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Summer/Winter Camp Required?

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by SnorkelingTeacher03, Sep 18, 2019.

  1. SnorkelingTeacher03

    SnorkelingTeacher03 New commenter

    Hello all,

    I'm wondering how common it is for your schools to require teachers to take part in either winter or summer school/camps. I ask because it is important to me that I am able to return home to visit my family each year. The school I am at now doesn't require it, but the people I have talked to at other schools in Taiwan have told me they are required to work at summer and winter camps. Keep in mind I am at a private school (not a legitimate international school).

    Additionally, is it common for teachers to be paid extra for coaching/extra-curricular activities? I noticed on a recent international teacher Facebook group that many teachers were claiming they are not paid extra for coaching/extra-curricular activities because they are considered part of the contract.

  2. 576

    576 Established commenter

    Neither of my 2 international schools required you to do summer camp.
    My current school has one but I think they pay more for it and it's optional.

    Neither paid more for extra curricular, both expected everyone to offer one.
  3. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    when you say "summer camp" do you mean summer school, or just an over night, maybe a week camping?

    i have been paid for coaching (CEESA), and it was a decent sum, but i wouldnt say its common. although it is common to be expected to offer some after school activity.
  4. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    In all the schools I know school camp/school is voluntary and does pay well.
  5. SnorkelingTeacher03

    SnorkelingTeacher03 New commenter

    I mean summer school when I say summer camp. The private schools in Taiwan refer to them as summer camps. It has nothing to do with outdoor camping. Haha

    That's good to know that most schools don't require a teacher to teach summer school.
  6. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    i would be running very fast in the opposite direction from any school that required me to work over my summer.

    this is not a common thing at all....but i have heard some places in Spain do it
    Helen-Back likes this.
  7. SnorkelingTeacher03

    SnorkelingTeacher03 New commenter

    Taiwan definitely doesn't offer the best work/life balance. However, I'm not sure about the top international schools. Those could be considerably better than working for the private/bilingual schools.

    I'm really kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place right now. I'd really like to leave Taiwan. However, my wife's family is going through a tough time right now. I'm really trying to stick it out here as long as I can so she can be with her family. However, knowing that there are probably better options out there gives me a bit of hope for the future.
  8. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    At my present school in Sofia, you can get out of it, I think, but you won't be paid for that month. The secondary school does not finish until later, so there is a "summer camp" for primary.
  9. bubblegirl83

    bubblegirl83 New commenter

    My current school and my husband's pay for extra-curriculars and clubs. I have never experienced this before though.

    I have never been obliged to work a summer camp (I could offer for extra pay and free child places) but I know of at least one school where it is part of the contract and takes up half of the summer break.

    All these are in Switzerland.
  10. taiyah

    taiyah Occasional commenter

    Summer camp as a part of your role?? Any summer camp is a side business of the school. For them to put that as your role and responsibilities without a generous stipend....I echo dumbells66's advice.. Run away..
  11. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    I worked at one school where this was a requirement. It was universally unpopular, but everyone knew before they signed the contract, so it was also accepted. It was a much easier gig than the regular school year, less kids, playing not teaching, shorter hours, no reports.
    I would not personally want to do it again at this stage of my career, but I don’t agree that you have to automatically run away. Weigh all the different aspects and make an informed decision.
  12. ToK-tastic

    ToK-tastic New commenter

    I've never heard of teachers being expected to teach summer camp (esp. with no extra payment), however I have often seen that teachers with specific skills / interests have taken up the offer to run summer camp for extra payment. I have also seen schools that pay teachers extra to run revision & exam prep sessions during the Easter Break, sometimes they get paid very handsomely for such services.

    Offering ECAs was a contractual expectation at 2 of the schools that I have worked at, but is not an expectation at my current school (& therefore attracts extra pay if offered), I suspect that it will become an expectation very soon.

    The "run away" or "don't run away" discussion above links to a wider discussion about the potential changes (or threats) to our future professional situation. I assume that most International School teachers work with contracts which are broadly based on UK/US/Canadian state school contracts: 180 days/yr, sick pay, holiday pay etc etc . In some markets schools have to offer those terms as they have to attract teachers, some schools market themselves as having teachers from UK/US/Aus/Can etc. However, I wonder whether such schools or markets represent a significant proportion of the market as the international school sector expands ? I work in IB schools, in Asia Pacific we are seeing increasing numbers of teachers coming from countries which don't enjoy the benefits of a UK/US/Can? Aus type contract - colleagues from India, China, Philippines etc are very happy to enjoy the benefits of such contracts at the schools that I have worked in. However, I wonder how long it will be before we see an increasing number of international schools that seriously degrade the benefits in the contract knowing that they will still be able to recruit teachers from countries where the national alternative is still far more onerous even than a degraded international contract ?

