After four years teaching in London, Modern Foreign Languages teacher Katie Lockett decided to experience something different and move to China to teach at an international school. She’s now two years into her return to England as Head of Faculty at a state school in Gloucestershire. We caught up with Katie to see how she’s getting on.
Why did you decide to come back to teach in England?
I wanted to move back to England to be closer to my partner. The main thing I missed about teaching in England was the curriculum and approach to teaching and learning. We’re so fortunate to have so many research-based educators here who share their ideas at exciting events like ResearchEd. I missed being at the cutting edge of educational research, like I felt I had been when working in London.
How did you find a job?
I began looking for jobs in January, because the resignation date in my international school was Christmas, and you had to resign before looking for jobs. I looked in the normal places like ETeach and TES.
Before applying, I always emailed the head teacher of the school to ask if they would consider international applicants and if they would interview me via Skype. I offered them reassurance that I was suitably qualified by providing additional references, copies of previous performance management reviews and videos of me teaching.
The head teachers were always very grateful for me being so proactive and considerate of the fact that interviewing by Skype was a new concept to them. I applied for about ten jobs and was offered four Skype interviews. I was offered a job in February, two months after I started looking. I was used to Skype interviews from applying to international schools, so I probably found it less daunting than the head teachers did!
My international school was very supportive. They contacted the head teachers in England to describe my teaching and to offer them reassurance. They also provided permission for me to share my performance management reviews and videos of me teaching.
How did you plan relocating to start your new job?
Moving from China to England was very easy. Like most international schools, my school had a very comprehensive repatriation package and arranged my flights and shipment. They even arranged for my cat to be repatriated for me! Once in England, I initially stayed with my parents before starting to house-hunt.
What was it like being back in a UK school?
Starting back at an English state school was much like starting any new job. It’s always hard starting a new job – so much to learn! But it didn’t feel any different just because it was back in England. By October half term, my new school felt like home.
What did you do to get back up to date with teaching in England?
Even though I was only away for two years, in that time a new GCSE curriculum and a new Ofsted Framework were introduced! While in China, I stayed in touch with the UK education scene via Twitter to find links to blog and book recommendations. Also, whenever I was home in England for the holidays, I visited UK schools and went on UK-based courses.
As for behaviour management – teenagers are teenagers! I still had to manage behaviour in China in the same way I did back in London, so I didn’t lose any of my skills there!
What have you most enjoyed about being back in a school in England?
The freedom to teach the way I want to. I felt a huge amount of pressure in a fee-paying international school (where parents call a certain amount of the shots!) to teach in a certain way. Back home. I find it so much easier to engage with research, learn new things about teaching and then try them out in the classroom – without being judged! I feel so professionally free in England.
What advice would you give to someone planning on returning to teach in England?
- When applying for jobs back in the UK, contact the head teachers in advance of applying.
- Engage with Twitter, blogs, and education books to stay up-to-date while away.
- Visit schools and attend conferences on your visits back to the UK.
- Do not worry about behaviour management – honestly, teenagers are teenagers everywhere!
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