Why teachers choose to work in the international schools sector

Research shows that British international schools are becoming more popular – but, as with teaching in the UK, many more staff are needed to sustain this

A British education is becoming increasingly popular with parents around the world – this is great news for the 4,300 British international schools which operate globally and make up over 45% of the international school market.

However, in analysing the report Teacher Supply in British International Schools (July 2018) by the Council of British International Schools (COBIS), Teachingabroaddirect.co.uk found that, in the next 10 years, British international schools will require 230,000 more teachers to meet staffing needs.

The education sector in the UK faces similar staffing challenges, with research by the Department for Education highlighting an overall shortfall of nearly 10% in recruitment targets to initial teacher training.

Teaching Abroad Direct sought to identify why teachers choose to work abroad and the reasons teachers might leave the sector, to better understand what needs to be done to attract, recruit and retain teachers so urgently needed.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a desire for travel and cultural exploration tops the list of reasons teachers choose to work in the international schools’ sector, at 71%. This is followed by the prospect of enjoyment and challenge (63).

However, disappointingly, a dissatisfaction with the home education system’ is the third most prolific reason, with 47% of teachers agreeing.

Potential for career growth (45%) and improved salary (44%) are other prominent factors as to why teachers work abroad.

Comparably, Teaching Abroad Direct found the reasons teachers might leave the international schools’ sector and return to the UK to be led by family commitments (45%) and simply a desire to return home (41%.) 27% of teachers say career prospects elsewhere is the reason they would disband from teaching abroad.

To improve quality of life (13%) and high living expenses (9%) land in fourth and fifth place as to why teachers return to the UK from teaching abroad.

Andrew Lynch, a senior consultant for Teaching Abroad Direct, commented: “The shortage of teachers around the globe is an urgent issue. At the root, we must do what we can to make teaching fulfilling. Of course, fulfilment differs from person to person but, communication is key.

“We need to listen to teachers, both aspiring and experienced, learn what they need and deserve from their post and environment – whether that is abroad or at home.”

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