).
    • That not all of the negative reviews are just people who have been spurned, lashing out.
    • That. if you are relatively smart, you can work out which negative reviews are just whingeing from the above and those who are more balanced and accurate
    • That it wasn't actually as negative as I had expected.
    • That I wished I had paid my £22 in 2003 when I committed to a school in Egypt which turned out not to be as it was portrayed (as I wouldn't have accepted the position).
    • That it is worth £22
    I spent the morning writing reviews of the 3 schools I worked at and of 3 of the Headteachers/Principals I worked for. I like to think that I gave balanced and realistic reviews based, as much as possible, on fact. There was some criticism in my writing but there was also lots of positive comments as well. 2 of the 3 Principals reviews were wholly positive and the other was 50/50.

    Is there anybody out there who has paid for this service and as a result been able to make better decisions?
    sara2323, Angelil, blue451 and 2 others like this.
  2. rouxx

    rouxx Lead commenter

    Alarm bells rang when I read very worrying reviews of a place I had been offered a post at. I was already concerned about a connected matter, so I declined the post. Since discovered through a first hand source the alarm bells were genuine.

    On the other hand, there were a couple of worrying/unsettling reviews on the place I did take up, but these were 4-5 years old with no newer contributions, and although, before I arrived there, I was somewhat nervous considering the reviews, it turned out that my gut was right and this was no longer an issue, but there had been a problem in the past.

    I checked out my last school (haven’t written a review myself). Overall I would say the few there were on it were pretty accurate, although the general impression was more negative than the place warranted - nothing terrible, no outrageous lies and the minor criticism had a basis in reality.

    So I’m saying, yes it’s useful, but read with discernment. Lots of reviews saying the same thing over a protracted period of time...ding, dong - leopards and spots. A few mediocre reviews...probably ok. One or two shockers/horrific comments, if not showing an ongoing pattern, could be an axe to grind or could be a one off problem.
  3. truth_seeker12

    truth_seeker12 Occasional commenter

    I do think that another platform such as ISR can be made available for free. As a website, it takes and doesn't give. Therefore, it is more of a platform for this who have something negative to wrote. That said, it seems that most of the reviews have a basis and I don't see many people going to the website to write made up stories.
  4. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    The ones i have read about the schools i have worked at, and people i have worked for have been utter rubbish, at worse out and out lies. The vast majority of them have been written by people that were either sacked for incompetence or ones whos nose had been put out of joint by management actually asking them to do their job.
    I have been doing this long enough now, and have enough connections all over the world that i can ask for personal experiences of most places so never use it for job searches.
    I see its relivance, but i take most of it with a very large pinch of salt. Its also good for a laugh when you get bored at work.
    2mature likes this.
  5. PJ1984

    PJ1984 New commenter

    Thanks for the helpful advice. I agree with most of what you’re saying. I’m looking to get onto the circuit of international teaching August 2019 and have found ISR to be useful but I take it all with a grain of salt.
    Does anyone have any thoughts about this website?

  6. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    I read it too, applying handfuls of salt. A pinch just isn’t enough.
  7. SecondPlace

    SecondPlace Occasional commenter

    I used a colleagues log in once upon a time long ago. Much of what I read was, whilst sometimes entertaining, beyond parody.

    I wouldn't waste a single dollar on them. Happy to waste other people's dollars though, so do please share log on details....

    I think once you've been in this game a while your personal contacts and recommendations are what you go on and are invaluable.
    Angelil, tyler durden and dumbbells66 like this.
  8. swsimp160

    swsimp160 Occasional commenter

    Can I ask, as someone who applied for, and was offered subject to references, but turned down, a job at a school write a review? The lovely head, just before the offer asked the classic 'so you are Scottish do you have a drink problem'? To be fair he was Australian and, having lived there for four years, the question, and the level of ignorance to think that was acceptable, was no surprise,. To me that is something applicants/parents etc should know about a school that claims, without irony, to be tolerant and inclusive.
  9. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    Stopwatch has given an accurate review of the ISR. ALL the comments I have ever heard from teachers about the ISR was that is was 100% accurate about schools reviewed.

    The reviews of some of the rent-a-name schools in China will m as ke your blood run cold and are written from first hand experience, a stark lesson for anybody considering working in an international school.

