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Leaving International school with 3 month probationary period

Discussion in 'Teaching overseas' started by Mr. Numb, Aug 30, 2017.

  1. Mr. Numb

    Mr. Numb New commenter

    Hello everyone,

    I am thinking of the clause in my contract that says you can leave within the first 3 months of starting your contract. I started working for a school in China a couple of weeks ago but have found it an awkward fit. I just don't get on with my HOD and only foresee 2 years of misery working for this person. That is the problem of having all your interviews done via Skype - I didn't get an impression of the leadership style of the HOD. The HOD is well-established within the school so I think I am pretty isolated. I have already been told off twice in public by this HOD over some petty issues. This is an experience which I am totally unaccustomed to and find both degrading and unprofessional. It has soured my experience in a school that is otherwise very good. Instead of enduring 2 years of misery fulfilling my contract I am thinking of using the get-out clause in the contract that says you can leave giving 1 month's notice within the first 3 months. Does anyone else have experience of doing this and what can I expect from the school when they realise I want to leave? I assume they will be pretty condemning considering the money they have invested in getting me into the country etc.
  2. mikemcdonald25

    mikemcdonald25 Occasional commenter

  3. makhnovite

    makhnovite Occasional commenter

    Firstly being ‘told off twice in public’, can cover a multitude of sins. Secondly you don’t say what you have done about this situation already. If your first move is to runaway that doesn’t say much about your commitment to the school that has employed you and as you correctly say that has invested a good deal of time and money in employing you in the first place.

    Have you spoken to the HoD’s line manager have you been to see the Head of Section or Head of School. Have you actually challenged the HoD about his/her actions? On the surface their seems to be a lot more that you could do before you check out after just two weeks!!!!

    You say it’s a good school in every other respect, just have a look at some of the other posts on here by people who are thinking of leaving a school/country, they have been lied to and cheated and all that’s happened to you is you have a beef with a colleague.

    My advice would be ‘grow a pair’!
  4. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    You may find that while you technically can leave, the reality is rather daunting. Unless you can build a legal case that the school is in breach of contract (very doubtful from what you say), the school may make things very unpleasant. You may be asked to repay the school's recruitment and settling-in costs, which could run to thousands. The school will likely report you to whatever agency they went through to hire you (if there was one), and that agency will likely drop you like a hot potato.
    Is the personality conflict really big enough? Unsolvable enough? Can you reach out to someone at the school who seems trustworthy, and look for strategies?
    Jumping ship seems, at least from the outside, a pretty major action to take in reaction to an unpleasant HOD.
    Not to sound completely unsympathetic. What you've described sounds unpleasant. You've moved life and limb to a new country and you're wondering how it's going to go. You want to be happy. All fair enough. From my perspective, I'm hoping you can find a solution that moves you to happiness. And avoid jumping from the fry pan to the fire.
  5. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    If you are employed in China you will be under Chinese Labour Law and you need to find a copy and it does outline the probation period and your rights.

    In China what is written into your contract/staff hand book/job notification letter, is what can be used in a court of law. If you can find no mention of penalties you would have to pay then you can not be charged them.

    There is nothing the school can do to prevent you leaving the country, make sure you CC yourself into an email saying you are resigning and also hand in a printed copy signed/dated as well to the head of the school.

    Keep your passport in your pocket till the school has accepted your resignation on paper written on school headed paper and the company CHOP stamped clearly onto it.

    If you need assistance you can go to the Foreign Employment Bureau for advice and legal help, the office in Shanghai is very helpful.
  6. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Established commenter

    i worked with a teacher that was in a similar situation a number of years back. they were just not the right "fit" for the school, and wanted to leave. him and his wife who was also a teacher at the school went to talk to the director about their issues. on mutual agreement the school asked them to stay on for a couple of more months to give them an opportunity to find someone else to replace them. they were released from their contract with no issues. i will say though that this was at a decent school, it really depends on the school you are at.

    have you actually talked to someone above your HoD about how you feel, and the issues you are having?
  7. Jason_Bourne_

    Jason_Bourne_ Occasional commenter

    Firstly, as per the comments above, try to communicate. I had some serious difficulties with the school admin when I first arrived in Egypt, such that I was considering leaving after only 4 weeks. I talked to the principal and the head teacher and things were resolved. I'm glad that I stayed.

    Secondly, if you feel that you have no other option than leaving, read your contract carefully about any costs that you will need to be repaid - my contract quite clearly states that I wouldn't be entitled to a flight back to my home country and no shipping allowance .
  8. Mr. Numb

    Mr. Numb New commenter

    Thank you for the thoughtful and sympathetic replies.

    I am still considering my position. As someone poignantly said in a reply it is about wanting to be happy. I am pretty sure the work climate at my school is going to make me pretty miserable. The students are great, but the management is over-bearing and determined to browbeat you. There seems to be a culture of - "now you are here in China, we have got you!" And we don't have to treat you with any respect as we know your situation is locked - "you cannot escape".
  9. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    There has been quite a variety of responses to the OP's original posting. Well, regular readers of the pachyderm's online ramblings will know that Mr and Mrs Hippopotamus are very happy here in China, but of course a lot depends on the school. Although my immediate bosses are all Brits, Chinese management styles can seem pretty weird at times and some of that does filter down occasionally. "Yes, sir, no, sir, three bags full, sir" is usually the suitable response and then they will leave you alone to get on with the job.

