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How to get placed in an international school

Matching South African teachers with International schools in the Middle East - what you should know.

Behind the scenes at SA-Recruitment:

We are going to explore some important insights for both teachers looking to teach in the Middle East and for international schools looking to recruit South African teachers.


A good recruitment agency and agent works to best match both teachers and schools. SA-Recruitment is an agency with a track record of over two decades of bridging the gap between South African teachers and international schools across the Middle East. We use our experience, skills and work ethic to build and maintain relationships with all parties so that, when the time is right, the placements we make tick everyone’s boxes.


Join us for an exclusive Q&A with Nicole, our Education Manager, as she shares insights into the process, dispels common misconceptions for both teachers and schools, and offers insights into how to get placed in an international school as well as advice for schools looking to improve their recruitment strategies.

Nicole answers some questions around the topic: How to get placed in an international school


Q: What's one thing you wish SCHOOLS knew about the recruitment process that they might not be aware of?


Probably the biggest thing we wish schools knew about how SA-Recruitment works is the is the depth of involvement and the support we provide as an agency. From the moment we work with a school we are constantly keeping them in mind when we chat with teachers. We spend hours behind the scenes answering questions, explaining, reassuring, negotiating, and supporting the teachers we place at our schools. These ‘back-channel’ communications are really what set us apart from other agencies and it is the reason some or our schools have been working with us for several years and why we get so many teachers coming to us through referrals.  We don't just send a CV and leave it at that…far from it.


Q: What's one thing you wish TEACHERS knew about the recruitment process that they might not be aware of?


Teachers often ask us how much we will charge for helping them find a teaching position at an international school in the Middle East – we get asked this a lot. The thing is, we DO NOT CHARGE a fee and actually can’t charge a teacher a fee as we can not guarantee them a position. Our schools pay us a fee to secure appropriate teachers for them; and we only get paid that fee once the teacher has arrived at the school and been there for a period of time. If teachers are working with an agency that is charging them any kind of fee, that should be a red flag.


"If teachers are working with an agency that is charging them any kind of fee, that should be a red flag"

Q: What are some common misconceptions international schools across the Middle East have about South African teachers


That SA teachers cannot adapt or cope with an international curriculum.

South African teachers are incredibly hard working and those looking to make the move to teach at an international school in the Middle East are very aware that they will need to learn, adapt, study and learn about the new curriculum they are faced with. The South African curriculum has also undergone significant changes over the years and is based on the National Curriculum of the UK. There are definite commonalities across these curricula and the teachers will use their training and their skillset to help them adapt.

That SA teachers aren’t native English speakers

South Africa has a number of cultures and languages but English is still the main language of business and instruction and widely used. South Africans do have an accent, the same as Australians, Irish and British teachers – but we are Native English speakers.


Q: What are some common misconceptions South African teachers have about teaching at an international school in the Middle East


Being a qualified teacher means I should get the job

Our schools have definite and strict requirements and they make the decision; being a qualified teacher is only one of these and in no way guarantees that you will shortlisted for an interview or offered a position.

Teaching in the Middle East is easier than teaching in South Africa

Teaching in South Africa is tough, but familiar – at an international school in the Middle East you are having to get to grips with not only a new culture, way of life and lifestyle but you are also having to take on a new way of teaching, new content and teaching practices as well as expectations and that is very tough.

You will only be teaching English to children who can’t speak English

Our classroom/homeroom roles are to teach all subjects (as in South Africa) and not just English. You will be teaching in English and the children you teach will have a good understanding and grasp of English but it will be (for the most part) their second language.

International schools in the Middle East work the same as schools in South Africa

International schools in the Middle East operate very differently to schools in South Africa; we advise teachers to give themselves time to get fully settled into their new school and their new staffroom. Be patient, don’t make the mistake of thinking that things are the same as back in South Africa and lean on more experienced staff for their advice and support. Your classroom methods might also have to adapt – again look to colleagues for guidance…as a South African teacher your training and experience will give you a good foundation and skill set to be able to make these adaptations.

Unrealistic salary expectations

As a South African teacher, unless you have taught overseas, you will have no international experience which means you can not hope to earn what teachers with international experience earn. Have realistic salary expectations, listen to our advice – you don’t want to out-price yourself and miss out on great opportunities.


Q: Any advice you'd give to schools looking to improve their recruitment process?

  1. Utilising a reputable agency can significantly enhance the recruitment process, particularly when hiring expat teachers. Agencies like ours provide extensive assistance and support to both schools and candidates, ensuring a smoother and more efficient process for all parties involved. 

  2. In addition to recruitment support, agencies often possess in-depth knowledge about the required documents for visas, especially for South Africans. We can assist schools with the necessary paperwork to ensure teachers obtain their visas in a timely manner, streamlining the entire process and minimizing potential delays.

  3. The more support the agency and the school offers new teachers the better they will adapt and settle so that everyone wins. A settled, supported teacher means they are more productive which benefits the school, which in turn benefits the wider school community as children and parents are not being introduced to a new teacher every few months. The recruitment of ex-pat teachers should be a collaborative effort on the part of the school and the agency.


Q: What are the rewards of recruitment?


  1. Engaging with Diverse Individuals: We have the privilege of interacting with a diverse range of individuals daily, each with their unique skills, experiences, and aspirations.

  2. Long-term Client Relationships: Over the years, we've built strong relationships with our clients, which is incredibly rewarding. These relationships are built on trust, mutual respect, and a shared commitment to excellence.

  3. Teacher Success: Witnessing the joy and excitement of a teacher securing a contract is incredibly fulfilling. It's a testament to their hard work and dedication, and we're proud to have played a part in their journey.

  4. Positive Feedback: When our schools provide positive feedback about our teachers, it's a testament to our successful matching process. Knowing that we've helped connect the right teacher with the right school is immensely rewarding. 

  5. Teacher Satisfaction: Receiving messages from our teachers expressing their happiness and gratitude is one of the most rewarding aspects of our work. Knowing that we've helped them find a fulfilling and rewarding teaching position is incredibly gratifying.

If you are an international school looking to recruit professional and experienced South African teachers OR if you are a South African teacher and would like to partner with us - contact us so that we can answer your questions and present you with solutions.


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