Suspiciously Silent

..Here’s the scenario: At a Recruiting Fair you discovered an “invitation to interview” in your candidate mail box. You took the bait. The interview went well and the job is yours. Problem is, you can’t find a recent Review of the school, if any, at all!

..It strikes us as suspicious when there are no Reviews for a specific school, or multiple Reviews that span a few years and then suddenly stop coming in from years back. Why are there no recent Reviews? Why did they stop coming in? We can’t say for certain, but based on teachers’ letters and excerpts from Contracts, there are schools that have taken to contractually preventing their teachers from writing School Reviews. In legal terms, this is called a ‘gag order.’ It is legal and leads one to wonder … what are these schools hiding?

..It’s been said that “happy” teachers don’t write School Reviews. So maybe, just maybe, Reviews stop coming because teachers, in their utter contentment, suddenly stopped writing Reviews. Of course there are other reasons why Reviews of a school don’t exist or stop posting; however, we’re not aware of what those reasons are or we would, most certainly, share them with you.

..When you don’t find current Reviews, or any Reviews for a school, it could be a flapping red flag. But before jumping to a final conclusion, ISR encourages you to consult the ISR Member Forum. Located inside the Members’ area of the ISR web site, this Forum is an adjunct to the School Review section. It’s the designated place to post questions that solicit review- and analysis-type information about schools.

..ISR Members have been quite successful using the ISR Member Forum to request and receive up-to-present-day information about various schools. You’ll find thousands of current posts on various schools already available. Go to the ISR Member Forum.

International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed
is what International Schools Review is all about!

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22 thoughts on “Suspiciously Silent

  1. I used to be a member and I posted at least two reviews. I think it is highway robbery to pay 30.00 a year to be able to post and read reviews. In today’s environment the site to accumulate huge amounts of income through advertising. This is especially true for overseas teacher and teaching specific advertising. Moreover, with Linkedin, why do I need to bother? If I already accepted a position, I just do a search, ask to connect with current employees and ask them directly in private. I have been contacted by people in this way. With the limitations of posting on the forum, then this site will be history or none relevant soon. Moreover, many school’s have outdated reviews. After three years, the review is useless except maybe to demonstrate improvements. The sad reality is I read bad reviewS for a school only to find out later that none of those reviews were even relevant. I was even at a school when someone posted a review and it was complete farce. Then you have reviews obviously submitted by someone associated with the school. You end up being more confused. The worthwhile feature was the forum, but you now cannot even discuss schools int hat way. Why the heel should I bother now.
    in a nutshell, I am not paying 30.00 a year to;
    -post a review; you should be more grateful I bothered.
    -read outdated reviews (after 3 years the review is useless)
    – read admin school ads poorly disguised as a review.
    -post on a forum with rules so strict as to prevent any so- called undermining of the paid part of the site.
    -Oh, and there is this one guy in the forum. The unofficial school apologist who jump in your thread making generic excuses for anything you said with zero direct knowledge of the school. I have no idea who he is, but his name is literally on every thread. When I stop posting he was the last post for the entire first page. and as I said, he was absolutely annoying, you more or less had to ignore any discussion he was involved with because it was the same crap in every thread. if I recall, he was fine with generic questions, but man…. when it came down to criticizing a school, he was like a bad penny from a horror film…. just shows up everywhere and impossible to get rid of.

    So there you have it ISR, you are the cyber alchemist, but you turn gold into crap.


    1. Wow – long and bitter! Save $30 – your loss! I would never respond to a potential new teacher at my school by putting a load of negative crap in an email to someone I didn’t know – and every school does have it cons if teachers are being honest!