    Degrading of contracts was an ongoing theme during my time in HK, a small element of that discussion may have been based in myth, but there was certainly a strong & large element of truth in the relative strengths of HK contracts offered in the 1980s-late90s in comparison to contracts offered in the 21stC. I wonder whether this is similar in most maturing markets: Singapore, Switzerland, Japan etc ? Further I wonder if we'll continue to see a general downgrading of contractual benefits across the range of IT markets ? maybe there'll be fewer places to run to in the years to come !
    englishdragon and salamandes like this.
  13. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    I know of one nearby which has a summer school, but it's entirely optional (though it does pay well) so if you don't want to do it, you don't have to. Like dumbbells says though, I'd be running a mile from any that did make it compulsory.
  14. taiyah

    taiyah Occasional commenter

    Interesting questions ToK-tastic. But I think it all depends on location.

    Focusing on these camps. There is a pattern that most of these summer/winter camps (run by the school) are in places/countries where a high population of both local and expat kids stay put during the holidays. Basically where there's an automatic market.

    Here in QA every holidays, literally every holidays, the country's population nose dive. Aside from schools hiring the facilities out, there is simply not enough customers that will make this side business a success. There's no need for it.

    As for degrading contracts. True, there are contracts here that have shrunk and people are up in arms and will state this as degrading a contract. However, they are still earning £3200+ tax free (no bills + free accom) and pocket whatever is left from the £2000/month accom allowance.

    It is all still a business and advertising that your staff body comprises of well qualified professionals will always come with contact and package many would deem as good.
  15. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    ToK-tastic, I think it depends both on the markets and the expectations of parents. For example, here in China the schools which are either top tier or which are linked to UK schools - the Dulwichs, Harrows, etc - still follow the Western calendar with Western expectations. This means that parents of, say, upper middle class kids expect that of their schools, so the ones the level down - the top level bilingual ones - also follow that format. However, there are still schools which, although claiming to be international and offering the likes of IGCSE or IB, follow more the Chinese timetable (only a day or two at Christmas with the main holiday at CNY.)

    Ultimately I see the divide coming on that basis. The top tiers of schools will always want to be recruiting the best and the most experienced teachers - and for most of us that means an August - June school year, with breaks at Christmas and probably around October and April too. The lower tiers - who are probably attracting the parents who want to say their kids are at an international school but can't pay for the really international schools - will shift more to local-type contracts, which might satisfy the tourist or gap year teacher but aren't going to work for someone looking to seriously build a career.
  16. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    Summer school is very popular in China as purely a child minding service for working parents over the summer holidays. Not all expats head home for the summer holidays.

    Schools also run English language summer schools where Chinese children can hang out in the rent-a-names schools and have some extra English language experience.

    Chinese students also get to use the schools swimming pool, grass sports fields and theater stage to carry out a small musical production.

    Its not a bad little earner as you can earn 1000GBP a week!
  17. makhnovite

    makhnovite Established commenter

    Some people will do anything for more money!

    As for degrading contracts; when I first went to HK there was a rumour that some of the older staff were still on the contract that sent them home on P&O by sea? But even the old ESF contract was far different to what is offered these days, teaching in HK is not what it was.
  18. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    Just seen a job description that says you have to take part in 20 extra days holiday program during the year and no mention of extra pay! Looking at the number of jobs going at the school this year its a popular addition to the terms of employment.

    It was well hidden in the job description taking up only 10 words!
  19. englishdragon

    englishdragon Occasional commenter

    Bottom line:
    Clarify this expectation/requirement during the hiring phase, and make sure you get everything in writing.
    When negotiating employment with schools in China with the 'bilingual' word in their name, or majority Chinese business owners, it also behooves you to take a recording of all discussions that you have with the owners or SLT. You can listen to these later to confirm/refute your recollection of promises made.
  20. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    Dumbbells is right: some schools in Spain do require it (not mine). My understanding is that this is legal as long as working on the summer school doesn't excede the legal number of hours required of you under the convenio. So, you'd probably have to be working at a school that had shorter teaching days/longer holidays in order to be required to do it.

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