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The revolving door of heads and local teaching staff, the aftermath.

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by grdwdgrrrl, Oct 25, 2019.

  1. grdwdgrrrl

    grdwdgrrrl Occasional commenter

    At our previous school we had quite a few local staff as mainstream class and subject teachers. As they see the parade of heads marching along, each with their own ideas for change and improvements, they suffer the results of theses temporary schemes. Heads whiz through creating chaos in their selfish pursuit of personal glory which lasts for the two or three years they plan to stay. They then step up on the ladder leaving the school, not in better condition, because in that time they’ve swept out the teachers that weren’t on board and brought in their own crew. This crew may stay on after that head leaves only to be caught up in the wake of the new head who just repeats the same thing. In the meantime, the local teachers, who live and breathe this school and don’t have the same opportunities to leave, ride wave after wave of changing heads and their new ideas. It’s painful for them, as we’ve recently been made aware. Their heart and soul are in that school. We just didn’t get that attached, we left when we didn’t like it anymore. The local staff gets treated like second class people, just the locals, who get half the salary though they may have twice the experience, overseas advanced degrees and an actual stake in the success of the school. So much instability is stressful, yet they soldier on.

    Your thoughts??
    blue451 likes this.
  2. south42

    south42 New commenter

    Sadly this happens at many schools back home too, doesn't it
  3. bayern22

    bayern22 New commenter

    Which country is this? Are the local staff not on a contract? Surely they must be on some sort of contract that gives them the ability to leave with, say, 3 months notice?
  4. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter


    i understand this to a point, as im sure they arent on the same as the ex pats, but what are they paid in comparison to local teachers in local schools. everywhere i have worked the local teaching staff in the international schools are paid significantly more than locals in local schools. in one school i was at, the TA's were paid twice as much as local teachers.

    you are not comparing like for like.
  5. englishtt06

    englishtt06 Occasional commenter

    It's surely not ideal and I totally understand that it's not as easy for locally-employed staff to move on; however, possibly inadvertently you have basically described UK state schools in a nutshell. It could be argued that UK teachers can move on to other schools, too; however, just like with your locally-employed staff, this isn't always easy (house, family, lack of local schools in less developed areas etc.). Remember those crazy days that teachers were part of their community? Respected members at that. I know that two wrongs don't make a right - but there are many, many teachers on here (Workplace Dilemmas in particular) who have suffered under the same process: the new HT that has to fix things that aren't broken.
  6. bayern22

    bayern22 New commenter

    What about the local teaching staff that have the same qualifications from the same country as the ex-pat staff? Should they be on the same salary scale as the ex-pat staff?
  7. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    if they had the impetus and desire to take those skills and qualifications and move abroad and move away from everything they know, then why not. but they have chosen to stay, just like all those poor people that barely survive teaching in UK state schools. so no, i dont think they should. do UK state school teachers deserve to be paid as much as international school teachers? .....they need a bravery award, but they havent got out of their comfort zone.
  8. percy topliss

    percy topliss Established commenter

    Many years ago when I was at the "British" school in Bangkok I was sat in the afternoon sun necking Chang beer at the Buarod with a bunch of other teachers generally enjoying my fat pay cheque. However, after (quite) a few beers the atmosphere changed and I didn't really understand why, one or two became quite heated towards us new teachers. Turns out that the locally hired "expat" staff at that school were paid less than those of us who came from overseas, forget the the actual local Thai staff who were paid even less. I have lived and worked in Bangkok since the last century and it is just a fact of life that there are huge wealth gaps. Many of the TA's and office workers at International schools have Masters Degrees yet they are lucky if they earn 40000 Baht a month whilst expat teachers can and will earn 4 or 5 times as much, get better holidays and have shorter working hours. I suppose that it is one of the reasons why many things here are double priced, one reasonable cheap price for locals and another ludicrously, in relative terms, inflated price for expats and tourists.
  9. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    I was Head of a school that paid local and expatriate teachers on the same scale, though the expats had certain additional benefits such as full return airfares from and to the point of recruitment. The system was very popular with those local hire teachers who were host country nationals, as our local hire teachers were paid approximately five times as much as staff in other local schools. However, locally recruited expat staff claimed that it was outrageously unfair and I had many conversations along these lines:

    'YOU get a return airfare to London. Why don't I?'
    'Because I was recruited from London and you were recruited from two miles down the road.'

    Actually, I suspect that the unspoken question was : I'm white so why are you treating me like these black people?'
    liamhammer1, tb9605 and percy topliss like this.
  10. bayern22

    bayern22 New commenter

    I wouldn’t compare state schools in the UK with international schools overseas though. UK state schools should be compared with local state schools overseas. Teacher training system in the Far East is very different to the UK. They only enable the teachers graduated to teach in local schools, unless your subject is the mother tongue language then you’ll have a chance with international schools. On the other hand, if you have a PGCE from the UK, you can teach anywhere in the world. Isn’t that already unfair?

    If a teacher from the Far East with a PGCE got a job in the UK, they would be on the same pay scale as UK teachers wether it is in the state or private sector. We wouldn’t be paid more than the locals. On the contrary the expats that comes to our country gets paid more even in local schools. So where does that leave local teachers?

    We are always told that expats gets paid more because they are ‘fully qualified’, 99% of the time PGCE is mentioned as the qualified factor. So why shouldn’t teachers from the Far East get the same reward for studying the same degree as UK teachers. Bare in mind that for us East Asians to get a PGCE in the UK, we’ve got to have GCSE, A levels, and Bachelors degree from an international school, the UK, US, Australia, or New Zealand.

