With grateful thanks to @MissNQT for prompting this article. Here are 5 things NQTs should know if they are going to spend their first year teaching abroad. (All based on my own experience of working in an international school in Spain.)
1: How long do I have to complete my induction year?
After completing the teaching course and gaining Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) you have to complete an induction year. Currently there is no time limit on when this has to be completed. If you are not in a permanent post though you can only do short term supply (posts of less than one term) for up to five years.
Point 1: Your induction year is completely without time limit. No matter how long you spend teaching abroad you can complete your induction year when/if you return to the UK.
2: Can I complete my induction year in an international school?
Technically “yes” due to a change that came in during 2014. If the school you work in has had a British Schools Overseas (BSO) inspection then they can choose to offer NQT induction. Because this is managed by a teaching school in the UK the cost to the international school is quite significant and therefore even schools that have opted for a BSO inspection may choose not to oversee your induction year. The BSO inspection only came in recently though and therefore most overseas school are not BSO inspected.
Point 2: Technically you can complete your induction year in a small but growing number of international schools. However, this option is unlikely to be available to you.
3: So, what happens if I haven’t done my induction year but have spent some time abroad?
Teaching at an independent school can’t count as an induction year but local authorities can reduce your induction time to as little as one term if they recognise the experience you have gained in an independent school. It is possible that they may apply this to your time spent teaching abroad. If not, returning to the UK would mean beginning you induction year.
Point 3: When you return to the UK you may be asked to do your induction year but you may also be able to negotiate it to as little as one term.
4: What about my pay and conditions?
Pay in Spain does not follow the teacher pay spine as used in the UK. All teachers start on the same salary of 22,500€ per year. This makes the salary in Spain, even with current exchange rates, quite comparable to that paid to NQTs in the UK. Planning and preparation time will often be far in excess of that given in the UK. We don’t give our NQTs more time than other teachers but all teaching staff in our primary department have five hours of preparation time per week. In addition there is a full hour for lunch and an additional fifty minutes of break time each day. With less workload caused by unnecessary paperwork NQTS working in our schools are better off in terms of planning and preparation time than they would be in the UK.
Point 4: Pay in Spain for an NQT is 22,500€ per year. Factor in the lower cost of living and lower taxes and as an NQT you are financially better off in Spain. Planning and preparation time is generous and in excess of that given to you in the UK.
How to survive your first year in teaching
by Sue Cowley
5: Be the best you can be.
It sounds like basic advice but make sure that these first years of teaching are the springboard to a long and happy career. Don’t treat your time abroad as downtime before returning to work in the UK. Apply yourself to the job and seek advice when needed. Be the best you can be. By acting professionally you are developing your skill and writing a reference that makes you far more attractive to UK schools. Your time spent teaching the British curriculum abroad will make your applications stand out. New skills such as working with a high proportion of EAL pupils or even learning a foreign language yourself will all help to make you an interesting candidate for a future career move, whether that be to the UK or anywhere else in the world.
Point 5: Be the best you can be.