The Future of International Schools Review. You Decide.

Thank you, ISR members!

Through your support, International Schools Review has grown into a global network of International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed. Entirely member supported, ISR provides educators a place to share the inside word on their international school experience.

Now we’re looking to you to help make ISR even better and are soliciting your ideas, comments and suggestions. From new site features, to ideas about new topics for the  school evaluation rubric, we appreciate your participation.

Thanks for your support! Have a wonderful summer! Add your Ideas below

31 Responses to The Future of International Schools Review. You Decide.

  1. SwissMiss says:

    I was one of the first subscribers to ISR and the review I wrote over six years ago is quite accurate today (the big exception being that the administrator who was ‘named and shamed’ is no longer in education), as others have posted similar comments. I was actively seeking a way to warn other teachers about this particular school, so that, if possible, they could make a far more enlightened decision than I was capable of, at the time. I have since taught at 3 other international schools, two of which have been described very well, in my opinion, on ISR. I subscribe to ISR when I’m looking for work because I still feel it’s one of the few ways that we, as often times isolated international teachers, can base, part, not all, of our decision on whether to move to a new school. The anonymity of the reports may irk some, but keep in mind, administrators read these comments as well, and have far more power at their disposal to make or break a teacher’s international teaching career, should they be identified. Keep up the good work, ISR, as I’ve seen the changes, over the years, continue to improve the site and provide teachers with information which may prove invaluable as they make their way through the sometimes murky world of overseas teaching.

    Like

  2. TeacherTeacher says:

    Hmmm, some good points and food for thought already mentioned.

    I *do* like the anonymity of posting my reviews, but I strongly dislike the 1-10 scale. I think the answers should be in the form of “Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree, or Not Applicable”. (I do NOT think reviewers should ever be allowed a neutral response.) All responses should be required. Each statement/response pair should have a small box for optional, extra information, but if the reviewer chooses “Not Applicable”, s/he should be required to briefly explain why.

    I also would like to know that a single subscriber cannot post multiple reviews for the same school.

    Like

  3. We're going to sue you!!! says:

    Some years ago I got together with two other teachers to make a site similar to ISR. We thought we would make it free and sell advertising. Within weeks of going live with the site we had emails from two schools saying they would sue sue us if didn’t take down the things teachers were saying about them. We were also contacted by one of the big recruiters. They told us that we would be sued if we continued to allow teachers to make comments about schools and directors that recruited through their venue.

    Lawsuits are expensive and we were afraid we could all end up also loosing our houses and other assets in the end. I can’t imagine what sort of crap ISR has to deal with on a regular basis. If all they want is $29 a year from me to take on these schools it’s well worth every penny to me. Maybe this is why they are the only site of its kind.

    Like

    • ExpatAbroad says:

      ^^ Wow, I can’t believe that schools could actually sue a site for teachers being allowed freedom of expression. I don’t think any of the charges would actually have a leg to stand on.

      Like

  4. Happyteacher says:

    Its a shame that there is a fee involved in this website. It reminds me of the failure of friends reunited when Facebook etc superseded their limited marketing fee charging model. Whilst 29$ is not much money, the inconvenience of subscribing and having to have a credit card puts many people off – fact. Can income not be generated through other means? How about charging schools to put a brief description of their school and a guide to packages. this would be an excellent resource. Or through advertising etc.

    Also the blog layout it clumsy for reviews of schools. People’s School reviews should contain hyperlinks that link to an easily browsed database The transitions are a bit clunky between sections. I do think its a great idea though and in the absence of other similar sites, believe that this site has a lot of potential.

    Like

  5. Luanne says:

    I think it is very important to add evaluations for Department heads, curriculum Heads, Boards, and/or owners…etc.

    Like

  6. Wilbert says:

    I would like to expand the pay side of the site to include a message board style option in addition to the current reviews. I’d like the ability to clarify points from a review, get more information, and hear other comments.

    Also, there are 3 sections of the site that i periodically visit–the blog, the reviews, and the message board. It isn’t very convenient to move from one to the next.

    For the cost issue brought up earlier, the membership is worth $29 to me. The problem is that it is only worth that much because I haven’t found another site that focuses directly on school reviews.

    Like

  7. proxy post says:

    I have a rubric suggestion but cannot access your wp.blog section from China due to govt. restrictions. I would like to know if a school is age/race/lifestyle friendly. Over the last 4 years, my school has systematically eliminated most teachers of non-white color, older teachers (though age is not govt restricted) and American (they are too demanding). Though the school would deny this, my colleagues know it is the situation.

    Also, if it is true that schools are bound by the labor laws of the country in which they recruit a teacher, maybe we should have a list of labor-friendly attorneys in major recruiting cities. At the least they could be available around fair-times to advise or answer questions.
    Thanks

    Like

    • Natalie says:

      I would not necessarily blame your school for this. My school hired a number of teachers of colour (from Jamaica, India, Philippines, etc) in order to minimise costs. The local immigration authorities would not authorise the visas, leaving us without teachers very close to our start date. Were I an administrator who had faced this one year (having to settle for last-minute, left-over white teachers who couldn’t land a job anywhere else), the next year, I would imagine that I might just try to hire sure-things early on. It is not a reflection of the administrators’ racism but that of the Chinese officials.

