The 4 most common questions about teaching in the UAE, answered!

So, you have heard the rumours of the magical place with tax-free salaries, lucrative saving potential and a convenient hub to explore the rest of the world—now how do you filter out the rumours from the facts? 

It can often be confusing to know what you need in order to move to the United Arab Emirates but worry not, we have you covered. This week we have pooled together the most common questions our budding international teachers ask about the UAE and have set to work answering them in a simple and digestible way… read on.

The UAE is made up of 7 Emirates. Dubai hosts the biggest population and is likely the most popular among international teachers. With a huge amount of expatriates living in the UAE, there is also a large number of International Schools—fantastic! However, this probably raises the question “how do I pick a school that is right for me?”. Teacherhorizons has covered the basics as well as a list of schools and current vacancies, here.

Search the latest teaching jobs in the Middle East. If the idea of teaching in the Middle East excites you, why not get the wheels in motion and create your profile page today (it’s free)?

Question 1: Is the UAE Tax-free?

This is the most common question posed to our advisors at Teacherhorizons. The answer is yes. The UAE is an extremely attractive place to work due to its high potential for earning and tax-free salaries. There is no income tax, so you won’t be taxed on your salary. However, you will be taxed on goods and services. Many teachers opt for the UAE as a way to save money to travel or towards securing savings for when they return to their home country.

There are many IB schools in the UAE. Skip over to one of our previous blog posts all about IB.

camelQuestion 2: Can I live with my partner if we are not married?

Short answer, no.  If you are unmarried you are unable to live with your partner in the UAE, it is illegal under Sharia Law. People of the opposite sex are only able to live together if they are married or family members.  The “Tawajed clause” in Sharia Law also prevents people from the opposite sex staying together in house-shares and even hotels. It’s important to remember that it’s a conservative Muslim country with strict laws. Expats must respect the local culture or face harsh penalties. The UK government website outlines the rules, here.

stationQuestion 3: Do I need a Bachelor of Education to work in the UAE?

Researching requirements for teaching in the UAE yields varied results which can be quite frustrating. The lack of clear answers available means it is one of the most common questions we receive at Teacherhorizons. As it stands, all teachers need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree or higher and it must be in the field you are going to teach.

The rules in the UAE are not static and recently the UAE is in the process of introducing a new licensing system for teachers.  The Teachers’ Licensing System (TLS) which was introduced in 2017 as a pilot, will apparently become a requirement by 2020. The Teachers’ Licensing System (TLS) will become a requirement for education professionals in the UAE by the end of 2020. Teachers, management and schools will all require the licence to work legally in the UAE.

Question 4: How much money can I save?

q3The general allure around working the UAE has centred around it’s earning potential. Not surprisingly, we get a lot of questions regarding saving and the cost of living in the UAE. This will vary between the Emirates. The website Numbeo is a good source for the breakdown of general costs.  The cost of living, in general, can be quite high but this is mostly down to high accommodation costs. Some international schools will provide or subsidise this allowing for further saving potential. Groceries and gas are reasonably priced. Transport is relatively affordable but if you get a car though be warned of the heavy traffic. Taxis are commonly used and inexpensive.  It will depend on your lifestyle as to how much you can save, try opting for traditional markets or bazaars to hunt down a bargain.

You can take a look at our current vacancies in the UAE here


cityscapeDo you have experience of working in the UAE? We would love to hear about your experiences.  Please feel free to reach out to us. Email us at

Written by Alexandra Plummer

Ask The Expert: Meet Jo!

Continuing our new series of Ask the Expert posts, we chat with the Teacherhorizons team who share their valuable insight into the world of international teaching. Teacherhorizons staff are teachers themselves, so they’ve been in your shoes.  This week I chatted with Jo, a Teacherhorizons Recruitment Advisor with a penchant for simple-living, wild landscapes and improving education systems around the world. Read on for a beautifully positive outlook on what it is to truly be a Global Citizen. Jo’s story is filled with valuable advice on settling into new places, the importance of being part of the local community and embracing both the highs and lows. Jo’s story simultaneously makes you want to embark on a wild adventure while also bringing to life the importance of community.

Meet Jo!

Jo is currently based in Port Moresby, Papa New Guinea with her h20170423_143119usband and their son. Their son, who is only two is already an intrepid explorer
having travelled to the UK, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Australia, Bali, Bougainville, and PNG—what a well-travelled little man. In PNG, Jo works as a Schools Advisor and Teacher Training Advisor for a group of 19 schools and education establishments in the country.  Working with predominantly local staff and some expatriates Jo focuses on performance management, school reviews and professional learning opportunities for middle management, alongside Teacher training.

A Global Citizen

After completing her PGCE, she left the UK for Tanzania and never looked back. Her professional career really flourished, alongside her love for travelling the world and really getting to know places and people. When asked about what prompted a move into international teaching her first response was escapism, but she also stated she always knew
she wanted to be a teacher. International teaching was a natural option. Embracing the unknown, which I quickly learn is the norm for Jo and her family, she went from Arusha, Tanzania to Moscow, Russia. Talk about a contrast! From there she jumped over to “sensuous Brazil” of which she adds the guidance—don’t just go for the party, take the school life seriously, too!

