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Seeking advice: Teaching in Spain

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by Fungai1, Sep 14, 2018.

  1. Fungai1

    Fungai1 New commenter

    Thinking about leaving the UK to teach in Spain. Currently state sixth form teacher. 5 years experience.

    1. Does anyone have any advice in terms of approaching Spanish international schools for informal visits to observe lessons?
    Is this a 'done thing'?

    2. Any advice in terms of prospective CV's? Is this beneficial or not?

    3. Do you teach in a Spanish international school? What are the main differences you have found (from UK state teaching?)

    Many thanks for any advice positive or negative!
  2. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    Just dont do it.....the world is a big place with soooooooooo many better places to live and work. Open up your horizons
    spanboy likes this.
  3. miketribe

    miketribe Established commenter

    Send me a pm if you like. I’ve been teaching here for nearly 40 years...
  4. briancant

    briancant Occasional commenter

    I worked in five international schools in Spain and found each one to be worse than the previous. I did make mistakes and should have been less trusting. To give you a list of the things I saw in Spain (and you'll be shocked); cheating in external exams (the schools not the students); refusal to give contracts; refusal to pay last months pay after notice has been handed in; no free periods; the buying of single text books cutting off their spines and photocopying and giving all students pdf versions; random timetabling of lessons up to 6pm when the contracted hours are to 3.30....... To be blunt the list goes on and remember all this goes on whilst you are being paid less than half an equivalent UK salary. Of course this was only five schools in the whole of Spain and to generalize is wrong and unfair on the good schools. Here are the things I would avoid; Schools in the main tourist resorts; schools that are not clear about contracts and as in one case refuse to give them; schools that have the owner as head; school who make obviously outrageous claims on their websites. Things for you to do would be to view internationschoolreview an excellent site. Don't take a job without visiting the school and when you do visit go with your head not your heart. The worst schools I went to were obviously in retrospect dodgy but I felt I was friends with the head and owner (something con men make you feel). I would recommend looking at the fantastic cities of Madrid or Barcelona and like I say avoid the resorts. Good luck.
  5. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter


    I've been teaching in a Spanish "British" School for 12 months. I'm enjoying it. We would happily have you in to observe the school, but I don't think it is usually a "done" thing - indeed, probably only schools in Madrid, and possibly Barcelona, would fly you in for interview - the majority will offer you a post based on Skype interviews. If you want to visit a school before accepting a job offer, you'll need to do so at your own cost.

    I did send out speculative CVs, and did get one interview and job offer as a result.... though the job I have now I applied for through the TES jobs pages. So it is worth sending out your CV to specific schools you have your eye one.

    One thing to mention regarding sixth form (as you mention you are a 6th form teacher). Outside of Madrid, most "British" schools in Spain actually cater to a majority Spanish intake. As a result, 6th forms tend to be small - Spanish parents often remove their children at some point during secondary in order to put them into the Spanish system. So, you will need to demonstrate that you can and are willing to teach KS4 at least (and probably KS3) or offer several subjects at KS5 in order to be attractive to schools. For example, even if you were to offer Physics, Maths and Further Maths A levels, as there won't be more than one class, that will only be 15 teaching hours - your weekly teaching load will probably be somewhere between 20 and 25, so you'll have to teach some non-6th form lessons.

    Major differences, in no particular order:
    You'll be paid a hell of a lot less (I was on M5, second in department - moved here to be HoD and took a £10,000 pay cut).
    There will be far less stress, far less paperwork, far less insistence on reporting data and tracking pupils.
    Your colleagues will not be particularly ambitious.
    You will not have to deal with APs who were Teach First trainees 3 years ago or bought their way to a promotion by signing up to Future Leaders, and believe that whatever they just read in a book by Birbalsingh/Didau/Berger/etc is the silver bullet that will gain Outstanding status.
    The head may be a meglomaniac who founded/inherited the school and uses it as a cash cow.
    If you teach in a style that is not didactic and/or dependent on a textbook, the students will think you are the best thing since whatsapp.

    Basically, if you have personal reasons to move to Spain, then move to Spain. We absolutely love it and are not considering moving anytime soon. But I wouldn't recommend it to people whose heart isn't really set on the place.
    WelshMags likes this.
  6. Fungai1

    Fungai1 New commenter


    Many thanks for time and your comments. Some very useful things to bear in mind when applying and accepting jobs!

