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【The Standard】Why many Brit teachers go abroad

Boarding 101


Many teachers are choosing to leave the UK and work abroad. This might seem surprising, since the UK has so many excellent schools, but this is a trend that can now be seen across the profession.

Part of the appeal is the exotic locations. If a teacher chooses to work at, say, Dulwich College Singapore, Rugby School Thailand or Harrow International School Hong Kong, they are getting a school that feels familiar, but is set in a culture and climate that is very different to that of the UK.

These locations also provide a good base for exciting travel during school holidays. Exploring Asia is cheaper and more convenient if you’re starting from Singapore or Hong Kong.

Then, there is the fact that the overall package schools outside of the UK can offer teachers is often superior. Pensions, for example, have been a difficult area in the UK recently. Many private schools in Britain have opted out of the government’s Teachers’ Pension Scheme altogether.

The reason for this is that they have deemed the required increase to contributions (over 40 percent) to be unfeasible. Many schools would have to raise their fees considerably, running the risk of putting themselves beyond the financial reach of many parents. If they do this, schools could effectively be pricing themselves out of business.

Far more appealing for many teachers are the all-round prospects that are offered by international institutions. One example is Whittle Schools and Studios, an exciting new global school that is highly ambitious and aims to expand all over the world.

It opened its first campuses in Washington DC and Shenzhen last year. This year it plans to open another campus in Brooklyn. If you look into the new staff here, you’ll find that the vice chancellor, the global head of schools heads, is Jim Hawkins, a former headmaster of Harrow School in the UK.

At the Shenzhen campus, the head of school is Rhiannon Wilkinson, an Oxford graduate and former headmistress of Wycombe Abbey, a top private girls’ boarding school in Buckinghamshire.

Over in Thailand, the headmaster of Harrow International School Bangkok is Jon Standen. Prior to joining the school in January 2019, he was headmaster at Plymouth College, a private boarding school in Devon, and headmaster of The Crypt, a state grammar school in Gloucester.

In Hong Kong, the head of Harrow International School is Ann Haydon. Before becoming the first woman to lead a Harrow school in 2017, she was principal of Surbiton High School and deputy head of Guildford High School, both top private UK schools.

As someone who benefited from an excellent education in the UK, it is exciting to see this teaching becoming more accessible across the globe.