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Returning to UK after teaching abroad

Discussion in 'Teaching overseas' started by Nervoustraveller, Dec 19, 2017.

  1. Nervoustraveller

    Nervoustraveller New commenter

    Hi everyone,

    I’m mulling over a job offer for a position in Shanghai. Pretty tempted to go for it, but wanted to know if anyone has any insights on what it’s like to return to the UK after teaching abroad. Is it a case of once you go expat, you never go back? I want to ultimately return to the UK because of family, so only want to make the international leap if there’s a way back.

  2. Powergnome3

    Powergnome3 Occasional commenter

    Plenty of people move back successfully, and many to senior positions. It does depend on the standard of school you are working at abroad, and also how well you keep up on your own CPD.
    However, whether you will want to or not is another matter!!
    Darthteacher likes this.
  3. SPC2

    SPC2 Occasional commenter

    I reckon it depends who you are before and who you become after if you take the plunge. I really don't think there's a textbook answer.

    Your username is interesting, but the fact you might be nervous I think shows maturity, honesty and your thread topic a sensible degree of caution. I only wish I was the same 20 or so years ago: not that I wouldn't have gone, but because I would have enjoyed it more!

    As the meme/T-shirt/tattoo says,'If it doesn't challenge you, it doesn't change you'. Trust your intuition and good luck to you.
  4. Fer888

    Fer888 Occasional commenter

    I would agree that the experience will change you and is totally worth it- whether you will want to go back is a different thing although for me it's getting harder because my parents are getting older. Likewise I have colleagues who have moved back to the UK and secured good jobs.
  5. Nervoustraveller

    Nervoustraveller New commenter

    Thanks for the advice everyone, much appreciated.
  6. jad518nexus

    jad518nexus New commenter

    I worked with someone who taught internationally on and off for the past twenty years. He said getting a job in the UK was the easiest part of coming back. Although you may not get the school you want immediately, it didnt take long for him to get back into a good school.
  7. willow78

    willow78 Occasional commenter

    I found it hard, both teaching in the UK and being back in the UK after working abroad for 5 years.

    I got a job pretty easy, but it was in a tough school, which was under pressure from Ofsted and poor support from SMT. After an awful 18 months I got a nice job in a small private school and I now really enjoy my job, my advice would be take your time when getting a job, I panicked and took the first one.

    I'm a bit more settled in the UK, not sure we will stay too much longer though as miss the lifestyle of living and working internationally
    Darthteacher and vandiemen like this.
  8. T0nyGT

    T0nyGT Lead commenter

    Unless you move to an absolute dump on a terrible wage, I guarantee you will see the UK very differently when you return for vacations. Every time I go back, the dreary weather, depressed, overworked people and expensive life makes me realise that I could probably never live there again.
  9. 576

    576 Established commenter

    Everyone is different, some want to go home after a few years overseas, others may feel pulled to go back due to aging / ill parents and some may be pushed back due to not securing another overseas job when they resign.
    It would be nice if those who have decided they detest the UK could bear in mind that not everyone feels the same way and even if people do feel that way sometimes circumstances lead them back.
    Everytime someone asks about a return on here the idea is met with unnecessary negativity rather than helpful advice.
    drvs, sabrinakat and blueskydreaming like this.
  10. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    "Unnecessary negativity rather than helpful advice" - yes, well, maybe I have been just a teenie weenie bit guilty of that. But seriously, folks, you cannot expect vegetarians to rave about the new carvery. Teetotallers won't be able to tell you much about the best pubs and bars. And expecting people who have chosen to leave the UK to say why it is better to go back to Dear Old Blighty - well, you are asking a bit too much, 576.

    The UK is not a good place to be a teacher. A Science-teaching friend of mine has just been given a 1.5% pay increase. Well, thank goodness that everything in the UK has only gone up in price by 1.5% this year. Oh dear! Have I been unnecessarily negative?
    Darthteacher, dumbbells66 and T0nyGT like this.
  11. rouxx

    rouxx Lead commenter

    Actually I thought the thread was surprisingly positive considering the majority of folks on this forum will have chosen to work overseas rather than in the UK. As far as I can see there is only one negative comment - the rest are pretty balanced.
  12. Leigh1999

    Leigh1999 New commenter


    However.... 576 is spot-on with his/her comments.

    As you know, I’m focused on getting out of the UK and find the various threads on this forum useful and informative, although I do find the gloating and self-satisfied attitude of several posters quite tiresome and really rather annoying; bordering on insulting.

    To my mind all teachers who have had a free ride with their training, as is the case with new entrants to the profession for certain subjects, should be contracted to do at least 5 years in the UK or else be liable to pay back their bursaries.
    drvs likes this.
  13. ejclibrarian

    ejclibrarian Established commenter Community helper

    While I personally don’t want to work in the UK again, I would never insult someone who wanted to move back. Everyone is different. And I don’t think, as some people do, that if you’re thinking about the possibility of moving back before you have even left the UK that means that you probably shouldn’t go. It’s a HUGE decision and you’re right to think about the implications and what might happen if you end up not liking it and wanting to move home.

