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Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by spotty, Feb 19, 2020.

  1. spotty

    spotty New commenter

    Hi Teaching Abroad community,

    I work in an International school in France, and have done so for the last 14 years. My school has always given free tuition for teachers' children - this, I believe, is the norm in the majority of International schools.
    Our school has recently been taken over by NACE, which has just been renamed GLOBEDUCATE. They have informed us that we have 3 more years of free tuition for teachers' kids, then we must pay 50%. This, I'm sure you can imagine, was quite a shock to the 13 staff members who will be affected by this change in policy - some of those have more than 1 child.
    As a group, we are trying to gather data that will support our claim that this is unfair/unreasonable, and would appreciate any information from teachers in other International schools relating to what they, as teachers, pay in terms of tuition fees for their children: it would be REALLY helpful if there are any teachers who currently work in a NACE/GLOBEDUCATE school.

    Thank you in advance for any help,

  2. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    I'm not sure there is such a thing as "data that will support our claim that this is unfair/unreasonable". You might be able to find data around the prevalence of schools offering free tuition for children, but that's really not the same thing. And you might not like that data. Worldwide, the better international schools typically do pay tuition, and this is typically done as an incentive to entice high-quality foreign teachers to pick up sticks and move to a new country. However, there are huge numbers of schools that have their own reasons for NOT paying tuition. Some might claim, and I will not argue, that the number one reason for not paying tuition is because the school is not overly concerned with attracting high-quality teachers. They have a lower package, and they get the teachers they can get. But the other common reason for not paying tuition is that the school has no need to offer the incentive, due to the easy availability of high-quality teachers who want to be where the school is. Case in point, you've been there 14 years yourself, and your post suggests that longevity is common at your school - otherwise, who would care about losing a benefit 3 years from now - anyone impacted would just leave before then. International schools in France, Italy and Spain (among other "mainstream" European tourist destinations) do not typically offer tuition as a benefit, because they don't need to entice anyone. People are lining up for the opportunity to work in these countries. Some happily take on poverty wages just for the "lifestyle".
    I may sound unsympathetic, but actually I am not. It's no fun to lose a benefit, and it's no fun to see other people do the same job and get more than you do. But, sadly for your prolific colleagues, if they want those benefits, they'll have to move to where they are common.
    At least you've been given 3 years. That's plenty of time to decide whether you want to stay under the new conditions.
    spotty and kpjf like this.
  3. kpjf

    kpjf Occasional commenter

    In my school in France (though not NACE/GLOBEDUCATE) it used to be free then they had to start paying a % two years ago, something like your case above, but as I have no kids I didn't pay much attention to it. However, the actual tuition fees at my school are not that high relatively speaking, so I don't know in your case if we're talking a few thousand a year in fees or something like 20-25,000 euros.

    To be honest, I don't see what you can actually do, legally speaking, other than mass resignations (unless in your contract it's clearly written that your children get free tuition); however from your post one would imagine that that is not on the cards.

    Regarding fairness, as the poster above mentions I don't see how you can argue it's unfair / unreasonable given that not every school offers this and you've been given plenty of notice. I'm sure in my school they were simply told it would take effect the next school year. Of course the 13 staff members could arrange to have a meeting with the new owners, but frankly speaking if I were the owners I'd be thinking Spotty has worked at my school for 14 years, has kids and isn't going anywhere so what's the incentive? Put another way: you're not likely to quit over this, are you?
    spotty and sazad99 like this.
  4. miketribe

    miketribe Established commenter

    Gulgulf is wrong to say that schools in Spain do not offer free tuition to teachers' kids. They are obliged by law to do so, not just for teachers, but for all employees. We've had bus drivers' and cleaners' kids at the school on free tuition in the past. There are certainly some schools that break the law, but that's what they're doing if they deny free tuition...
    I would suggest the OP consults one of the big French unions. They will know the rules. Here, the school wouldn't be able legally to change the terms of your contract unilaterally.
    spotty and DocShew like this.
  5. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    Are you members of a French Teaching Union? That would be my first point of call.... because if any of the staff members were offered free tution for their children as part of their offer of employment, then the Union should be able to make a pretty string case that this cannot be rescinded.
    spotty likes this.
  6. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Lots of schools in the ME are looking (or have looked) at ways to shave off some of the benefits that international teachers receive.

    As per usual, I have to agree with gulfgolf. It's the market, folks.
    spotty likes this.
  7. taiyah

    taiyah Occasional commenter

    This happened to my previous school.

    Many posters on here have already told you that it will lead to no where. That's the sad truth. I will tell you what a positioned personnel told us over a casual bucket of beers. Keep in mind that this is a business plan.

    "The only loser here are the current staff. If they decide to move, we will hire two types of people. One, a single meaning there are school places available paying 100% of school fees. Or two a family paying 50% of school fees per child."

    They all tried to look for a new job. But... It was a good school and community.

    All the families stayed.
    spotty likes this.
  8. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    Well if you look around the world many schools only offer 1 return flight every 2 year contract and how many now offer shared accommodation.

