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Teaching in Asia - taking the leap!

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by CazzleMcdazzle, Aug 9, 2015.

  1. CazzleMcdazzle

    CazzleMcdazzle New commenter

    Hi All,

    I am hoping that I can draw on the experience and knowledge of some of you who are already teaching overseas, or who are about to start teaching overseas.

    I am a primary teacher and SENCO, and I am at the stage into career where I would like a change, a big change! I would like to go and teach overseas to broaden my horizons and to experience other cultures etc. I know that I'd like to teach in Asia, preferably China, Singapore or Japan but I am drawing a lot of blanks on where to get all the information I need to make this move.

    Is there anyone out there that can help me? I know I have to contact individual schools as ads are placed, I know I'll need to negotiate a package for moving and salary, but where do you start?

    Also, if you have been teaching away, how have you found it. I'm a single woman, early 30s and I would like to see more of the world than I currently have.

    All advise greatly received, whether that is on location, experiences, dos and don'ts!

    I am planning to visit locations over the next year during holidays.

    Thanks :)
  2. larathegiraffe

    larathegiraffe New commenter

    a) I would suggest you go on holiday to your favourite school destination countries to start with if you haven't been already.

    b) Spend a few quid and join the International Schools Review website.

    c) Get your CV and a covering letter prepared and checked. Get your references sorted out in advance. Talk to your Head about your plans.

    d) Email speculatively directly to schools you are interested. You might get lucky if the email arrives just when they need someone. (I got a job in Singapore for two years doing that at one of the big international schools).

    e) Do your homework. Make sure you understand what a 'good' salary is and the benefits you need to be comfortable. The most obvious one is accommodation, but tax rules can be a nightmare to work out, work visas can be an issue, National Insurance contributions while you are away and pension issues are something to think about etc.

    f) Consider signing up with some agencies eg Teach Away. It'll take a morning and is a real pain but probably worth the effort.

    g) Whatever you do, don't even think of going to any gulf arab countries. They are the worst students in the world, bred by the worst parents in the world and the schools will more often than not take you for a ride. The Kafala system of slavery exists in many gulf countries so always avoid them, despite their assurances.

    h) Asia is a very good choice. Singapore is my favourite place. Japan is pricey but fun. Korea has a lot going for it if you like the great outdoors and skiing. There are increasing opportunities in China, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and just about everywhere in that neck of the woods.

    i) When you finally return, make sure you have lots of money in the bank. It can take a while to find a job in the UK after working abroad and you need a cushion for housing, a car etc so you aren't bounced into a job or school you don't really feel good about.

    If you have no responsibilities, don't procrastinate, just go. I've spoken to many people over the years who talked about it but never went, or who spent a year doing 'research' and then another year looking and then another year talking about it and finally didn't bother. If you want to go, take control, don't mess about for months. Get on with it, get organised and apply. You won't regret it.
  3. theteacherdotinfo

    theteacherdotinfo New commenter

  4. CazzleMcdazzle

    CazzleMcdazzle New commenter

    Thank you Larathegiraffe, this is great! My plan is to start at an international school next September. I have wanted to do it and I don't have any commitments (other than the house) so think it's the perfect time.

    I am currently finishing my CV and application so that I'm ready to go when I do see a job I'm interested in. A colleague had also suggested that there may be international teaching fairs in London, but I'm yet to find one. I have contacted Protocol agency about the possibility of finding a job through them as they offer a lot of guidance on visas, insurance and packages etc. I just waiting for a response from them.

    Thanks again for your help. I really appreciate it. I don't really know anyone who has actually moved overseas to teach, so hearing from people with experience is great. My final question is, do you know of any forums/blogs/groups for perspective teachers? I'd love to talk to other people in the same position. I don't want this to be a lovely experience.
  5. karel

    karel Occasional commenter

    The recruitment fairs referred to are most likely with Search Associates or The European Council of International Schools. These organizations host recruitment fairs for international teachers in London (amongst other places). You have to register with them before you are invited to attend one of the fairs. In seeking a teaching position overseas I would personally recommend that you register with one of these organization.
  6. larathegiraffe

    larathegiraffe New commenter

    See b) above.
  7. CazzleMcdazzle

    CazzleMcdazzle New commenter

    That's great. Thank you both so much
  8. pgrass

    pgrass New commenter

    There is no point in doing a) because few people end up in their country of first choice.

