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Plans to teach in Spain

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by sunshine_desserts, Feb 15, 2018.

  1. sunshine_desserts

    sunshine_desserts New commenter

    I'm looking to hear about other peoples experiences of teaching and living in Spain.

    I'm an experienced FE teacher (very well qualified including PGCE in Secondary but induction never completed) I also have experience teaching a second subject. My partner and I are young and with no dependants and have decided to start a new life abroad. We both like Spain and have decided firmly on this location for a variety of reasons. I am already aware that the pay is not competitive in Spain - it's not a big concern and i'm hardly making a fortune in FE!

    The main reason for going is a better quality of life - I am interested to know what peoples experiences of interviews, salary and negotiation (not to contradict what I said, it'd be good to know!) also work life balance, behaviour in international schools and expectations placed upon staff.

    Also, anyone out there in international schools - will I not be paid in the summer? I've emailed a variety of schools and have had two get back to me- one has shortlisted me and the other has been very encouraging. I'm visiting one of the schools soon (i'm really keen on the school AND the area) I hope that boosts their interest in me as I am going over their just to see them.

    I'm also curious about term dates as one of the schools has a half term and the other does not! Interesed in experiences of this.

    Final point would be accommodation - one school is on the Costa del Sol. Struggling to find somewhere suitable for a dog and would happily take suggestions on rentals (long term)

    Thank you
  2. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter


    We're on the Costa Blanca and love it. Just got back from the beach. The work life balance is so much better here than the UK.

    Right, your questions:

    Interviews. I had two with Spanish schools, both over skype, both pretty informal, lasting around 25 mins. One school then offered me a job the very next day by e mail (the other also offer me a job about a fortnight later - too late by then). I actually didn't accept straightaway - I tried to negotiate the salary up, but they wouldn't budge (although they did appoint me HoD about two months later before I'd even started at the school; so I ended up getting pay rise that way).

    Madrid schools tend to pay a bit higher and be more formal in their application processes - a former colleague of mine was flown over and put up in a hotel in order to attend an interview at an international school there.

    Term dates - the school I'm at has only had half-terms from this academic year (and we won't have one in the summer - but then we finish June 23rd). Some schools here have them, some don't. Otherwise, we started beginning of Sepetmber, had 2 weeks at Christmas and will have 2 weeks at Easter (although Spain has loads of bank holidays too).

    My school pays 12 month contracts - though I am aware some do not.

    We are petless... but loads of colleagues (and the Spanish) have pet (mascotas) so it must be possible to rent: one colleague has 9 cats (!!!) and still managed to find somewhere to rent. Have you checked out the website idealista?

    Hope that helps. Buena suerte.
  3. sunshine_desserts

    sunshine_desserts New commenter

    Muchas Gracias!

    That really does help. May I ask, are you on half term? How long have you been in Spain? You state that the work/life balance is better - can I ask how so? The schools I am looking at finish at 4/5pm. What is the workload/behaviour like? (I know you can't speak for all international schools!) Have you made lots of friends? Any tips in general in regards to settling in?

    I really appreciate your words of wisdom! :)
  4. Tartan01

    Tartan01 New commenter

    I was recently more or less offered a job at an international school in Spain but then was told that all foreign teachers are required to do homologación/reconocimiento. I was surprised by this as I don't think most private schools ask for this and meant I had to turn down the post because this paperwork would take months and I wasn't 100% sure if my application for official teacher status would be successful given that your qualifications have to be a close match.
  5. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    Interesting Alan - no homologacion required for me (they just wanted copies of my PGCE and degree certificates, plus proof of QTS).

    To answer your questions sunshine... I've been in Spain since August (though I also lived in Madrid between 2009 and 2011). My wife and I arrived in 2009 with zero Spanish - we went to classes and really went for it, and are now very comfortable socialising in Spanish. That would be my top tip for settling in really! Como es tu castellano?

    We have two kids - 8 and 5 - so we really don't go out much (been there, got the t-shirt, etc) but have become very friendly with other parents and colleagues. Our weekends are mostly filled with kids' birthday parties! We also have some friends from our pre-children Madrid days that we stay in touch with. However, while my wife and I like nothing better than to go to bed at 8.30 with a cup of tea and a book (to think I used to work in the music industry - I'm so rock n'roll), I'm aware that lots of my childless colleagues regularly get-together outside of work to go out drinking, hiking or even drinking-and-hiking. There don't seem to be any cliques or closed-groups: new staff-members are quickly included.

    Yes, currently on half-term now.

    Work-life balance. Well, on paper it should be worse: our school finishes at 4.30pm (staff have to be on site at 8.45), which is an hour longer than back in the UK. I'm also HoD now, as opposed to department second, so have more responsibilities. Yet I actually work less here - I arrive later and leave school earlier than I did in the UK despite more contact hours with students (which I enjoy, actually). I do far, far less work at home than I used to.

    Partly that's to do with better behaviour (not perfect - these are children we're talking about), partly to do with smaller class sizes meaning less marking, partly it's to do being able to mostly import my own schemes of work wholesale and not have to redo everything from scratch, but mostly it's to do with management not requiring a whole load of ******** tick box exercises to try to jump through some imagined OfSted hoops.
  6. Tartan01

    Tartan01 New commenter

    Yeah tb it was frustrating because I basically had the job and then was told that. I made the point that I didn't know anyone in private international schools who had to do the homologación but was told they are requiring all their foreign teachers to have it so they have titulo de profesor de secundaria de España claiming school inspection requires it. So my wish to come back to Spain this year seems in tatters despite having teaching degree and official teacher status from Chile and two Masters from the UK and lots of international IB and other experience....
  7. ejclibrarian

    ejclibrarian Established commenter Community helper

    It's refreshing to hear such positive posts about Spain :D
    PurpleWolf1 and JL48 like this.
  8. sunshine_desserts

    sunshine_desserts New commenter

    9605, may I ask what the salary was that they offered you?

