Teaching Abroad - Contract Conditions to Look For

Kelly Blackwell

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There are as many contract conditions as there are international schools, almost.

International schools are sometimes caught in a difficult situation. They need to comply with the regulations of the country they are operating in, ensure their conditions and salaries are competitive with other international schools and balance this all with the fact that they have to work within a salary budget.

Here are some items to consider when you are thinking about contract conditions for you and your family.

* tuition fee for dependent children

* housing allowance

* medical cover

* pension contributions

* end of contract bonus

* annual flights home

* sick pay

* maternity leave

* spouse visas

* professional development

* extra-curricular activities

* over-night trips

When you are making the decision to work overseas, you will need to set some criteria for what contract conditions you are willing to accept.

If you have three or more children, you’ll be looking for a contract where the tuition fee for all of your children is waived. Otherwise you may end up spending a considerable amount of your take-home pay on tuition fees for your third child. The fees for international schools are high, frequently beyond what a teacher can afford to pay, even on the good salaries that are available for teachers at international schools. This makes sense when you think about it – it’s those salaries that pay overseas teachers so lucratively.

When you choose to move to a location far away from your family, you won’t want to spend the money you’ve saved to fly your whole family home each year for a visit. This is where annual flights home are a must for me when I am deciding what conditions I will accept.

Consider the period of time you are willing to commit to your new school. There is a trend towards offering starting contracts of two years. My advice is to sign a contract for two years, initially, as it may take you a year or more to settle into the community. Then you can ask to sign contract renewals annually.

If I had signed a one year contract for my current school, I wouldn’t be here now, nor would I have just re-signed for an additional 12 months. It took me a year to get settled and find new hobbies and places to do my old hobbies.

To avoid making a mistake you will regret later you need to have a clear idea of what you want before you enter into any interview situation with the international schools’ recruiters. You also need to have some way of comparing the contract conditions that are offered by different schools, should you be offered more than one teaching position.

Knowing what you’re looking for doesn’t mean that you will get it, but it will mean that you can make informed decisions based on what’s being offered. You will still need to be flexible because, as per the point I made earlier, there is considerable diversity in contract conditions offered across the world.

The Complete Guide to Securing a Job at an International School has several chapters dedicated to getting you into a situation where you will receive many teaching contract offers from international schools, and then assisting you in making the right choice for you.


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