Thinking about where to work in the UK
It may not be rocket science – or even GCSE physics – but deciding where to live in the UK can be tricky, and is no less important a decision for that. Whether you’re looking to build solid career foundations, or take advantage of travel opportunities in the UK and Europe, it’s certainly worth giving it some thought before you commit to anything.
Where do you want to be?
Location is a good starting point. If you have friends or family in the UK, they can provide a valuable support network as you start work in the UK. Conversely, being on your own be liberating – the perfect start to the next phase in your life.
If you’re in a large town or a small village, your location will have a direct impact on the demographic of a school. It will also have a bearing on your daily experience. Think about what your commute will be like? Is there suitable accommodation close by? Can you see yourself fitting in? Perhaps most importantly, you will need to find somewhere that is affordable. One of our overseas workers found that the neighbourhood she had set her heart on was out of her financial reach. This meant a quick shift to ‘plan b’ and a longer commute. You should be able to do some simple online research to make sure you’re not caught out in the same way.
‘Inner city’ schools often make headlines. These days the stories are as likely to be about successful leadership, accountable teachers and rich cultural experience rather than bad behaviour and poor results. For some educational professionals, these schools offer a stimulating, structured and worthwhile learning experience and an excellent teaching experience.
When it comes to choosing a school itself, you can tell a lot about a school from its local reputation. It’s sensible to start with the most recent Ofsted report and what it has to say about the area of the curriculum you’re most interested in. Googling the school is also a good idea. One of our teachers discovered that a new head caused a stir when he imposed new school uniform standards – and enforcing them through isolation and detention penalties. Whilst the coverage was colourful at times, it allowed the teacher to get a flavour of the school, its values and behaviour management. Whether you agree with the issues or not, when you’re choosing a school, knowledge is power, and the more you know about what you’re getting into the better.
Before you set foot in the school, the chances are that the information you can gather is second hand. You should take every opportunity to speak to staff members – even if it’s during a Skype interview. Ask the questions not covered by Ofsted: How do teachers view their workload? What support they expect? How are students assessed? What are the marking policies in the department? It might even be worth knowing if members of the department socialise together at all.
Keeping an open mind
There’s no doubt that international relocation can be daunting. Remember to take a deep breath and use the self-knowledge and experience you’ve already developed. Keeping your original motivation in mind, backed up by good research and common sense means you’ll be able to focus on what’s important to you.
Don’t forget, Pertemps Education will be able to guide you through this process. We have spent years getting to know our schools and their people.
Most importantly, we know which schools are best for overseas teachers. And we’re here to help.
Pertemps Education's specialist division, Hourglass, focuses on permanent roles, overseas candidates and leadership. When you register with us, we may suggest you speak to an Hourglass consultant.