Imagine this. you're sat in a staff room and you announced that you're interested in teaching in Dubai. Your colleagues may then start sharing a range of different opinions based on some of the things that they've read online about the Middle East. This can be extremely intimidating and can put you off the idea of teaching in Dubai.
This blog is going to share a range of different misconceptions that other people might have about teaching in Dubai. You can find further information in the guide here teachtraveltriumph.com.
The guide will also help you with the process of getting a job out here.
So let's jump into some of the misconceptions that other people might find when it comes to teaching in Dubai, the UAE
Misconception 1: You’ll be super rich when you finish working here:
Now, there's some truth to this. I think 10 years ago, Dubai would have been a bit more of a place to come to earn lots of money to save lots of money and then perhaps to go and return back to the UK with this huge pot of gold money- Not sure why gold.
This is a misconception. Unfortunately at the moment when it comes to the pay. I know my payment is very similar to what I would earn in the UK. The big pro is that you are tax-free, but you are also taxed in other ways, as I've shared in a former video.
Along with that, you do can receive an accommodation allowance which covers the cost of accommodation here in Dubai but it is more expensive than in the UK. Some teachers go for cheaper accommodation and then pocket the rest.
When it comes to coming over and getting rich in a couple of years, It's not really going to happen and that is a misconception. However, through sensible money habits, you will be able to save a certain amount of money to move home and have something like a house deposit.
The children are rich!
I think it's a misconception that I had when I first came out here to Dubai. You see the fancy cars, see the fancy apartments and you just think, yeah they must be they must be rich. But no, that's not true. There will be children who are wealthy here in Dubai and in some ways, there is an element of truth to that but you also get the other side of it. People sometimes go into debt to be able to pay the extremely high school fees or are just about getting by and then have to cut back in other areas. So that's important to remember too.
There's no inspections.
In the UK, people have Ofsted inspections and in other countries in the world, there are no inspections. Here in Dubai specifically, we do have inspections and they can be extremely rigorous. We have what's called the KHDA which is often made up of Ofsted inspectors or ex Ofsted inspectors and the rigorous inspection often lasts one week. They do have times where they will just inspect it for a day or two but generally, it's an intense process of inspection which means that there are high expectations for educators out here which is great for your own development. There are also British Schools Overseas (BSO) inspections. While typically shorter than KHDA inspections, these inspections are still rigorous and led by a similar network of inspectors.
You will become deskilled.
I remember sitting down with my headteacher and during that time of talking about my interest in teaching in Dubai and he said "Unfortunately, you know you might become deskilled moving out here" and I can understand why he said that because there is an element of thinking that you’ll come out here and perhaps not learn so much as some think there will be too much complacency or innovation surrounding the curriculum when moving to teach abroad.
Personally, especially working in other year groups, I've learned a tremendous amount. I think COVID has had a lot to do with that as well because I've had to adapt and learn all sorts of different things when it comes to education technology.
One of the big pros of teaching here is access to technology and innovation. So I've been able to develop through technological stances and that's been really good for my own professional development too. There is a really good chance you will become more skilled through developing your technology side of things.
You have to have two years of experience to teach out here
This is a big misconception. You don't actually need to have two years of experience now. I think at one point that there was perhaps an expectation that you had two or three years of experience, but as long as you work in a British school overseas as mentioned as a section in Guide 1 available here, you can actually work in schools as an ECT (early career teacher) so that is a misconception.
However, there's an element of truth attached to that as well because it can be more challenging to find those BSO ECT roles but yes, you can work out here as an ECT.
The hours are shorter.
I don't know where that misconception comes from but one of the things I miss about teaching in the UK is the shorter hours here. The hours here when teaching in Dubai are long. If you watch one of my ‘day in the life vlogs’ you'll see that again at I start and wake up at 5.15 am.
I get into school by 6.30am in the school that actually starts at 7.30am. Most children don't leave school until 3.30pm if they do an extra curriculum activity, so it's an extremely long day for the children and it's an extremely long day for the teachers. It's not a competition but it does contribute to being more tired come to the end of the week.
So you'd expect there to be longer holidays? Again, there's an element of truth to this. There used to be a lot longer holidays as you used to get an extra week in summer and an extra week at Christmas now you ‘only’ get an extra week compared to the UK and some schools will vary there too. Compared to private schools in the UK, we get less.
We don't really get a break for the term 3 half term. It's usually attached to EID so you get a couple of days but it's not quite a full week like we have in the UK.
So when it comes to holidays, it just about becomes balanced so I'd say probably get a couple of days extra holiday in the UAE.
The children don't speak English.
There is an element of truth to this, of course, children move out here from other countries in the world and don't speak English they would be categorised as English as an additional language (EAL) and that happens in the UK. For the most part, though, children do speak great English considering that they come from other areas of the world.
Speaking about my school, we have a higher expat community but the children generally speak English. For those children who do struggle with English, we have things in place to support them further as you would in other schools in the UK.
Teachers get big bonuses.
There’s an element of truth to this. I know of some schools that are non-for-profit schools where there's an amount of profit at the end of the year that gets distributed amongst the other teachers in the form of a bonus but this is a myth amongst for-profit schools
For myself, I've never had some sort of bonus coming at the end of the year as I work in a ‘For-profit’ school. Bonuses are generally not something that happen.
You do get a gratuity and what that means is that during every 12 months that you work, you get 21 days worth of basic pay. As long as you have fulfilled your contract, you then get that at the end of the year. Let's say you work for two years, you get X amount of money.
I guess that is a bit of a bonus. Then, if you invest that sensibly that can become your pension or something else. Or, maybe you just want to go and spend it.
You'll only do two years
The next misconception is definitely one that I thought I would do and it’s that you’ll come out here and teach for two years. There are so many Expats that come out here and say ‘I am going to teach for two years save X amount of money and then just go home. Generally speaking, I find I said the same and this is my fourth year teaching while considering doing a fifth year. So that's a general misconception.
There are individuals of course who do stick to that and are quite disciplined they earn X amount of money and then go home. But for the most part, it's hilarious. I know a lot of Expats who said that and now they’re in their 20th year.
It will be a challenge to find a job when you return to the UK.
I can't speak too much on this because I've not gone through that experience. For the most part, the individuals who I've talked with here in the UAE have always gone back to jobs in the UK. I think this speaks volumes about that misconception there. At present, there is a teacher shortage in the UK so I like to ask the question of how schools can be so picky when they are losing experience left, right and centre.
These myths scratch the surface when it comes to understanding teaching in Dubai. You'll find a plethora of information within this guide.
My website also has more information about teaching in Dubai through a range of different blogs which you can check out here
If you are interested in finding out more about teaching in the UAE, I have a playlist of videos available on YouTube here, and you can find my two guides here which guide you through the application process and what you need to consider after securing a position.