Jo speaks about all the places she has been to with a great fondness, not skimming over the challenging parts but instead bringing those into the charm and allure of the place. When speaking about Russia she describes it as “misunderstood”, claiming Moscow as an innovative and forward-thinking city in an extremely polarized but fascinating country.

She speaks highly of the schools and establishments she has worked with. She has had great colleagues and Professional development opportunities.

Are you interested in teaching internationally? Sign up to Teacherhorizons to see school profiles and salary packages– it’s free.

Jo’s chat was overflowing with valuable advice. Her own journey is a testament to hard work, flexibility and embracing the unknown. Her international journey started with little more than the PGCE training and now she is training teachers in PNG. She speaks highly of the opportunity that international school teaching allows including getting to work with interesting and developing schools, learning as you go. She states: “Have faith. Don’t be scared of the unknown. Don’t believe the media completely. Talk to people there. Talk to the schools.  Ask to be put in touch.  Speak to advisors at Teacherhorizons,  we all know the schools and areas so well.”

Are you adventurous about teaching in Africa? Browse our schools in Africa. You can also Read more about teaching in Tanzania, here .

Beyond the Classroom.

Jo felt a great sense of social responsibility,  born from the places she had been in. Take Russia for example, with its vast inequality that is often masked from the world. Living and working internationally definitely has its way of sparking or igniting a fire within to do something greater than just earning a salary. It is impossible not to when faced with stark realities often in contrast to home comforts. Education in emergencies was of interest to Jo, so she did a masters in international management focusing on Education development. This has led her to her current role.

Embrace the highs and lows and welcome difference.

Jo’s advice just keeps on coming. She mentions the importance of demonstrating your potential, so work your waicy mountainy up in the roles. Hard work really does pay off. A standout piece of advice is to take the highs with the lows. The highs of international education are real cultural immersion, excellent saving potential and living a truly international experience. But the lows are there, too. You are far from familiarity, family and friends. Jo and her family manage this by making the most of the holidays and travelling for visits then. There are always goodbyes, but you also become part of an international family.

Being On the Move

20170712_065921Although global citizen life involves moving, it isn’t fleeting. Jo mentions the importance of demonstrating
staying power in schools. Don’t move so often it can be disruptive.  Jo’s moves have been centred around professional improvement and promotion and averages around 4 years or so. She urges the importance of building capacity in the local area. With some work permits, you have to show that you are either training locals or there is not a local who can do your job, but even if that is not legally stated it should be your moral obligation. While you are home from home, get to know the local culture and the people this will be of great benefit to you. Don’t let language barriers get in the way. “One time in Russia on a train ride we spoke with vodka, cards and pickles! You can communicate in other ways than words!”  Don’t let language scare you off from connecting and gaining new experiences. And on that note, I will leave you with a favourite quote of Jo’s, and one her family live by:

“So never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience. And if it hurts, you know what? It’s probably worth it.” Alex Garland






Written by Alexandra Plummer

Recent school visits

Last year we posted a blog about our recent school visits here.  In this week’s blog, we continue to share this valuable feedback. Our team at Teacherhorizons have a thorough understanding of what makes a school desirable from a teacher’s perspective. We travel to our schools and check in with the quality and environment of the place often so that we can share this wealth of information with you. We know how useful it is for teachers in making a decision about whether they would like to work there. Here are some of the schools we have visited recently, and what we found out.


british school jakarta


School name: The British School of Jakarta
Country and city: Jakarta, Indonesia 
Curriculum/s: British

Who visited?: Alex




How did you get to the school? 

I took a taxi to the school early in the morning – still slightly jetlagged from a long flight from London. Traffic in Jakarta is famously bad and there’s a saying that it ‘takes two hours to go anywhere in Jakarta’. That is a slight exaggeration and I wasn’t staying too far away but we still managed to bump into a motorbike, luckily he was fine – he hardly turned back to look (seems pretty standard for Jakarta!) It helped wake me up though and it was amazing watching hundreds of people, children and animals all rushing around starting their days as we drove through the hot busy streets in the morning sunshine.

Where is it located? 

The British School of Jakarta is located in the outskirts of town which is why the campus is so big and green. The area is called Bintaro, in South Tangerang and it’s a quieter more residential part of town, away from the madness of the city centre. Jakarta has a population of over 10 million so being based in a quieter neighbourhood makes it a much more appealing place to work than other parts of the city.

How big was the school? 

The school was founded in 1973 and has become one of the mgardenost established and highly regarded schools in South East Asia. It has grown considerably over the years and now has almost 1,500 students from nursery to eighteen. Students are from all over the world.