    2. Bitter? No! Just stating the facts. I prefer to talk with someone already at the school or someone that once worked at the school person to person, than read anonymous reviews. As I said most reviews are made by embittered past employees who are driven to write in the extreme. More often than not is because they chose the wrong school for them or didn’t as the right questions. I am currently talking to the HOD of a school I had applied for and this person has been very good at outlining both the positive and the negative of the school. I have a pretty clear picture of what the school is about. The questions I asked of this person was no different than what I might as a director or principal in an interview. Also when I was contacted by an prospective teacher, I was equally objective in pointing out the positives and the negatives. Some people will simply thrive in different environments. Therefore, it is important to have as accurate information as possible. You really do not get that when you read rage reviews. I am sorry, but this site was better when you can ask direct questions about the school. Even though, the respondents were anonymous, you at least had the luxury of asking follow up questions. When all said in done, the only about 1/10 reviews were worth reading (if you remove the rage, the infomercials and the outdated reviews). If you want to characterize my statements as bitter be my guess. The fact is I was sent a message about this, and since I used to be a frequent user (submitted reviews and answered questions) I thought I share that the cost/benefit no longer matches up. That’s not bitter; that’s economics.


  2. The school I recently left had no reviews, simply because it was new- and since international schools are such a huge business, they will continue to pop up. Because the job was in an uncomfortable country, I did everything I could to dig info- requested info/interview w/the vice chancellor and ELL director, both lovely, dedicated Americans, who both admitted that the Chancellor himself was someone to be avoided, but that they would ensure he left me alone. But as both of them were also new, none of us could guess just how evil the Chancellor would turn out to be, and all three of us (and more) left after the first term. As this was something of a religious school (Catholic) and had many devoted volunteers as well, it shocked us that a school which took part funding from the Vatican would allow a local bitter communist in at the top, but this creep was a government appointee. All I’m saying is you can’t always know. I bless this school and its IDP students and hope Dr Evil will eventually be replaced- but it left us in the position of not wanting to diss it in ISR because it was founded with good will and we all hope it will see better times.


  3. I find it rather self-serving that ISR claims that a lack of reviews is a bad thing, and pushes people to its paid forum for information.
    Like many here, I agree that a lack of (recent) reviews cannot be categorized as this, that or the other. There are too many different possibilities.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t be ridiculous. As others have pointed out, fear of negative references, so-called ‘gag’ orders and frankly, pure indifference are some of the reasons people don’t bother posting. Some reviews are a mixture of the positive and the negative and certainly provide amunition to ask probing questions at an interview. Skype is not the greatest tool for determining what someone will be like to work for. If you find ISR so ‘self-serving’ then don’t subscribe!


    2. How, exactly, does a ‘gag’ order stop someone posting on ISR? That would be unenforceable.


  4. I have been a member for a long time and it is the exception when people take the time to write a positive review about a school. I would be suspicious of any contract with a gag order and now that I am a Head of School I wouldn’t think of adding one. In 8 years as a Head of School only one person has taken the time to put up a positive review. So far I have avoided the negative review as well, but it’s only a matter of time until my name appears on the list. I have taken a position at school’s that have had negative reviews prior to my arrival. Maybe the silence means that people were no longer discontent? Why does it always have to be a negative sign?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I would only trust factual opinions. Example: Our school along with others in the Leadership Development Incorporated system in China charge tuition rates that mirror the tier one schools, 40,000 per year for high school (day school). They pay the teachers a benefit package of the lowest you will find in China (10,000 rmb per month plus you must work through every other summer on school projects). These are the facts that help. Opinions on the character of leaders are hard to sift through.

    So where do the profits go? To the LDI corporate leaders that use it for “godly” purposes. Why do teachers still join? For me, I was uniformed when I joined. I thought the lower pay was a result of bringing in truly impoverished and high-risk children. I did not know we were bring in the ultra-rich and then diverting the tuition to outside “teams”. Why do others join and stay? They believe that taking such low wages is a sign of Christian virtue. You can then decide where you fall. You might also feel a sense of self-righteousness by earning high profits for God.