    Don't sign up with TeachAway. Most international schools and teachers have never heard of them. Go with a big agency like Search Associates. It has the best jobs (and the best candidates).

    Japan is not pricey to live, just to visit.
  9. larathegiraffe

    larathegiraffe New commenter

    Search Associates is expensive to join and the service is hit-n-miss. When you join *** ($29), you can read lots of opinions about their effectiveness and value for money from lots of different people with experience of them in the forums. Companies like Teach Away, TIC etc are free to sign up for and there is no evidence they are any less effective than those you pay a small fortune to join.
  10. wrldtrvlr123

    wrldtrvlr123 Occasional commenter

    Said no one ever (except someone who works for one of the larger companies, and you). Actually, I believe that Search is free to join if you are in the UK (or at least it used to be). I agree that the service is hit or miss with Search but the database and their connections/reputations with all/many of the major (and many minor) schools around the world is difficult to beat. There is really is no comparison between Search and ISS and companies like Teach Away if you are serious about maximizing your chances for landing the best position/school.location etc.
  11. larathegiraffe

    larathegiraffe New commenter

    Like I said, best to get the opinions of lots of different people first rather than one or two here. The forums on *** (and other places) are very good for that.
  12. pgrass

    pgrass New commenter

    Here you go.

    Recruitment Agencies

    If you are joining an agency for their service then you don't deserve to get a good job. You join for access to their database and job fairs. The good agencies won't "get you a job". You still have to do all of the hard work by applying and going through all of the interviews.

    When I visit the TeachAway website I am inundated with pictures of (and job advertisements at schools in) the Middle East and central Asia. That should tell anyone as much as they need to know about the quality of the jobs on offer. If those are the best, what are the worst?
  13. happygreenfrog

    happygreenfrog Occasional commenter

    Dear OP

    I have little faith in the majority of agencies and certainly wouldn't waste the effort with 'search' who make your references jump through hoops. I've nonetheless secured jobs using an agent with a smaller, more personal client list.

    Been overseas now 11 years and the last 6 in Asia. My advice would be to not focus on a location yet but get some overseas experience. Most teachers applying to my school have proved they can teach, the question is will they adapt. Having a previous experience overseas will show that. The last thing a HOC needs is to have you leaving after a year and having to go through all the hassle of appointments again and the ever demanding procedures from host governments.

    On the whole the larger schools can fund SENCO's. I started off at a BIS in Europe and they had one there. My present position is at an inclusive school and we have a specialist unit.
  14. CazzleMcdazzle

    CazzleMcdazzle New commenter

    Thanks everyone, you've certainly given me lots to think about. It's been a great starting point to getting me out there.
  15. mikemcdonald25

    mikemcdonald25 Occasional commenter

    Not sure about larathegiraffe?s agenda here as there are some strange comments in her/his posts.

    I agree with wrldtrvlr123, as far as I know Search is free to join if you are in the UK and it is very valuable for their database which is a lot more detailed about schools than any of the others I have used. They do have access to many of the ?better? schools, e.g. they actually do school visits; and while they don?t actively ?vet? schools they do have a certain reputation to keep up and they do ?ban? certain schools from their database and their fairs. In the past I have had a very good relationship with two or three of their Associates who have been more than helpful, although I believe that they have all retired now!

    As for happygreenfrog?s comment about ?referee?s jumping through hoops? for Search, I would think that was a good thing to weed out the bland, innocuous and downright dishonest references!

    The kind of agencies like Teachanywhere and Teachaway are often fronts for the large logistics companies like Hays and they have only one interest, getting the recruitment fee from the school, while they can be useful, be careful! See pgrass?s comment.

