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Solo parent - best places to teach overseas?

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by Teachwoody, Jan 31, 2019.

  1. Teachwoody

    Teachwoody New commenter

    Hi. I'm relatively new to the whole commenting thing. I always just read but figured would be good to actually get responses to my own question.

    I'm a solo parent to a 7 year old boy and have been teaching for over 10 years in secondary schools. I have a wide range of experience in state schools (BA and PGCE) and am about to start in an independent school this term.

    I have always wanted to teach overseas but fear held me back before I was a parent and since having my son, circumstances.

    I would like to know anyone else's experiences of teaching overseas and if there are any recommended countries, areas or schools that people could advise on...particularly as a lone parent.

    I'd be keen to know about money, community, work life balance, quality of education, visas, cost of living, as well as any other points that are useful.

    I really want to do some research and hope to make an application for the 2020 recruitment drive.

    I'm not keen on the UAE for a number of reasons. I have been there and it's beautiful but I was hoping some where with a bit more history and culture (no offence).

    I'm not sure how to PM individuals but welcome thoughts and experiences on the points above.
    gyselsolerswim likes this.
  2. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    Firstly, the fact you're a solo parent shouldn't put most places off. You discount UAE, and that makes sense as I understand that it can be difficult for single parents there - but TBH in most places you're unlikely to have a problem.

    China, where I am now, seems to be reasonably welcoming - the addition there is that the salaries should be high enough that you can afford an ayi (a childminder / cleaner) even on one salary only. The big downside is the pollution levels, but I can say that they've not been as bad in Beijing as in previous years and I'm told they are getting better.

    In terms of the other points, it really depends on your school. I'm assuming that the sort of school you'd want to teach in would be the sort that you would want to send your son to, but you do have to have a bit more of an eagle eye for spotting the schools where there might be problems. Target a number of places, and do some research on the schools - personally, I'd steer clear of any in China with the word "bilingual" in their title, although others are happy enough with them - and your own instincts should tell you when something doesn't feel right. Visas should be dealt with by your school, and they should be on hand to guide you through the process when you get to it - again, alarm bells ring if this doesn't happen.

    Work life balance is better than in the UK, especially England, and a lot of that is because you simply have more spare cash as a result of lower costs of living. Air travel becomes almost matter-of-fact - you'll be making at least one long haul trip annually, and eventually not really think anything of flying 4 or 5 hours for a weekend away. The weather is usually better too for most of the year!

    You don't say what your subject is - if it's one of the shortage ones (maths, physics, chemistry) then I suspect you'd be snapped up - you might even still be able to get something for next academic year. If, like me, you are a lowly Humanities subject teacher, then there's an element of "you takes what you can" on the first placement but it's not impossible (I did it, and I'm not even teaching my own subject!)
    Teachwoody likes this.
  3. Teachwoody

    Teachwoody New commenter

    I should also add which may seem silly to some that I am from the black Asian minority ethic group and found it a little daunting many years back at the idea of travelling to live in countries that maybe were not as welcome. I am older and wiser so have tougher skin but is still in the back of my mind that I'd like for me and my son to be somewhere a little welcoming.

    Thank you so much @amysdad. I really very much appreciate such a detailed reply. I teach Business and Economics so not a shortage subject but a fair few jobs came out this year.

    What country do you teach in and how best do I find out about schools with honest answers? Not all the marketing ****!

    Another question which is what held me back many years ago is the racial aspect. I'm of mixed heritage (European and African Caribbean).

    What countries have you found to be the most welcoming of difference I guess? I appreciate I may be a minority in the country I teach but as my son will also be part of this amazing journey I would ideally like somewhere where any 'difference' isn't made to feel unwelcomed?

    Sorry that may sound silly to some but a reality thought for me I'm afraid.
  4. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Some wise (and very helpful) words from amysdad.
    Teachwoody likes this.
  5. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    I was a single parent in Viet Nam and Qatar. Np problems.
    Teachwoody likes this.
  6. 24hours

    24hours New commenter

    We came out to Europe with our two kids last year. Whilst I have no intention of putting you off the idea I would strongly consider what happens when your child is ill. We had around a month where the house was full of illness and the kids off school/nursery.

