How Do YOU Use International Schools Review?

“I’m new to international teaching and just recently became an ISR member. I’m frankly shocked at the number of negative school reviews on the web site. The truth is, I just completed an awful year overseas and had I seen the ISR reviews for my school I would never have come here. My question for veteran members of ISR is: How do teachers use the ISR web site to make informed decisions about a school? For example, my current school has a few very good reviews smattered in among the reviews that more accurately reflect my experience here. I could use some help with clearly reading beyond the words.”

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17 thoughts on “How Do YOU Use International Schools Review?

  1. ISR has provided what no other website could have provided over 20 years ago, when poor international teachers were getting blind sided by powerful administrators and schools in distant countries. I think that if you plan to be an international educator, you have to be meticulous and proactive in your research.

    ISR has greatly affected my decision to accept or not accept an offer. It has also given me an awareness which schools to approach for future opportunities. However, a lot of research is conducted on my own. Expatriate websites, teachers blogs ( who don’t realise that their blogs are actually out in the open for all to see ), even profiles of administrators themselves on articles on the website, ISS, Search, UNI, University recruitment “middle men” etc.

    But to go back to the question : How do I use ISR personally? I usually take the info. I learn about the school and create my own questions to ask the school when the time comes if they do interview me. If there is a great disparity ( which usually is the case ), or the interviewer is taken aback, seemingly nervous or stuttering at responses that they should know ( based on the little bit of info that I know ), then I know that the school is legitimately bad as reviewed on here. I also use it to seek amazing schools.


  2. I did many of the things that people advocate here . I knew the country , I knew the school by reputation . I talked to a couple of the staff , I worked all hours and I still got royally shafted . What happened is that a couple of staff got promoted and decided that they wanted to make their mark so they laid into me . Yes , internationally you need to do far more homework , just be aware , like at home , it may not be enough but the consequences are much worse . This is not an argument for not going international ( it resurrected my career ) , just the need for even more care .


  3. It’s a minefield out there…the international teaching world that is…so any kind of info is appreciated. Relying on job fair presentations probably isnt the best way as they will obviously be slanted. Teachers who can be bothered to pay the members fee must either have something worth saying or else something worth getting off their chest, both which should be given an open forum.Obviously as an educated person you will realise that these reviews are indeed personal opinions but I have found them very enlightening and informative. Most school I have worked at or have personal knowledge of, I check the reviews and they are mostly accurate except for a couple of blinders – overly positive in the midst of mostly negative or mediocre comments – which are a bit suspicious!


  4. I went to Kuwait after the Iraqi war in 1991. As a 25 year old know it all, if ISR reviews were available I would have slammed the school. I was paid on time, given a position that in hind sight I did have the skills to do, but I did not have the school political experience to handle those who were after my scalp/job. In hindsight it was not that bad. It was a learning experience. At 45 I know a bit more, actually a lot more! If you have a job that pays well at the moment, it may be an idea to hang onto it, if you are not happy do something about it, further study at the same time may be an option.

    If the school is for profit, be weary, if there are loads of negative posts it is an indication that staff are not happy. On the other hand some of these schools pay well, staff have sold there soul and bitch about their circumstances. If you are tolerant take a chance, you can always just leave. If you are opinionated and think the school should be ran like schools in your homeland be prepared to be disappointed. A lot of these countries do not allow unions and the law is usually geared to favour the locals.

    Good luck!


  5. When I researched for my current position, I used a wealth of resources–ISR, Search Associates, school websites, etc. There is not much I can say about the school yet, BUT: It would be foolish to take ANYTHING in life at face value, and that includes reviews at ISR. ISR is still relatively indifferent to the quality of reviews (a true disadvantage among the many advantages of the database), i.e. you could have someone with a serious grudge posting right next to the objective veteran, the self-glorifying administrator, and the well-meaning current teacher.Use ISR as an adjunct to your research, but not as the only decision-making factor!


  6. I subscribed to ISR after I agreed to a contract with a Middle Eastern school. I am a veteran overseas educator having worked in the Middle East for 16 years. I would suggest that subscribers value and weigh the school reviews with 10 or more entries. There will be disgruntled employees as well as defensive administrators, however, that is what the ‘management vs labor’
    argument has been since the start of time.


  7. Is this a serious question? I can’t believe any one uses ISR as their main basis for making career choices. You must go through well reputed recruitment fairs such as Search, CIS, and ISS. When there do your reading, go to the presentations, seek advice from fair reps and talk to as many fellow candidates as you can and the answers will all come to you.