What were the buildings and facilities like? 
The campus is one of the biggest I have visited – set in a fourteen-hectare campus and with beautifully designed buildings and gardens. Classrooms are spacious and well equipped. The school even has its own clinic on the campus!
Did you speak to any staff members? If so, how were they finding it? 
Yes – I know a few teachers there from previous visits. I also visited a friend of mine from back in the old days when I used to teach in Japan. He lives in a place called Country Woods Residences which is a housing area where lots of BSJ teachers live. It’s a relaxed and comfortable place to live with gardens, a pool and a cafe where residents can socialise. It’s also really safe for children to play which is an added bonus.
What was the best thing about the school in your opinion?

There are many great things about the school but I think one of its big draws is the package they offer. As the cost of living is low in Indonesia, most teachers are able to save considerably. I think the other great thing about the school is that it is located about half an hour from Jakarta’s international airport so teachers can easily get to a wide range of destinations around South East Asia for holidays and even places like Bali for weekends



School name: Deira Private School
Country and city: Dubai, UAE. 
Curriculum/s: UK national curriculum
Who visited?: Laura


How did you get to the school? Where is it located?
 DePS is located in Dubai and it is easy to get to and well connected to the city. Staff live all over the UAE and the school provides a free bus service for them every day to and from the school.
How big was the school?
The school had a very community-based feel and there are 28 teachers employed from a variety of countries. The main theme connecting these teachers is their strong understanding of UK national curriculum pedagogy and practice. The school embraces different cultures but all the teachers have a very good understanding of the UK NC. The Head has over 20 years’ experience from the UK and has a great relationship with staff and students which is evident to see when walking around on the tour with her.
What were the buildings and facilities like?
The buildings are not typically flashy with extensive facilities but the space is utilised very well and the corridors and classroom displays are wonderfulIMG_7098
Did you speak to any staff members? If so, how were they finding it?
 No,  but the staff seemed happy and the Head said the staff team are very friendly and collaborative.
What was the best thing about the school in your opinion?
The children first and foremost were wonderful, some even came to shake my hand whilst on the tour! They are clearly very happy at their school and enjoy school life. The school will allow teachers opportunities for promotion and career development. One teacher who joined with the Head as a regular teacher is now a Senior Leader
Were there any downsides that teachers should be aware of?
 The salary is only able to support a teacher without dependents and teachers must be able to happily integrate into the culture of the UAE as nearly all of the students are from various Arab countries including 30% local Emirati students

Have a read of our Happy Teacher Archives, for more happy teachers in Europe and other locations.

Country and city: Beijing, China
Curriculum/s: Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate (DP), International Baccalaureate (MYP), International Baccalaureate (PYP), SAT Reasoning Test
Who visited?: Maggie
How did you get to the school? 

Travelling in China can be a little tricky because you can’t access Google maps, so it is a good idea to plan your journey the night before. I usually take lots of screenshots so that I can navigate without the use of the internet! The metro is easy to use though and there is an app called Didi which is the Chinese version of Uber. When visiting schools, I tend to get to the nearest metro station and take a Didi the rest of the way so that I don’t get lost. A good tip is to have a Chinese version of the school’s address because most taxi drivers don’t understand English. 

 Where is it located? 

The school is located in the Chaoyang District of Beijing which is one of the largest districts, but the school itself is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the main city. 

How big was the school? 

The school has an amazing campus and it is incredibly well-resourced. There is a river that runs through the campus and to get from one part of the school to the other, you have to walk over a huge bridge which has a fantastic view. Despite the size of the campus, it still has a friendly feel and I felt very welcome. The school was founded in 1994 and has over 1,500 students. 

What were the buildings and facilities like? 

IMG_1058The buildings are pretty huge – they are modern, clean and well-maintained with fully equipped classrooms as well as a theatre, gym and swimming pool. There is an air purification system in the whole school (every class, gym, auditorium, offices, corridors etc) that keep the indoor air very clean and purified. There are also tranquil areas such as the Chinese Garden, Secret Garden, Peace Park and Duck Lake. I was lucky to visit on a clear, sunny day and the outdoor areas were vibrant and colourful. 

Did you speak to any staff members? If so, how were they finding it? 

The staff at the school were very friendly, happy and welcoming. There is a very low staff turnover and most teachers stay for several years often extending their contracts. To have this school on your CV would definitely open the doors to most international schools around the world! 

What was the best thing about the school in your opinion?

The campus was one of the best that I have ever seen! A great mix of spaces dedicated to learning as well as areas that can be used to relax and take in the scenery. Beijing is an amazing place to live; the capital city of one of the world’s fastest-growing countries with easy access to many cultural attractions and endless food options as well as great public transport and a cheap cost of living

Were there any downsides that teachers should be aware of?
The school is a little way out of town, so it may be too quiet for some teachers. However, it is pretty easy to get into the centre of Beijing. When I was in Beijing most of the days were sunny and clear, on other days the pollution was quite bad. The pollution has definitely improved in recent years, but it is still something to consider when moving to Beijing.

We have over 2000 schools in over 160 countries, so it might take us a while to get around them all, but we endeavour to! We visit new schools every month, so keep an eye out for more blogs like this one in the future.

