Let’s dispel some of the myths about living and teaching in London.
Teaching is a vocation, to do it well you need to want to do it well and that’s where a lot of people fall short. You can’t expect children to behave themselves, just like you can’t expect to win the lottery if you never enter it.
Myth Number 1
Children in London are horrible.
Unfortunately, sweeping statements often have the desired effect, mainly because people don’t dissect what’s being said. Children in London are not all horrible, just like adults in London aren’t all rude and unhelpful (sure you’ve heard that a few times). Working in London means you will be teaching a variety of pupils, all from different backgrounds, cultures, with varying ability levels and different ideas of what is expected of them. If you expect a group of pupils to put their hands up to answer a question, stand quietly behind their chairs before sitting down and to say please and thank you then you need to tell them. For some pupils this behaviour is completely alien and they need to be told what they should do. Just like you have to be told where the bathroom is on a supply day, you aren’t expected to know this information.
Myth Number 2
London is way too busy and you never get any peace a quiet.
If you have chosen to be a teacher then probably peace and quiet isn’t a necessity in your day to day working life, but in your personal time this is a wish that London can grant! London is a very busy place, it’s the capital city of Britain, with over 9 million people populating it. However, there are still plenty of coffee shops, parks, libraries, museums and galleries where peace and quiet is granted. Also your commute might be ’busy’ but English people have a real thing about not talking, or even making direct eye contact with one another when on public transport, so you might not get a seat but you will be able to read your book in silent bliss!
Myth Number 3
Agencies are all liars.
Teachers working through agencies in London is very common, mainly because teachers want the flexibility to work day to day supply, or work a term here and there without having to dedicate themselves to one school. Agencies can provide overseas teachers with supply, short term and long term work which is excellent if you are coming to London to travel around Europe whilst simultaneously boosting your CV.
Agencies are providing a needed service which schools continually ask for as they don’t have the time to place adverts for positions, apply for references, and complete the compliance procedures which allow individuals to work in schools legally. Never feel like you aren’t working directly with a school when you go through an agency, an agency is merely the middle man helping you and the school meet – you could even see them as the Tinder of the teaching world – or maybe not!
Myth Number 4
Accommodation in London is overpriced.
London is one of the most expensive cities to live in the world. It has a fast and mostly reliable transport system, a fine sewage system, a free national health service and thousands of buzzing national and international businesses. If you are thinking that you can move to London and rent out a 2 bedroom, ground floor flat with a garden and en-suite for £400 per month then yes you will be disappointed. In London most people rent with friends, family or strangers who soon become close friends. If you want a double bedroom, on the ground floor with outside space then this is very possible, but you will need to share the flat with either some friends or strangers and you will be looking at between £500 - £700 per month. Zones 3 – 6 will offer you lower rental prices and schools in London are everywhere, as are parents and children so getting a job in these areas will not be a problem. Look at a map of London and you will see how you can live in Zone 3 and be in Zone 1 within 30 minutes – take your time and really look around – use website such as spareroom.co.uk which will show lots of flats with empty bedrooms for good prices.
Myth Number 5
Teaching in London will take over your life.
The likelihood is if you’ve made the conscious decision to be a teacher then it already will take up most of your life, like most people’s work does. What’s the point in doing something if you aren’t giving 110%? However, we all need holidays, weekends, time off and teaching in London will provide you will all of this. In the beginning you will probably spend more time lesson planning, getting to know how the school works and the other members of staff. However, once you have done this you will start to feel more relaxed and in control this is when you will have the chance to make plans to go to Paris, Amsterdam or Barcelona. The best way to ensure that teaching doesn’t take over your whole life is to be organised, know what you have to do and when you need to get it done by, make lists and ask for help and support when you need it.