Have you ever wondered whether teachers in international schools (those delivering a substantial amount of the curriculum in English) need the same kinds of resources and training as teachers in the UK? Perhaps your business is looking to this growing market as a way of expanding, or perhaps you're a teacher thinking of working abroad. Either way, our latest research report will make interesting reading. It's available free, but here's a quick summary.
If you're reading this, there's a very good chance that you're one of the thousands of teachers who've taken part in our online focus groups, or a client who has commissioned at least one of them. We've been doing them for 15 years, so feel pretty good at them by now, but not many of our clients know that we do them internationally and that they're far better than sending someone abroad to run them face to face. So we decided we'd run a session as a taster, with each teacher taking part from a different country, namely: Colombia, Oman, Thailand, Vietnam, China and Japan. We all met together via our usual online focus group format, that allows us to talk simultaneously by phone and online, following a structured discussion guide. The whole thing was recorded, so can watch it for yourself here.
In the focus group, we asked teachers to discuss what kinds of resources worked best for them in the international context. We then asked the same teachers back to take part in an interview via Skype, to discuss their own professional development requirements and to investigate how international schools went about making decisions about PD.
International school teachers want resources to be:
• flexible and adaptable – resources that the teachers themselves can alter and personalise
• matched to the curriculum or specific skills – and provide a clear build up to key exam year groups
• sympathetic to regional/international context – for example in terms of the terminology used, or the real world examples provided
• able to evolve at need: resources that are updated in line with changes – for example developments in technology or awarding body spec changes – hence a preference again for online resources
• supported by adequate regional aftercare from suppliers – especially when they are based in different countries or regions to the supplier
• responsive to students’ current attainment level and personal interests.
When it comes to professional development, international school teachers identified several issues - here are just a few tasters.
Unsurprisingly, the biggest barriers to PD are cost, location and time and these probably explain the popularity of online, flexible training formats. The general feeling was that online training is an effective and appropriate model for PD providers, with the caveats that webinars must have a very structured agenda and clear aims, and also do not include too many people to avoid unfocused discussion and technology issues.
Ongoing areas of need mentioned were training linked to new exam specifications / syllabi, and overcoming the language barrier when working with international students.
Respondents were clear that schools’ payscales are directly related to teachers’ qualifications, therefore becoming better qualified improves future job prospects - even more so than in the UK.
Anyway, this is just a taster: if you'd like to have copy of the full report it's here.