Read along as I share my experience as an Australian teacher moving to Amsterdam and how teaching in The Netherlands compares to back home.
First of all, I’m not taking about moving overseas to teach English, something that anyone can do a short course on and then claim to be a teacher. I’m talking about a proper classroom teacher setup and all the associated pros and cons that come with that.
As us fellow Australian teachers know, it’s quite difficult to find full time, consistent work here. Luckily for us, there are many countries that are experiencing teacher shortages and are eager to hire Australians due to our rigorous and high quality training. If this is what you want, The Netherlands is here waiting for you. There is also lots of work for teaching assistants and ELA teachers (Darrelle ended up working as a teaching assistant at the same school). This is also true of teachers from other countries. I came from working in a relatively small rural school in Australia to a completely different experience of 1200 students in an International school. Here are just a few reasons why making the move to a teaching career in The Netherlands is a great idea.
The community you are surrounded in when working in an international school is like no other, people from all walks of life, cultures and backgrounds leads to making connections with people from all over the world. It’s such an interesting place to work and of course the professional development from this kind of cultural experience does wonders for your career.
The lifestyle is fantastic, no other career is as dynamic and universal. My training as a teacher allowed us to move to Amsterdam, get a great apartment, live well and travel a lot during the weekends and school holidays. You have the opportunity to really experience Europe, you’re not going to get this lifestyle working behind a bar on minimum wage.
The Netherlands pays teachers quite well compared to global standards and although I didn’t start on the equivalent Australian salary my employer did eventually come close to meeting it. Compared to other jobs teaching pays well here and compared to unskilled work, the benefits are excellent. As a rule for Australian teachers expect about a $10,000 AUD pay cut moving to The Netherlands to work, but in my opinion the work life balance more than makes up for it. The Dutch can come across as serious and straight to the point but once you get use to it I actually prefer it.
Some of the perks of working at an International School include
- Half day Wednesdays set aside for PD – good luck getting that back home or in London.
- Behavioural problems in the classroom are basically non-existent compared to Australia.
- If you live in Amsterdam, you’re probably only a 10 – 20 minute bike ride from work. Yes, sometimes you get rained on but as the saying goes, there is no such thing as bad weather here, just bad clothing.
- You can travel during the school holidays while getting paid
- My school came close to matching my Australian salary. the pay and quality of the school are going to be miles better than anything you’re going to get in London. You also don’t have to travel an hour to work everyday.
- You get to work in a very progressive teaching environment with a curriculum that is driven by inquiry learning rather than government mandated progressions.
If you’re ready to make the jump and apply for a position at an International School then follow these tips to boost your chances.
There is a demand for teachers absolutely but International Schools also have the luxury of choosing the best candidates and not having to worry about merit and equity, get ahead of the pack with these tips.
Register with DUO which is the teaching register in The Netherlands. Use Google Translate to complete the online application and upload your current teaching qualifications, it will take a few weeks to get certified but this will get yourself way ahead of the other candidates.
Start learning Dutch, you don’t necessarily need to be able to speak Dutch as classroom instruction is in English, but it will look better on your resume and CV, even just indicating your desire to learn once you arrive looks good. My school and plenty others offer free Dutch courses for teachers too.
I started with Duolingo a few months before we left Australia and it definitely helped with picking up familiar words and phrases as well as reading things like signs and menus.
Use the iAmsterdam website to find out about how the education system works in The Netherlands as well as the list of International Schools.
Remember The Netherlands is a small country and many people commute in using the excellent train network from other near by cities. Don’t be afraid of applying for a school in Amsterdam, Haarlem, Den Hague or Utrecht.
It is also important to read about the IB curriculum, the school’s philosophy and their mission statement. In general, the naming structures for classes are similar – they are referred to as Groups rather than Grades of Years. I was teaching a Group 5 class which is the Australian equivalent of a 3/4 classroom. Also, as with pretty much all education systems in the northern hemisphere, the academic year usually runs from September through to June rather than the calendar year in Australia.
If you are considering a change of pace from your current teaching job I absolutely recommend researching International schools in Amsterdam and The Netherlands they are truely wonderful places to work and allow you to have an incredible lifestyle during your time in Europe.