Anna is a Primary school Teacher from Greece. She made a big decision to pack her bags and move to London to better her teaching career. We asked her some questions about her journey from Greece to England, how she found the relocation process and how it is like to teach in a London primary school.
What made you want to teach in London?
I was an unemployed Teacher in Greece and working in different jobs. I wanted to go somewhere in order to follow my dream and start a career as a teacher. I was really interested in moving to England to further my career and my partner found a job in London at around the same time, so we decided to move together.
Did you feel prepared before you left Greece?
When I started looking for teaching jobs in London, I had no idea that I could become a class teacher in a UK school. I thought being a teacher that has qualified from Greece would stop me from teaching in an English classroom. I started looking for teaching assistant jobs. Before contacting Career Teachers, I had no idea what was happening in London. I felt prepared regarding my knowledge about pedagogy, but I didn't know anything about the English school system and curriculum. Although I had read the national curriculum, it is much different in theory than practice.
How did you find the relocation process?
I relocated with my partner that is Greek but he was studying in England the last 5 years, so he helped me in many ways. I think that a challenged I faced in London was to find an affordable flat! After two weeks we found a decent flat in Islington and we liked the area a lot. Coming from a European country and not far away from England, I had previously visited the UK twice before which made the living adjustments easier.
London is amazing! There is such a big variety of things to do and to see. It is worth living here for at some point in your life.
How did you find your orientation when you arrived at Career Teachers/do you think it helped prepare you for your first day in a UK school?
The orientation was a very helpful process because honestly I had only a slight idea of how things were in England. Kate Bellavia gave us much information about schools and of course answered all our questions.
Did you find it a smooth transition teaching in a UK school?
I hadn't been working in a Greek state school before coming, but I had the experience as trainee during my studies and as pupil being taught in this system. Of course, I found some different things in the daily routine and in the way some things work in the classroom but it took me a short while to get used to it and get into the flow of the lesson.
What are the biggest differences between working in schools in UK and Greece?
As a Primary school teacher it surprised me that most Primary schools didn’t use textbooks! So, teachers had to spend time finding every resource they needed. In Greece there are textbooks from the state that are given to every pupil for every subject, that are based on the national curriculum and the Teacher has to prepare his lesson based on that, making presentations, extra activities and giving the deeper understanding activities.
Another thing which is different in the UK is that there is no teaching Assistants in a Greek classroom and the size of the class is no more than 25 pupils.
Finally, in Greece schools aren't as independent as in UK. They can't decide for their staff as I said above and there are no interviews. Everything is being done through exams and arranged from offices of the ministry of education.
Do you have any tips for others coming over?
I think that the major thing is the help from the agency that you will find. I have to admit that I had a lot of help from Career Teachers in the beginning before I came to London as well as when I started working. Another thing is to have patience until you find the position you expected. You have to work at least 1-2 months as teaching assistant to understand the different education system you're going to work in. Also, if someone is coming from another country I suggest that they do some supply work in order to see different schools, pupils and colleagues until they finds the permanent job. Doing supply for 3 months in the middle of the school year, I had work every day, so there is no need to worry! Later, I had another role that I really enjoyed and was a great experience in London!
Would you recommend Career Teachers to any of your friends and family?
Yes, of course! I have already recommended Career Teachers to friends that were already working in London with other agencies and to friends that wanted to come from Greece.
Have you attended any social events organised by Career Teachers?
Yes! The first day after my orientation there was an event at a bar where I went straight after and met other overseas teachers.
I am glad to go to such events and exchange experiences with other teachers and of course get to know the people from Career Teachers that helped me relocate and find work in London.
How was your overall experience working with Career Teachers?
I have only positive comments about my experience with Career Teachers. They were very helpful from the beginning. When I contacted them two months before coming to London, they helped me prepare all the necessary documents I needed to have on my arrival. The orientation was also very important and last but not least, the the training courses were so supportive for my professional development. I'm very thankful to Sinead, Nicole, Christina and Kate of course!