International Teacher Recruitment

Recruitment trends

Recent research highlights important developments in the recruitment of international teachers

A new report highlights key shifts in international school teacher recruitment and professional development. Anne Keeling has more.

Emerging trends

More international schools are beginning their recruitment processes earlier this school year, offering incentives for contract extensions, requiring full vaccination for all staff, and hiring teachers already in country according to a new report by ISC Research. The report explores trends in international school teacher recruitment and staff professional development.

Online recruitment

The reports says that online recruitment is now the new normal for all but the most senior leadership appointments, with virtual job fairs growing in popularity, and international schools are increasingly looking beyond traditional source countries for expatriate teachers. However, rather than educating current and future parents on the benefits of a diverse teaching staff, the report states that some schools remain heavily influenced by the traditional expectations of their parent community.

Teacher shortage

A growing number of international schools are taking a more strategic approach to their staff mix, implementing initiatives that help to develop teachers from a wide range of sources. Some countries, such as Singapore, are implementing programmes to convert skilled workers into international teachers, and some British schools are training teachers and developing teaching assistants through the UK’s Straight to Teacher followed by Assessment Only route to qualified teacher status.

Many international schools are now recruiting more local teaching staff as the challenge of hiring expatriates increases, coupled with the realisation that a blend of expatriate and local teaching staff results in an important cultural and language balance for the school.  More international schools are addressing diversity, equity, inclusion and justice as a strategy within their recruitment practice prompted by calls from such organisations as CIS, AIELOC and ECIS.

Impact of Covid on recruitment

COVID-19 emphasised major challenges already evident within the international schools market for teacher and leader recruitment and the report highlights changes occurring as a result. For example, schools are now placing a greater focus on the specific skills of new hires, in particular teacher skills in using technology to support learning and, for some schools, to deliver blended learning. Leadership skill priorities have shifted too with more international schools seeking leaders with data management, business management and crisis management skills.

Teachers and teaching roles

The report highlights the external factors impacting international school recruitment and shares data on typical nationality blends within international schools located in key regions. The report also includes the results of research conducted with twelve of the leading recruitment companies supporting the international schools market to identify shifts that have been occurring. One of these shifts is the emergence, during the past two years, of new teaching roles related to supporting wellbeing, computer programming and special educational needs.

The importance of Professional Development

76% of all international schools that were researched for the report said the offer of Continuing Professional Development is very or somewhat important for recruiting and retaining staff. The way CPD is accessed and delivered by international schools has also experienced noticeable shifts as a result of COVID-19 with a dramatic increase in online CPD and a more strategic approach to staff professional development. More international schools are using the data that they are gathering to understand the effectiveness of teaching and learning, to identify gaps in teacher knowledge and capabilities which, as a result, is informing schoolwide CPD strategies.

CPD: a lack of strategic thinking?

The report includes case studies with several international schools and school groups to highlight some of the common CPD challenges and opportunities for international schools. “There is an industry-wide problem with its approach to CPD,” says Vincent Chian, Principal of Fairview International School, Malaysia.

“For many international schools, it’s sporadic, unstrategic and unsustainable as a result of being over reliant on external sources of training. Rather than schools taking it on strategically, staff tend to be allowed to go in different directions and so, with hyper differentiation, hyper indivualisation, and limited or no control, you end up with a chaotic mess with little regard for quality programmes, structured professional learning schedules, or identification of gaps in learning,” he adds. In the report, he goes on to explain the CPD strategy of his school. There are also views and practical advice from respected CPD providers including Karen Ardley of Karen Ardley Associates, Emily Porter of ISP, and Jane Larsson of CIS, as well as detailed advice about effective online teacher professional development from Chartered Educational Psychologist and Director of Real Group, Siobhan Mellor.

What to look for in online PD

In a detailed section for the report, Siobhan highlights key elements school leaders could look for when selecting online teacher professional development. “Course design that incorporates school-based collaboration activity is most likely to lead to classroom based changes in practice,” she says, as are “strong theory-practice links for teachers through tasks aligned with everyday classroom practice,” both of which, she says, demonstrate effective professional growth.

Download the full report

The 54-page report, which is full of practical insights and solutions, highlights the significant interconnection between the provision of quality CPD and recruitment for international schools. Purchase the full report which is available now from ISC Research.


Anne Keeling is the Communications Director at ISC Research who provide data and intelligence on the world’s international schools market.

For a synopsis of the report and to find out how to place an order, please see:




FEATURE IMAGE: by geralt at Pixabay

Support Image:   by SyauqiFillah at Pixabay

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