Written by Alexandra Plummer

Teaching abroad with your pet

You are all set for embarking upon pastures new—you are picturing the new lifestyle, maybe you even have an international teaching position in the pipeline, but there is a vital consideration that leaves you feeling uncertain. What happens to little Muggins, your cat? Or Dodger, your dog? Travelling with pets as an international teacher is becoming much more common but there are still a lot of questions floating about. Therefore, we have decided to consolidate these into key considerations for moving with your pet.

Travelling with your pet requires detailed planning. It is also a challenging subject as it changes depending on the country you are moving from and, too. When I was in Japan I met Roger, the cat. Roger was a beautiful British Shorthair and I fell in love with him. The owners, both international school teachers, were moving to Nairobi, Kenya and decided it was better if Roger resided in the land of Sushi for a little longer rather than make the journey and battle with the minefield of pet-relocation. However, had they known of the right avenues to take maybe they would have reconsidered.

Thinking of moving to Japan? Hop on over to our previous blog on living in Japan. 

1: Location, location, locamarion micheletion. 

The most import thing is to find information that is relevant for your location, the one you are moving from and the one you are heading to. Embassy websites are actually a big help here. Another key consideration is not just how to get your pet out of the country with you but what to do when you return. Often this is where issues arrive as you might be struck with long quarantine times. For the UK, the government website has a section on returning pets to the UK.

2: Transportation options.

There are actually many options for having your beloved furry creature with you. Some airlines allow you to take your pets with you as carry-on luggage. But again, be sure to check the countries that do allow this as not all do. When pets are travelling with you as carry-on it is required that they remain in the case for the duration of the flight. There are strict rules pertaining to this of which the specific airline you are flying with can instruct you. An alternative, though not quite as reassuring, is taking them on the same flight, but in the baggage cargo hold. If you contact the Airline specifically they might also be able to arrange a service for your pet, and they can travel under the category of “live animal cargo”.

3: Prerequisites.

Despite which options of shipping you decide on, make sure all the prerequisites are taken care of of-vaccination and permit requirements being the most crucial. Your pet needs to be proven healthy and fit for travel before you leave, this means having had all the relevant vaccinations. Depending on where you are from visiting your country of residence’s government website is your bpatrick hendryest bet. For UK citizens you can visit Gov.UK for a comprehensive list of what you need. Also, as a UK citizen bear in mind that a no-deal Brexit will affect the rules for travelling with your pet to other countries in the EU as they will become classed as an unlisted country. You can read more on that, here. It is most likely that in addition to vaccinations you will require a vet certificate that states your pet is in good health for the relocation. Both the airline and destination country will require the certification to fit within a specific time-frame. Some countries are 1 month, some might require a more last minute trip to the vet, around 10 days.

Tip 4: Culture.
timothy meinberg

Now that you are mostly set and prepared for the trip, it is time to get clued up on pet etiquette of the country you are moving to. Having a pet-friendly place is obviously of high priority, so check in with the place you are going to be. If you are on the campus of the school, reach out to them directly to find out if they allow pets onsite. If your accommodation is not yet sorted you could always find an interim pet-friendly Airbnb until you get your bearings.  Beyond the logistics of them living with you, it is worth asking yourself some questions like the following. How do they consider pets as part of the culture and how do they treat them? For example, will there be other people with pets and will you be able to walk, or house your pet easily?

Moving with your pet can be done but requires organization. Hope this helps!

Do you have experience of moving abroad with your pet? We would love to hear about your experiences with this.  Please feel free to reach out to us and share your story at

Written by Alexandra Plummer

4 Side Hustle Tips for Supplementing Your Teacher Salary

So, you have a great international teaching job in an awesome city that ticks all the boxes for a desirable lifestyle. But by making the most of your time there you might find your wallet emptying quicker than you originally envisaged! You don’t have to miss out on the excitement of what a place has to offer due to the high cost of living—there are plenty of options to bring in some additional funds.

A few weeks back we posted a blog about teacher salaries, here. This covered the low-down on making sense of your salary in an international setting. This week we have 4 tips on increasing your income through side projects that utilise your creativity and existing skills.

Tip 1: Become a tutor. 

Perhaps the most obvious of suggestions but also the easiest.  Becoming a tutor allows you to hone in on your subject matter and share it with others looking to acquire more skills. There are various options here from one-to-one or small groups. Tutoring is not limited to face-to-face and if you have a stable internet connection you can give lessons online. Try Skype or Google Hangouts. Asking around to people who have already done this is your best bet to getting started. Make contacts in your local community and put the word out to friends, neighbours and colleagues. The most used where I am based is via Facebook, but this will differ—chat to people who have been in the area a while, and put it out there to the community that you are looking to tutor. Maybe your city is more active with Craigslist or Gumtree over Facebook. Once you are familiar with which sites pull in a crowd you can post your own advert there.

neonbrand-509131-unsplashTip 2: Become an examiner.

