- Experienced teachers should apply as soon as they start thinking about teaching in London. They have to give notice to their current school & board, and try to get a "leave of absence" if possible. I've worked with plenty of teachers from the TDSB (Toronto District School Board) who have been able to secure at least one year to teach abroad and are still guaranteed their positions when they return. These schools usually ask for much more notice in this case. You'll have to research your own board, but you can at least send your CV to a recruiter now.
- Newly Qualified Teachers (called "NQT's" in the UK) should apply from January on. Most NQT's need about 6 months to prepare for the big move across the pond. So they apply in the winter in order to arrive in London in the autumn. I personally applied at the end of July, departed at the end of August for a teaching position that started September 1st. But I know that's not the norm and don't really recommend this last-minute approach.
- Jobs start in April, September, October/November and January.
- For the April group - this is the super-keen group that wants to supply teach until July 20th and land a full-time position that starts in September. Last year, all of my teachers who arrived in April managed to get the jobs they wanted from September 1st. This group knew they had to hit the ground running and did it amazingly well! Career wise, this makes the most sense for NQT's or substitute teachers in Canada who can depart at any time. If you want your own class, and you want to start the year right then you should arrive in April. There's no doubt about it - this strategy works. Will there be enough work as a supply teacher? If you're good, flexible, outgoing & eager, yes. And schools will hire you 10 times more than they would hire someone still in Canada. They want to interview you in person & see you teach, so anyone who is actually in London in the last term of the year will get the job that starts in September. It's a no-brainer really.
- For the September group - I select a small group of fabulous & flexible teachers that I know will get any last-minute positions that start the beginning of September. This year, that group will be experienced only (sorry NQTs!). I only send over a small group (15 teachers maximum) as I want each of them to be successful and refuse to follow most recruiters' tactics of taking anyone & everyone. I'd rather know that ALL of my teachers will be successful. This works for us, and most importantly, works for the teachers.
- The October/November group is where most of the NQTs fit in. They arrive when the supply teaching picks up, which is always in October and November. Again, this is more about helping the teachers to be successful than anything else. If everyone arrived at the same time, they'd all be competing for the same jobs. It's much better to think about when is the best time to arrive! This is the same as it is in Canada - September is the slowest month for supply teaching. So, the October/November teachers arrive, do some supply teaching for a couple of days, or weeks, or months and then land the jobs that start in January. Why January? Well, all those teachers that come from tropical lands (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa) go home for summer while us Canadians prefer to be in London in the winter. So we take their jobs, as well as any maternity leave positions and teach until the end of July. Makes sense right?
- The January arrivals are a small group of teachers that needed a bit more time to prepare for the move abroad. Sometimes this is due to their finances. Sometimes they have commitments back home, and sometimes they are teachers who thought they'd get work in Canada and when they didn't, finally decided to try to the UK. This group usually does some supply teaching, but more often than not, they also get long-term full-time positions in schools until the end of the school year in July.
- 90% of my teachers say they will only go to London for one year, and guess what? 90% stay for 2 years. I stayed for 3. Some of my teachers are still in London after teaching for the past 4 years. Most just stay 2 years though (due to their visa restrictions - see our website for more about visas).
Don't forget to RSVP to the Wine & Cheese Event in Vancouver if you live in BC and can come on the 26th of February. We've already had a great response so I know the event will be brilliant.
Read the Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians by Victoria Westcott (me!) and sign up to the Classroom Canada newsletters to read more from our teachers in London.