Thank you all very much for taking the time to post your comments in response to my letter. I truly value all of them and understand that the situation of being a teacher abroad can vary from individual to individual and from school to school. In fact, I trained as a teacher in the UK and have worked abroad in some good schools and some which were not right for me. The reasons they were not right for me were varied and in most cases it was because I was not the right fit for the school or I was the wrong type of teacher for that school.
I could be cynical and suggest that the management was bad, that I had no support, that the resources were terrible and the Head teacher was more than useless. But then again, when I was there most staff were happy in their jobs, the schools had a great local reputation with parents and staff alike , the kids were lovely and with hindsight if you asked me whether I could have made a better job of it the answer would be yes.
Indeed, if you asked me whether I think I could have done better than the Head teacher did , then the answer is ‘I am not too sure’.
I also understand that there are people in posts across a school that should not be in those posts and schools out there that should not be allowed to remain open. I also agree that it is useful to have a web site that points this out but in my opinion this web site does not always have that ability or want the responsibility to sort out the wheat from the chaff. As a result, the value of the opinions on here can only be lessened.
I also agree that in theory these issues can be sorted out in the recruitment process whether it is done by the school directly or by a recruitment agency, but I also believe that the major responsibility lies with teachers before they press send on their application or go to interview as well.
I hope that this gives you a bit of an insight into where I am coming from. There were several specific points that I wanted to address in the comments as well
1. There seems to be confusion as to the difference between an agency and a recruitment fair: The companies I worked for were agencies. A teacher would register and be interviewed directly by a consultant. They would then attempt to help the teacher find a post ( or in some cases attempt to persuade them not to look for work abroad) this would not cost the teacher a cent and when an offer came in , the decision was theirs not the consultant’s. In fact, a good consultant would advise in an impartial fashion. It is not to the advantage of a consultant to place teachers in inappropriate posts as the schools will not use them again.
Search Associates , ECIS etc are not agencies, they are recruitment fairs and as such may not have the same checks and measures as an agency would. In some cases the only criteria used for a school to be part of the fair is to be a member of the organization hosting it.
2. One of the comments suggested that agencies have some say in the length of contracts and use this to their advantage. This is simply not true. Contract lengths are often decided by the schools or can be dictated to by the local immigration authorities as they are the ones who issue the Work Permits that you require and have a defined period of time. In some cases, schools can extend the longevity of a contract for a teacher, but it is fair to say that this does not usually go beyond four to six years in most cases …although there are always exceptions to the rules and some teachers will stay for 10 years plus at the same school.
3. I question the value of a Bill of Rights for teachers if this cannot be upheld in a court of law of the country you are in. As I said in my original letter I agree with the content of it but practically how is it supposed to work?
4. Reference Checks : I can only speak for myself. References received were checked verbally with the author. We also received references from a number of schools and so when it was clear that a reference was “out of kilter” with other references received , this would be investigated. Personally I would not censor any reference but advise a school that a candidate had been put forward for that the comments did not tally with other references nor from the interview etc etc, it was ultimately the school’s decision to interview/appoint based on the information we had received. I operated a transparent policy of recruitment on all sides.The same transparency was used when talking about schools to a teacher.
5. Finally somebody asked details for the authority that regulates agencies in the UK here it is www.rec.uk.com I seem to have read that there is a similar body in the States but have to admit that I do not know its name. sorry