Final Report and Case Studies: Teacher Supply in British International Schools

(Click to download)

COBIS is pleased to announce the publication of the Final Report and Case Studies of the 2018 COBIS research project: Teacher Supply in British International Schools.

This research, for the first time, provides data about why teachers go overseas, how long they stay, why they return, and the quality of their experience. It shows that teaching is a truly global profession, with teachers moving overseas for personal and professional fulfilment, and that teaching offers a rich and exciting career both at home and internationally. International service attracts good recruits and benefits the wider education sector, encouraging teachers to stay in the profession, often returning to the UK with valuable skills and experience.

Using this new research as a starting point, COBIS is proposing innovative and positive solutions to the supply of teachers in order to ensure continued success for schools at home and abroad:

1. Promote attractive professional opportunities – positioning teaching as an international career option.

2. Increase international training opportunities – overseas teaching schools and recruitment overseas into ITT.

3. Value overseas service – facilitate return to the UK.

Alongside the Final Report, COBIS has published a series of case studies, sharing the stories and experiences of teachers, school leaders and education professionals.

The Final Report, Case Studies, and Interim Report can all be downloaded from the COBIS website and from the links above.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Dr Fiona Rogers, Director of Professional Development and Research (


  • 77% of outgoing teachers are happy or very happy with their international experience; 81% of new international school teachers are happy or very happy with their experience.

  • Teachers choose to work internationally for many reasons. The main motivations are travel and cultural exploration (71%); and enjoyment and challenge (63%). Other contributing factors include dissatisfaction with home education system (47%); career growth (45%); salary (44%).

  • Many teachers return to the UK after working abroad, with family commitments (44%) and a desire to return home (45%) cited as the main reasons. 26% of returning teachers worked internationally for 3-4 years; 71% of outgoing teachers leave the international sector within 10 years.

  • Teachers who work abroad gain a wealth of experience and transferable skills includingcultural awareness (79%), global outlook/international mindedness (76%), adaptability (58%), and renewed enthusiasm for teaching (53%) as well as EAL experience, resilience, and professional development opportunities.

  • Nearly a third of teachers entering the international school sector (32%) were thinking aboutleaving the profession before taking an international job.

  • British international schools are already being proactive to improve recruitment: 57% with enhanced professional development and 51% with improved marketing in the last 2 years.

  • Nonetheless, 94% of British international school leaders now find recruiting quality teachers 'somewhat' or 'very challenging' (31% very challenging).

  • 93% of school leaders indicate that recruiting internationally-trained teachers is important, and yet more than a quarter of schools (27%) have increased recruitment of local staff. This could present an opportunity to upskill local teaching staff with UK teaching qualifications.

  • According to responding international schools, the services which would most help the international school sector with teacher supply in the coming years are:
    • Ability to act as a Teaching School for UK trainees (41%)
    • Conversion courses (to QTS/PGCE) for internationally-trained teachers (36%)
    • Initial Teacher Training (ITT) programmes to train local staff (31%)