Additionally, you could become an examiner. To be an IB examiner this requires training, but once you are trained up you can make your money back pretty quickly. More and more schools are turning towards the International Baccalaureate (IB) and with good reason too. By marking IB papers you will gain invaluable IB experience. You don’t need to be an IB teacher to apply for becoming an examiner.

Skip over to one of our previous blog posts all about IB and the reasons it is a great direction to go in.

Gain some IB experience by marking IB papers. The good news is, you don’t need to be experienced as an IB teacher to apply for this.  Check out the IB website for more information. You could also look into being an examiner for IELTS or CELTA  but this often requires a TEFL qualification alongside substantial relevant teaching experience with the majority being for students over 16 years old. rawpixel-790552-unsplash

Tip 3: Freelancing. 

There are so many ways nowadays to utilise the world of freelancing and some great platforms out there. When we think of online spaces we jump to tutoring or blogging but there is so much more. A mass of websites allows you to take on projects that can be done from anywhere in the world such as copywriting, translation and transcription, to name a few.  Use your skills and knowledge to your advantage by signing up for a site such as a Freelancer, or Fiverr. They don’t always pay well but they do offer a lot of freedom and choice in what you can do.

You can also create lessons online and share them with other teachers. Teachers Pay Teacher is an online platform where you can make your worksheets available and get paid for it.  Additionally, post videos online. Maybe consider using a Patreon account where people can subscribe to you with a small fee and receive your resources. Originally set up as an artist community it is now used for many other creative endeavours.  You can also earn extra money by posting videos on Youtube. If your videos prove popular, you can make some revenue from ads. Another option is to take advantage of those years that you committed to studying by entering the academic world again. Some academic journal sites are looking for editors or proofreaders, so that is a good place to start.

Tip 4: Using your holiday time.

helloquence-61189-unsplashWith generous holiday time, this offers a perfect opportunity to bring in some extra pennies. Many international schools run summer schools. You can check out what schools around you run these programs and this is a good way to gain new experiences or even to look at a school as a potential future employee.

Do you have summer school experience? We would love to hear about your experiences with this.  Please feel free to reach out to us and share any of your tips on how you supplement your income. Email us at

Written by Alexandra Plummer

Destination: China

Starting a career teaching internationally can feel like a daunting task. This week, fellow teacher Dean gives us a short but sweet account of his transition to living and teaching in China. Dean embarked on his first international teaching gig with Maple Leaf schools. Based in China, they offer a great opportunity to gain experience internationally as they welcome qualified teachers that may have little prior international experience.  Maple leaf enabled Dean to make the leap into the unknown feeling supported and guided.

Maple Leaf Schools have been granted Certification status under the British Columbia Global Education Program – Offshore Schools and have the authority to offer educational programs at each school leading to the British Columbia Certificate of Graduation. Maple Leaf teachers must have British Colombia teacher certification. This is easier than it sounds as it’s possible to apply for this online relatively easily – it will take a month or so. To find out about the application process for your country, click here.

Read more about teaching in China with Maple Leaf Education and watch videos about MLES here.

Stepping out into the world

After the countless hours of3 getting all the correct paperwork together and all the emails sent back and forth, I left my home, my home for the past 29 years of my life, on a Sunday morning. Destination: China.
It took me two days to get to the other side of the world, not knowing what was in store for me at the end. 
As the English language started to disappear with every flight I got on, it made me more and more nervous. I started to question my decision. Had I made the right choice?

After 2 days of travel, I had finally arrived in my city, Yancheng. Greeted at the airport by my headmaster, in English, I started to feel a little less nervous.  It was business straight away, getting to know all my colleagues and my work environment. The meetings started right away with the anticipation of the new school year on2ly a month away.
“You’re always one decision away from a totally different life”. This couldn’t be more true with my move to China.  I was told about the culture shock I was going to have when I arrived but wasn’t prepared for it at all. Just when you think you’re getting used to the culture you see something that reminds you where you are and that you’re a visitor and you haven’t seen anything yet.
It has truly been an eye-opening experience and one that I wouldn’t change. Life is a journey, not a destination and I can definitely say that I’m on that journey.  

Thank you, Dean, for your wonderful words.  Let’s take a (maple) leaf out of Dean’s book and slow down, enjoy the ride, and be prepared to embrace new cultural experiences. Read further tips on settling into life and work in a new place here. 

Have you ever considered teaching in China ? Browse our international schools in China for information and current vacancies. Have you taught in China before? Share your experiences with us!

Written by Alexandra Plummer

Ask the Expert: Tips for International teachers!

In a new series of Ask the Expert posts, we speak to Teacherhorizons staff members willing to give us essential insight into the world of international teaching. Teacherhorizons staff are teachers themselves, so they’ve been in your shoes. They know the daunting moments from jet setting off into the unknown, navigating parent-teacher relations, to the boring logistical and administrative stuff that may feel like a burden but is oh so necessary.  So, if you have the burning desire to foray into the world of international teaching we’ve got you covered!  

