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Teaching in Dubai

(13 Posts)
Treeskater Fri 29-Jul-16 08:37:57

Has anyone done it? I'd love to. I'm a qualified teacher with two DC (6 and 4) and I currently manage a Preschool as it fits well with school runs and the littlest comes with me.

I'd love to get back to class teaching but don't want to work all my weekends and evenings. A friend who teaches in Dubai says that the pressure is MUCH less over there and that you're looked after really well. For example a school will provide your family with accommodation, school places, visas, flights, health insurance and of course, a lovely tax free salary. She also says that my age group (currently FS1) is in great demand. If anyone has taught out there can you tell me what the work load is like? Will I realistically be able to spend time with the children and enjoy a new life or will I spend my time planning and marking?

As DH is tiring of his job in a badly managed company and our financial future is not looking as rosy as we'd like, we see this as being a great idea for an adventure whilst the kids are small enough to adjust easily, a way to pay off some of the mortgage and the opportunity to change our jobs for the better.

Are we mad? To be honest we're very excited about the idea and I have thought of little else. We're both applying for jobs (although the school holidays have stalled mine for a few weeks) but I want to make sure that it will be (almost!) everything we think it will be. I know that nowhere is perfect though! We've both lived as expats before (we met whilst living abroad) and have what DH calls 'wunderlust'. Doing it with children just makes you think twice!

Thank you for any experiences you'd like to share!

Treeskater Fri 29-Jul-16 18:30:57


ShanghaiDiva Sat 30-Jul-16 06:02:07

I think the pressure is lower in international schools generally, not just Dubai. But there are disadvantages too e.g being part of a small international community where everyone knows everyone else may not appeal.
I am in China (not a teacher) and packages at international schools here would include the following:
free or reduced fee school places for children
flight home per year
a lot of teachers I know have spouses emplpyed at the school too - e.g as teaching assistants
health insurance
- so it may be worth looking outside Dubai.

MissMargie Sat 30-Jul-16 08:04:43

There is a website and forum which might have info on this.

ZombieHunter Fri 05-Aug-16 07:31:29

I'm off to Shanghai in 3 days to start teaching there.

When I first looked for possible countries Dubai was also on top of my list, but once I did some further digging I dismissed it and looked into South East Asia.

This is all by hearsay, but in a nutshell the negatives of Dubai (or any Arabic country / city and I say this as someone with Arabic heritage):
- They have their own version of Ofsted annually.
- Children are very entitled and treat you badly / don't care about learning as they are sitting on billions in their accounts.
- Women treated as second class citizens.
- There will be judgements if your husband doesn't work as the man should be earning the money.
- Constant hot weather. I love summer, but all year round? No, thanks.
- High wages, but high outgoings.
- Shopping confined to air conditioned malls.

As ShanghaiDiva says, packages for China are amazing! I get:
- Money paid by my years of experience, not performance. Let's put it this way: to earn this much in the UK I'd have to be on Assistant Principal wages and I get it as a classroom teacher.
- Every 2 years 10% tax free bonus and steadily rising wages (remember, experience).
- Free school place for my DS.
- Free three bedroom house in a lovely area.
- Utilities paid up to a certain amount (1k a year) so basically you are rent and utilities free. Don't forget the wages mentioned above, I've done the maths and we'll be able to save a lot.
- Flights for DH, DS and I.
- Visas for all of us.
- Private medical insurance for all of us.
- Relocation allowance which pays for all the extra cases we're taking.
- Annual flights back home.

On top of that I will be working in a country where there is a learning ethos and a culture of wanting to do well in life. My largest class has 12 pupils in it (secondary teacher). No crowd control, no behaviour issues.

We are also already looking at holidays for the next years. Think Bali, Phillipines, Borneo... And exploring China itself. Which is another bonus - 16 weeks holidays.

Yes, there will be negatives, but it's what you make of them.
Pollution obviously. Shanghai not as bad as Bejing, but we've packed the boardgames and when it's a bad day you stay in and play Monopoly. It's what you make of it.
The culture shock will be immense, but we want to try and fit in.
Many of our favourite sites are blocked by the Great firewall (facebook, google, youtube...). We will be at the mercy of VPN working, but well, you live with it.

All in all - look further afield. If you have any questions feel free to PM me.

Alligatorpie Sat 06-Aug-16 01:37:21

Zombie, we just left Shanghai after teaching for 2 years. We really loved the city, but the weather and the pollution drove us away. It is a fabulous place - I hope you enjoy it! I do suggest getting an Astrill router - it will save you countless hours of banging your head against a wall!

OP - I haven't taught in Dubai but know people who have and have heard mixed results.
The teaching packages above sound pretty normal, except the schools I have worked at have generally not provided flights for our DC's. (One school was disorganised and forgot to charge us, and the next year we negotiated one child flight in the package as the other was under 2). Our current school doesn't provide a housing allowance, but the salary isgood enough that we can afford a 4 bed house with a garden.

