Monday, August 27, 2012

2 New Teaching Jobs for Sept/Oct 2012: Math & Science Teachers Apply ASAP

We've just received news that we have 2 new teaching jobs that need to be filled immediately.

Maths/Science teacher – Part-Time (3 days per week: Tues, Wed, Thurs) at a School in North London (High Barnet). Very unique and exciting opportunity. This is a very small, independent performing arts school looking for a Science or Maths specialist from September. The school is ideally looking for someone who would be willing to commit for an extended period of time (a few years at least) so British citizenship or ancestry Visa would be an asset. The teacher will need to work independently with UK curriculum particularly at GCSE where they would be entering students for their exams.  British teaching experience preferred.

Science Teacher – maternity cover starting in October. This is a Catholic School which has been rated as "Outstanding" by Ofsted for 12 years, with very high academic standards, in Redbridge (Essex).  Previous Classroom Canada teachers have loved working at this school, and highly recommend the school.  Experienced teachers are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

To apply for these teaching jobs in London, or to apply for supply teaching & other contracts with Classroom Canada, simply submit your resume/CV and cover letter to apply AT


For visa information, please see

Monday, August 20, 2012

From Canada to London, England

Today, we have a guest post from Canadian teacher, Kaitlin Anderson.  Kaitlin will be arriving in London in a few weeks time & is here to share with you what the process has been like in preparing to depart for her first teaching assignment abroad.

Over to Kaitlin...

Getting to London

London has been one of my favourite cities since my first visit when I was thirteen; so it made sense that when a former Classroom Canada alumni came as a guest speaker to one of my classes, that I was instantly hooked to the idea of teaching in London. I mean it's London.

Although I have not yet arrived, Victoria has asked me to write a blog post about the process of getting there (likely because I have emailed her numerous times throughout the process).

So let's start from the beginning...

As mentioned earlier I first heard about Classroom Canada through Rebecca a very lovely Classroom Canada Alumni who was a guest speaker at one my lectures at the University of Victoria. This is of particular interest because she was not sent by Classroom Canada for recruitment reasons but rather had been asked by my professor (who had kept in contact over the years) to discuss one of the possibilities of teaching abroad. She loved her experience despite the challenges (similar to those discussed in the coffee time interviews), and felt that the experience truly made her a stronger teacher. I left class that day with it clear in my mind that the following fall I too would be teaching in London.

Although Rebecca had done a pretty good job at stating the reasons Classroom Canada was a positive choice when choosing an agency, I did spend the next couple of weeks looking at different agencies. But as you can tell, Classroom Canada seemed to be the best fit for me!

Next step was the application and interview; both went swimmingly.

After getting my acceptance email from Victoria and doing a lengthy happy dance, it was time start the next few steps of this process. The paperwork.

I am lucky enough to have a British Passport (Thanks Dad!), and thus don't need a visa to work in the UK. I strongly recommend anyone who has a parent who was born in the UK to apply for their own British Passport. It is not only easier than applying for a Visa but makes traveling within Europe more efficient (it also looks really cool and is good for ten years!).

Victoria was very quick about sending me my CRB (the British police check) in the mail, and I filled it out accordingly. The only thing I can really mention about this step, is READ instructions well. I didn't notice the "no white-out" rule until it was too late, and Victoria had to send me another one.

Next, I had to print off and fill out the forms for housing at Genesis as I saw that as the best option for me personally. This step is also pretty self-explanatory, my only comment is that they really do require you bank statements (even if you don't have a bank account in the UK at this time). Be sure to have all needed documents enclosed as my application had disappeared after my bank statement debacle. However, if you do run into any problems at all I found Jessica who works at Genesis to be extremely helpful and you can get in touch with her or one of her colleagues off the contact section of their website.

Now as my departing date is getting closer (September 25th), I have completed my Canadian Criminal Record Check and am in the process of applying for my Lloyd's bank account. These are both things that you probably don't want to do too far in advance of your arrival date.

Well I wait to see if these last pieces of paperwork get approved, I have been looking into the British Curriculum and supply teacher lesson planners. This website has some great ideas!

Well wish me luck, and hope to see some of you there!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

How to Find Accommodations in London, England

We constantly get asked for advice on the best way to find accommodations if our applicants do not get (or do not want) a place in our subsidized housing complex.