This week I chatted with Laura, a Teacherhorizons recruitment consultant in charge of Humanities and much more.  She has been working with Teacherhorizons for just over a year, loves her job and kindly agreed to share her journey with us. She also happens to have a wealth of great advice up her sleeve. Read on for some great guidance on looking for jobs, IB training and those all-important cultural considerations.

The journey into international teaching.

Laura currently works in the UAE with her husband, also a teacher, and their two young children. The job allows her to work remotely while they raise a family too, so it is ideal. Laura comes from Guernsey, an island in whatsappthe English Channel, off the coast of Normandy. She moved to the U.K to go to university. After graduating from Cambridge her life seemed to be moving her in the direction of finance after a stint and Credit Suisse. As fate would have it, a chance conversation with a friend about Teach First landed her in an inner-city school in Tottenham teaching maths. This was a pinnacle moment for Laura and one that she looks back on with great fondness. The only disadvantage she found was that she only gained experience to GCSE level so she started to seek out other opportunities further afield, especially those relating to Post-16 and A Level experience.

With great enthusiasm, a desire to gain IB experience and professional development, Laura and her partner moved to Cairo, Egypt. It was a fantastic experience that enabled them to save money, gain that useful PD, and even travel extensively. They went to many countries during their time there and loved the time at the school and beyond.WhatsApp Image 2019-02-15 at 5.34.31 PM-2

The Move to the UAE.

After some time back home, which included marriage and children, they felt the calling for an international
lifestyle again, this time –Dubai. Her husband got a job at a school there and she soon after started working with Teacherhorizons. Laura speaks affectionately about living and raising children in the UAE. The place is great for families. She told us of some great opportunities across different schools here and Teacherhorizons has relationships and vacancies with Dubai English Speaking College, Dovecote Primary School, Dunecrest American School and Dubai American Academy. She also mentioned visits lined up to explore other schools in the UAE.

When asked if there were any negatives of being in the UAE, Laura stated: ” The only downside of being in the UAE is that your degree needs to be in the subject you are going to teach”. She advises not to waste time and energy on the process without this as it is non-negotiable and your visa is dependent on it.

Does Laura’s journey sound appealing to you? Perhaps you are already mulling over a move, and picturing yourself as an international teacher. Sign up to Teacherhorizons to see
school profiles and salary packages– it’s free.WhatsApp Image 2019-02-15 at 5.40.25 PM

Laura was a Teacherhorizons candidate herself so she knows the drill. She has generously left us with these great pointers and considerations about choosing a life abroad.
Tip 1: Research the rules of the country you are interested in.

Do they require a degree in the subject or maybe even a master’s? In Indonesia, you need an MA and 5 years post qualification experience. A lot of places expect 2 years post qualification experience to be issued a working visa, like China for example. All in all at least 2 years post qualification will stand you in a good position in many locations.

If you are in to save up some cash, consider these ways to earn extra income. 

Tip 2: Choose a springboard school

Be open-minded to different experiences.  Many job seekers looking for international experience want to go straight into a job in places like Singapore, Hong Kong or, Japan. These areas are exceptionally competitive especially for IB so you might want to consider other locations first, using it as a springboard school to gain vital IB and professional development training for your CV.

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Family trip to Oman.

Tip 3: Don’t convert salaries back to your currency

Although this might seem obvious, it is so common to automatically convert salaries back to your home salary, but as we also spoke about in a recent blog post here, it doesn’t work out to do so.

 Tip 4: Let go of preconceived ideas.

Laura told us that when she was in Cairo, Egypt just after the revolution there were expectations around what it would be like. But in reality, while it was a conservative lifestyle in some places, there were moments that wouldn’t have been experienced if she just believed the media representation of a country, like evenings out at Jazz clubs. Of course, you will be faced with different cultural expectations and you might have to change some behaviours but mostly you will be rewarded with a diverse experience that goes beyond stereotypes, so be open-minded.

Tip 5: Ask your advisors anything

As a Teacherhorizons candidate herself, she was really happy with the support of her advisors. Understanding teachers needs are where we excel, so reach out with any questions, hesitations or general musings you might have.

To view our current opportunities and the benefits and salaries for each, just sign up in 3 simple steps – Sign up, add your CV and become an endorsed teacher!

Written by Alexandra Plummer

Teaching and Living in Hong Kong

This week we take a trip with Jennifer Harrison to hear how settling into teaching and life in Hong Kong has been for her.  Get the low down on island getaways, supportive parents, delicious food and more below…


suhyeon choi
1. Where are you teaching and what’s your school like? What made you choose that specific location?

Jennifer: Stamford American School in Hong Kong is part of a huge school group called Cognita, and they are able to provide opportunities all over the world for teachers interested in exploring their other schools. As a newer school in Hong Kong, Stamford built up a team of the friendliest and most supportive staff from the very beginning. Teachers are trained to use all kinds of technology in our teaching, which has been so valuable to me as some of my teaching tools. The school sponsors social events often and staff are able to further build relationships with colleagues.

Recently moved to a new place? read tips on settling in, here. 