    It is unprofessional to argue with or to reprimand another teacher in public. Yes, if I have made a mess of something (and sometimes I have), then of course I must expect a carpeting from my manager. But this should be done in the privacy of his or her office.
  10. frangipani123

    frangipani123 Lead commenter

    I haven't taught in China but have a number of friends who have, and I have heard similar from them. I've heard them describe meetings with Chinese managers where, after a period of time they've realised that their views mean nothing, it's just lip service. The two friends who are currently there are doing so to clear their mortgage, so just put their heads down and count the weeks. How long have you signed up for?
  11. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Well, China is a big place and there is a lot of variety from city to city and from school to school. This is now my fifth year in the Middle Kingdom and, on the whole, I would say that it is a much easier place to live and to teach than the Middle East. For a start, here at my school in Shenzhen we have two wonderful ladies in HR (actually they are called "foreign liaison") and they are ever so kind and helpful to all the laowai staff. When I was teaching in Qatar, the school's HR woman was absolutely horrible, rude, lazy and just plain nasty. But it is horses for courses and chaque a son gout.
  12. makhnovite

    makhnovite Occasional commenter

    Maybe some of you guys should have looked into Chinese business culture before you accepted these jobs. The economic growth in China has led to a complementary growth in a desire for a western style education. This has led to a rapid growth in the number of schools run by Chinese individuals and Chinese companies. The culture of management in these schools is very different to the traditional international school, which is often ‘participative’ or ‘collegial’; i.e. lots of meetings where management will ask for your input on a variety of topics (they don’t always listen of course and certainly rarely act on it but at least they ask!).

    This is often not the case in China and some other S.E. Asian countries where the owners view is the only one that matters. This is particularly important when it comes to non-teaching staff, who owe their jobs and their livelihood to the owner - NOT the Leadership team or the teaching staff. As you can imagine this can make for problems when western teachers (including the Head or Deputies) ask for something and it doesn’t get done. The ancillary staff will always ask themselves what would the owner want me to do?

    As frangipan123 rightly says, ‘your views mean nothing’. You are just another employee who should be following the Loban’s (Boss) orders.

    My favourite story that illustrates this situation rather well is one from a few years ago when our Head of PE asked the school 'gofor' to send 20 of the schools tennis racquets to be re-strung and re-gripped at a local establishment. A fortnight later the racquets had still not come back and when asked the 'gofor' replied; 'Oh I didn't send them I didn't think they needed to be done!'
    frangipani123 likes this.
  13. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    It's 'lao ban', not 'Loban'. If you want to claim intellectual superiority on all matters Chinese then yet your pinyin right. Cheers.
  14. rod901

    rod901 New commenter

    I calculated (after asking the management the fees) that my school are grossing around $8m USD per year but I don't think they are paying the big bucks to the staff although one or two have been here for quite a few years. No one more than 3.5 though so you have to ask yourself why not.
  15. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Established commenter

    Makhnovite's post reminds me of many conversations with school owners. Mrs M and I set up two IB schools in India. I told the bosses that all teachers without IB training needed to attend IB workshops. After a period of inaction Mrs Boss told me I was wrong. She had consulted 'a very knowledgeable person' who had assured her that such workshops were quite unnecessary. The 'knowledgeable person', an employee, naturally, had no educational background.
  16. makhnovite

    makhnovite Occasional commenter

    I wasn't claiming any kind of 'intellectual superiority' blueskydreaming just claiming to have a little bit of insight into some aspects of S.E. Asian/Chinese school culture after 12 years working in the region.

    Which might be a little bit more useful to posters than correct pronunciation and spelling.
    Alldone likes this.
  17. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    The easiest way to tell who is in charge of a school in China is to ask for the CHOP. Who has their hands on the School Chop is the person who is running the school.
  18. makhnovite

    makhnovite Occasional commenter

    Good point feb and in my example it was not the Principal it was the Head of Admin who was more loyal to the owner than to the school!
  19. stopwatch

    stopwatch Established commenter

    Don't assume that the school would condone your public telling off. In many places this would be seen as a disciplinary offence. I would check with some others at the school, who you can trust, regarding the HoD and whether this is something he/she does often. I would imagine it probably is and may have been raised before.

    If the children are good and you have other colleagues you get on with, I would stick it out and focus on the positives, at least for the first year. If you really feel, by Christmas, that it is an untenable position,ask to be released at the end of the first year.

    Leaving in the first 3 months could create more problems than it resolves. Don't forget that, after the first 3 months,you will only have about another 9 months to go to finish your first year.

    I don't think I have ever been in an overseas job where there hasn't been at least one aspect I have fund difficult to deal with (pupils, SLT, HoD, local culture etc etc) but have found it is best to stick it out at least for a year.

    It is definitely worth raising your concerns, even directly with your HoD and/or his line manager. They may surprise you and help work towards resolving your situation. No school wants the hassle and cost of a member of staff leaving early,particularly in the first few weeks.
  20. rod901

    rod901 New commenter

    12 years in Asia yet you reckon eating out in HK is cheap? You have no idea. HK is extremely expensive to eat out in if you want something fairly decent. If you eat at wet markets you are eating chinese food and sausages and grass like a rabbit. Yeh maybe you can get something for a fiver there but it will taste like a fiver and it will cost you 3 or 4 pounds to go there as it wont be in Central HK or Kowloon.

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