  8. I use the site to investigate schools that my peers are teaching at and also as a reference point for myself and peers. Whilst at a Job Fair in 2010 I found it invaluable to compare those schools who were interested in me, but whom I had not contacted….. very enlightening.
    And it is a great chance to see how other people see the school.. social activities, lifestyle, health care, support etc. During recruiting time and the subsequent rush to organise things it is often difficult to be in touch with staff at the school you are interested in.


  9. I would have to disagree with some of your comments… firstly each of the Asian schools I have taught in…. Tokyo, China, Korea… have heaters/air conditioners. Secondly, none of the teachers I know who have posted reviews on this site, from a large range of schools (Europe, Asia, Africa, for profit and not for profit) are young teachers.

    I do think some teachers with grudges or axes to grind write some of the reviews. And likewise, I think some reviews are written by Administators and/or their spouses, teaching or non-teaching.


  10. I agree that ISR is a good place to get a sense of a number of schools that are out there, so that if you are not with one of the recruiting agencies you have a chance to contact them directly and apply for a position.
    As for the reviews- I have posted many over the years and so far I have been fortunate to work at schools that have been fairly good and have been happy in those countries. Of course I see that there are more negative reviews, that simply is because more people will post when something bad happens, the same is true for hotel reviews. However, good schools generally have really good reviews.
    Someone else mentioned in the posts here that you have to keep in mind what sort of expectations the teacher has too. If you are single or married with family different schools will serve you differently. Sometimes it is not the school itself that is bad, but the principal or director who is a pain, and perhaps you are a person who can work independently in your classroom with minimal contact with this abusive administrators and find that you are quite content. I also find that depending on the culture of the country you sometimes need the school also as a social scene, in which case you mix business with pleasure, and this often leads to some teachers feeling left out of the groups that form, and may write negative reviews.
    I agree with what has been said- read the reviews with a grain of salt, find more information on the internet, AND I would say that if you are really interested in a school ask to be put in touch with another teacher who works there to get more information. It says a lot about a school that is willing to do this (and of course there are always some schools that will set you up with the one person that will tell you anything to get you there, but that is quite a bit of trouble to go through).


  11. It’s fairly straightforward. Those with very few reviews (or none) are likely to be okay. Those with many negative reviews one should steer clear of.


  12. Yikes, Anonymous. That might be taking things a little overboard. Certainly everything on the internet must be taken with healthy grain of salt and a dose of skepticism, but in the two schools I’ve worked at, there was plenty of truth to be found in the reviews.

    Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    By the way… really think schools in Northern China, South Korea, Japan etc. don’t have heaters? Not all of Asia is a steambath…

    Personally, I think one of the most valuable things about ISR is simply the list of schools. There are so many schools out there, and most of the recruiting agencies service only some of them, so it’s helpful to see ALL of your options (whether or not you want to work for them is a different story…).


  13. Sometimes the school may be fine for people with a spouse and children but very isolating for someone who is a single. Also if the school has an evangelical slant and my religion would be negatively viewed examine the posts by others to see if the school is a good fit. This board is but one piece of the puzzle and the information should be weighed accordingly. Always do your homework before accepting a post!


  14. I now use it to search out the potential new school I’d like to work for. Not always is a review listed but I search so as not to be too surprised and end up regretting not looking. I also look at where I’ve been to see if it measured up or where I am to see if there is something I am not aware of and need to know. It is better to be informed than not.’


  15. I look at the review and ask myself. Did the teacher have realistic expectations? Are they just having an angry rant over something small or is the posting worded in a way that it is more of a warning to others as they outline seriously negative experiences or have a list of problems that impact on the school’s admin or functioning. I have found this invaluable and have refused offers based on the reviews to find that people I know who did take the offers lived to regret their decision!


  16. I have used ISR off and on for years . I’m usually suspicious when I see a couple of glowing reports mixed in with ten or more disastrous ones. I once read a report of my old school and from the things covered in the review I knew it was the school director tooting his own horn, or should I say rusty whistle. I’m also a bit suspicious when I get the feeling a couple of teachers have posted more than one review.

    Overall the ISR reviews have been invaluable in helping me make a decision. Some searching around the web will often times yield other reviews for a particular school on obscure web sites. These reviews help me solidify my position in relation to what I read on ISR.

    Before ISR came on the scene accepting an overseas position was a real crap shoot and that was before the big influx of “for profit” schools in the past 4 or 5 years.

    I recommend you continue to read the ISR reviews and attempt to supplement what you’ve read with what ever you can find searching the web. What ever you do, don’t go into a position with out doing extensive research!!


  17. I used ISR exclusively when making a decision to go to this school or that. I was made an offer by a particular school that was attractive, had a good package, and in a great area, but when I read over 20 reviews that were horrible, mostly coming from ISR, I turned down the offer. Now I see that the positions are still open, probably because their reputation has preceded them.


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