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Discussion in 'Teaching overseas' started by SineField, Nov 29, 2018.
Again, support for “rare in a good school”.
First you have to define a ”good school”, which will be different to many people.
Runners have always existed and will continue to be under starter's orders, just check how many do.t return in January around the world.
Just be thankful its not you having to make the decision. Living and working in a foreign country is not exactly easy and sometimes its the last straw that breaks the camel's back that causes people run.
But since Shanghai and surrounding area is going to need 500 new staff this year I can imagine a few square pegs will be fitted in round holes. Many half truths will be told at interview, many CVs will have been enhanced to get interviews there will be runners aplenty.
Perhaps we could say “rare in an honest school”. If you get paid when and what you should, live in accommodation like what was discussed at interview, teach what you signed up for, knew what kind of students you’d have....
My schools, though they varied in every metric used to identify “good schools”, were all honest schools. Perhaps why they’ve had so few runners. Even in Kuwait, which was pilloried above, we had only one runner in three years, perhaps because the school was honest plus did its part to support teachers in working with students and families who sometimes tried to be difficult.
I agree about the honest part. And about supportive. It's generally in the interest of the school to keep you happy and in your contract after the time and money spent recruiting you.
Schools and locations can be so different, but I've only (so far) encountered two types of runner: those that leave due to a change in personal circumstances and one case of jumping to a rival school for more money.
The latter was amusing because the school they jumped to closed a few months later...
So it seems that the worst types of runners are those that just don't turn up to work one day. Those who agree with the school to leave are not really runners. Both parties have an agreement and it should be that way.
I would agree that support and a sense of school community are both very important. We have had a few runners here during the many years I've been at the school, but most of them haver been during the first few days/weeks when teachers in their first overseas jobs realise they've made a terrible mistake and leave. Otherwise, it's been the result of agreement between the school and the teachers that things just weren't working out and can't really be called "running" sine we knew well in advance that they would be leaving before the end of the contract....
On the other hand, when the support and sense of community IS there, teachers will go to extraordinary lengths to try to stay. I remember teachers in tears when they had to leave our school in Tehran as the Islamic Revolution progressed... And most of us stayed until the bitter end...
I worked at a rotten school in Spain some years ago and gave in my notice because I was unhappy. In Spain the maximum notice employers can ask for is a month. At the end of the month the employer refused to pay me my last months pay. I did hire a local solicitor and he paid rather than appear in court. This made me wary of giving notice. I have since 'done a runner' from two other schools in Spain. The first was because the owner refused to give staff contracts and gave everyone a letter stating they were self employed. He then paid an hourly rate and require teachers to teach every period with no frees. He went one step further and changed my time table in September so that my lessons didn't finish until 6pm for three nights a week. Rather unsurprisingly I did a runner. It did cause me problems because schools in the UK now require a reference from your last employer and of course he wouldn't supply one (although I suppose as I was classed as self employed). I then ended up at a truly awful school in Spain that for reasons I won't go into I also did a runner from. So there are reasons to get out ASAP in Spain in particular you may find yourself in the position of working for a crook.
Agreed that runners are those who disappear suddenly and mysteriously. If you have an agreement to leave earlier than originally intended, that’s something else.
Fair enough. A school I was at in India used the willingness of teachers to do the right thing to nickel and dime the heck out of them. Doing the right thing meant being punished for the transgression. At least they weren't local teachers, they really were treated abysmally.
It meant that a teaching couple just didn't come back after the summer. They waited until their summer months' salary was paid, transferred it and then made their excuses. Otherwise, they'd have had the summer salary withheld, would have had to pay for their return flights and would have had to pay for recruitment costs that the school had incurred (when they'd already had a full year out of them, with both of them being the type to take on unpaid extracurricular stuff) and so on.
They figured...hell with making a martyr of ourselves for a nasty school with very, very rich owners. I thought it was a bit of a cheek for them to act so initially, but that was mainly as I envied their freedom. I needed a good reference as had no desire to mess up with international schools (or Search) so instead saw out my contract and moved to a far superior school.
I benefitted from staying. They benefitted from a runner. A good school would make sure that, should the worse come to the worst, that neither party feels ripped off and exploited by the other. There has to be some kind of honesty and fairness when such a situation arises.
A runner doesn't tell the school. They scarper. Skedaddle. Irish goodbye outta the joint.
Now this brings up a very interesting point.... if someone did do a runner and return to the UK, would they in theory therefore have to be "creative" with their CVs since a school is very unlikely to provide them with a reference at all?
In the UK at least, I believe an employer is legally bound to provide the bare minimum reference - ie) that a person worked there between Date X and Date Y.
Rather disturbingly on the international circuit, there appears no way to guarantee that you'll get a reference? Could this prevent you from ever getting a teaching job back in the UK?
Believe it or not there is not a requirement to give a reference in the UK.
