Being a huge map geek growing up (confession – I still am), teaching abroad was a no-brainer for me after graduating with my Bachelors in Education.
My first stop on my teaching journey was Australia, where I taught for a year and a half. Following this, my feet were still itchy for travel and I headed off to London, England!
Living and working in London was a life-changing experience for me, so I wanted like to share my top 5 reasons why it may be the BEST opportunity for you, too!
1. There’s no shortage of teaching jobs in the UK
It’s no secret that the Canadian teaching market is a tough nut to get into at the moment in many regions. If the thought of struggling to get on a supply list or scratching for an LTO position doesn’t appeal to you (it certainly didn’t for me), teaching in the UK can provide an excellent way to move directly into a full-time position right out of teachers college.
The UK is currently experiencing a teacher shortage, which means Canadian-trained teachers are in a prime spot to secure employment. Canadian-trained teachers can qualify for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in the UK without any need for further training. All you need is to be a member in good standing with your provincial teachers college and you can be on your way!
2. It’s easy to get a visa to teach in the UK
Compared to other international markets, the process for working legally in the UK as a Canadian citizen is relatively simple and includes multiple options. If you are under 31 and have at least £1,800 (approximately $3,100 CAD), you may qualify for the Youth Mobility Scheme. This visa class allows you to live and work in the UK for up to two years.
Another popular option for Canadians with British heritage is the UK Ancestry Visa. If one of your grandparents was born in the UK, you may qualify for this visa class which will allow you to work in the UK for up to five years.
Alternatively, if you’re a qualified math, physics or chemistry teacher, you may qualify for a Tier 2 Skilled Worker Visa which gives you the legal right to work for up to five years.
Many teachers who travel on these visa classes wind up being sponsored by their school which allows them to stay for an even longer period of time. If you’re like me and hold dual citizenship with the UK, you can also use your British passport!
3. There’s no shortage of travel opportunities in the UK
London sightseeing with my parents!
London is one of the most visited cities in the world, and it’s easy to see why! Mind the gap as you step on the ‘tube’, say hi to the Queen at Buckingham Palace or take a walk along the River Thames – and that’s just in London!
Other popular things to do in the UK include road tripping through the Scottish Highlands (say hi to Nessie!), castle hopping in Wales and enjoying a pint of Guinness and Irish stew at a REAL Irish pub in Northern Ireland.
One of my personal highlights was walking into a pub with about 30 people in it – only for Ed Sheeran to pop in for an impromptu session!
The UK is also just a hop, skip and a jump away from other popular European travel destinations. For a modest cost – you can take a weekend trip to Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, and many more European cities. Even destinations further afield, such as Iceland, Greece, Portugal and Russia are affordable to get to as well. Spin the globe and put your finger anywhere on Europe – you can get there from the UK!
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4. Teaching in the UK helps you grow as a teacher
Do you remember that teacher you had in Grade 6 who inspired you to travel the world? You can be that person for a whole new generation! Your students will love hearing what is was like in Canada and for those working with the smaller ones, you will love hearing the questions a 6-year-old cares about (Do you have a pet polar bear? Can you skate to work in Canada?).
Your teaching position in the UK will challenge you and help you grow as a teacher. You will not only learn how to manage a classroom, you will learn also how to teach students from a different culture. You will exchange ideas, stories and laughs with your students in a wonderful cultural exchange. You will build your resume, while also creating memories that will last a lifetime.
5. You’ll never have to worry about weekend boredom!
Summertime in the park with friends.
Do you love shopping? How about playing sports? Brunch on a Sunday? The UK has something for everyone! Whether it’s enjoying an activity you enjoy from back home, or trying something new – there are clubs and organizations for all tastes. Cities with highly-rated nightlife include London, Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff.
If you’re looking for something a bit more chill, you’ll be happy to know that the UK has a tremendous culinary scene with restaurants representing all countries. If you’re craving a genuine British dish, you can’t go wrong with a full English/Scottish/Irish breakfast on the weekend.
For history buffs, there is no shortage of museums (many of them being free!), art galleries and historic sites to visit as well. Popular destinations include the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, the National Gallery in London, and Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh! A personal recommendation as well is to walk everywhere – you never know what you may find just around the corner!