COBIS has now published the second iteration of its research on Teacher Supply in British International Schools, delivered in partnership with ISC Research Ltd. This research, based on more than 1,100 survey responses from senior leaders, incoming teachers, and outgoing teachers, provides concrete data about the profile and motivation of teachers entering and leaving the British international school sector, the quality of their experience, the movement between sectors, and the current teacher recruitment climate in international schools. This research shows the benefits of experience in the international school sector – enriched experience for teachers, improved teacher retention, repatriation of skills developed in an international context, and increased recruitment to ITT.

Key Findings

  • Teachers choose to work internationally for a number of reasons. The main motivations are travel and cultural exploration (72%) and enjoyment and challenge (62%). Other contributing factors include salary (49%), career growth (47%) and dissatisfaction with the home education system (42%).
  • More than a third of teachers entering the international school sector (36%) were thinking about leaving the profession before taking an international job (up from 32% in 2018).
  • Overall, teachers are positive about their international school experience. 82% of new international school teachers are happy or very happy with their experience; 75% of incoming teachers feel their work/life balance has improved since moving to the international sector; 74% feel they have an acceptable workload; 75% feel valued and respected as a teacher.
  • 80% of senior leaders, 67% of incoming teachers, and 47% of outgoing teachers in responding international schools think workload is not a problem or not a very serious problem.
  • Many teachers return to the UK after teaching in a British international school, with family commitments (28%) and a desire to return home (37%) cited as the main reasons. 43% of incoming teachers are intending to return to teaching in the UK. 68% of outgoing teachers were leaving the international sector within a period of 10 years.
  • Teachers are happy to move between the UK and international school sectors. 39% of outgoing teachers were leaving to take up a teaching or school leadership job in the UK and 16% were planning to work in the wider education sector in the UK. 82% of outgoing teachers would consider returning to work in the international sector in the future.
  • Returning teachers bring with them a wealth of experience and skills including cultural awareness (81%); global outlook/international mindedness (71%); EAL experience (62%); adaptability (61%); and resilience (60%).
  • 88% of British international school leaders find recruiting quality teachers ‘somewhat’ or ‘very challenging’ (down from 94% in 2018).
  • More than a third of senior leaders (34%) have increased recruitment of local staff (up from 27% in 2018).
  • Schools are also engaging with training new teachers in their locality. Nearly two thirds of schools have supported teachers to gain UK teaching qualifications through programmes such as PGCE, IPGCE, or Assessment-Only QTS in the past two years.
  • According to senior leaders, the services that would most help the international school sector with teacher supply in the coming years are: ability to act as a Teaching School delivering school-based ITT (64%) and conversion courses (to QTS/PGCE) for internationally trained teachers (57%). Other responses included: ITT programmes to train local and international staff (50%) and ability to deliver NQT induction (50%).

The international school sector is well established, and can provide a tremendous opportunity for teachers to develop themselves personally and professionally. We continue to believe that erecting barriers between domestic and overseas teacher supply would be counterproductive. In the published report, COBIS makes the following recommendations for a co-operative approach that will benefit both the UK and international education sectors and enable the growth and retention of the global teacher workforce:

  • Position teaching as a global profession
  • Value and recognise overseas experience
  • Increase international training opportunities (including Initial Teacher Training)

Further details, as well as the full report and accompanying case studies, can be found on the COBIS website.

 View Full Report and Case Studies

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