    As for ***, you will find as many opinions on it here as there are stars in the heavens, for what it?s worth I think it is a) a shambles; see other threads in this forum, b) a whiners website full of vitriol about schools being rubbished by teachers who feel they have been let down and or victimized by a school or manager and c) much of the information is way past its sell by date.

    Just a final thought, the whole process is a bit hit and miss, there are an increasing number of schools out there, there are an increasing number of dodgey schools out there, the only way to try and avoid them is to do as much research as possible, take most things that schools say about themselves with a large pinch of salt, try and get in touch with current staff, look for schools with some sort of accreditation (particularly the IB or CIS) while they are becoming less common, try and go for a school which is not-for-profit.
  16. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    I see the agencies as very similar to giant bulletin boards. Schools pin up ads and teachers pin up ads. The more agencies you join, the more boards you'll have access to. And some jobs are only on one board, while others are pinned up all over town.

    Some agencies do more than that, but you won't be disappointed if you know what to expect.
  17. larathegiraffe

    larathegiraffe New commenter


    Got to agree there. Lots of research needed, use forums but with a pinch of salt and make sure you read and understand your contract before agreeing a job. This is where trying to make contact with current or past teachers at a school is useful.
  18. happygreenfrog

    happygreenfrog Occasional commenter

    Hey mate, maybe your referees are all on their game an willing to throw a few hours away filling in the search links; it's an exhaustive process for someone who has probably got a couple of dozen other pressing matters in front of them. I've tried to join twice and never managed to find three able or willing to give that time.

    Through my career, and I'm in my 50's, I've found it increasingly difficult to maintain a portfolio of three. Many HOC's have retired and some are those you wouldn't want to support you, given their own weaknesses in the role.

    You basically infer that a candidates failure to enrol is due to their choice of referees. I suggest you get off your high horse. One can only use those whom one has come across. In my ten years overseas, in which I've had five posts and a need to supply those three referees, the job offer has come my way based on a succession of single, but changing, referees who have backed my application. In practice it only takes one and usually from your last post. The big concern is always that job you accept at a poorly managed school and then being dependent on that individual to continue your career elsewhere. One bad choice can really set you back.

    I've had people swear blind by 'search' and succeed in getting continual work, including a guy who was a shockingly poor teacher. What does that say about the moral standards of his references? Old pals act no doubt. Bottom line is they've done nothing to support my career. As with anything, some schools will use them for all their needs and others will not. More than one way to skin a cat.
  19. mikemcdonald25

    mikemcdonald25 Occasional commenter

    Hi mate! Here?s how I see it.

    You stated (not inferred) that one of the reasons you? ?would not waste the effort?, with Search was that they made your referees jump through hoops.

    I stated (not inferred) that I thought this was actually a good thing, an opposing point of view certainly but not one that comes from up on a high horse, simply a different point of view than yours.

    Once again, as you seemingly didn?t get it the first time.

    Recruiters often get dozens, if not hundreds of spurious applications from candidates who fire off a CV in an e mail and whose referees are either out of date, a downright lie or simply bland and useless. One way to weed out these casual applications is to make them jump through a series of hoops ? which if they really want the job they are happy to do.

    Hope this helps!
  20. happygreenfrog

    happygreenfrog Occasional commenter

    Now mate, think your first post was abundantly clear. Understand completely the higher standards search try to guarantee, yet would also add that having three bullshitters will still pass their rigid guidelines, so in effect it can be meaningless.

    Guess you missed the point of my own response, that failing to supply three good quality referees is not necessarily an indication of a poor candidate. I'd admit, I've struggled to supply those myself, yet don't consider myself a 'casual' applicant as my ten years of continual employment in decent organisations testify. I may well be happy to jump through hoops but the references available to me may not.

    Your own response may be born out from experience in receiving those dud applications but could equally come across as arrogant, Given your unwillingness to accept an alternative, I'll go with the latter. Cheers.

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