    Look at the numbers at least before accepting a job.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The comments stopped because the person moved on to another school and is probably doing the same thing at the new school. Sadly, you can trace people who are disgruntled and use this review site to cover for their incompetencies or the fact that they have been caught at their own game. One such a person at my school has moved on to two other schools in China and Kuwait within a space of three years and has written reviews everywhere she went because apparently she deserves a promotional position while she is just all talk. I am sorry to see ISR has turned into a toy for teachers who are sometimes incompetent and ineffective in the classroom and messing up learners. Years ago this site was trustworthy but anyone can now write a fake review about a school or head and it would be published without verification of the facts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sadly some very insecure administrators write up fake reiews about themselves or their schools but ISR does come with a common sense warning about sources. ISR reviews are a tool in learning about schools prior to employment. There are a lot of bad adminstrators and bad international schools out there.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. It isn’t a toy for disgruntled teachers it is a dose of reality for young teachers flying blind into completely unknown territory where they can crash and burn if they happen to land in a bad school with a bad admin. Rather than criticising it you should ensure that your school gets good reviews from happy teachers teaching happy kids.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Gosh, it that you ???? the ‘director’ who ran a school into the ground in one province of China and was hated by all the staff and is now busy doing the same to another where you are also widely loathed and disrespected. ISR serves an important purpose as you have just demonstrated!


  7. Word of mouth, if and when possible, from trusted sources are still the best reference for a school.

    Although ISR has it place for sure but because it boasts anonymous postings (I am not challenging that mandate here) there’s no credible way, really, to check source viability on any reviews or even the lack of reviews for a particular school.

    In an interview, depending on your level of overseas experience and your confidence, it’s important to ask as many questions as possible and at the same time look for transparency i.e., info on the school, governance, contacting current faculty etc. If the school recoils, that’s a definite alarm.

    Always bear in mind that an interview is about both parties finding a match. Everyone is checking each other out. We are professionals and are allowed to say no if we think it’s not a good school.


  8. I couldn’t find a review of a school in Myanmar as it has been around awhile. When I interviewed, I should have followed my instincts that something was off with the principal. The teacher who was leaving emailed me to warn me about the place and the admin but I thought it was sour grapes. The salary and benefits weren’t great but cost of living seemed low – balanced out – and I was curious about the country. HUGE mistake and I did something that I have never done in my life, and that was to quit after one semester (although others last less than that). It was and still is, the most dysfunctional and unpleasant school I have ever encountered in so many ways. The ‘principal’ would have been a joke if he hadn’t been so incompetent and malicious. The owner was out of hell! Teachers were spied on outside of school and disrespected and ….yeah I could write a novel. There were no reviews as people were afraid of bad references (which some got anyway) or were too apathetic and just wanted to forget the place. Advice: Do your homework and follow your instincts. Life is too short to be made miserable and have your integrity challenged. I am a great school now that did have two reviews on ISR but has a great principal who nurtures teachers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To be fair to other teachers looking at Myanmar, you should name this school and give an assessment. There are several that I can think of……..


  9. Check to see if the school changed name, how long school has been open, if school hires few international teachers, etc. For example one school I was at was a start up so no review. Another one I got tricked into going to because I signed a contract for a school in country Y. Then I quit job hunting and turned down offers. 1 month later recruiter contacted me via Search and said school is not finished building so can we send you to country Z where our sister school is. I went and worst mistake I ever made in my life. No reviews on school in country Z because they dont hire real teachers and are a private school for a nonEnglish speaking expat community. A mess. So now if there is no info I won’t consider it.


    1. Totally agree. Use a lot of commonsense – especially if dealing with school in China that can be very tricky.


  10. I made the mistake of accepting a job for a school with no reviews. Bad move. I won’t make that mistake again. The final contract was presented to me upon arrival and it contained I gag order. I soon learned why.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Don’t make the same mistake I did. When I couldn’t find any reviews of a school I decided that it was a good sign and went ahead and took the job. What a mistake!!!!! When I got there it took one day to realize I had screwed myself. At the conference I did not get a contract, just a letter of promise to hire me. At the school, the actual contract had a gag order in it. My advice, no reviews = no go!!! Oh, screw the gag order. I felt it was my duty to post a review to ISR.


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