Why choose to teach abroad?

Escaping (literally) from the turmoil of Brexit and the political machinations of the UK can appear a particularly attractive option at the moment. Although I have written in the past about why teaching abroad can be enormously beneficial, both personally and professionally, I thought it was an apt moment to recall why this is the case – especially because I was reminded at the recent Council of British International Schools (COBIS) conference in London very vigorously of the great opportunities for UK teachers (and others) that lie in cultures other than their own.

Last year, COBIS conducted a major survey looking into teacher supply in British International Schools and found that 94% of senior leaders in British international schools find it challenging to recruit the required quality of teaching staff; by implication, this means that the roles are there and waiting for highly qualified and proficient teachers. They also looked at the flow of teachers out of the UK and back into the UK, and found positive motivations underpinning each of these – a desire for travel and new experiences when going out, and a desire to come home and bring back knowledge and experience when returning. Teacher movement abroad is – happily for children in the UK – demonstrably not a one-way process.

Of enormous encouragement were the findings of COBIS about what teachers gained from their time working in schools in different countries: 79% felt that they had grown in cultural awareness, 76% felt that they had developed a global outlook and were more internationally minded, and 58% spoke of the greater adaptability that they had developed. What marvellous personal and professional outcomes! And how amazing if as a result of this personal and professional development, teachers – with their immediate access to young people – can be role models for global mobility!

Nothing beats travelling, working and living in a place other than one’s original home. Teachers have a ready-made pathway and opportunities just waiting for them. Seize the day …

Dr Helen Wright is the author of Powerful Schools: how schools can be drivers of social and global mobility


    • Clare Rawlings on May 23, 2019 at 1:13 pm
    • Reply

    Really interesting to read this Helen. I have taught in Hong Kong, Sydney, UK and the US. Travelling and teaching with my husbands job and kids. I have an MTeach (Australian) which I studied for in Sydney. On returning to the UK for 3 years now I have been working agency teaching. I have applied for about 20 primary teaching roles and I don’t even receive a reply. It’s disheartening as I am a really creative teacher and I love it.

    I think travelling and returning to the UK in my experience is challenging if you don’t return to a school you know or if you are out of London. People in London recognise the MTeach, however in Staffordshire where I live, I think people just don’t understand the qualification and therefore are frightened to even interview you. I also think that there is such a drive for being able to deliver good test results that they just want machines therefore they would be taking a risk on me as I am more familiar with Australian and US curriculum. I’m just waiting to meet a Head Teacher who has a more global view of education and the benefits of employing people who have moved around the world.

    I once asked the Head of our Diocese Education Department about returning to teaching and she told me I had to go back to college and get a PGCE.

      • hmw on June 11, 2019 at 1:53 am
      • Reply

      You have amazing experience … keep looking for that Head Teacher with a more global view of education, and I will keep working to ensure that senior leaders appreciate just what phenomenal global experience is out there …

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.