    We’ve had posts on this topic in the past and several posters who have returned from teaching overseas have commented that it wasn’t as hard as they thought it would be to move home. Of course, you can never predict how hard or easy it will be. I don’t think the fear of returning should stop you from trying life abroad. Save up enough money so you can give yourself time when you get back to find a job, if you couldn’t secure one beforehand hand (just in case). I’d imagine it’s hard interviewing while living abroad as you may not be able to attend interviews in the UK. I know my school has allowed teachers to return for interviews but I’m not sure how other schools view this. I say go for it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Life is too short to not take some chances. I wish you the best of luck!
  14. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Established commenter

    I empathise with the OP. I vividly remember the trepidation with which Mrs M and I faced our first overseas posting. We were headed for Latin America where several civil wars were being waged with great gusto. Our children were at the primary stage and it certainly seemed quite possible that we would want to return to the UK after completing one contract. Another vivid memory is the ruthlessness with which a so-called financial advisor from our bank exploited our uncertainty by flogging us a 'product' which combined the highest possible commission for him with the slenderest possible financial advantage to us. Beware,
  15. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    As per usual, some wise words from the Sage of Walmington-On-Sea.

    Yes, the world of international education has its fair share (maybe more than its fair share) of broken dreams. Of course one has to respect teachers who have to return to the UK in order to look after elderly family members.

    Gloating and self-satisfied, Leigh1999? I hope not. No, it does not make me happy or pleased with myself when I read about how tough life is for many (perhaps the majority) of the teachers in the UK. It makes me sad and angry.
    Darthteacher likes this.
  16. rednelly84

    rednelly84 New commenter

    Some wise words above. To move or not to move. Each December it's always such an arduous and time consuming exercise. We're heading back to the Homeland either this summer...or next, after, at present, 7 years abroad. Can you tell we're STILL not 100% settled on a decision?

    I have to admit I'm not thrilled at the prospect of teaching back home - I have too many friends telling me that I'll secure a position but that 'things have changed since I left and I might not like what I find'. Then I think, I've been where I've been for 7 years and it's changed, and not all of it good either.

    The other thing to consider is that we live in an expat, tax-free bubble where almost everything is paid for and our salaries are our own. This is most probably the reason we haven't moved back sooner and instead Mr Red and I find ourselves signing on 'for one more year'. But the reality of being in your mid to late 30s, having never owned your own home, and without any wee Reds, it's getting a bit scary for us. I know we are not alone in this catch 22 but for us, the Homeland is calling stronger each year. Plus who doesn't love Scottish hills, come rain, wind or rain?

    In all seriousness, to the OP, I would go for it. I have been fortunate to get into some very good schools and I have made it my priority to keep my CPD up and climb a rung or two whilst I've been out in the big wide world. Speaking of the big wide world, there are so many travel opportunities and I have made some lifelong friends, two things in particular I am eternally grateful for.
    blueskydreaming and dumbbells66 like this.
  17. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Established commenter

    'who doesn't love Scottish hills, come rain, wind or rain?'

    Me! I'll admit to loving 'em come blue sky and sunshine, but with your TWO doses of rain? And even with the sunshine come the By Our Lady midges. I've just signed up to sing at a Burns supper. Here in Andalusia, of course.
    rednelly84 likes this.
  18. schmedz

    schmedz Occasional commenter

    There are pros and cons of working abroad, just as there are in the UK. You won't know which you prefer until you try it (and then, a great deal depends on the school you're at and the colleagues you're working with).
    IT in general has a better work/life balance and is more affordable than the UK, particularly if you have children who will get free or heavily-discounted schooling. But, there are some who feel the distance from family and 'home comforts' more acutely than others. It's hard to predict how you will react until you're in the situation.
    But you're more likely to be glad you tried (even if it fails) than spend the rest of you're life wondering 'what if...?
  19. schmedz

    schmedz Occasional commenter

    ...and I meant to add that I had plenty of colleagues in the UK who had returned from working abroad, and several who found it easy to secure jobs when leaving our IT schools.
  20. missbrody

    missbrody New commenter

    Interesting mix of comments on this thread. Not everyone has a great experience of international teaching, it depends on how honest the school is about what you can expect when you get there!
    No amount of research can uncover fast changing circumstances of schools which are rapidly expanding and changing term by term. Previous teachers may sending glowing messages, but things may have changed a lot since they left.
    I am moving back to the UK for family illness reasons, but can say that I have learned a lot from my short experience of international teaching.
    Who knows? Maybe I will move abroad again in a few years time as I still have 2 decades to go till retirement and teach a shortage subject!
    blueskydreaming likes this.

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