The elephant in the classroom: The need for good teachers

Schools can no longer bank on sourcing teachers from a handful of countries. The training of teachers and coaching of parents' expectations is necessary for the future.


The number of teachers working in English-medium international schools is over 460,000 and growing. Those in most demand are fully-qualified teachers, with English as their first language, from countries where the training is respected; most notably UK, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the US.

Many of the best international schools around the world promote themselves as having an extensive faculty of teachers from these countries. As a result, there’s huge demand in many cities for enrolment at such schools. It’s no surprise then, that stiff competition for high-calibre teachers continues to push up their salaries and benefits.

With the international schools market expected to double within ten years, can supply of good teaching staff be sustained into the future? What are international schools doing to prepare for such demand on professional capital which drives the market so significantly?

No longer can schools bank on sourcing solely English-first-language teachers trained from a handful of countries. Qualified teachers with some experience of a reputable curriculum and a high standard of English language could be a valuable pool of additional candidates. Local teachers who have studied and practiced international pedagogy and curriculum should also be considered as good contenders.

Few universities have yet recognised this new potential for teacher training development, nor enabled sufficient access to appropriate candidates. Why is there not more teacher training provision, originating from respected countries, being delivered in overseas locations, such as China and India, where most demand for English-medium international schooling will lie in the future?

These are all viable propositions so long as international schools can educate parents that it’s not the country of origin, nor the colour of their skin, but the skills of the teachers that makes a great international school.