    Of course we’re not expecting all the perks expats get eg. flights, accommodation, etc. but at the very least the basic salary should be comparable. I know two local teachers with a PGCE but in very different situation: one is half British, half Thai, and has lived in Thailand her whole life. She is on the same pay scale as expat staff because she holds a UK passport from birthright, while the other teacher gets paid lower because he holds a Thai passport. I know about one school that claims to have ‘Asian pay scale’ for teachers from Asian countries, which is lower that Western or ‘ex-pats’ staff. Does this mean teachers from other East Asian countries that comes to teach in Thailand are NOT ex-pats? This is somewhat discriminating.
  11. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    At my current school, the local teachers are actually paid more than us expats. They dont get the full benefits package, but do get medical
    grdwdgrrrl likes this.
  12. yasf

    yasf Established commenter

    At my last school, the pay was the same but they didn't get the housing. (although they had other benefits).
    At my present school, we're all on exactly the same pay scale and receive almost the same benefits.
  13. grdwdgrrrl

    grdwdgrrrl Occasional commenter

    The organization of my writing was in the order of importance. What you focussed on was at the end of my piece, so the least important issue under consideration of the local staff. In fact, that point was only from me, not them.
  14. grdwdgrrrl

    grdwdgrrrl Occasional commenter

    You too are focussed on the end of my piece which is my personal perspective. The most important is the fact that they are committed to this school in ways which we, expats are not.
  15. grdwdgrrrl

    grdwdgrrrl Occasional commenter

    You also focus on the money aspect. I’m talking more importantly of their whole emotional dedication to the school as their career long residence. The influx and out go of this year’s cohort of expat teachers/admin that treat this year’s posting as a rung in the ladder to their future singular greatness.
  16. grdwdgrrrl

    grdwdgrrrl Occasional commenter

    Are you kidding me?! This is only in the context of overseas teaching. There is no equivalent back home.
    My mum who taught for 30 years did not have expat, nomad teachers/heads coming in and out at their whim to progress their own careers in the same way.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2019
  17. englishtt06

    englishtt06 Occasional commenter

    I teach overseas after teaching in the UK. I also know, from friends and ex-colleagues in the UK (and from a perusal of these forums - particularly Workplace Dilemmas) that there are many, many stories of teachers being pushed out by the new HT or SLT (or MAT take over) as they don't 'fit' the new ethos (or they're too expensive). And believe me, I wish I was kidding.
    iles likes this.
  18. grdwdgrrrl

    grdwdgrrrl Occasional commenter

    Wow that’s terrible. I guess it’s the same all over.
  19. motorhomer

    motorhomer New commenter

    Wow, this describes my tier 2/3 school exactly grdwdgrrrl.

    Many of the local staff try to keep their heads down & just wait out the leadership who they know will usually move on within 2-3 years.

    Some locals are better treated but they are usually those who leadership decide that they 'like' and 'can work with'. Interestingly, many of these favoured locals once heavily opposed the new ideas of the leadership & were then targeted and bullied into submission only to then be 'rebuilt' and 'moulded'. I'm actually quoting a former member of leadership here.

    But I do agree I also saw all of this go on in the U.K.

    I suppose that it's mainly dependent on the type & quality of leadership that you get. Does all of this go on in tier 1 schools?
  20. Arepa

    Arepa New commenter

    I find these conversations very interesting, particularly as I am part of a committee of educators attempting to start an international school (we’ve raised about 40% of the necessary funding). We would certainly want to avoid the pitfalls mentioned here and would appreciate any advice.

    I have been one of those Heads who left after completing their 2-3 year contracts. Can’t really fault a Head (or a teacher for that matter) for leaving after fulfilling their obligations. This issue can be resolved if the Board hires Heads who have a history of spending 5-10 years in a school. If not, you get what you pay for: transient Heads. Mind you, I would have stayed had the Boards who hired me been more explicit and truthful about what they wanted. In one case it was a Head who would connive with corruption, in another it was a Head who would only ensure that supplies were allocated properly and that discipline was maintained (the school was perfect as the standardized testing indicated). One school told me that they wanted to be a 21st Century educational leader but felt that my attempts to actually do something rather than merely state the aspiration were misguided.

    I supposed it might be tempting for a transient Head not to attempt any changes: holding lots of meetings and generating philosophical treatises on Wittgenstein’s influence on education would convince many Boards of one’s busyness. Still, some of us might want to do something to help the teachers and students (develop a written curriculum, an assessment policy, etc). As such a Head, the key, to me, would be to carefully plan what you can attempt and complete in a 2-3 years window of opportunity. That would be your legacy.

    Local hire teachers are another issue as grdwdgrrrl wrote. Indeed, in our proposed school, I want to attempt a model wherein local and foreign hire are paid essentially the same (more on that, possibly, in another post). My concern with local hire teachers is that while most of them are excellent teachers there are some who are basically just going through the motions and are not receptive to new ideals or techniques. They have a good gig doing the minimum and doing that, not very well. Moreover, as dumbbell pointed out, they are often highly paid in comparison to non-international school local hire teachers. Thus, there is often no movement in local hire faculty. An aging, stagnant faculty is often the result. Indeed, I have been one of those and it took a major effort to leave the golden prison. A new Head, if they wanted change, would certainly have to do some weeding out (difficult given some local labour laws). I, personally, would not wish to be in a school where the majority of the faculty aspired to remain there for their entire careers (any other viewpoints?) Again, all this presupposes a willing Board that knows what it wants. Having a clearly defined mission and pedagogical approach that successive Heads implement and improve should, I think, should satisfy the local faculty’s sense of emotional dedication.

    Thus, it seems to me that all this is very much up to the Board: to do their due diligence in hiring Heads and to be very clear about exactly what they want the Head to do and how they want change, if at all, to be managed. Does this seem a reasonable strategy? Any advice would be gratefully received?
    lottee1000 likes this.

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