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Single parent teaching abroad - advice/experience?

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by Teacher1072, Jan 25, 2016.

  1. Teacher1072

    Teacher1072 New commenter


    Ever since I was at university I was adamant that once I'd got my 2 years experience under my belt I would go and teach abroad.
    Then I had a baby in my last year of university and this hampered my plans!

    Said baby is now due to start reception September 2016. More and more recently I've been thinking again about moving abroad, and looking into it. I also think it would be a good time to move a child (education wise) as she has not started 'proper' school yet.

    I particularly want to teach in Spain, I have always had a passion for the country and feel like my heart lies there!
    I am however open to other places, I would just love to go abroad (except the Middle East)

    I am being realistic and know I am not the most ideal candidate being a single parent.

    Does anyone else have experience of teaching abroad as a parent, more importantly as a single parent?
    I've been thinking mainly about wrap around school care (would only go to schools who offer free tuition or heavily discounted fees).

    Anyone with experience/opinions on how likely I would be considered for a position?

    Thanks in advance :)
    billinziemalcolm likes this.
  2. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    Not that i am a single parent myself, but have worked with many people who are, and they seem to manage quite well. one word of caution though, Spain can be a particular "minefield" when it comes to decent schools. i personally will NEVER go back and work there, and know many people who say the same, but there are some out there that have had positive experiences. the world is a big place, open your horizons a little. i have been doing this for nearly 10 years now and have never looked back once. i can honestly say i am never going back to the UK....particularly if you read some of the horror stories on some of the "workplace" threads on this forum.
  3. Teacher1072

    Teacher1072 New commenter

    Hi revans66 thank you for your reply.

    Can I ask what are the main bad experiences that people have in Spain?

    I am open to other countries, more of a preference for Europe just to be that bit closer to home at first!
  4. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    you only need to search this forum to find that out. but if you want to PM me then do, because if wrote on here what happened then the thread would be deleted.
  5. TonyGT

    TonyGT Established commenter

    Europe is tough if you're a single parent, but it is possible. As you say, the crux of it is getting a position in which your child gets free education, but this should be the norm (or at least a heavy, heavy discount).

    What about South America / the Far East? Spread your net. It's nice to feel close to home, but it's really only an abstract concept when you think about it. Is it really much better to struggle to pay for a 3 hour flight home than have plenty of money to pay fora 10 hour flight home?
    linguy likes this.
  6. miketribe

    miketribe Established commenter

    I, on the other hand, have spent 35 very happy and rewarding years here in Spain. We raised our daughter here and always found the country and its people very "child-friendly". It is true that there are bad schools here that should be avoided at all costs, but there are also some very good ones. You have to be very careful how you go about your job search...
    All school employees are entitled by law to free tuition at the school at which they work. Some schools try to wriggle out of their responsibility in this respect, but those are the ones you want to avoid! If they choose to disobey the law in this respect, you can't trust them to follow it in others.
    Teachers in Spain are not well paid, and you are unlikely to be able to save a lot of money, pay off debts in England or go on expensive holidays... However, you are unlikely to be faced with NC burdens to the same extent, and inspections are rare and cursory. Over the years, and in two different schools, I have found the students I teach well behaved, courteous and keen to learn, although there are obviously exceptions.
    Having a dependent will make you less attractive to schools since it implies extra costs. The competition for jobs here is keen so this would just be one factor in the balance. If you're in a shortage subject, though, this need not be a problem.
    linguy likes this.
  7. Teacher1072

    Teacher1072 New commenter

    Thank you everyone for your replies.

    Yes TonyGT I would consider South America and China, these are probably the main places outside of Europe that I am interested in.

    Thank you miketribe for sharing your experience. I am sure there are good and bad everywhere so it's good to hear both sides.

    I'm trying to look into certain countries/areas. Does anyone have any tips on the best places/sites to look at? I'm looking at expat forums etc to see how people get on.

