Robert Notley - Teacher Supply Case Study

Robert Notley, British School of Bucharest 

Read the results of our Teacher Supply research here

PROFILE

Robert taught for 9 years in the UK state sector and is now in his first year teaching abroad in Romania. He is a PE Teacher and Head of Key Stage 5.

MOVING TO A BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL

Robert taught for 9 years in the state sector in the UK, including in a large academy in London, but found that he was increasingly frustrated with the system in the UK.

I was fed up with how education was going. PE, for example, was constantly becoming less important and recognised in my school. I had to run a department with just 4 staff for 2,500 students.

The Government’s involvement in education, and how they treated the sector, was also disheartening.

We were battered by them. Every time a new Secretary of State came in, something else landed on our plate. Just before I left, suddenly we became responsible for knife crime.

Robert had come to a point where he was considering leaving teaching.

I probably would have left the profession completely if I hadn’t moved internationally. I’d been thinking about it for two or three years. I was fed up caring more about the kids than the kids themselves or the kids’ parents.

Robert’s partner was working at an international school in Jordan, and they took the joint decision to start looking at international jobs together. They now both teach at the British School of Bucharest, and Robert is much happier.

It’s much, much better. I love it.

He has found his workload is reduced, and although the salary (with the current exchange rate) is not much more than in the UK, the cost of living is better. He finds the parents more supportive, and more willing to be involved in their children’s education. He also finds the behaviour much better than his experience in the UK.

In the UK you aren’t teaching, you’re just keeping people under control. I used to dread walking into certain lessons. I don’t dread lessons anymore.

RETURNING TO THE UK

Robert and his partner have discussed their long term plans, and think they may return to the UK in four or five years. They would like to start a family at some point, and as a same-sex couple they would not be able to adopt in Romania or many other countries. But he would consider returning to the international sector later on, and says that he is dreading a return to UK schools.

In the short term, he would also consider moving to an international school in another country. He loves his current school, but is keen to pursue a senior leadership role in the near future. He recognises, though, that he and his partner have different priorities for their next job.

We have different ideas of what we want. For him, it’s about workload. For me, it’s adventure.

Robert isn’t unduly concerned about the logistics of getting a job in the UK after a period abroad.

Four or five years ago I would have said people from international schools would struggle to get a job in the UK. Some heads would write people off and assume you’ve been out of teaching. But I don’t think that’s so much the case now.

He gives examples of teachers from his previous school in the UK who had returned from teaching jobs in Egypt and Dubai.

Although Robert has only been in the international sector for a year, he is already aware of skills and experience that he would bring back with him to the UK.

My EAL knowledge and experience, more understanding of policies and parental engagement, knowing what works and what doesn’t – being able to take more risks with my teaching. The actual pedagogy of my teaching is improved.

He has had a number of CPD opportunities in his first year in Bucharest, and is now also considering starting a Masters degree.

ADDRESSING THE CHALLENGE OF TEACHER SUPPLY

Robert has clear ideas on addressing teacher supply for the UK sector.

They have to increase pay and decrease workload. That’s the only thing that can happen.

While NQT salaries may be increasing, he feels that it won’t be enough to retain teachers after the first two or three years. He also thinks all schools – both UK and international – should focus more on retention.

Schools should bend over backwards to keep their teachers.

Find out more about our Teacher Supply research findings here