    Ignore the ISR at your peril.

    As far as I am aware no one school or individual has sued the ISR for anything written or posted on the website.
  10. SPC2

    SPC2 Occasional commenter

    I'm torn on the issue of accuracy. There are two reviews of my current school and, while I wouldn't have made the same assessments, I can see why the people I suspect wrote them did...so the reviews are accurate reflections of their experience, as they perceived it. No one has the monopoly on the truth but the number and consistency of the reviews for some schools tell their own story.

    I like the international schools community format better, it's more structured and so less likely to lead to 'venting'. I think it's a shame the ISR forum isn't busier as, unlike here, you can name schools.
  11. snitzelvonkrumm

    snitzelvonkrumm Occasional commenter

    I fully agree with your assessment of ISR.
    rideemcowboy and Alice K like this.
  12. Alice K

    Alice K Occasional commenter

    My husband and I taught in ME (Qatar)for 3 years. We emerged reasonably unscathed but witnessed many incidences of scapegoating and illogical decisions that really impacted on fellow professionals. During this time, many reviews were written about the chaos and mismanagement. The reviews were blunt and often written in a comical and entertaining tone. Without doubt, they were accurate and portrayed the situation truthfully.
  13. blue451

    blue451 Lead commenter

    I think ISR is a very useful resource when jobhunting. My membership lapses when I'm happy in a post but I always join again when I start to look around.

    Yes, you have to recognise that some reviews are not objective and some are exaggerated - and that includes some overly positive ones as well as the overly negative ones. But if there are several reviews for a school they can give a pretty good flavour of what to expect.

    It's not expensive to sign up and noone is obliged to do so.
    englishdragon likes this.
  14. blue451

    blue451 Lead commenter

    I think you can write a review, if not of the school then of the head. I think on the 'admin review' section there's a list to say whether you have worked for, or interviewed with, the person concerned.
  15. lovely.lady

    lovely.lady Occasional commenter

    [This comment/section/image has been removed for breaching our Community Guidelines/Terms and conditions]
  16. mummalea

    mummalea New commenter

    Over the years I’ve found much to laugh at, lots to consider and a shedload of imponderable opinion on this platform. All schools I’ve worked at have been reviewed by me and others on the ISR - differently. The beauty of it is the transparency of the posts i.e. the ability to name and shame, then pm members on the alternate discussion pages. At base, for profit schools without unions can be dangerous places. All international teachers should do their research and drill down to the detail of how their prospective employers operate. ISR aids this, no two ways about it. I’m regularly appalled at how much investigating people do for their next holiday, and how little for their next job...
  17. stopwatch

    stopwatch Lead commenter

    I've just checked my reviews have gone in. 4 of the 6 have. 2 reviews (one school and 1 principal - both for the same school) have not appeared. I'll have to do them again!

    I think I read that, if the website address for the school is not correct, the report will not be uploaded to the site. I'm sure I put the correct one.

    Three things I don't like are:
    • You can't check your reports/go back to them to edit
    • There doesn't seem to be a way of contacting them to make enquiries etc
    • They don't notify you when your report/s is/are uploaded
  18. briancant

    briancant Occasional commenter

    I think ISM is an excellent and vital website for teachers going abroad. If you are a UK teacher used to professional management and union protection you will be shocked by what goes on in some international schools. I do think that most reviews are left by teachers who have had bad experiences and I would urge more to leave reviews so that a more balanced view could be gained. Also I think the cost of membership at £22 is too high. By lowering the cost ISM could make more money and have more of an influence by having more members. As has been said you wouldn’t book a hotel without reading its reviews why would you take a job without reading the reviews.
  19. Teachallover

    Teachallover Occasional commenter

    I use ISR and think it’s useful for job hunting. I genuinely find the bulk of reviews balanced with both positive and negative points mentioned. If 90% are of similar vibes then I judge it as reliable. Some reviews are incredibly detailed and I don’t think anyone would bother taking the time to type in such detail just because they had an unpleasant experience working there. It’s used as a warning and it’s up to you whether to heed that warning.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2018
  20. yasf

    yasf Established commenter

    I've found that it's generally pretty accurate, given that people's perspectives differ. As long as you're aware that it's not gospel, it can be a useful tool.

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