    Ejclibrarian, have you had a different experience?

    Thank you
  9. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    No one has ever had a negative experience in Spain. Its full of amazing schools, highly paid teachers, with awesome pupils.... dont listen to anyone that tells you any different o_Oo_Oo_O

    You may want to look at the thread on the forum about comparitive european salaries. You will quickly realise that Spain is easily at the bottom of the list.
    Good luck
  10. ejclibrarian

    ejclibrarian Established commenter Community helper

    No I've not worked in Spain but whenever the topic comes up it's all doom and gloom. It's nice to hear good things for a change.
    docHolliday and penelopequero like this.
  11. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    Oh yeah, the salary is **** - I'm on the convenio plus €350/month for being HoD. Mind you, because 1) we own a house in the UK which we are renting out and 2) my wife is now working 25hours/week rather than 8hours/week , we actually have more disposible income per month than we did in the UK (despite me taking a £10,000 pa pay cut!)

    Yes I noticed Spanish salaries were bottom of the list, which came as no surprise. However, there are plenty of compensations to living here which you simply can't put a monetary value on. As i've said before, if I was after the money, I wouldn't have become a teacher!
    WelshMags likes this.
  12. jomaimai

    jomaimai Established commenter

    My advice regarding salaries:
    Be mindful and do some research about the schools' area housing. The rent could be very cheap or absolutely unaffordable. There is another housing boom and rents in some towns are skyrocketing.
  13. sunshine_desserts

    sunshine_desserts New commenter

    Thank you jomai - I have noticed they vary greatly. Around Barcelona is very expensive and the Costa del Sol is very limited outside of the apartment market and i'd ideally want a house.
  14. T0nyGT

    T0nyGT Lead commenter

    Sorry to be a bit of a bore, but I would also think very carefully about where you want to be in the future. Sunning it in Spain for a few years may sound really nice but what about the pension / savings potential? If you're going to stay there forever that's fine, but if you're going to go back to the UK after a few years think about how the pension contribution gap will affect you.

    Also consider that the only financially comfortable teachers in Spanish schools will have income streams from several places. If you're going on a teacher's salary with no income from anywhere else you're not going to be sunning it on the beach very much. You'll probably be doing private lessons to up your income.
  15. lunarita

    lunarita Lead commenter

    Anyone would think all Spain had to offer was a beach and a decent climate. There's also some amazing culture here for anyone interested enough.

    The finace IS an issue though. As mentioned above rentals in some places have shot up in recent years but more serious is the pensions crisis. Previously anyone staying for long enough could believe that the relatively low salaries would be compensated in the long term by a generous pension. There's been concern for some time however that this was unsustainable given the precarious nature of the labour market in Spain since the crisis hit and in the last couple of weeks the govt has admitted that there will be far less money for pensioners in the future - they're talking about pensioners being 400€ per month worse off. They have even gone as far as warning people to save not only for private pensions but also for their children's education.

    Spain is fantastic in many ways but you need to think very carefully about what you want for your future.
  16. docHolliday

    docHolliday New commenter

    After 25 years of teaching in the UK I came to Spain four years ago having sorted out my 'reconocimiento' before coming out to Madrid. It took me about 8 months to get a letter from the Spanish ministry of education, stating that my first degree, PGCE and QTS qualified me (in line with EU law) to be a teacher of English in the Secondary sector. The process involved using Spanish translators and notaries to provide the necessary documents in the format required as well as a few visits to the Consejeria de Educacion in London.

    All this was worth it as I got a first job in a private secondary school and am now in a 'concertado' school which is part private and part state supported and where the pay is better given that the regional government top-up the salary.

    My work is full-on secondary teaching (full timetable, duties, reports, etc) which is what I wanted and what I did back in the UK. My school follows the Spanish curriculum but is officially bilingual. The system is different as is the culture but the change has been stimulating and I am happy in my new Spanish life. The pay is considerably less than back in Britain but overall I feel better off.

    If anyone wants to pick my brains on looking for work in the Spanish (non international) secondary system then I will happily share what I know.

    Best wishes.

    sm1379, lorenzol1 and ejclibrarian like this.
  17. ravenscroft2

    ravenscroft2 New commenter

  18. ravenscroft2

    ravenscroft2 New commenter

    I have worked in three Spanish schools, so some tips:
    Learn to speak spanish. You will always be at a major disadvantage if you cannot.

    Make sure that you have a contract of employment and that it is signed, by the employer. If you don't , you may find that you are self employed and can be dismissed with out notice.

    Don't assume that you have job security in private schools, as businesses, they are there to make a profit for the owners. Private schools are sold, and closed, according to the private business plans of owners. They have no legal obligation to inform employees of any of their financial plans. Obviously it would be poor business sense to advise of a school closure- parents would stop paying school fees !
  19. lunarita

    lunarita Lead commenter

    An employer has a certain number of days (5 or 6 I think) to provide you with the contract after you start and the contract must then be registered with the Ministry.
    If the contract hasn't been signed in this time, it is taken to be indefinido (permanent) by default.

    Despite a reform of employment law a few years back which saw some erosion of rights, you still do have protection in Spain IF you know your rights and are prepared to defend them.

    One mistake british teachers often make in Spain is to assume that they have no rights and no protection.
    penelopequero likes this.
  20. solsolsol

    solsolsol New commenter

    Does anyone have any experience, knowledge of private schools in Alicante and Asturias?

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