Teaching in Dubai
Two daughters and an engineer husband make up Sinead’s small tight-knit family. When her husband was offered a career-defining post in Dubai, it was important that the family unit stuck together.
Having never worked abroad before, Sinead was apprehensive about moving her family, the process of finding a teaching job abroad, the headache of paperwork and the cultural differences between the UK and Dubai.
She was faced with two choices, stay in the UK and continue her teaching career while looking after her children or follow her husband to Dubai.
It wasn’t really a choice, so the job search for teaching posts in the United Arab Emirates began in earnest.
This is her story
Sinead, why did you want to teach abroad?
It wasn’t something that I’d ever considered until I had to. I was happy and settled in the school I was in. My husband, Chris, has been with his firm since graduation and the project he was working on was close to completion when he was offered a transfer to the Dubai office.
I think it was his dream to experience working abroad and more often than not, in his industry, it’s an inevitability to work abroad. So when the opportunity presented itself we discussed it and decided we could do it.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was worried though. Two children and no experience of teaching abroad. I was concerned about the process of finding a job out in Dubai, finding a place to live and settling in and being able to build a life. But most of all, I was worried about how my daughters would adapt. I had plenty of questions spinning around in my head, where would they go to school? Would they like living there? Would they have enough friends?
I had a couple of sleepless nights.
Where do you work now and what’s it’s like?
The International Teaching Partnership helped me find a primary school role at a British international school in Dubai which teaches the British curriculum. This made the transition much easier as I was able to bring a lot of the resources I used in the UK to the classroom in Dubai.
The school is fantastic, it’s everything you’d expect from a private school, excellent facilities, experienced staff, plenty of the ‘little extras that teachers need’. Best of all, my daughters were offered a place at the school so that makes things a lot easier, logistically speaking.
As for Dubai, it’s an interesting place, like nowhere I’ve ever experienced before. We live in a modest apartment near Dubai Marina which has a pool and a gym. We’re only a stone’s throw away from the beach and shops which is ideal for the children. What’s more, there’s an M&S in the Marina which sells Yorkshire tea.
What do you do when you’re not teaching?
There’s a large expat community in Dubai which includes a lot of families so we’re often meeting up outside to enjoy the weather in the winter when it’s about 25 degrees. In the summer we tend to scurry from one indoor place to another because it’s so hot and humid. During this time you’ll find us doing activities inside the mall, going indoor skiing, the cinema or shopping. I’m a little embarrassed to admit this because back in the UK it’s not that common but we also have a nanny/housekeeper.
This means that on the odd occasion we sneak out to have a Dubai brunch with friends. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s amazing. It’s a banquet of food and unlimited drinks for a few hours on a Friday, so as a couple we still have our downtime.
All in all, Dubai is much better than I expected it would be. I enjoy working in the school and I’ve met some lovely people here. Life outside of the classroom is so much more chilled than in the UK. I don’t spend my life marking and planning and missing out on time with my family.
It was serendipitous that Chris was offered the transfer.
How did The ITP help you find an opportunity in Dubai?
I was apprehensive about moving my family over to Dubai, but because they’ve helped so many people in a similar situation to me, the team at the ITP were able to put me in contact with expat community groups in the country before we left. That way I was able to get some expert, local advice from teachers who had already made the move.
Finding a job was the easy part. UK qualified teachers are really sought after in the country so the ITP was able to set up interviews with a few schools who ended up offering me a few different roles. I had three or four Skype interviews with schools and went with the one that I felt comfortable with.
What would you say to people looking to do the same?
My circumstances may be different compared to most people who choose to teach abroad but I’ve had a wonderful experience. If you have reservations because you have a family, don’t worry. My daughters are benefiting from amazing schooling and a lifestyle which isn’t available back home.