1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice
  3. The Teacher Q&A will be closing soon.

    If you have any information that you would like to keep or refer to in the future please can you copy and paste the information to a format suitable for you to save or take screen shots of the questions and responses you are interested in.

    Don’t forget you can still use the rest of the forums on theTes Community to post questions and get the advice, help and support you require from your peers for all your teaching needs.

    Dismiss Notice

What is a tier 1 school?

Discussion in 'Teaching overseas' started by snitzelvonkrumm, Jun 25, 2018.

  1. snitzelvonkrumm

    snitzelvonkrumm Occasional commenter

    As I am a relative novice to the international school world, can someone provide some clarity to the concept of tier 1 schools? Are they the best paying? The longest established? The most popular? The best governed? The largest? The most innovative?
    Or is it some sort of mythical concept made up by those who perceive their school is more desirable?
    I assume it may be a combination of all of the above?
    ruthwill500, rideemcowboy and 2mature like this.
  2. tjh102

    tjh102 Occasional commenter

    I think you are probably right with your "combination".

    In my city, there is a widely-regarded "Big Three". These are always called Tier One, but are all quite different.

    A) The oldest international school in the city. Pays very well. Has good accreditation. Very large. Don't know an awful lot about it other than that!

    B) The oldest British international school in the city. Pays well, although the school screws you over if it considers you a local hire (i.e. you have been in the country 6 months). Very large, well established, good accreditation.

    C) Very large school but only established in the 90s. Considered top flight largely for its UN links. An IB school, pays very well, almost impossible to get a job there (so the rumour goes!).

    There are other schools that some say are Tier 1 and others say are Tier 2, but those three are undisputed.

    Personally, there is only one of those three I would like to work at. But I stopped being a school snob long ago!

    I think the main things about a Tier 1 school is that they are well regulated and are run to a standard that is equal to or better than schools back home. It isn't a place for wannabe backpackers to take a working holiday. They usually pay well, but this is compensation for the work they expect of you.
    snitzelvonkrumm likes this.
  3. tjh102

    tjh102 Occasional commenter

    Just want to add a MAJOR difference between Tier One and a lot of the others (at least what I have seen!)... Professional development.

    The three I mentioned above don't just provide professional development opportunities, but also give their employees an annual sum of money to be spent on professional development. This increases according to how long you have worked at the school. This may have changed, but I know it is still true of school B and was certainly true of A and C a couple of years ago.
    snitzelvonkrumm likes this.
  4. yasf

    yasf Occasional commenter

    Which one?
    snitzelvonkrumm likes this.
  5. snitzelvonkrumm

    snitzelvonkrumm Occasional commenter

    If I guessed, Bangkok?
    ruthwill500 and rideemcowboy like this.
  6. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    I have not worked at a tier 1 school, but i have always had amazing PD opportunities. It isnt just the top flight schools thst provide this.
  7. snitzelvonkrumm

    snitzelvonkrumm Occasional commenter

    My point. Perhaps you do work at a tier 1 school, after all? What is it that your school falls short on?
    ruthwill500 and rideemcowboy like this.
  8. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    Nope, i have not worked at a tier 1 at all, i can assure you of that. I have worked at good IB schools. And schools that really look after their staff, but most of the ones i have worked at have not been that "desirable" ones that everyone applies for. Possibly because thay havent been in nice places like BKK, Hong Kong, Singapore etc. Still been paid very well though.
  9. snitzelvonkrumm

    snitzelvonkrumm Occasional commenter

    Can't they be a tier 1 by being the best of the schools in a city? Are there no tier 1 schools in Africa or China?
    ruthwill500 and rideemcowboy like this.
  10. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    No there are, there are some great schools, but i havent worked at any of them. I personally dont think there are tier one schools in every city. There are "better" schools in every city, and there are always lower levrl schools, but tier 1's in my opinion are a rare bread, and only a limited number around the world.
    rideemcowboy and snitzelvonkrumm like this.
  11. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    This question comes around fairly often, so here is an answer that also comes around fairly often.

    There is no such thing as a tier one school. There are absolutely outstanding schools and there are very poor schools and everything in between but there is no school that is outstanding to all teachers, parents, students etc. etc.

    Teachers leave great schools all the time. Teachers join poor schools all the time. Does that mean one is better than the other? By some metric, yes but by other metrics, probably not.

    A long time ago, someone told me that a school has three main criteria - great package, great staff and great students. If you have two out of three, you are doing well. If you have all three, either wake up or never leave.

    That, in itself, can be a problem. Would you really wish to work in a school that is so great that you never wish to leave? Where promotion literally means, waiting for someone to retire or die? Where your own development is restricted to the choices someone else makes? Think of it as a fur lined coffin.

    I digress. We join schools because, at that moment in time, they are the best choice for us. Later on, other choices take precedence and the school may lose some of its allure.

    I work at what some would consider a Tier 1 school. Great this, that and the other. You want a healthy work life balance? Sure, you can have it, once you have been here a decade or so and you know what is expected of you. Do the new teachers - who tend to leave very quickly if they leave at all (average length of stay is 14 years) - think it is amazing? Yes and definitely no. It is hard work, with demanding parents and students (with perhaps unrealistic university aspirations). There is always pressure - pressure to be up to date with the latest educational initiatives, pressure to attend as much PD as possible, pressure to get more qualifications, etc. etc. You get the picture.

