Teachers – Want a Private Education For Your Children But You Cannot Afford It?

You need to teach overseas! Pick a country, any country, and there will be at least one international school there. International Schools offer private education for expatriate’s children worldwide. And, while most of the parents have to pay school fees, one of the conditions nearly always included in the contracts of international teachers is free education for the teachers’ children. There are over 4000 international schools worldwide, all requiring teachers to staff them, many of them offering excellent quality private education.

Picking a school that suits both your children’s needs and yours can be challenging, but it is possible. In a recent interview I conducted with international teachers, Maggie Hos-McGrane, an international teacher of 19 years experience said that after she had completed her research she’d found only 30 of the more than 4000 international schools suited both her and her children. If you have children, here are some things you should consider when applying for teaching posts abroad in international schools.

Is the school a profit making enterprise?

There are a number of different kinds of international schools to choose from, some are run by a board and are not designed to make a profit, and others are run by an individual or company in order to make a profit.

As a teacher you will be concerned that the school’s educational philosophy matches your own. As a parent you want to insure that your children’s education is the priority of the school, rather than the amount of money spent on educational materials and the effect that will have on the school’s owner’s profit.

There are some directors or owners of international schools that may be more interested in the financial benefits of running a school than the education benefits to the students. Be aware, both as a prospective employee and as a parent.

Is the school accredited?

International schools can become accredited by an organization that sets educational and operational standards for international education institutions. One such organization is the Council of International Schools (CIS). In order for an international school to become accredited by CIS, they must go through a rigorous appraisal process which looks at the staff and management, the facilities and, the quality of teaching and learning in the school.

If an international school is accredited, then you can be confident that the quality of education provided by the school is high. Most schools that are accredited by an organization like CIS advertise their status on their webpage, brochures and stationery.

Other organizations that offer accreditation for international schools are NEASC, COBISEC, ISCIS and the Association of Christian Schools International, to name a few.

How many students are in the school?

This is particularly of concern for parents of high school aged children as the number of students in a school may affect the number of subject choices offered at higher levels. For example, if there are only 30 students in the graduating class, then the school will have to limit the number of subjects being offered to make it cost effective. This can often affect profit and non-profit making schools alike.

Additionally, the number of students in the school can affect the number and type of extra curricular activities offered, and therefore your child’s opportunities to experience team sports and other activities that are usually run after school.

When a school has a large number of students, this can also mean that the school is more likely to have a well-stocked library, well equipped laboratories, up-to-date computer equipment and outdoor activity areas. This is usually true of larger schools simply because there is a larger pot of money to fund these facilities from.

On the other hand a school that has thousands of students, while usually offering a wide variety of subjects and activities for students, can often be an anonymous place for children. It is up to you to decide what a good balance is for you and your family.

Which curricula do the schools subscribe to?

There are international schools abroad that offer what is essentially a national curriculum. In fact, in the case of many British schools abroad, it’s even called the National Curriculum.

You can find international schools that are running the national curriculum from America, the UK, Australia, Canada, France (usually taught in French), and so on. Securing a teaching contract in an international school that offers the national curriculum that you and your children are used to will help ease the transition. However, you are not limited by the curricula that you have taught in the past, international schools are generally looking for good teachers and realize that teachers can adapt and teach any curriculum.

When you are looking for a good school for your children, you may run up against some curricula that you haven’t come across before. For example, there is the school wide system offered by the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO). The IBO offers the Primary Years Programme up to Year 6, the Middle Years Programme from Years 7 to 11, and the Diploma Years Programme for Years 12 and 13.

Which examinations will your children be working towards?

There are a number of examinations available for international school students, and you will need to understand the options before making any decisions about accepting an employment contract.

I mentioned the IBO previously as being a school wide programme. However many schools adopt bits and pieces of the programme. You may find that an international school offers the Diploma for the upper two years but offers the British IGCSE for Years 10 and 11. IGCSE is an examination based qualification, and the IBO Middle Years Programme has no formal examination assessment, students get a certificate and a record of achievement. Some international schools have a mix and match attitude to the curricula offered.

International schools that run national curricula tend to prepare students for the related national exams. American schools overseas run a mixture of state curricula and AP courses.

In this article I have listed just a few of the factors you’ll need to consider if you would like to get a private education for your children by teaching overseas. While I don’t have any children of my own, many of my colleagues do, and they believe that the education their children are receiving abroad is better than what they could get back home, wherever home may be.