2. How did you get your job? What was the process like?

Jennifer: I applied online and was contacted immediately to meet with the head of school, Karrie Dietz. The process was efficient and simple.

Read our blog about other teacher experiences in other places around Asia

3. What is the city like? Is there an active expat scene? What do you do in your free time?

Jennifer: Hong Kong is full of things to do and foods to try. It is one of the most international cities where expats comfortably settle into, and most locals are able to communicate in English. Hiking trails are famous in Hong Kong, and there is no shortage of nightlife. My favourite things to do are exploring nearby islands, and going to karaoke and shisha with friends.

fung lam4. Which tourist sites or must-visit places are nearby?

Jennifer: Tai O is my favourite place to visit. It’s a fishing village where people live in stilt houses right on the water, and there are older traditional stores as well as trendy coffee shops to check out.

5. What is the climate like? Is there any extreme weather? If so, how do you deal with it? 

Jennifer: Most of the year is hot and humid. AC is blasting in every shop, and most people sleep with it on throughout the night. The humidity might be something to get used to, depending on where you’re coming from. The short spring and fall are the best months, and the few months of winter could get very chilly but never freezing. Central heating is non-existent, so most people buy a small space heater for their apartments, or just wear layers indoor and outdoors.

6. What is the food like? Is international food available? Have you tried any unusual local dishes?

Jennifer: Food is THE BEST and I love the local food as well as the international selections available on every corner. I’ve tried pigeon and liked it!

Learn more about international teaching here with this life hack!

7. How is the culture different from your home culture? Have you experienced any culture shock?

Jennifer: The sheer number of people and limited space means you have no personal space when walking on the streets or travelling on public transport. People are efficient, which may come off as rude or too direct. Overall, once you get to understand the culture, people are friendly.

8. What’s the cost of living like? Are you able to save money?yu-kato-714578-unsplash

Jennifer: Cost of housing is very high, transportation is cheap and efficient, and the cost of food can be high or low depending on where you shop. Overall, I am able to save money.

9. What’s the best thing about living and teaching in your chosen city? What have been your highlights so far?

Jennifer: Education is a priority in Hong Kong culture, and parents are very supportive of what you do for their children. They are always eager to volunteer or help out in any way. Parents take education very seriously, and will often listen to teachers’ suggestions for their children.

10. Are there any drawbacks? What kind of person would not be suited to this location?

Jennifer: Hong Kong is fast-paced and to some people, it could be hectic if they prefer a slower, more laid back lifestyle.

 11. What advice would you give to someone who was thinking of coming to live and work in your current location?

Jennifer: Prepare yourself for small spaces, and try to learn a few words in Cantonese! Also, be open to hanging out in local places with local people to really get the Hong Kong experience. Many expats choose to stick to areas like Central and Wanchai, but there is much more to this vibrant city! Local places like Sham Shui Po or Shau Kei Wan are full of interesting things to discover!


Thank you, Jennifer, for your great insights into an alluring city!

Do you have any comments about life in Hong Kong? Do you want to know more? Please get in touch

Written by Alexandra Plummer

The Evolution of the Teaching Role

Gone are the days of the teacher knowing it all. Gone—or at least we hope, are the days of rote learning. We live in a time where we are inundated with a wealth of tools, and the world is literally at our fingertips. But what does this mean as a teacher? While we are at an advantage with all the learning tools available we are also faced with increasing challenges that come with accelerated change and technological advances. How do we keep up as teachers in a world that is accelerating ahead at alarming speed?

At this anxious time, we can look back on history to enable us a fuller more enriching understanding of where we are now and face the future with a little less anxiety.

jeshootsFrom Confucius to computers

What better place to start than with Confucius. The Chinese educator and philosopher based his teachings on discovering the self. In the Analects of Confucius, it was stated that “A gentleman studies for his own sake, not in order to impress others, and seeks for it in himself and not in others.”  So instead of knowledge for knowledge sake, it is more a case of education as a means to discover one’s self. This is more than relevant today. Living in a globalized world it is of supreme importance to equip students with a sense of self. As the world is more connected, knowing who we are as an individual is crucial. As a teacher, helping students discover themselves and what they stand for in a space full of plentiful but contradictory ideas is paramount. It also begs the question: what has become of the way that we teach, when the way that we learn is constantly being shaped by technological advances?

Find out if teaching abroad is for you by reading another of our blogs at Teacherhorizons.

From knowledge banks to knowledge guides.

One of the biggest most obvious shift in the teacher/pupil relationship is that of the teacher as a dispenser of information to the teacher as supporter and guide. The exciting part is that teachers get to be creative in their endeavours in how they can enable students to find their own way. The less exciting part is trying to navigate that in a world of data and standardized tests, with ever increasing external pressures. What tools do use to support yourself as a teacher?

Sign up to Teacherhorizons here and start the balling rolling for your new life.

From explaining change to embracing change.