    I am looking for work preferably in Barcelona. TB9605 I'd be keen to take you up on the offer of a visit.
  7. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    Sure thing - send me a conversation. Though we're a good 5 hours drive south of Barcelona, and I'm not sure how indicative our school would be of schools in Barcelona. From what I hear, schools in Barcelona and Madrid are full of young teachers who do 1 or 2 years there before jetting off to the next placement: schools down the coast (like ours) tend to be full of teachers who have been there for ages and are very settled.
  8. docHolliday

    docHolliday New commenter

    Another suggestion is to look as Spanish curriculum schools as many are adopting the IB programme and are keen to appoint native English speakers. Private schools can employ foreign teachers and the pay rates are by national agreements that are often the same (low) rates as the British schools. Concertado schools pay more but the problem is that in areas like Catalonia they require that you speak advanced Catalan (although funnily enough not Spanish). However areas without a regional language don't require any language skills from English-speakers.

    Five years later I am still enjoying it here despite the low pay.

    If you need anymore tips please ask away!
  9. Fungai1

    Fungai1 New commenter

    Hello all,

    Thanks again for your time.

    Would welcome anyone's thoughts on taking a maternity cover job in Barcelona. Challenges? Benefits?

    Many thanks
  10. lunarita

    lunarita Senior commenter

    Benefits - you get a taste of life there and get to find out whether it's for you

    Problems - finding a short term let at an affordable price. This will, of course, depend on the length of your contract and the exact location of your school but rentals in many spanish cities including Barcelona have soared in recent years, in large part owing to the airbnb effect.
  11. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    @Fungai1 i wouldnt rush into the first offer you get. there will be a flood of jobs soon of all those people desperate to escape their Spanish experience. many many more jobs will open up.
  12. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    Well, actually a lot of those jobs will be because the schools are expanding - more pupils, means more teachers required, and the private sector here seems to be doing incredibly well.

    True, you do get cases like the one in Malaga that's got a thread to itself on here. But then you get the other extreme - the school I'm at, where only 4 people out of 80 left at the end of the previous year - one to a promotion within the group of schools, two to retirement and one who was forced to return to the UK due to circumstances beyond her control.

    But whatever the reason, I agree with Dumbbells that there is indeed no rush - most Spanish jobs get advertised from Jan onwards (by Spanish law staff are only required to give one month's notice). But do your research on the school and try to find out WHY there is a vacancy.
    Fungai1 likes this.
  13. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    The hellhole i worked at had a 97% turn over of staff each year, although im not surprised. The school that my sister was st in Barcelona that was stealing her tax contributions had a 60% turn over each year, and the school where my friend barely survived his stress induced alopecia had over 80% turn over each year.

    Just saying o_O
    spanboy likes this.
  14. spanboy

    spanboy Occasional commenter

    @Fungai1 - similar to what @dumbbells66 said about tax, the school I was at had a habit of making up your nomina (pay slip) with all sorts of things which were, in fact, taxable, so at the end of the year when RENTA time came, whilst we should have normally got some kind of rebate we actually got a further amount to pay! Watch out for this - if your pay is made up of lots of little 'extras', then beware!
  15. Fungai1

    Fungai1 New commenter

    Thanks all - Good to see my fears are shared and be wary of dodgy schools. I like sixth form yet need a challenge. I've also had a horrible stressful job in the UK which made me ill and feel for your friend dumbbell...I'll be on the lookout. The school seems okay and appears to be expanding...here goes thanks again TB9605 gotta stay positive.!!!
  16. Fungai1

    Fungai1 New commenter

    Thanks for this
    spanboy likes this.
  17. North-Star

    North-Star New commenter

    Been thinking about France for a while and then thought can’t be bothered with the CAPES (I think), plus I preferred Spain to France anyway. I am fully aware of the pay cut to take as a sacrifice but did my search and I am convinced that Spain is my destination now.

    I have done my search and started applying recently to some schools there, I will be very grateful for any advice on interview via skype from anyone who has been appointed in Spain recently or been working there for a while. How does it work? How do you get to know that you’re hired? How do you negotiate a better deal on salary (free places for my 2 children)? How do you sign the contract, paper or electronic?...etc

    I am a secondary maths teacher
    with 6 years experience fluent in French and Spanish.
  18. T0nyGT

    T0nyGT Lead commenter

    I take it you have a partner who will be bringing in the main earnings or it will most likely be impossible supporting a family on Spanish wages.
  19. North-Star

    North-Star New commenter

    Yes my wife will be working as well.
    I want to know on how to negotiate the salary, during interview or when you get offered the job?

    Not going there to be rich? Just for a better family lifestyle and the culture.
  20. WelshMags

    WelshMags New commenter

    I recently started a job in Spain after a good deal of research. Feel free to start a conversation with me.

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