Jumping on a plane 5 minutes before class starts

Summer is waving its goodbyes, children are getting ready to return to their school desks and mornings are getting chillier. This is an exciting time for many teachers who are about to start their international teaching contracts abroad. These teachers are on their way to completing induction training and are about to meet their new classes in a country that they have only arrived in a week or two ago. They have had a look around their new surroundings and have probably already found their new favourite restaurant and people they will be visiting this restaurant with.

When this time of the year comes, I cannot help but feel a little envious. I still miss the thrill and excitement that comes with packing up my bags and plunging into the unknown; therefore it is easy to see why one of the more common questions that I get asked at this time of year is:

‘Is it too late to secure an immediate placement abroad?’

The short answer is, ‘It is definitely not too late.’ There are many international schools still searching to fill urgent vacancies. Actually, in many cases this is a very good time to be looking as you might end up securing a very competitive offer. Let me explain:

January to March is when every reputable, well-established school would be looking to hire teachers for a September start. This allows schools to plan ahead and to prepare the new staff.

Once recruitment is finished, the schools stop actively looking for new staff members. However, circumstances often change during April and August. It could be anything from a current staff member handing in late notice to a newly hired teacher getting cold feet and dropping out. As a result, even the best International schools may have some slots to fill late in the game.

Now, the most important questions are:

‘Are you REALLY ready to relocate immediately?’

One of the most important aspects to consider is the notice period with your current employer. Whilst you may be on great terms with your colleagues and your employer, this, unfortunately, does not mean that they will be willing to release you early from an agreed contract. I recently worked with a teacher who secured his dream job in China and had to give it up as he was not released to go before the end of his full notice period which was three months. Always make sure to check your contract!

‘Are you going on your own or are you going with a partner/spouse/children?’

Whilst it is a lot easier to relocate when you are single, it is very common for families to relocate together. One of the perks of being a qualified teachers and teaching internationally is the free tuition that your children will be getting at the school you will go to. However, if you are looking to move as a family, it can take longer to find the right school as you will need a school with the benefits package that can accommodate this move. Another thing to consider would be whether or not you can take your own children out of their schools a few weeks into the term or would it be better to try next year. Another popular option is to look out for the jobs that start in January to give you enough time to plan ahead.

‘Are you flexible with the location?’

This often also answers the question why some teachers are still looking and why they have not found something earlier. Unfortunately, countries in the Middle East, such as UAE and Kuwait have tightened their visa requirements and it is becoming increasingly harder (if not impossible in some areas) to find a job if you do not fit those requirements. For example, International Schools in Abu Dhabi will require teachers to have a teaching qualification, two years of experience plus a BA in the subject they are teaching. This means a UK Maths teacher with a BA in Psychology and a PGCE in Maths will not qualify. It is important to research the location you have set your heart on so that you don’t end up wasting time applying for something you cannot get approved for.

If you have considered everything and the time is right for you, do not hesitate to look around and to apply, even if the date you are looking to start at is during the mid-term. Additionally, explore what recruitment agencies have on offer: we work closely with our clients and can fast track your application to the schools. This service is completely free to the teachers and includes a lot of advice on visa requirements, benefits packages and the involved documentation.

Good luck to everyone job hunting this September!


- By Anda Banks, Edvectus Consultant 

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