There's information included in our Guide to Teaching in London e-book about accommodation options. We've written blog posts in the past on how to sort out your own accommodations and recommendations for inexpensive hotels. we have another idea from one of our recent teacher candidates who arrived in London last month. She recommended a company called Arrive Homes that helped her find a great, inexpensive, safe place to live in London.

Here is what she had to say about Arrive Homes:

I have been in London for about a week now and have already found a great place to live and have been to IKEA to get all the things I may need in my new house! I wanted to share that are AMAZING! They are two young guys who place young professionals (lots of teachers) in house shares all over London. They were great in the lead up to getting over here and we met up right away and they showed me 4 places in one day. I fell in love with the last and all has been easy since! The places are really affordable (they range 5-600 pounds max) and they are all in safe neighbourhoods and near tube stations. Just thought I would let you know!

Thanks, Maggie for sharing this great resource and if any others out there have ideas on how to find great housing in London, please post below.

Any other great tips & advice to help teachers find housing in London? Please share below!

We are currently interviews teachers who would like to work in London starting in October 2012 or January 2013. To apply, please submit your resume & cover letter to apply AT classroomcanada DOT com.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

10 Myths About Teaching in London, England - Updated

I wrote 10 Myths About Teaching in London in 2008, and it continues to get the most hits on this site.  I've updated the post to make it more relevant to 2012.

1. It's beneficial to sign up with lots of agencies.

A common misconception with teaching in London is that signing up with a plethora of agencies will guarantee you a steady stream of work and multiple opportunities for long term placements.

The reality is, supply agencies are looking for loyal and reliable teachers with whom they can form strong working relationships. The more agencies you sign up with, the more you show that you lack confidence in your teaching capability and in the agency's ability to find you a job.

If you are looking to supply teach, then by all means keep yourself covered by joining two agencies, BUT don't expect either agency to bend over backwards for you, because they will have a bank of other teachers that are working exclusively with them and those teachers are seen as more dependable than you.

Try to put yourself in their shoes. It's not Canada. They have a teacher shortage, not a job shortage. They call the first teacher they know is available to them and them only; the first teacher to answer the phone is the one to get the job. Just remember - it’s important not to underestimate the importance of your teacher-agency relationship – it’s a valuable commodity!

2. It's advantageous to lie to the different agencies, so you get the best deal.

Sadly, this happens all the time. Some teachers show up in London, move into the agency's accommodations, make friends with their teachers (and have an instant community) and then turn around and work through another agency. The teachers who do this just want to get as much as they can from wherever they can. Frankly, its bad form. Choose your agency carefully, and if you're not confident that they can find you a job and help you in your transition to London, then politely tell them and find another one.

I have also experienced teachers who lie about their rate of pay in order to strike the best deal for themselves. I recall an Australian teacher who was keen to register but for a rate of 145 pounds per day. When asked what experience she had, she replied "None, but I'm Australian and I know another company that will pay me 145 just for that!" To this, I secretly giggled, because that simply isn't true and it's commercially unethical to pay people more based on their nationality. So, she walked out and searched for that elusive company that would pay her more just because she's Aussie. Well good luck to her. Very simply, pay comes down to your experience and flexibility as a teacher – be suspicious of anyone that tells you otherwise!

3. The kids are horrible.

Yes, the teaching is hard. It's different than teaching in Canada. But they're still kids. And if you think that the "kids are horrible in London," then perhaps you should a) consider a career other than teaching or b) do some research on why the behaviour of the children is different than you're used to.

The kids behave in ways that we're not used to, but that doesn't make them horrible. 95% of the kids I taught were not from England originally. They were from the Caribbean, Africa, Asia (particularly Bangladesh & India) and across Europe. If you think that makes for "horrible kids" then London isn't for you. Neither is Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal or NYC for that matter.

4. Teaching in the outskirts is better (aka easier) and you save more money than in the centre of London.

 Ah this one is fun to de-bunk. There are a lot of agencies that now specialize in bringing Canadians over to the "outskirts" of London. They know that's where there is a serious shortage of teachers, so they can place Canadians into jobs fairly easily. And if you're in the outskirts, you won't know any better.

Well, where better to hear the reality than from the horse’s mouth. At the time, prior to arriving in London, my thought pattern went, "Well, I just want a job. I'll go anywhere. I don't want to go all the way to England and not have secured a long-term job. What if I don't get enough work? It's only 30 minutes into the city. It'll be fine."