      Like

  8. John Fortin says:

    I would really appreciate an up to date list of age hiring policies for schools. These are not always posted on Search Associates, although some of the associates have been really helpful at getting me as up to date information from some of their surveys. It definitely would save me a lot of time knowing whether to bother to apply or not, since I will be 60 this Sept.It would also be nice to know whether it is school policy or simply labor laws of the country of interest.

    Like

  9. MGreen says:

    Please allow the parents to have a say or allow parents views. Or set up a sister site for parents views. We are facing the same difficulties in finding suitable International schools as we move, schools misleading us. We don’t get much feedback and have a short time to decide and are left to the mercy of school administrators.
    We want to hear from the parents also we want to hear from the teachers about the students. When I read the reviews about the school my children go to, it is so true! Unfortunately, they are new reviews although the school is older. Had I seen, I would have avoided it completely. The schools lock in the parents as the companies are paying for schooling, you can’t just remove your children after all that official process, schools take full advantage of that. It is very frustrating, we are really sick of being played by the schools.
    Thank you for all you input, we read absolutely everything trying to educate ourselves as parents!

    Like

  10. gypsie says:

    It would be great to find an area on the reviews addressing appropriateness/ease for for singles working in the school/ city.

    Like

  11. ExpatAbroad says:

    I would like to see a more balanced review of the schools. I am very disheartened right now looking through all the schools because 90% are negative. The truth is that most teachers write reviews to vent. All too often, I wish I could get a few other teacher’s perspectives on the school. Could ISR send out free month invitations to teachers at schools to evaluate that particular school to get a more balanced representation? A few free accounts would motivate those teachers to do a review and prospective teachers would get a more balanced evaluation of that school.

    Like

    • Natalie says:

      Very good idea. Perhaps approach The International Educator or another group with a member list full of international teachers and send out invitations. I have been an international teacher for 6 years but I only just stumbled upon this site this week. My school had not been reviewed yet. I consider my review to be fair and balanced. But, ultimately, I advised against working at my school. The reality is that one does not seek out a site like this until one has worked at an international school that is SO BAD that you want to do your best to make sure that NO ONE has to endure the hell that you have just endured. That is how I found this site. I am shopping for a new position and wanted to make sure that I do not have another repeat of my current post.

      Like

  12. Joseph says:

    I think what we would like to see most is an easy to access table which summarizes the contracts on offer from each school – at least with as much up to date information as you can access, or which people are prepared to anonymously share with you
    the rating system of 1 to 10 is entirely subjective.
    Something with the following headings would be great, would give us a chance to make easy and quick comparisons and may even encourage competitive schools to want to see their numbers at the top, rather than the bottom, of the table

    Monthly Salary / Yearly Salary / Accommodation Allowance / Flights Reimbursed / Health Insurance / Gratuity / Taxation Rate / etc.

    then if a teacher was interested in saying working in Vietnam they would quickly be able to see a comparison with other schools in the region – at least in terms of salary

    Like

    • ExpatAbroad says:

      I second that. Would be nice to get that info rather than having to give 200 bucks to SEARCH or ISS for that same info

      Like

  13. anon says:

    Sorry that people get slammed but this site would be about as active as the Facebook sites for international Teachers (1 post every 6 months) if we had to name ourselves. I am afraid to even ask positive question on facebook for fear that someone will get the wrong idea. People are free to post rebuttals at any time. One negative review from 5 years ago is not going to affect my decision, but 15 reviews is much different.

    Does ISR have the ability to make sure that one membership is not revenge reviewing a school or director over and over within a short time?

    Like

  14. Jim S. says:

    There should be a private section where you can see if you have been ‘blacklisted” and if so , what does it say. I had a friend who was black listed and none of it was her fault.

    Like

  15. Common Sense says:

    First of all, stop trying to hype the negativity. ISR pulls any negative part of a review and magnifies it – kind of the like the old, “If it bleeds, it leads” approach. International schools are not nearly as bad as the reviews would make you think.

    Next, how about more information – maybe even require the person to state his/her name? While anonymous sounds nice, it allows people to talk trash without any ability to verify that person’s claim. Without the background, how does a person judge the information?

    Last but not least, at least be even handed. If you want teachers to hide behind anonymity, why then go out and publicly name/slam administrators? Why not name teachers, and yourself, if slamming someone is okay?

    I agree that ISR is now well known for being a place where people group together and complain, or where fired teachers go on the attack because they were let go (many for just cause). At our school, we constantly tell new teachers that ISR does not accurately reflect the community and that, while some of the reviews may be accurate, most are wildly wrong – you can’t tell which ones are accurate until you get to the school.