    A top school can be a great place to work for those who fit its ideal teacher profile. It is not a great place to work for those who don't. A great school is what you make of it and where you feel at ease and wanted. For some, a great school is working at an inner city comp making a difference to the lives of children who are marginalized. For others, it is working at Eton, and the pressures that come with that job, which are different but still exist.

    I guess, my answer is, try and figure out what you want from a school and then find one that fits your ideals.
    razziegyp, karel, ruthwill500 and 6 others like this.
  12. Teachallover

    Teachallover Occasional commenter

    I’ve never supported the idea of so-called ‘tier schools’. It’s an attitude interpretation where one person’s criteria may disagree with another person. I agree, as dumbbells66 states, there are better schools than others, of course there are, just like there are some better breakfast cereals than others, but this could likewise be debated and disagreed. I would add, and I have witnessed many times, in the ever-coming and going nature of international teaching, sudden management changes can rapidly and drastically change the direction of schools, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse...but it always starts at the very top.
  13. tjh102

    tjh102 Occasional commenter

    No, probably not. I have only seen the financial incentive for PD at the top schools but probably just not advertised elsewhere. I have met people at other courses who have had fantastic PD access.

    Haha... I love how people know from the Big Three. Yes, it is Bangkok.

    It is school C I would love to work at - the UN one. Although, in reality, the school in Bangkok I really want to work at is a different one, belonging to a chain often referred to on here by a car that shares its name.

    I am not sure what I think of the Tier concept and if it is real... I know there are schools I would love to work at and schools that don't bother me.
    rideemcowboy and snitzelvonkrumm like this.
  14. percy topliss

    percy topliss Occasional commenter

    After 20 odd years overseas I subscribe to the idea that a tier one school is one where you feel comfortable, you like your package and you are happy getting up every morning and going to work. With regard to the comments above here in Bangkok there are quite a few schools that would class themselves as "tier 1" but times change, sometimes amazingly quickly...a couple of years ago one "tier 1" school lost an oil companys business, all the kids were pulled out they had to cut their staff and the remaining ones wages....is that still tier 1? The staff who remain do not think so. Another school lost its whole counselling department which, to my mind does not make that school conducive to supplying a top class education. Is that still tier one? The British one pays incredibly well but if you work out the number of hours that you work you would be on less than minimum wage back home.

    So, as with beauty I think that the answer to the OP question is in the eye of the beholder.

    karel, tjh102 and snitzelvonkrumm like this.
  15. wrldtrvlr123

    wrldtrvlr123 Occasional commenter

    Some great responses here. As posted, there really is no right or wrong answer since the whole tier concept is fairly nebulous and varies great in people's minds, perceptions, etc.

    I generally feel that a Tier 1 school has some combination of facilities, package, reputation, working conditions, community, etc. that sets it above many/most other international schools. One of those categories can be a bit wanting if it is made up for by another category being especially outstanding (e.g. the facilities can be a bit small and/or dated if the package is especially generous and everything else is excellent).

    I do not subscribe to the idea that the best school in an area/region is automatically a Tier 1 school. In my mind, if you accept that notion then you could end up with a relatively ***** school in a ***** location and yet it is considered a Tier 1 school.

    Again, it really is just semantics and comes down to what you personally value/desire most in a school. And don't get me started about "Elite" international schools...
  16. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    What i have found over the years that people that work in these "tier 1" schools are always very quick to tell you that its a tier 1 school. There is one school in particular that does this, its in Bangkok near to Soi 11.... they really can be up their own a@# sometimes.
    rideemcowboy and snitzelvonkrumm like this.
  17. tjh102

    tjh102 Occasional commenter

    Great answer as usual, Perce.

    I didn't know about the oil company.

    I love your idea about tier one being comfort, package and enjoying your job.
  18. T0nyGT

    T0nyGT Lead commenter

    I think it depends on the city. If a city has 3 international schools, then the best one doesn't automatically become tier 1. My city for example, has a few international schools by I highly doubt any of them would be considered tier 1
  19. tjh102

    tjh102 Occasional commenter

    Is that School C in my post above?

    I think you have a point - there are some "education snobs" who like to make it known that they aren't in just any old school! Not sure this applies to everyone there though.
  20. Teachallover

    Teachallover Occasional commenter

    What about workload? Academic integrity VS teacher working conditions. Yes, you get brilliant pay, accommodation, flights etc. However, in a hypothetical neighbouring school you find that for less pay; that you don’t have to do any After School Activities, staff finish at 15:15 instead of 16:30, you get an extra 2 weeks holidays a year, the paperwork and data is sensible as opposed to obsessional, you get a better bonus payout at completion of your contract and that school also has delicious lunches served unlike yours...that school is in an affordable area much closer to city centre activities rather than out in the middle of nowhere with 1 hour commuting both ways each day...Again it’s an attitude as to where you’d rather work.

Share This Page