Boy was I wrong. The image of the suburbs that a movie like The Holiday may portray will undoubtedly not match up to the kind of suburbs that an agency may send you to. ‘The Holiday’ is set in Surrey. - the middle-upper class outskirts that, for sure don't have a shortage of teachers. Why would they? What a pretty wonderful place to live and work. So, remove those rose-tinted specs, turn the image of the Holiday on it's head, and NOW you have the kind of outskirts towards which your agency may be enticing you. My advice? Think very carefully about where you want to be.

Having lived in the outskirts for several months and felt at times, both isolated and unsafe, I eventually made the move to London and didn’t look back. The highlight for me was being placed in the inner city schools & working with kids from around the world. I lived downtown and in North London (Islington, Finsbury Park area) and loved every minute of it. I made the same amount of money, paid the same in rent but had so many more weekend options on my plate than just visiting the local mall. Theatres, Museums, Galleries, Parks, you name it, I did it.

On the matter of money - sure I spent more living in a central location, but for me that was a compromise I was happy to make. If you’re thinking of coming to London to teach and "save money" I'd advise you re-think – if money is your goal go to Asia and teach ESL. It is worth mentioning however, that whilst living in London for those three years, I did pay off $15 000 of my student loans. Not bad considering I was out on the town every weekend, travelled various destinations across Europe and lived a darn good life by Canadian standards.

5. You should always go with the agency that pays you the most money no matter what.

Well, you can do that of course. But first, think hard about why that agency may be offering you such attractive rates? Quite often, and through experience it can be because the agency are compensating for the terrible schools they’re planning to send you to (it’s just that they don’t tell you that).

It’s a good idea to talk to other teachers registered through that agency and see what they have to say. And don't just take the names & numbers of teachers the agency give you. Do some real digging & find the teachers they don't want you to talk to.

They'll give you their story, and if they're making 10 pounds more per day and they're still not happy with the company, well there’s your answer. If you decide to join up with Classroom Canada, sign up to the exclusive network we offer – a great way to swap stories, experiences and general ‘London info’ with other teachers in the same boat as you.

6. All agencies claim to offer new teachers support in setting-up, but no agencies follow through.

Sadly, this is often true, but not always. Again, quiz other teachers working through particular agencies what level of support their agency provided on their arrival. If they say they helped with accommodation, does that mean providing the link to a property search website that they recommend, or actually allocating them an apartment to live in? These are two very different versions of offering ‘support’ so it's important that you clarify in advance exactly what assistance they can provide you with.

7. Agencies make a killing off your salary.

Agencies are businesses, and naturally will be making money from placing you into schools – that’s what they do. However, the following guide to approximately what rates you can expect upon registration will ensure that you have a benchmark to follow should you be offered an either unusually high or unusually low rate at any point.
Rates of pay can vary from £110 per day to £150 per day dependant on experience and the nature of role that you may be applying for. The vast majority of agencies in London will pay between £120-£125 per day for an NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher) and possibly more for newly qualified Secondary teachers if their subjects are in demand (Science or Technology for example).
Rates can also vary between positions – generally speaking long-term roles will pay higher than day to day, and class teacher roles will yield more than floating PPA (Preparation, Planning & Assessment positions).
Money aside, it’s just as crucial to focus on the service the agency provide. Are you as the teacher just another number in a database, or do the consultants make the effort to get to know you, build a strong working relationship with you, and thus be better equipped to secure the right job for you? Agencies have long-standing relationships with schools that trust their judgements on teachers, so it’s worth your while registering with a company that are ready to listen to what you actually want.
You could always try to get a job without an agency, and you might succeed. The problem is that you will then make about 5000 pounds ($10 000 Canadian) less per year because the school will have to pay you as an "Overseas Qualified Teacher".

8. Teaching in London is great because you can totally just slack off.

Thankfully, I've only heard this a few times. I won't bother explaining it, because it's obvious to a good teacher that this isn't true.

9. The British education system is horrible. Why would you want to teach there?

Unless you can understand the history and the cultural context for the teaching system the UK have in place, this is an unfair judgement to make. I have found that most foreign teachers arriving in London make a whole host of comparisons to what they know "back home", which is only natural of course. A year or so into their UK teaching career, they begin to develop an understanding for the reasons the system exists as it does because it’s better than the other options. This one is complicated, so I'll write another blog entry at a later date to explain the differences between the Canadian and the UK education system.