    Like

  16. Hello From South America says:

    I would love to see more positive reviews.
    I am at the point where if a school is not on ISR I dont´know whether to sigh with relief or become suspicious!
    I need a family friendly (staff kid friendly) category on the rubric.
    I would like a flag put on negative reviews once the admin has moved on.
    I would love a notification board ¨congratulating¨ admin on thier new posts so we know who is going where.
    I would love to see a second rubric that has basic package information. Remember the Search books from the fairs? % of local (non native speakers)hires,for profit or not, staff turnover in each division, savings potential, where the kids are from, restrictions on employment etc. It is very hard to compare apples and oranges.
    Thanks!

    Like

  17. Simon Fulford says:

    I have not renewed my subscription to ISR because $29. is so expensive. Maybe you could consider a new marketing model. If the cost of membership was much cheaper then probably the quantity of subscribers would be much higher. You could have the same amount of income but with much more up to date information and a lot more comments about schools. When there is only one comment it is hard to know if it is a genuinly bad school or if this is just a sour grapes post from that disgruntled exemployee that every school has.

    Like

    • weedonald says:

      Simon,
      29USd is a bargain for the useful and sage advice this site offers, not to mention the ancillary support from forums,Dr.Spilchuk and DG reviews. I would like to see a place to request a review for a school that has not already been reviewed though.

      Like

    • spare says:

      I can’t believe that I just read $29 US is expensive. I know that teachers are stereotyped as being cheap, but please. Working abroad should mean you have more bucks to spend on things besides rent, food and clothes. I feel that $29 is a good value. If you want to complain about expensive, start talking about hiring fairs and agencies like ISS and Search.

      Like

  18. Loniece Ningo says:

    Find a way to unionize international teachers, and many of these problems will go away once schools do not feel they can savage individuals. Then a union can determine which teachers are unsuitable. For those who choose not to join the union and pay fro protection, they are on their own to be exploited.

    Like

    • Tom says:

      OMG,don’t do this! Absence of unions is one of the great strengths of international education in general, and one of the main mediocritizers of American public education. In non-union schools, professionalism and best practices are allowed to rise to the top. In the USA, teacher unions have become simply a vehicle to protect the mediocre and incompetent.

      I don’t deny that there are abusive schools and administrators and unfair employment practices here and there among international schools. ISR has done some things to try to level the playing field, and more needs to be done. Unionization is not the way to go. Thank heavens it would be impossible in an international environment, in any case.

      Like

      • weedonald says:

        What nonsense Tom…unions protected teachers and still do; against abusive and adversarial school boards, aggressive parental lobbyists whose only agenda is to promote their self-interests and politicians whose populist Machiavellian objectives use teachers as whipping boys to get elected or remain in power. There is significant abuse, not just “here and there” but especially amongst owner-managed , for-profit schools. Even board managed schools run into conflicts of interest and politics which can ruin a teacher’s career.
        It is NOT impossible to unionize but it is very difficult as there are too many people willing to work anywhere for any employer….in the US they are called scabs!

        Like

        • Sally says:

          At my school there was widespread bullying of teachers by the Principal, with the connivance of the Director. This was despite the presence of a supportive local teachers’ union. The school is non-profit making but the Board consists entirely of business men and women, who believe it should be run according to a business model. Trust in the teachers to do their jobs is non-existent.

          Like

    • Natalie says:

      I think one of the saving graces of the international school environment is that worthless teachers actually DO get fired / are not renewed. Even in my home country, I extricated myself from the union long before I left. I think unions create the same kind of environment in education that you find in those religious organisations which choose to protect suspected predators.

      Like

  19. rentturtle says:

    I don’t like the format of the reviews. It is hard to tell when it was written, when the people worked there. I would usually like to know what grades the person worked with. Also, any way you can find to make the survey more comprehensive, a better rubric for determining the quality of the school or administrator so it isn’t a bitch-fest. I know at the school I work at, there would be a lot of complaints about the Elementary campus but not so much at the MSHS campus so knowing what level the teachers are talking about would be nice. Maybe include the basics of the packages to begin with also. Thanks!!

    Like

  20. weedonald says:

    A consistently recurring theme on this website is the poor results many teachers obtain from hiring Fairs and the inconsistent offers and promises made, which are often breached.
    Has ISR ever considered hosting a hiring fair under its requirements for schools considered honourable and ethical? Only school that are consistently quoted as being top class, respecting contracts, adhering to the basics of the ISR Code of conduct etc. could be invited and members could pay a fee to attend, just like any other Fair. ISR could also hike the site fee to cover costs as well. I would gladly attend a Fair hosted by ISR because I know that there would be no conflict of interest like at Search and ISS, etc. Schools who are repeatedly criticized for unethical practices could be barred and those that are meeting ISR standards could be charged a small fee to register. Participation could be for registered ISR members initially or the registration fee for the Fair could include an annual ISR subscription.
    the Fair could be hosted by a University (thus reducing costs significantly) and volunteers from the ISR community could help as well. We can’t rely on Search,ISS, and others to look after our interests honestly and fairly so maybe its time to explore this possibility. I would gladly work to organize such an event and I am sure many others would as well. Who better than ISR itself to finally offer teachers a trustworthy and reliable hiring option?

    Like

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