    Here in China in the next 18 months free school places will be taxed as unearned income at the published school tuition price(so no offering staff a 99% discount on fees and paying tax on 1%). So the school may still offer a free place for children but you will have to pay 9000GBP tax due to government regulations. Also at the same time teachers/expats will lose the tax free housing allowance so a 25% reduction in our rent allowance. Some talk that if you live on the school grounds in provided accommodation as in a boarding school you will still get tax free housing, but that is 24/7 working hours.
    spotty likes this.
  9. 24hours

    24hours New commenter

    Out of interest, is the school fully subscribed?
    spotty likes this.
  10. Helen-Back

    Helen-Back Occasional commenter

    In our current and previous schools tuition for two was free. In our next school we pay 25%. That said, after we've paid housing and tuition our remaining salary will be double our current salary (after housing costs are removed). I think our current school scores 4 to 6 on *** for salary. Our next school generally scores 8 to 10. Swings and roundabouts.
    spotty likes this.
  11. T0nyGT

    T0nyGT Lead commenter

    I don't think this is true
    spotty likes this.
  12. Mr robinson

    Mr robinson New commenter

    Here in Jakarta 2 children are free with full benefits ( annual flights, excellent medical insurance etc) 3rd child is free education, but you only get 50% benefits for 3rd child. Salary is also excellent (better than our neighbours in Singapore). But the package has to be great to entice people to live in Jakarta! In Bali (where I'm on holiday now) the salaries are like 30% of what we earn, but that is because they can easily attract teachers on those salaries. I'm kind of the opinion that all you can do is vote with your feet, if you don't like the package.
    spotty and austin_jen like this.
  13. grdwdgrrrl

    grdwdgrrrl Occasional commenter

    In our previous school, we paid 5% of the fees. That school also had the same policy for all employees kids down to the dinner ladies. So, that was great. Current school the fees are free only for the overseas teachers and admin. The cleaners and canteen staff are externally hired so they’re exempt anyway.
    We get two kids per teacher or three for two teachers, which is pretty generous.
    spotty likes this.
  14. makhnovite

    makhnovite Established commenter

    Every school will have its own policy, ranging from from nothing to possibly three free places. It usually depends on the constituency of the school; i.e. how many international students, how many locals, do they want to attract teaching families, is the owner worried about losing money etc etc. there are as many models as there are schools. If there is a norm then the two children with full benefits is probably the most common.
    spotty likes this.
  15. tica

    tica New commenter

    It was only when we moved from Latin America to the Middle East that we had to pay for our 2 children. In Kuwait Oman and Dubai we paid 50% fees for both children despite both of us teaching at the schools. So I would take issue with the previous poster 's suggestion that 2 free places is the norm
    spotty and gulfgolf like this.
  16. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    Back in the day, when I started my career, so 25 plus years ago, yeah, there was a norm of two kids free per family. But a lot of other things were different too. Typically only one, possibly two international schools per country, and typically connected to an embassy or an oil company or another major multinational corporation, so schools were typically about supporting those employees rather than turning a profit. No internet in an way that compares to today, far fewer places where you could buy groceries from your home country, or see an English speaking doctor, and international phone calls home started around £1 per minute, so much harder to be away from home. And moving overseas was considered far less “normal” than it is today. All of that and more added up to schools needing to entice teachers to come to them. And yet, even back then, schools in France didn’t typically pay for tuition. Or flights. Or housing or international insurance. Because they didn’t need to.
    Today it’s all changed. There are more international schools by far - the number growing by around 6% per year for a decade or so. Growing before that too, but I don’t have the data handy. Anyway, at least 10 times more international schools out there compared to when I started and that two child norm existed. Many of the new schools are for profit, or non-profit but not backed by a business or an embassy, so much more conscious of the bottom line. They’re competing against each other since they’re opening in cities with existing schools, making extra income harder to attract, while the need to be visibly awesome gets stronger with each new competitor. At the same time, being a global nomad has become much easier and more accepted back home.
    So the new normal is very different. And far less universal.
    spotty, 24hours and february31st like this.
  17. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    Honestly why would anybody work in a s.h.i.t.h.o.l.e country that didn't offer a free first class education for their children.

    It was more fun working in international teaching 20 years ago, you needed a dinner jacket/ball gown just to attend the rugby club dinner.
    spotty likes this.
  18. cduffner3

    cduffner3 New commenter

    I've had free places (Korea), paid 10pc (Dubai) and 20pc (HK) so seems to vary! also - the 20pc was the same price as the 10pc as the fees were vastly different.....
    Helen-Back and spotty like this.
  19. IndigoViolence

    IndigoViolence New commenter

    UAE opened 74 schools last year, KSA need 900 schools by 2025.... packages will have to be as attractive as they are competitive if those schools want to attract, expensive, whoops, I mean experienced staff. 2 year flip-flopping younger staff don’t typically help to build a school; nor do they want the middle management positions; nor do they need the free places and most of the time want to live somewhere glam.

    2 free school places is the norm and I don’t think we should be thinking that it isn’t. Whenever I’ve come across 3 free places is when the Head has three of its own to school...

    Back to the OP, I think given they have given you 3 years to plan for it then there’s not much you can do except leave. Most international schools don’t even give notice, or worse, have their staff on different contracts which is always a pleasant surprise.
    spotty likes this.
  20. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    Packages in the ME have been eroding for about 5 or 6 years now, with no end in sight. Top schools have reduced benefits and lowered salaries.
    New schools keep opening, true, but they’re not offering better packages. Far from it. Most are offering packages that clearly reflect the market for students- schools are competing with each other to attract students, which means they have to offer value for money. Whatever price point they’re at, they have to offer (or appear to offer) something not offered by other schools at that price point. There’s no room in the budget to spend more money on packages.
    spotty likes this.

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