10. London is far too expensive to live there. You must be stupid to even consider it.

This is a comment often made by people who have travelled through London en-route to another destination. They show up with Canadian dollars and complain that a cup of coffee costs $8! Well, yes if you are using Canadian dollars. If not, it cost 4 pounds. Just like a Starbucks coffee in Canada costs $4, a Starbucks coffee in London costs 4 pounds. So earn pounds. And life is good again.

Did I miss anything? Please share your thoughts below.

If you are interested in teaching in London, apply today! We have a few last minute vacancies to fill for the new academic year. Submit your resume & cover letter to apply AT classroomcanada dot com and we'll connect with you within a week.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Quit panicking & start packing!

I originally wrote this post in 2008, but the advice still holds even 4 years on.

It's official! Teachers about to move to London are freaking out about what to pack and what to leave behind. It's a serious dilemma for those of you flying with cheap airlines as you only have room for 20 kg. Eek!

So here's the advice I give based on my own experiences as well as my teachers' experiences over the past 8 years.

10 Things Teachers Should Pack When Moving to London

1. Canadiana (stickers, books about Moose, Beavers, or Canadian geography in general)

2. Passport with your

3. Clothes for teaching (for men - shirts, trousers & ties; for women - "business casual" just like at home)

4. Photos of home. Students will be curious about where you live, what your house looks like & your neighbourhood.  It's a good idea to post photos of home on your wall if there's space.

5. A USB memory stick with your best teaching resources.  You can also organize all of your materials online, through google documents or any other solid online site. I use
dropbox myself. 

6. One or two black-line master resources that you can use with any age group.  It's important that you have a resource on hand that will fill any time you may have, whether you are supply teaching or teaching your own class. You can always buy this in London though, so don't fret.

7. Kraft Dinner. Even if you enjoy eating it only once a year you
will actually miss it. Trust me on this one, every Canadian misses KD when in London.
8. Your favourite chocolate bar. Mine is Crispy Crunch, and I couldn't find it in London, so I brought some with me for emergency situations. You can always buy Canadian food at the Canada Shop. They tend to be quite expensive though, so if you are very particular, you should stock up.

9. If you are staying in our accommodations, you will have a very basic residence-style room with a single bed, a desk, a wardrobe, a sink and shared bathrooms & kitchens. You will therefore need bedding, towels, kitchen supplies, etc. 90% of our teachers just buy all that stuff in London and save their luggage room for their clothes and shoes. But if you want to bring this stuff, then be sure to make it light. Otherwise, you can buy these items for cheap at

10. Living in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians. This book was written by Network Canada and is the only guide book to London that I really recommend for Canadian teachers. The others (like Lonely Planet) are too heavy and not worth the $ any more (because they become out of date before they're even published).
What NOT to Pack for Teaching in London:1. Hair appliances (they won't work as the voltage is stronger in the UK, you will only fry your favourite straightener)

2. That heavy winter coat you wear every day in Canadian winters

3. School supplies - yes, you read that correctly. You don't need them. The schools in London are well-equipped and if you need something, just ask. Teachers are not expected to buy supplies for their classroom like we are in Canada.

4. Textbooks - same as above

5. Months and months of birth control - the National Health Service provides birth control for free, so don't pay a fortune in Canada for a year's supply. As a teacher, you pay tax in the UK for the health services, so you benefit from this same service.

The most important thing to remember is that London is a fabulous place to shop, so whatever you need, you can buy there. I've had teachers ask me if they should bring their own pillows, toilet paper and even chalk. You can get it there! Pack lightly, and leave yourself room to bring home more when you return.

Did I miss anything? Please share your two pence below!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

How to Apply for a Teaching Job: What NOT to do

This post was first published in 2010, but it's still relevant for today's teachers trying to get teaching jobs abroad.  I've updated it for you here.

With September fast approaching, more & more teachers are starting to panic about their job situations and lack thereof.  So they start to look abroad, and apply at the very last minute to teach in London, England with Classroom Canada and Classroom America.  Some of these teachers are fabulous, and have been doing their research and will be ready to depart in the next two months.  I don't judge them - I myself applied at the very last minute to teach in the UK and was on the plane in my own classroom within one month of applying.  I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for that last minute panicked decision.

I do, however, judge teachers' applications by their cover letters & CV's.  Every once in a while, I figure it's good to point out the glaring mistakes I see almost every day.