As the famous quote goes, change is the only constant. Teachers are faced with great challenges if they don’t embrace the change around them. Young students now are digital natives so keeping up with the environment that we ourselves were not born into requires constant adaptation and moving with the times. Back in the day religious rhetoric was key in the classroom. Questioning the teacher was limited. How far we have come! We now expect the students to question, question, question and critical thinking, while a bit of a buzzword is also the phrase of our time.

Having to navigate the vast world of lesson planning, reviews, data analysis, observation, testing and parents can be overwhelming alongside having to stay up tosamuel-zeller-106867-unsplash date with an ever-changing environment. How do you use professional development to support? To read more on professional development click here.

Do you think being a teacher today requires more preparation than in the past?  Although the past was encyclopedias in the classroom and today is search engines from a tablet, the same remains true that through creativity and inspiration the teacher’s role is to inspire and provoke students desire to obtain knowledge and use it in a way that is central to their context.

What’s in your toolbox? What strategies do you have for teaching in a modern, international classroom? We would love to hear from you. Reach out at



Written by Alexandra Plummer

5 Tips Regarding Teacher Salaries

Discussing salaries can sometimes be a bit of a taboo subject, but the conversation is necessary—especially when making a decision that takes you across the globe and into nerve-wracking new terrain. Knowing that you are adequately supported is a priority. Salary and remuneration topics for teachers are also a bit challenging as they vary so drastically. Here are some factors to consider beyond the initial figure displayed in a job advertisement. These 5 tips are a good starting point for navigating the world of salary packages.

Tip 1: Don’t convert and compare the figure to your home salary.

Teachers in international schools can benefit from a better relative salary that at home even if the initial figure looks lower. Comparing the salary directly to the one you receive at home becomes obsolete for teachers as you are provided with a ‘package’—benefits and support beyond a take-home amount.  First and foremost to note is that the salary you might receive as a teacher in the UK, for example, will not be directly equivalent in your new place of residence so it bodes well to leave the comparisons aside. You might choose a country with a weak currency but get support in both local and international currency, meaning that you will end up with more savings than if you stayed home. As this article will delve into some more, there are plenty of factors to consider. This leads us first to perhaps the most crucial…

joyce romeroSign up to Teacherhorizons to see school profiles and salary packages– it’s free.

Tip 2: Context is everything!

Finding out the cost of living in prospective countries first can help you to visualise what your income will provide in that country and enable you to work out what your take-home savings can be. It might be useful to make a table with the average outgoings and once you have a good idea of general averages from rent, food and travel costs you can start to see where your money stretches. is a really good resource for this.

Healthcare is a good point to mention when discussing context. International schools in places with an adequate healthcare system are actually unlikely to support you with the entirety of health coverage, but where it is inadequate you will often find health care coverage included in the package.

If you are in to save up some cash, consider these ways to earn extra income. 

Tip 3: Explore the remuneration packages.

Salaries alone are just the tip of the iceberg! Most schools offer comprehensive packages that need a little insight to navigate. It might be a bit overwhelming at first to know what these packages should or shouldn’t include. The most expected is subsidised accommodation while the least expected is fully supported healthcare. Again, this totally depends on where you are. Reiterating the tip above though, context is key and rules in some countries won’t apply to others. For example, in the Middle East, it is custom to provide an end of contract bonus whereas in Europe this is not necessarily the case. A good remuneration package will make your teaching life smoother. Some schools offer accommodation often in a teachers house or nearby the schools. If they don’t offer this make sure that they at least offer some support regarding location, rental expectations or connections to trustworthy estate agents.kimberly-farmer-287677-unsplash

Tip 4: Priorities. 

As well as context, priorities are also important to be clear on, as an international school teacher you can have a high standard of living and get to spend your free time getting to know the country you are in, taking trips and soaking up the culture. However, if your sole incentive is to save your priorities when comparing salary packages will be different. Make a list of your priorities first.

If you are travelling with your spouse and/or children look out for packages that support family members travelling with you. This is a key factor to look into as not all schools offer spouse or dependents support. On the other hand, some even go as far as allowances for your children’s education.

When you are doing research on schools there are some general assumptions. One is that the more popular the school the higher demand for teachers and this may result in a lower salary. Schools that advertise high salaries and sought-after packages will also be highly competitive.

 Tip 5: Pension and Taxes.

Although not the most exciting task, doing your research on country-specific pension and tax allowances will be worth it. If you are from the UK you are no longer required to pay National Insurance contributions but this can ultimately alter your state pension in the long run. Outside Europe, it will be up to you to contribute on a voluntary basis. For details on pensions and taxes, your government website should provide links to comprehensive resources for people who live and work abroad. For UK citizens, this is a helpful resource: In regards to taxes, your best bet is to specifically research the country you are considering as each place has different rules in place. Some places, like the Middle East, offer tax-free salaries for foreign residents.

Remember, your level of experience will also be a factor. Information on job requirements and benefits are provided on school profile pages.

To view our current opportunities and the benefits and salaries for each, just sign up in 3 simple steps – Sign up, add your CV and become an endorsed teacher!

Written by Alexandra Plummer