Monday, October 29, 2012

School Term Dates in London, England

Canadian teachers know that there are plenty of job opportunities in London, but that's not the only reason they teach there. They also go for the 13 weeks of holidays spread throughout the year.

The school holidays are different for each borough, but they all follow a general pattern. Here's how I break it down for our teachers:

Sept. 1st - mid October = Autumn 1st Half Term
mid-October = 1 week break, called "Half term break" *right now in London!*
mid-October - December 22nd (ish) = Autumn 2nd Half Term
December 22nd(ish) - January 5th (ish) = Winter holidays for 2 weeks

January 5th (ish) - mid-February = Winter 1st Half Term
mid-February = 1 week break, again "Half term break"
mid-February to April (Easter) = Winter 2nd Half Term
Easter Break = 2 weeks

May - mid-June = Spring 1st Half Term
mid-June = 1 week break, another "Half Term Break"
mid-June - July 22nd (ish) = Spring 2nd Half Term
July 22nd (ish) to Sept. 1st (ish) = Summer holidays for 6 weeks

Your school will give you specific dates, but this is a good guide to follow. Some schools and LEA's (Local Education Authority) will arrange their school holidays around Muslim holidays depending on the size of the Muslim population.

You can see the Islington term dates here. There are 33 LEAs in London, so it would take quite a while to get exact term dates for every LEA. Islington is a large North London borough and a good place for you to start.

There are always 195 teaching days in the year. If you expect to make 115-125 pounds/day (a good starting rate for a Canadian teacher with no UK experience), you just take that number and multiply it by 195. That will give you a salary of 22, 000 - 24 000 pounds (approximately).

Some Canadian teachers make more, but this all depends on the contract and your experience level. Keep in mind that you will pay about 22% in taxes in the UK as well, but you won't be double-taxed in Canada.

To work out what your Canadian salary will be, go to this site and type in your figures. You should expect to make more than you would in Canada, and the cost of living needs to be taken into account. If you're concerned about money, you should get a copy of Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians. You'll learn everything you need to know about living & teaching in London, England.

Like this post? You might also like How to Find an Apartment, 10 Myths About Teaching in London, and How to Open a UK Bank Account. Don't forget to subscribe to the RSS feed as well!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

How to Travel Europe on the Cheap While You're Teaching in London

Let's face it. One of the biggest draws to teaching in London is that you get to travel Europe on your weekends and breaks.  Not only are there more teaching jobs in London than in Canada as a general rule, but you get to see the world at the same time! 

But teachers don't make what they should (if you don't believe me, watch this video), so how can they afford to travel all over Europe on a tight budget?  The good news is traveling in Europe is cheaper than traveling in Canada.  You can get flights for pennies, stay in hostels that are really much better than you'd expect or even stay in hotels.  But let's say you want to really do it on the cheap.  Even cheaper than all the other teachers you know over there. 

Here are my tips & tricks for traveling on the cheap while having the experience of a lifetime:

  1. Voluntourism is big.  I did myself, where you look through their database of "workcamps" or projects and apply to be a volunteer in exchange for room & board.  The projects are usually 2-3 weeks and cover everything from building restoration to teaching ESL to eye cataract surgery assistance.  I built latrines, assisted surgeons with eye cataract surgery and planted trees in Bangladesh for 2 weeks. I highly recommend travelling in this way as you get to know the people, the culture & actually live like the locals do. 
  2. WWOOF - which used to stand for Willing Workers on Organic Farms and is now World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.  It's perfect for someone who likes to get their hands dirty and learn all about farming in different areas of the world.  Some WWOOF farms are for people with disabilities, so you could get some good SEN experience in there too.
  3. Get on the Bus. The Megabus! The Megabus often has really great deals where you can travel to far off places for 1 GBP.  Yes, one pound. You have to book in advance, and you can't be in a hurry as the bus takes a really long time compared to flying or taking the high speed trains.  But if you're an adventurer looking for a fun time on the cheap, then the Megabus is great. I took it to Cambridge, Oxford & Brighton while I was teaching in London.  It does take forever, but hey - for a pound, what do you expect?
  4. Fly RyanAirThere are a million reasons why this airline isn't up to par.  The planes are often dirty, they treat you like cattle, and they fly to areas outside of the main cities you want to go to so you have to get expensive buses to get to your city of choice from the airport. You have to pay for your baggage. But.  Listen up.  You can get flights for a pound if you pay attention & hunt for the awesome deals.  I've done it.  And for a pound, I'm willing to put up with all the reasons against the airline. 
  5. Travel when you know the teaching is slow.  Supply teachers have it made for this one. You know it will slow down around Christmas and that traveling at Christmas is killer, so avoid the lines & high prices and take off before the schools close for the holidays, and return after they re-open. The supply days will be few & far between anyway, so take advantage and book those cheaper off-season flights.  Travel in Europe is mostly priced around the school holidays so if you can avoid those dates you'll save heaps.
  6. Travel in a group. Contiki Tours and Top Deck Tours are really popular with teachers as they take care of all the planning for you.  They are relatively affordable, and you'll make loads of friends as you go which is a bonus.  Personally I've never done one, but I hear great things particularly from Australian teachers.
  7. Stay with a friend. I prefer to visit friends as a I travel, so that I get that great social time in plus free accommodations.  I went to Vienna 5 times to visit a fellow Canadian teacher who was working there. I love that city now as I know it more like my friend does, and not as much as a tourist.  Find friends that are working in other countries & visit them.  You'll love the experience so much more than staying in hostels/hotels!
I'm sure there are a million other awesome tips for traveling Europe on the cheap and I'd love to hear them from you. If you know any, please share! 

