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Work life balance

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by nikki2482, Jan 11, 2019.

  1. nikki2482

    nikki2482 New commenter

    What exactly is the work life balance like at international schools? I know each is different but generally, what are the expectations.

    As we know with the UK system, you start early, finish last then work at home or weekends. Do international schools expect you to be there between set times? Can you get it all done in the time you are at school?

    What about schools that say 'school comes first'. What do they mean?
  2. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    Every school is different.
  3. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    as above, but from my experience, my work-life balance has been extremely better than what i remember the UK to be. international schools in general also have more holidays than state schools. i currently have 3 more weeks of than British state schools, and working around the 180 days a year is very common.
  4. james_1979

    james_1979 New commenter

    Work life balance was one of the reasons as to why I stayed put. I was keen when the top tier schools advertised their positions. But after asking different friends, reading a few forums and looking at their salary scales; with ECAs it was a 5:30 - 6 pm finish and you'd loose many of your Saturdays and about 8 - 10 of your entire weekends. To top it all off, along with doing more hours and I'd loose an average of 800GBP per month. Yes, the school was top notch, location fantastic and the kids are well behaved. I just didn't see the point. Not, yet anyway.

    Yes, there are late days, more in your more demanding schools. As an Aussie teacher, I would say my work-life balance back home is still better than what I've been on since I started by international days. In saying that, I am home by 2:45 three out of the 5 days. My weekends, aside from 2 days, are all mine.
  5. 576

    576 Established commenter

    My school gives 20%ppa time.
    We only write reports for our tutees but do ternky parents evening for our classes.
    Long Christmas holiday but Easter is short and February half term does not exist. We do have 1x 3 day weekend and 1 x 4 day weekend this term though.
  6. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    I'm out the door the moment school finishes (4.30). Weirdly, despite longer school hours and more responsibility than I had in the UK, I spend fewer hours in school.

    Smaller classes means less marking.

    Fewer SLT means fewer pointless meetings and fewer demands for data that they never seem to do anything with anyway.

    Longer holidays (by about 3 weeks). No May half-term, but with the Summer term not starting until May 2nd and finishing on June 26th this year, I think I'll cope! ;-)

    I have so much more time for my children compared to 2 years ago it is incredible. Well worth taking a pay cut for.
  7. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    your international school may well ask you to run after school clubs / sports etc, this is common, but its more than made up for by the embarrassingly enormous pay rise i have had
  8. miketribe

    miketribe Established commenter

    We have after school activities as well, but they’re voluntary and paid. We also get paid if we choose to cover for absent colleagues. The school day is from 9:00-3:45. A full schedule involves teaching two 75-minute classes two days a week and three on the other three days. There are two hour-long meetings per month + more if you volunteer for committees. The rest of the school day is for marking and preparation. Class sizes are relatively small so I find I can get most of the marking done during the day and a good deal of the preparation.
    marilyn2 likes this.
  9. marilyn2

    marilyn2 New commenter

    @miketribe goodness! What part of the work do you work in?
  10. miketribe

    miketribe Established commenter

    I’m in Spain. I hasten to add that not all Spanish schools offer the same conditions, and some of them are pretty awful, as, I am sure dumbbells66 will be along soon to tell everyone...
    drvs likes this.
  11. marilyn2

    marilyn2 New commenter

    @miketribe thanks for the info, certainly sounds like you struck gold! I have heard a few negative things about some schools in Spain
  12. miketribe

    miketribe Established commenter

    And they’re probably true! But not ALL schools here are rubbish. And even in some of the less wonderful schools, the absence of most of the pointless paper-pushing means the work-life balance is better...
    WelshMags likes this.
  13. ejclibrarian

    ejclibrarian Established commenter Community helper

    Teacher contracted hours at my school are 7.30-3.30 plus one ECA a week which end at 4.30. My husband and I rarely do much work at home unless we absolutely want to. Holidays are decent and apart from one mandatory Saturday in November to help at the Christmas Bazaar we don't have to work on weekends. On top of that the kids are lovely (I don't get sworn at or threatened anymore which is great!). My school isn't top tier which probably helps.
  14. Teachallover

    Teachallover Occasional commenter

    To anyone answering this question, it is not only the diverse range of schools to consider but also individuals and their expectations. What a quality work life balance means to one person could be very different to another.
    This topic is something I take very seriously into account when choosing where I want to apply for employment. Personally, I am quite prepared to accept less pay switching jobs if it means I get more holiday, an earlier finishing time, less bogged down with unnecessary paperwork and meetings, more freedom in teaching and less senior management breathing down your neck constantly etc etc. For me, quality work life balance means; being able to spend more time with my family, to be able to forget about work and it’s stresses when I leave in the afternoon and to have enough money to go exploring at the weekend, hire a cleaner, dine out and travel during the holidays - something I could not take for granted when teaching in UK. Just a point to add, since abanading so many stresses (and a significant higher salary) my health has improved significantly.
  15. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    As a general guide, in my last three schools over 3 continents my working week has looked like this.
    • School starts at 8am, classes finish at 3.
    • After school activity from 3 - 4 (only have to do 2 a year, or one sport)
    • 8 day timetable, so some weeks are slightly longer than others.
    • Teach 5 classes levels.
    • 4 classes a day (secondary).
    • Minimum of 1 free class a day.
    • On odd number days, 2 free lessons.
    • Largest class taught in over 10 years, 23 students
    • Smallest class 8
    • Massively more resourced than any school i taught at in the UK.
    • 180 contract days a year (Uk state schools 195)
    • Not written report comments in 6 years.
    • All this, AND i have never earnt as little as a UK teacher (except in Spain)
    • Plus have all the usual international teachers benefits package.
    @nikki2482 , it is different to the UK. But as others have said, not all schools are the same.
  16. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    In my experience at a British international school the work-life balance was similar to that at a UK independent school.
  17. miketribe

    miketribe Established commenter

    Some of the people who replied (like dumbbells and me) were not referring to British system schools overseas, but rather to IB or really international schools. As dumbbells wrote, the school year is far shorter than in England (in my case around 175 days a year, instead of around 195 days) and the school day is usually shorter. Also, as he says, class sizes are MUCH smaller. I have been overseas for over 40 years and have only once had a class of over 25. The average has been around 18. This makes the marking much less of a burden. I’ve also been mercifully free of pointless paperwork. We have to fill in report cards and update curriculum from time to time, but that’s about it, unless you volunteer for more...
    dumbbells66 likes this.
  18. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    Useful clarification for the OP in developing their understanding of the different overseas workplaces.

    You've noted the difference in workload in different flavours of international school: huge differences can also be found in the UK sectors. UK independent schools don't teach 195 days nor do they have large classes. I work in a typical indie in the SE and have 19 weeks of holiday and a couple of bank holidays - last year I taught less than 165 days. My school sets a class size limit of 16 and my largest exam group is 9. This makes the marking much less of a burden and I too am free of pointless paperwork.

    UK state schools, by contrast, are ridiculous.
  19. miketribe

    miketribe Established commenter

    That’s true, too... I was thinking of state schools...

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