    It was a real struggle as we had no support network around us.
  7. Teachwoody

    Teachwoody New commenter

    Thank you so much @moscowbore. Any particular schools or areas within those countries?
  8. lucyrose50

    lucyrose50 Occasional commenter

    Malaysia (KL) would be worth considering - lots of schools so a good chance of getting a job you're happy with, salaries are high enough in relation to cost of living that you can afford childcare and live in a decent sized place to live with a choice of a condo with pool, playground, social activities or a house with a garden.
    Teachwoody likes this.
  9. senlady

    senlady Senior commenter

    I imagine there are lots of places who would be very supportive of your situation - where I am certainly would! I suppose the thing really is to think about where you would consider and then research a bit more about those specifics in a particular place.
  10. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    The british school which is now under the northern angle umbrella in Viet Nam and the school in the desert in Qatar 70km from Doha. Both excellent schools when I was there. The Qatar school has changed beyond recognition recently according to my remaining friends there. And not for the better.

    Qatar is not for everybody. If you have primary age children, the school in the desert has a completely Islamic primary school. Packages have been reduced so please check that you are on at least 16k Riyals per month, additional housing allowance or free accom, medical insurance not the Hamad Qatar Health service card and flights home every year. Absolutely do not even think of sharing accom.
  11. percy topliss

    percy topliss Established commenter

    Thailand is always worth a punt. I have known many single parents of both sexes here over the years. Help is plentiful, jolly good, if you look about and, compared to many other countries, amazingly cheap.


    Teachwoody likes this.
  12. Teachwoody

    Teachwoody New commenter

    This sounds amazing. Thank you so much. Do you know any particular schools? Or parts? Thank you so much for the information.
  13. Teachwoody

    Teachwoody New commenter

    Thank you so much @percy topliss. This is also helpful. Any specific parts of Thailand or any schools you can recommend?
  14. Teachwoody

    Teachwoody New commenter

    @moscowbore Thank you. I am not keen on the dessert but Viet Nan sounds interesting. Thank you. :)
  15. Teachwoody

    Teachwoody New commenter

    Nam sorry typo...
  16. Teachwoody

    Teachwoody New commenter

    @senlady Thank you so much for this. Are you able to tell me where you are by any chance or provide any recommendations? I want to then look at researching these I'm as lot more detail so I can collate a range of possible places
  17. Teachwoody

    Teachwoody New commenter

    @24hours Thank you so much. I have thought about this and it is a concern. I'd like to go somewhere where I can hire some help in the event this was to happen. I hope to bring a grandparent for the first couple of months but don't think Europe would be an ideal location for the cost of living. I feel like it would be the same as being in the UK almost due to the expense and lack of teaching packages with the whole benefits etc.
  18. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter


    First of all, good luck with your endeavour. I am sure you have thought of this, but do get written permission from your son's other parent (assuming they are still living) before moving abroad. Last year a lovely single parent teacher at our school was forced to return to the UK with her son (against both their wishes) as his father took her to court on child abduction charges. Her ex had previously given verbal permission for them to move aborad, but then rescinded it and as she had nothing in writing she didn't have a leg to stand on when it came to the courts. Really sad situation for both her and her son.
  19. Teachwoody

    Teachwoody New commenter

    @tb9605 thanks for the heads up and yes I have been researching this for a couple years now. I am defo going to get written permission and also get it legally witnessed with any accompany documents so as to minimise any issues. All we can do is try! Thanks again.

    By the way where are you based and would you recommend?
  20. mermy

    mermy Occasional commenter

    Some good advice here. I second the recommendations on Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand. Singapore would also be good, but it's difficult to get into, as it's one of the most sought after locations.

    Before you start, have a list of what's most important to you. Is it money? Quality of life? Travel? Weather? Food? Social life? ... Only you know what you want to get out of this experience. Then when you see jobs in your subject area advertised, check the information of the country and school against your list and / or ask here for specific advice. Keep an open mind and see what comes up and take it from there.
    amlolex50 and Teachwoody like this.

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