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Are you ready for an international teaching job?

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Moving overseas to teach in an international school could be one of the most exciting and rewarding career moves you'll ever make. But it's not always easy knowing where to start - how do you find the right school, how will you adjust to the new culture, and what about the day-to-day practicalities like food, socialising, accommodation and getting around?

At Harris Hill we can support you all the way through the process, and give you a wealth of first-hand knowledge to help answer those questions and make sure it's the perfect opportunity for you.

There's no better reassurance than hearing from others who've recently made the move though, so we asked Sue Wilcox and Sahar El Hussaini, UK-based teachers who we helped to relocate to exciting new roles in Abu Dhabi and Brunei, to share their experience.​


Sue Wilcox, Abu Dhabi

Finding the role

To be honest looking for an international job was a bit of a whirlwind - considering the move to then applying and accepting the job was all done in a matter of weeks! I hadn't previously considered a move to the Middle East for an international teaching job, but talking to people and listening to their enthusiasm for the place swayed my decision.

It was down to my consultant at Harris Hill really - and her insight into life here. She was absolutely spot on about Abu Dhabi itself: it is a great place. I knew she was on the end of a phone if I needed any assistance of guidance and she was able to help with anything I was unsure about; such as being able to bring my dog, Basil over or for my children to come and visit.

Teaching in Abu Dhabi

I was excited to see Brighton College - it was so far removed from my village school in Gateshead. The school is very impressive as are the facilities.

From arriving at the airport I was welcomed by the Head of Pre-Prep and over the following week the rest of the school staff. Social events and inductions helped me and my fellow 'newbies' settle into Brighton life.

I love that the children in my class in FS2 are from all over the world and the different cultures and customs are brought into class through celebration days and topics. I take Year 1 and Year 2 for Gardening and Forest Explorers Club CCA's, the children love it and although I miss the abundant nature to be found in the UK, it's really enjoyable and challenging.

Life in Abu Dhabi

I think Abu Dhabi is an amazing city: the architecture around the city, the shopping malls, restaurants and leisure facilities ensure that I could never be bored here. It might surprise people to see how easily the Emirati culture and more cosmopolitan western lifestyle go together hand-in-hand, each going about their daily life. The best thing about this city is that I always feel safe, any time of day or night - whenever you walk around people will greet you and are very well mannered.

Advice for teachers considering a move

You're likely to arrive in Abu Dhabi at the hottest time of the year and it is indeed hot! During October the heat changes and you get the benefits of the wonderful sunny days. Summer clothes are fine to bring for the weekends. Download music and other essentials before you arrive in case you don't have wi-fi access at home for a while.

In terms of getting around, the best option is to hire a car which I recommend organising sooner rather than later. If you get a lease for 10 months this will work out a bit cheaper for a better vehicle, than a shorter lease. Either way it will give you the freedom to travel all over the city and to the many different beautiful beaches!

Sue Wilcox - EYFS, Brighton College Abu Dhabi




Sahar El Hussaini, Brunei

Finding the role

It was time to look for a new adventure. Both of my children had gone to university, so they were relatively independent and I seriously dislike the cold weather in the UK!

While chatting to one of my colleagues in school, she recommended Harris Hill to me as an agency recruiting for independent schools and overseas. I got in touch and sent my CV; and only a couple of days later, we were chatting on Skype and discussing my interests and needs.

It was a friendly and relaxed chat during which Brunei was suggested to me as they needed someone to start immediately. I must admit that I wasn't keen at first because of the distance from my home, and my priority was to teach in the Middle East. However as it was November most positions overseas were filled at this time. More importantly, Harris Hill's director of international recruitment had had several meetings with the senior management team; I felt that she knew the school very well and she was confident that I would fit in.

Things moved quickly: within a couple of days an interview was arranged with the headmaster and his team. All went well and the next step of the organising my departure was arranged by the school's HR team.

So, I signed the contract and left the UK having done little research about my new place!

Teaching in Brunei

I arrived in Brunei on 27th December 2015 to be greeted at the airport by the head of HR. I was taken to my temporary accommodation where I stayed for a couple of months before moving to the newly built accommodation on campus.

Everything was perfect, the school building was well spaced out with an outdoor swimming pool, a gym, and lots of outdoor space for running and cycling. I found that the school was well led with regular training sessions run by members of staff and outside agencies. There is also the opportunity to travel to another country to attend a course if it is deemed necessary.

The department I worked in had plenty of resources and the school provides a laptop for every teacher. Also, a short working day meant that I had plenty of time in the afternoon to prepare for the next day and to socialise in the evening.

Life in Brunei

Getting around is not always easy as there isn't a good public transport system; you could cycle for short distances but having a car is a must if you want to explore the country and take advantage of your stay.

A lot of expats buy their own car but I decided to hire a car and share it with a teacher who was on a short term contract like mine. We ended up paying £75 pounds each per month and petrol is very cheap. This meant that we were out nearly every evening trying different cuisine. Restaurants vary in quality but they are all clean and offer a wide selection of food. Everything is freshly cooked and options range from a buffet dinner in a five-star hotel for £20 or choose a dish for £4, so it's very good value.

Advice for teachers considering a move

Contrary to what some people say there is plenty to see and do in Brunei, from museums, mosques, beaches, jungle walks and visits to parks. If you are sporty, there are some excellent fitness centres and spa facilities at a very reasonable price. If you like horse riding, the polo club is amazing with more than 200 horses there.

Being in Brunei means that you are also close to other South East Asian countries and you can travel cheaply using Air Asia.

I embraced the new culture and was very happy to get to know the locals, who I would describe as being kind, honest, friendly and humble. I would certainly recommend working there if you get the chance - it is an opportunity not to be missed!

Sahar El Hussaini, Brunei