    What should I look for/look at when deciding how 'good' a school is to work for? Sorry if this sounds somewhat a 'stupid' question...but obviously it is a big decision and people are saying "make sure it's a good school"

    Thanks again :)
  8. sah79

    sah79 Occasional commenter

    As a single parent you might want to think about countries where help with child-care is easily affordable. I have become a single parent since moving abroad, I'm in SE Asia, and being able to have a full-time nanny is wonderful, it means I never have to worry about if I am sick/have evening commitments, want to go out and have a life (!) or if my child is ill and needs to miss school.
    There are expat forums for most countries/facebook groups where you can ask local opinions on schools/areas etc, plus there is always ***, which some people value, others don't rate!
    needabreak and linguy like this.
  9. cuppacoffee

    cuppacoffee New commenter

    I'm a single parent in Turkey and it's doable because I have an understanding employer. I would say you also need to be determined (there are times when you really are on your own) and be used to living abroad without a safety net because, unless you are lucky from the start, expat communities will only go so far in terms of support as they all have their own lives to deal with.
    I like the idea of a full-time nanny, LOL!
    linguy likes this.
  10. crinauk

    crinauk New commenter


    I am a single parent and have worked in 3 different countries. My daughter is older than yours but many of the issues will be the same. Your earnings tend to not go as far as there are two of you and one wage and you will have to factor in double the flights, school fees, childcare fees etc so you have to really investigate the package being offered. Check out the limitations of the free or subsidised school place. On my first time abroad I got an allowance towards a school place but did not realise how little that was towards the overall cost. There are also issues such as no job security and no real rights you can be asked to leave at any time which is really hard for the children. You also need to think about things like medical and dental expenses as these also can be a huge expense. It can be very isolating as a single parent does not fit into the singles or the families groups so can be overlooked I have experienced this in all of my positions. The paperwork for single parents in many countries can be problematic and you may need an affidavit from the child's father agreeing to you living abroad so check with the school about visa requirements.

    Saying all of this there are many benefits too and living abroad is a really unique experience just be prepared to research thoroughly.
    linguy likes this.
  11. Teacher1072

    Teacher1072 New commenter

    Thank you so much for your detailed replies.

    Re: school fees, I am only applying for schools that offer a free place. I would expect to then pay uniform/ECA's etc.

    Crinauk can I ask what countries you have taught in?

    I have a skype interview for a school in China. This package includes free place for dependent, accommodation/allowance, flights and medical insurance. I have an ex-colleague currently in China who says nannies are very well priced and excellent so that it a good childcare back up!

    In your experience does the flight allowance and medical insurance cover your dependent too? I know some do say flight allowances for whole family.

    Initially I wanted to stay in Europe but after getting advice and doing some research it seems to be a good idea to go further afield for the extra benefits.

    I am a very open and adaptable person so starting somewhere new and taking on any ideas from people is welcome :)
  12. sah79

    sah79 Occasional commenter

    My school in Bangkok offered free place for my child (no uniform so that wasn't an issue) plus they cover his medical insurance and his flights out/back at the end of the contract. That was also the case at a school in Vietnam which I interviewed for.
  13. Tiger__Lily

    Tiger__Lily New commenter

    Any luck on finding a job? I'm also a single parent and just been offered a job in Kenya :)
    chianti_kemp and linguy like this.
  14. Teacher1072

    Teacher1072 New commenter

    Hi Tiger Lily,

    Yep! The skype interview I had was successful, we're off to China! (Providing there's no issues beforehand ;))
    hanna_gallinger and Charlyrose like this.
  15. ejclibrarian

    ejclibrarian Established commenter Community helper

    Fantastic news! I'm pleased to hear you're taking the leap. You're in for a great adventure. Good luck with everything!
  16. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    China is a big improvement on the ME, according to Mrs H.
  17. Dramakween

    Dramakween Occasional commenter

    Congratulations and best of luck with your move!
  18. percy topliss

    percy topliss Established commenter

    Well done on the job. I would be interested to hear where you are going to work though. My wife and I left very lucrative posts in Shanghai in order to move back to Bangkok to have kids because China was killing so many people with its awful pollution. I know that the pachyderm sings the countries praises but as far as I am aware the days that kids are not allowed out in many international schools outweigh the days that they are allowed to play.
    China is certainly a big improvement on the Middle East, we have worked in both, but take care of the little ones lungs.

    Take care,
  19. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    No, percy, I would NOT recommend Beijing (or Shanghai?) to anyone with young children. The pollution really is bad. Chinese friends of mine have said much the same thing.
  20. chianti_kemp

    chianti_kemp New commenter

    Hey! I was just wondering who did you go through to get your position in Thailand? It is at the top of my list and the fact that you found a school that pays for everything, more info please lol... I have a bachelor and masters and I am certified in TEFL. Thanks!

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