In my last employment (not teaching) I worked for an organisation for 12 years then I whistle blew on a managed and ended up getting sacked. The case went on for a year (during which time the taxpayer was still paying me full salary). Disciplinary process exhausted, and sacking confirmed I went to ACAS and then just before the tribunal a substantial offer was made which I accepted.
An agreement was drawn up between both parties which was signed by both and then they refused to give a reference at all even confirming I had worked there. I complained to ACAS again who basically said as it wasn’t part of the settlement agreement they had no obligation to provide me with one.
I was a year unemployed as a consequence.
I understand that an employer has no legal obligation to provide a reference. In education I think schools always do because of child protection. The school I left in Spain refused all teachers contracts and registered us as all self employed so I suppose I could have put that on my CV but I didn't because I see no reason for trying to hide anything. I was quite shocked when I returned to the UK and told them about my job in Spain they told me I wouldn't pass their child protection screening because of this refusal of a reference. It was quite nasty. The owner of this school uses this to abuse staff. "if you complain about having no contract I will end your teaching career by refusing you a reference"! In retrospect I should have taken legal action against him because his employment practices were quite illegal in Spain but he lived in the courts and was very happy to tell everyone he was a multiple bankcrupt. The guidance given on safe recruitment in schools is a license for these foreign schools to abuse staff and if schools ignore the guidance OFSTED will fail them.
My god... that sounds nightmarish! What did you do?
If this is the case this should be made very clear to anybody looking at going on the circuit. A real warning of the potential pitfalls.
I had a rough year last year and left after a year of my two year contract. Before we left for Christmas, one of the 'leaders' emailed the new teachers and asked us to think about whether we would be returning for the second year. I found this odd, only three months into the first term.
A little alarm bell situation.
Anyway, I decided not to return after the summer, and told them in April. They refused to pay me over the summer. I wish I'd run instead of being honest.
I have been shouting very loudly for years how truly terrible some if not most of the schools in Spain are..... sometimes someone listens
Join a union and get free legal advice and representation. As briancant said, the school's management was breaking Spanish law... Many do and will continue to do so unless they are called on it. However, to say that "most" do on the basis of the flimsiest of evidence is a travesty. In my experience, most schools in Spain follow the law but some don't and potential candidates are well-advised to research the schools to which they apply.
Then they might give you a terrible reference and get you blackballed by recruiters. You might have needed to ghost the whole year from your resume. Breaking contract is not something to be taken lightly as, usually, the teacher has a lot to lose.
It's why I saw out my contract at a crappy school. Another school allowed me to leave due to personal circumstances and couldn't have been nicer about it. Guess which one I later on recommended to a friend and which school I'm happy to badmouth? My friend works at my former school now and she is amazing so, thanks to their kindness, they ended up getting great reviews and an excellent teacher in the future.
As for the school that treats their faculty poorly? I've put a number of teachers off that particular scent, and all I did was tell the truth...
I myself went in to replace a runner in a highly academic senior high school in Nanjing, China. No one knew why he fled without trace, during the middle of Spring term!!
In another school, a guy ran at Christmas. He communicated with me later and said he couldn't cope with the demand of the curriculum - raising students' standard in Chemistry from Grade 6 (UK KS2 ) Grade 11 (UK KS4) in just one year. Understandable?
My ex-wife ‘did a runner’ from an international school in the ME. Started new job in August. Ran at Xmas. Packed as much of her belongings as she could into 2 large suitcases and sold/gifted the rest. Caught a flight back to UK then emailed her resignation to the school. Took rest of school year out, citing WRS, and stated ‘illness’ on her CV. No questions asked in her UK job hunt and didn’t hear anything from the school she ran from. Worked in UK for two years and put the running incident behind her, professionally & emotionally.
We went on a cruise holiday in 2009 and one itinerary port was the city where she taught and did the runner from. Local port authorities arrested her at dockside, her passport was taken from her and she spent a long day in a police station arguing why she should be allowed to return to the cruise ship! Ended up paying a $2000 ‘fine’ for the crime of ‘breaking a contract’ with the local school all those years earlier. A very scary day! A memorable 5th day to our 12 day holiday!
Moral (if there is one) is that you are always, somehow, held account for your actions when running from schools in some ME nations. The issue may seem to have resolved itself at the time but beware that it won’t come back to haunt you many years down the line.
A former colleague was dismissed from my dept due to ‘running’ issues from their previous school (overseas runner who I employed as my 2nd in Dept in the UK). Went through safer recruitment process, no issues with CRB (as it was then) and started work. Three weeks into the term I’m told there’s irregularities and my 2nd in Dept is not returning. Turns out a Deputy had previously worked with an acquaintance of my 2nd and an innocent “I see you work with my friend XXXX, please pass on my regards to them, I haven’t seen them since they went to China to teach” social conversation caused Alarm bells! CV and application form is checked, my 2nd’s past is investigated in detail, found that they did in fact work in China for 2 terms but ‘ran’ with their young family from their Chinese school. UK school fired my 2nd for gross misconduct of dishonesty in application process and in CRB process.