1.  Don't write "Dear Sirs," I got this one yesterday and my jaw dropped.  It shouldn't - I should be well used to this one by now, but I'm always shocked to see "Dear Sirs" on a Cover Letter.  

At first I wondered, "Maybe they are ESL?"  But no, this particular teacher has years of experience teaching in Canadian public schools & even has some senior management experience.  Shocking right?

Don't write "Dear Sirs."  It should be very obvious why not, but since I clearly need to spell this one out, here goes.  Education is made up of women and men.  In fact, ALL occupations in the world are now made up of women as well as men.  Writing "Dear Sirs" shows your assumption that senior management is made up of men.  In this case (and in many, many others), it's not.   

Oh, and I have a name.  Find it. Use it.  Get an interview.  Yes, it is that easy.  Use "Dear Sirs" though and  good bye madam.

2.  Don't write about how this teaching job will be so good for you.  You want the job - of course it will be good for you!  Why are you the right teacher for this job?  What will you add to the school?  What experience do you have?  Be specific and don't fluff it up to fill the page.  When applying to teach in a specific location, talk about why you love that place.  So, if you want to teach in London, tell me why.

You can apply anywhere in the world, so why London? 

If you are applying to teach with Classroom Canada, why this agency?  There are hundreds and we're all very different.  So why us?  Don't know?  Go back and do your research!  Then apply. It only takes a day online to find out about us - I think we're worth at least one day. 

3.  Don't just send a CV.  Don't be lazy.  Write a cover letter.

If you're still not sure how to write a great cover letter that will get you a teaching interview, read this post.  In it, I show you an outstanding cover letter that I actually read over & over again because I was so dang excited.  When I interviewed the teacher, I asked if I could use her letter as an example of what to do and she agreed.  And guess what? She's now teaching in London with us and doing a fantastic job.  No big surprise there!

For my advice on how to write a CV or Resume, see this post.  And finally, for the teacher photograph, read this post by my sister. It's hilarious and very useful.

Resources for Teaching in London
Classroom Canada website
Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians ebook
Sign up for our newsletters
Canadians & Americans in the UK blog  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How to Arrive & Thrive in the UK: Another Great Resource for Teachers Moving to the UK

How much are you loving the Summer Olympics in London this year?  If watching the games doesn't make you want to move there, I'm not quite sure what else would! I love seeing the landscape of London every day and honestly, I've never admired London as much as I am now.

I promised you that I'd share loads of great resources for teachers moving to the UK, so here's another resource that looks really helpful.

How to Arrive & Thrive in the UK
*This resource helps anyone looking to move to the UK, not just teachers!
From their website:

You will discover the following crucial information in detail:
  • 3 types of passports enjoying automatic entry to the UK
  • 9 typical pieces of documentation required for a visa
  • 6 most commonly granted visas explained in detail
  • 2 websites where you can find your perfect visa and up-to-date visa news
  • 15 vital things you need to do before leaving with more than 3 months to go
  • 10 important things you'll need to do with 2 months remaining
  • 14 useful things you'll want to do with only a month to go
  • 7 practical things to do with a week remaining
  • 5 simple things you can do on the day of departure to calm your nerves
  • 4 inescapable UK taxes explained
  • 3 lifestyle taxes you need to know about
  • 2 government bodies that you'll actually WANT to deal with
  • 11 useful government websites of interest you may wish to visit
  • 6 useful formulas dealing with converting Imperial and metric measurements
  • 5 crucial things that a bank will want to see before opening an account
  • 3 clever ways to secure a bank account if you're struggling
  • 11 types of accommodation in the UK to choose from
  • 7 easy things you can do to find a nice, new home
  • 5 recommended websites to help in your search for a home
  • 8 steps involved in renting your British property
  • 6 childcare options for parents
  • 75 English everyday slang terms that you just have to know
  • 36 modern English expressions - if you want to avoid embarrassment
  • 5 big supermarket chains that will deliver to you when it suits you
  • 3 sneaky recruitment agency tricks you have to watch out for
  • 5 useful websites for finding yourself almost any type of job in the UK
  • 5 most commonly used forms of public transport and how to use them
  • 10 useful tips for dealing with the British climate
  • 1 Big Secret of recruitment agencies that improves your job prospects
  • 1 car insurance tip that will save you hundreds of Pounds year after year
  • 100's of other things you didn't know about your new life in the UK, but need to
Check out How to Arrive & Thrive in the UK and please let me know if you purchase it & what your thoughts are.


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