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Why I decided to teach in the UK

07/09/15

Shabtika is a Protocol teacher who is originally from Canada. She will commence a long term teaching position in Surrey this September. Her debut blog is about why she is moving to the UK to teach and the job shortage in British Columbia, Canada.

After graduating from the B.Ed program it is not easy for a new teacher to find a teaching job in British Columbia. For every new job created there is an excess of new teachers competing for those jobs, research figures shows it is as bad as 3 teachers per teaching job. As a result, you are most likely to end up with a tutoring company, or going abroad to teach. If you do end up in a tutoring company, and apply for school jobs afterwards or during, many of the schools will not be pleased that your last job wasn't in a classroom, and rejection is most likely.

If you are hired by a school district, you will be a TOC (teacher on call or supply teacher); this could last for 3-6 years. The chances of landing a job that is somewhat close to your residency is unlikely (unless you move after getting the job). Many of the supply teachers commute 1-2 hours to get to their job site, and double the time if the teacher doesn't drive. As a supply teacher there is no job guarantee, you could be working as little as 1-2 days a week, occasionally commute many hours just for half a day's worth of work. In some districts if you fail to get called in 50 days in a school year as a supply teacher you are dropped from their supply teacher list! 

If you manage to get through these stumbling blocks, and land a contract to get your own classroom, the struggle doesn't end there. The chances of being laid off are high if you are a recent hire. Some of the numbers of teachers laid off is simply scary!

Hundreds of teachers, including 632 in Coquitlam, have received layoff notices. Numbers are still coming in from the province’s 60 school districts, but the total number of layoffs is expected to be “unprecedented,” according to the B.C. Teachers’ Federation. In Saanich, up to 140 of the district’s roughly 500 teachers – nearly a third – could be laid off. In Comox, 270 teachers, or 40 per cent of the teaching roster, have received layoff notices. - Wendy Stueck (The Globe and Mail)

So the job projection numbers for new graduates is even more abysmal than what the initial data suggests, as the jobs created go to those that have already been laid off from the previous year. The school districts are obligated to hire the employees they recently laid off before considering new candidates, but it was revealed not even all of the laid off teachers will be hired back.  As you can see, even if you do land the elusive government teaching job, your future is uncertain in BC.  

During my B.Ed program, the issue of teaching job scarcity was already looming, we had some UK based companies visit us with job prospects in England, all of these companies were London based. I considered the idea then, but there is a notion here that London kids are tough, hard to manage, also that the only type of job you can get is as a supply teacher. In hindsight I know these were misconceptions, and fear mongering but at the time I was dissuaded and decided to stay in BC and try my luck. 

I spent four years applying for numerous teaching jobs locally, while I found some part time teaching and tutoring jobs, I did not get my own classroom, I wasn't a classroom teacher I had dreamed of and trained for. I have always been a very enthusiastic teacher, even as a kindergartener, when I made all my stuffed toys sit down and learn the alphabets. So giving up on teaching wasn't an option for me. So I decided it was time to chase after my dreams and not wait for them to come knocking at my door. At this point, I had waited so long, so I did not want to rush into the next step, so I researched many of the UK based agencies and got into contact with a few. Once I spoke with my agent at PE, I knew it was the one!

My agent was extremely knowledgeable, respectful, patient and helpful. The agency works with you and not against you. For example their Guaranteed Weekly Payment Agreement, ensures you are taken care of with work, if not you still have a paycheque to ensure your financial security. 

The biggest selling point for me was the fact that they had so many offices all over the UK and supply teaching is not the only option, they could find you your own classroom if you wanted to work on a long term basis at the same school. They provided so much information to navigate the complicated bureaucracies involved with visas and moving. The webinars and documents they provide, ensures you feel prepared to move. 

I can't wait to land in the UK and start my career!

*Data in this article comes from The Tyee and Global and Mail.

If you are looking for a rewarding career in teaching, Protocol Education can help! Register on our website and one of our consultants will be in touch.

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