I'm also interviewing teachers for jobs that start in January 2013 so apply today:  send your resume & cover letter to apply AT

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Latest Teaching Jobs in London, England

Here is a small sample of the types of jobs we are currently trying to fill for our schools in London, England:

Intervention Teacher (Special Educational Needs Department)

Salary: GBP 125 - 150/day
Job Type: Temporary

Minimum required qualification: PGCE (Bachelor of Education)
A mainstream primary school in Ealing are looking for an experienced Intervention Teacher to join their team on a full time basis.

The role will involve working with small groups of children with special educational needs. You will be expected to work with students across KS1 and KS2 who require additional support with literacy and numeracy.

To be considered for this position, you must be a qualified primary teacher with QTS. The school are looking for someone with previous experience of working with children with a wide range of special needs. A strong background in Intervention with Literacy and Numeracy is essential.
This is a fantastic opportunity for a conscientious teacher to join a supportive and friendly primary school.

ASD Teacher, Lambeth

Salary: GBP 125 - 150
Job Type: Temporary

A special needs school in Lambeth are currently looking to recruit a qualified and experienced special needs teacher to start immediately on a temporary to permanent basis.

The role will involve teaching a small class of 5 secondary age students with high-functioning Autism. You will be responsible for planning and teaching a balanced curriculum for students according to their individual needs as well as managing their behaviour within the classroom. You will have the support of two experienced and dedicated teaching assistants.

The school itself provides a fantastic, modern environment for students with a range of special needs including ASD, Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD) and Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD). There are high quality facilities and resources and staff have the opportunity to work as part of a supportive and friendly multi-disciplinary team.

To be considered for this role you must be a qualified teacher with previous experience teaching children with special needs. Additional SEN training and experience teaching children with ASD is strongly preferred.

Science teacher

Salary: GBP 120 - 150/day
Job Type: Permanent

A school in the London Borough of Hackney are looking for a Science Teacher.

This school located in Hackney is a well respected school by pupils and teachers alike and has excellent facilities. Students regularly achieve good results and the school are seeking a teacher capable of continuing to deliver an exceptional level of teaching. An inspirational and enthusiastic educator will do well in this ever improving school.

The ideal teacher will have solid UK teaching experience and will be comfortable to teach Science, particularly Biology. The school will consider someone who has experience teaching up to KS4. A willingness and ethusiasm for teaching KS5 is beneficial for applications.

Year 3 Teacher, Westminster

Salary: GBP 120 - 150
Job Type: Temporary
Are you a qualified Primary Teacher ideally with experience across grades 2-4?
Are you looking for a permanent, full time post in Central London for the full academic year?

An exciting opportunity has arisen in a friendly and vibrant Primary school in Westminster, Central London. They are looking for a skilled, confident and experienced Key Stage 2 Teacher to head up a good Year 3 Class.

The school has made good progress over the last 2 years with the focus being on raising attainment more recently. This is a lovely school, looking to appoint a personable character with the experience and motivation to raise attainment within this settled and polite Year 3 class.

As a possible staff member, you will be required to develop on the current teachers’ success and hard work and continue to raise and improve pupil progress and raise attainment.

We are currently interviewing Canadian teachers for jobs that start in January 2013.  Rather than applying for a specific job, the best thing to do is to send your resume & cover letter to apply AT and we'll reply with a quick questionnaire for you to complete before we can offer you an interview.  I am currently booking interviews one week in advance. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

London top attractions - things to see and do when you first arrive in London

I just returned from my fastest trip to London yet.  I was literally in London for only 3 days - which is insane, and I don't really recommend it!  But I was there for the World Premiere of the movie that I produced with my sister, which was showing at Raindance Film Festival.  Everyone has to have something they do in their free time, and while others train for marathons or hiking the Himalayas, I produce movies. Anyway, London was fabulous of course - I only wish I had more time to visit my teachers with Classroom Canada!

In the meantime, our teachers are arriving in London from all parts of Canada. When they first arrive, they're a bit overwhelmed & stressed about getting settled in, getting to schools & even just getting enough work to pay their bills. It's the same every year, and they always settle in eventually.  Some get annoyed that I tell them to enjoy this time, and that they will look back on this time and wonder why they didn't enjoy it more. They'll eventually have too much work or full-time jobs with no time to visit the London sites. But when they first arrive, it takes time for schools to get to know them. It takes time to get the calls for daily supply - there will be many days when they won't get the call. It always takes a couple of months! 

Some teachers will be lucky enough to get a call for full-time work right away, like the teacher I have who is arriving today in London and my colleagues are madly trying to reach him as they have a perfect full-time job that could start as soon as 2 days from now if he's interested.  I suspect he will be! But most teachers will start in daily supply teaching and have to just be patient.

So what to do while you wait? You phone every day between 7:00 and 7:30 am to let my colleagues know that you're available of course. But then what to do if you don't get the call?

Go out!  Get on your walking shoes and see London!  Check the video above which is meant for tourists, and is kind of perfect for you when you first arrive in London. You're a bit of a tourist after all.  Pack a lunch so you don't spend too much eating out, get on your comfy shoes & just start walking. Go see all the tourist sites that you won't have time to see later.  Or you won't appreciate as much later, because eventually you will settle into your London life and you'll forget that feeling of seeing Big Ben for the first time, or St. Paul's or Spittlefields Market.

Most of the tourist sites are actually walkable - you just have to have a solid map and great shoes. I can't stress the shoes enough.  This trip I did with just 3 days involved high heels and I was dying for a good pair of running shoes that didn't look like running shoes! Fashion is still really important in London (especially compared to the yoga-pants capital of the world, Victoria BC).

I actually really like this website that the video above points to:  Check it out and let me know what you think. 

Any other tips for teachers just arriving in London? Please share your thoughts below! Don't be shy - comments make the world go round.


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