- Teacher Supply
Rachel Slater, Didcot Girls School, UK
Rachel completed her initial teacher training at Exeter University before moving to Oman to complete her NQT induction year at British School Muscat, where she taught for two years before returning to the UK. She is now a PE teacher (2nd in Department and Head of House) at Didcot Girls School – a comprehensive school in Oxfordshire.
MOVING TO A BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL
Rachel had always liked travelling and had an interest in other countries, so when she finished her PGCE at Exeter University she applied to British School Muscat for a job which would allow her to complete her NQT induction. She was the first NQT at the school, and she was well-supported during the process of moving out and completing her formal induction year.
I really enjoyed my international experience as an NQT. There wasn’t much behaviour management, so I could really focus on teaching and learning, and developing lessons to a good or outstanding quality.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN UK AND INTERNATIONAL TEACHING EXPERIENCE
In her current job in the UK, Rachel feels that she doesn’t focus as much on teaching and learning as she did when she was abroad.
Even though behaviour is phenomenal in my school, I deal with more out of the classroom issues. That is a definite difference from my international experience. More time is focused on supporting students than on teaching.
She also suggests that contrary to many people’s perceptions, she often found the working hours in Muscat longer than her hours in the UK.
I would get in early to get planning done, then a whole day of teaching, then after school clubs, then fixtures. I was often working 12 to 13 hour days.
Notwithstanding her long hours, Rachel does still recommend international work to fellow teachers who ask her about her experience.
If you love your teaching and learning, then the international sector is 100% the right way to go. If you have a passion for the teaching side, it brings it out ten-fold.
RETURNING TO THE UK
After two years in Muscat, Rachel was ready to return to the UK. In part, she had commitments back home, but she was also interested in providing more pastoral support to young people which she felt there was less call for in her international school. She wanted to return to the state sector in the UK because she felt it was important to have a wide range of experience and perceptions. But despite having completed her NQT induction, plus gained an additional year of teaching experience, she found the process of securing a job back in the UK to be challenging.
It was a struggle. I applied for 22 jobs, and only got offered one interview.
Fortunately, that interview was successful and Rachel took on a maternity cover which became a permanent role with a promotion within six months of arriving. Rachel does believe the fact that she had been working internationally had an impact on the job application process. And the one school she asked about Skype interviews said they would need to see teachers in person.
My school was really supportive of staff having to travel back to the UK for interviews. But some schools are apprehensive about taking on someone who has been out of the English system. They want someone more local.
Her time working abroad has had a significant impact on her development as a teacher.
While working in the UK is the best fit for Rachel at the moment, she would not discount returning to the international sector at some point in the future.
My classroom-based practice improved 100%. I have no question that I am a good practitioner. I know how to set teaching and learning objectives and structure an effective lesson. My international experience gave me a solid foundation.
ADDRESSING THE CHALLENGE OF TEACHER SUPPLY
In Rachel’s experience, the messaging about international schools which she heard during her teacher training was not entirely accurate.
When I was in training, all we ever had drilled into us was that you can’t go international until you have NQT.
In truth, it is possible to complete your NQT induction at a number of accredited British schools overseas. Rachel feels that there are out of date myths around teaching internationally, and that more teachers could be attracted to the profession if some of the stigma or barriers (including the ability to complete NQT induction abroad) were broken down.
Rachel is hugely positive about the teaching profession, whether in the UK or internationally, but notes that it is certainly not an easy ride.
I’d tell anyone to go into it. I love what I do, and I don’t think that will ever change. I wanted to be a teacher from the age of 13 – I always had a passion. It is so rewarding – as long as people are open minded and accept that every day is different, with different challenges. But the outcome of those challenges is feeling that you’ve done a good job and made a difference.
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