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To Teach Back Home or Not

by Tristan Cotterill.

Currently in the United Kingdom (UK), the education system is facing a crisis point. There is a severe lack of teachers.

Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary who uncovered the figures, said:

“This government have created a crisis at every stage of our education system, missing their own school teacher recruitment targets in five consecutive years, while tens of thousands more are lost from further education colleges.”

2017 showed the greatest failure, missing the recruitment target by over 3000. Coupled with the failure to retain current professionals, this has left the entire system in an unsustainable state of flux where drastic action is now needed. This is sad because as Denise Juneau said:

“Teachers do the noble work of educating our children. And we can’t thank them enough for the hard work they put in every day to ensure a bright future for all of us.”

I do not think there is a single TEFL or TESL professional who has not considered the possibility of returning to their native country and continuing to teach there. It is easy to see why, as we have a lot to offer. While some of us may carry only the TEFL certificate and not the other educational requirement, we already have teaching experience, and more importantly, we have international experience.

In a world that is increasingly globalised, with education systems constantly having to adapt to remain relative, having teachers who have experienced arguably one of the frontiers of it, could be an invaluable resource. As F, Sionil Joes said:

“The influence of teachers extends beyond the classroom, well into the future. It is they who shape and enrich the minds of the young, who touch their hearts and souls. It is they who shape a nation’s future.”

If you are a British or European citizen there is a current range of financial incentives available to you to train to be a teacher. The offer to train to be an English teacher is £15,000. (For more details see getintoteaching). Upon completion Getintoteaching state that the initial salary for a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) is roughly £23,000 per year.

The question therefore for EFL and ESL teachers is, is it enough to entice us back? As we are in the education profession, it is safe to assume we believe that education enhances us, but it is difficult to put a price of what we would gain from further education.

Now from this point I can only talk from personal experience as personal finances in our world highly depend on where and who you teach. It is however relatively easy to change jobs and find those higher salaries. I currently make more than the NQT starting salary, and mine is tax-free. I can expect to save roughly three quarters of my salary a year whereas on the £23,000 with the cost of living in the UK it would be difficult to save a fifth of that.

In a profession that rewards longevity over hard work, to return to the same standard of living we have experienced abroad would take years and this standard of living would be even more difficult on the £15,000 bursary for a year’s study.

Teaching is a patriotic profession but to swallow this pill is difficult. In a world as I said that is constantly changing, it is a tough to ask for us to take a step backwards.

As with any decision, there is usually more than one contributing factor and I believe another major consideration is the current state of morale within the British education system.

With news headlines such as:

“Half of all teachers in England threaten to quit as morale crashes” (The Guardian)
“Teachers’ morale has never been lower” (The Independent)

And if you enjoy your current job, how can you consider returning to that? To paraphrase John Lennon, what I want to be when I am older is ‘Happy’.

In an attempt to stem to lose of teachers Damian Hinds has announced a drive to cut down on the workload of teachers, a major contributing factor to teachers leaving the profession.

The truth is we all want a good work life balance and TEFL offers that and it remains to be seen if the British education system could offer that any time soon.

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