5. May, 2017

Working overseas by NickiAllman

Working overseas by NickiAllman 

 

It is hard to comprehend at times that we are almost at the end of a three year period of living abroad and in two different countries, both completely different. And yes we are still novices compared to some! It has been full of varied experiences, positive and negative, and at times these have been challenging. We’ve been asked many times why we made the move. 

We’d both become really disillusioned with the way education was going in England but also started looking at our hopes and dreams. We’d talked about emigrating many times but had always had excuses. 1) Our children were at the wrong age, we couldn’t uproot them at such an important time in their education. 2) It would be tricky to move so far from ageing parents. 3) What about our commitments in England? However, when we reconsidered these excuses we realised that it didn’t matter what stage we were at, what mattered was following a dream we’d had for many years. 

Pull: 
1) We were privileged to work with some amazing groups of children. Their love of learning and desire to explore and work hard enables any teacher, if they choose to, to actually teach to the best of their ability. This is often what makes a school the way it is. They will take ownership of their own learning and explore further.  
2) I had been given some amazing opportunities in my home country, I’d been allowed to develop and learn and research and put this into practice in the schools I taught in.  
3) The greatest pull factor had been and still is, my eldest two children who remained in the UK (this has been completely their choice come about through discussing the pros and cons with is being many miles away). Both made the choice as university beckoned for my middle child and my eldest decided to work and then do a Masters.  
4) We had some amazingly supportive friends and we miss those enormously. But knowing that we could still keep in touch via social media and Skype really helped. 

Push: 
1) The changes in the education system, whilst needed, was the biggest push factor. A new English curriculum was implemented in 2014, the year we decided to leave, and this came with huge challenges for many schools.Assessments systems had changed significantly and are still undergoing change right the way through different phases in education. This is from phonic testing, to changes in KS1 testing, to huge changes in externally marked KS2 testing to changes in GCSEs and A levels. All this brought a great level of uncertainty and still does in many English schools. My own children were affected by the debacle of the GCSE/AS/A2 English marking a while ago.Ofsted changes resulting in problems with gradings. I’d heard about schools struggling due to changes in systems. I’m a great believer in accountability but the level of accountability we live with in education became more like a stick to beat schools with.  
2) Stress was a considerable factor and mainly that which is due to work load. We worked extremely hard and often put school before our own needs and family needs. The criticism we faced as a profession that we didn’t work hard enough, look at all the long holidays we got, we only worked 9-3 and I could go on. I was and still am all for doing the best I can for the children in my care but how can a school in an affluent area be compared to a school in an inner city area with completely different demographics? But on a personal note I’d experienced events leading up to our decision, both within and outside of school that have caused a huge amount of stress! Some events left me cold and I don’t miss them! However, I would like to be alive to enjoy my retirement! I don’t want to be one of the statistics that get to retirement and not be around for long to enjoy it. 
3) The opportunities that my now 18 year old daughter gained as a result of our move was and still is incredible! This wasn’t just in education but in the experience of seeing the world and gaining the opportunities to travel. She has seen so much more than she would have done if she’d visited different places just on holiday. 

4) The weather! Now as an English national, I can truly say that the weather in the UK was a decided factor in our decision to leave. Sometimes we miss rain and snow, not often, but sometimes. However, we love being in warmer climates and knowing the benefits of this on our health and wellbeing.  

5) We decided that a lifestyle change was needed. We wanted the opportunity to explore the world and to experience new things, things that going on holiday to visit couldn’t give us. We wanted to explore different cultures and live within these. 
6) But the final push was and still is about our dreams. We’d had the dream to live and work abroad for many years. After much discussion, and discussion involving our two eldest children allowed us to pursue our dream. We didn’t anticipate it coming so quickly. We didn’t anticipate where it took us. But when an opportunity comes up it is important to go for it. I’d heard many many people say they had regrets as they didn’t go for their dream and settled for second/third/fourth best, well we’re not going to be one of those! Our eldest children worked out their holiday schedule for visiting. They’d worked out how they were going to survive. I’m incredibly proud to have them as my children. I’ve seen such maturity in them both, such care and consideration. They’re both incredible individuals! 

 

So with much discussion we decided to move, we applied for jobs, we accepted jobs and we moved. It has been an incredible three years. So in answer to some people’s questions, why overseas? Well why not?!