The main concern I see, is that your dh is not a teacher. Cities like Dubai and Shanghai are international cities with international prices. I know several people who have struggled to live on one teachers salary - so unless your dh is able to pick up some work, you might not have the lifestyle you want.
In saying that, I would still go for it. Living overseas is amazing and although it is very different than before we had kids, we have not regretted it at all. Sign up for TES if you haven't already. There is a wealth of information our there. Good luck.

ZombieHunter Sat 06-Aug-16 05:07:26

Alligatorpie, thanks for reminding me about the router. I was told to buy one as soon as there to have some more stable connection. HR will help set it up.

I know pollution is shite, but we packed enough to keep us entertained if we are stuck at home. And we love our kindles. We'll make the most and hopefully stay there for a good few years. And without saying too much, if everything fails, I'm in a school of a huge global chain, so we could always look at one of the sister schools later if we fancy a change of country.

JoandMax Sat 06-Aug-16 05:57:35

Hi OP, I'm in Dubai and although not a teacher I do have kids in primary school so my view is from the other side!

Schools here are assessed annually by KHDA (Ofsted equivalent) - for the outstanding schools there is a huge amount of pressure to maintain this (how well a school does determines how much they can put their fees up.......). The teachers at my kids school seem to work very very hard.

Parents are a mixed bag, there are some very pushy parents who cannot accept their 7 year olds aren't ready for GCSEs yet - part of this is the different cultures and that takes some getting used to!

I can't say I've ever seen entitled rude children whose parents don't care as they're sitting on money......... Education is valued very highly by locals and expats alike and always lots of reading campaigns and education activities for kids everywhere (great science museums and natural history museums etc).

Weather is seriously hot at the moment but my kids still play outside first thing in the morning or after 5pm with no problems and we spend a lot of time at the pool! Winter months are beautiful and we're outside all the time.

Women being treated as 2nd class citizens - not something I have experienced personally but it does happen. I'm a SAHM but I have my own bank account, car, don't feel restricted in everyday life at all.

Would your DH plan on working? It is very expensive to live here, money just seems to disappear! I don't know how far one teachers salary would go for a family of 4.

Overall it has it's faults but is a fabulous place for DCs your age. Mine were 3 and 4 when we arrived (6 and 8 now) and it has been amazing for them, so much to do and so many opportunities. There's some great escapes from the glitzy city just a short drive away - desert camping, the Hajar Mountains, dolphins in Oman, I could go on and on!

Good luck

ShanghaiDiva Sat 06-Aug-16 07:13:58

Zombie Hunter - when pollution is bad you will still have to go out (unless at the weekend) as schools don't close when the aqi is awful, although younger kids not allowed outside to play at the school mine attend.
You may want to consider air purifiers for your home too.
Agree with Alligatorpie that Shanghai can be very expensive, but travel from Shanghai can be pretty good with budget airlines.
Recommend you download 'we chat' for your phone or ipad - great for translation if you don't speak mandarin and you can use it to pay for loads of things.
Welcome to the Middle Kingdom and good luck in your new job!

ZombieHunter Sat 06-Aug-16 07:58:28

Thanks, ShanghaiDive. I know, still have to work, but my school is prepared. If needed we don't need to leave the building so we are all safe and there are play areas inside for the little ones. It's just the quick getting to and from school (10 mins walk but can take scooter).

Will definitely have air purifiers. And plants! My ayi can look after them as I'll otherwise kill them.

I have wechat already and am obsessed with it. Love it!

Looking at October holidays as been told to escape China during golden week. Can't decide between Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia or Thailand. Oh, what a tricky decision wink Have booked four days in Yangshuo for Moonfestival in September already.

ohtobeanonymous Sat 06-Aug-16 08:37:33

OP - international teaching can be great (in the right school and city for you) and do think about what your other half will do. Not always easy (or permissible) for them to work and that can create issues for some partners.
tax free salary sounds lovely, until you realise how low the pay is compared to your UK salary.
Check out International Schools Review website for info on teaching abroad and if you're a member you can access the reviews, to try and work out what schools are good or not. As a parent, you might find the job suits you but the school isn't great for your own children - don't want to be negative, but do your homework, and don't limit yourself to just one city as a possible choice.

Good luck! You are unlikely to regret having a go!

ShanghaiDiva Sat 06-Aug-16 13:12:51

Zombie - agree, I wouldn't holiday in China during the national holiday in October. After CNY it's probably the busiest travel time.
When we moved here 8 years ago we went to a popular tourist attraction during the October holiday with our 2 year old, blonde haired daughter - never again!
Weather is pretty changeable in SE Asia in October - (moving our of rainy season) - but it's a good time to visit North Vietnam (Sapa), Tokyo (but can still have typhoons), Burma - starting to come out of the rainy season and prices start to go up,
Yanshuo will be nice for mid autumn festival smile
I love we chat too!

apologies treeskater for high jacking your thread.

booklooker Sun 07-Aug-16 04:45:52

I teach in the ME, though not in Dubai or any of the other Emirates.

I am fortunate enough to be teaching in Muscat, Oman. Really good contract (familiy of 4 living comfortably off 1 salary).

Much more relaxed than Dubai (it does not feel the need to be the largest, longest, highest anything)

I can guide you to the best schools here if you want (there are 3 imo)

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