Survey: Have YOU Worked at a School that Failed to Honor Its Contract?

It’s common knowledge that International Schools Review hosts far more than just a few Reviews for Schools that fail to honor their Contracts.

 Horror stories of schools that substitute poor housing for promised housing, fail to reimburse travel/shipping allowances, renege on health insurance, refuse to reimburse (as promised) for classroom expenses and, in general, engage in deceptive Contract practices, serve as warnings about schools that are not acceptable by any stretch of the imagination.

Unethical operators have been known to require newly arrived, and still naive teachers to sign a local-language version of their Contract, supposedly for Visa procurement. The unsuspecting educators later learn the local-language Contract (the only one enforceable in courts) has stripped them of valuable, promised benefits and left them defenseless.

If you’ve been/are in such a situation where your school has failed to live up to its Contract, you already know it’s not so easy to pack up and go home! With a host of factors to take into consideration (such as financial responsibilities dependent on your job) you may be forced to stay.

.Have you worked at an International School that failed to honor its Contract?

Take our Short Survey


Select one:

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Comments? Please scroll down to participate. 

We ask that you not review schools on this Discussion Board. If you would like to name and review a school, please use the “send a review” link on the home page

24 Responses to Survey: Have YOU Worked at a School that Failed to Honor Its Contract?

  1. Anonymous says:

    I worked for years at a top tier International school in Egypt. When I left severence pay was promised as per local law. Several teachers received this pay but by the time it cam to me they had suddenly “discovered” a way around it and in spite of written commitments they wiggled out on paying me. After receiving written reassurance the pau was on the way, I certainly felt this was dishonest behavior. It was extremely saddening from a school that I had long respected and loved. I think the management of some of these schools has gone downhill and they currently employ managers instead of educators. A sad turn of events.


  2. Karen Corbett says:

    I was there almost a year and the directors never quite ‘sorted’ out my medical insurance. Needless to say I breathed a huge sigh of reef as I flew away.


  3. Aura M Parsons says:

    Worse than any of the issues identified in this survey is the practice (common in the Arabian Gulf even though it’s illegal) is the practice of taking passports and restricting when teachers can come and go from the country where they are working. This is the ultimate abuse of power and was exercised in those Taleb schools consistently when I was there a couple of years ago. What a shame that wasn’t in the survey too.


  4. Curtis Lowe says:

    There is definitely a tier system to the international schools. One should only focus on the top tier international schools and you can research which ones they are (i.e American School in Japan, the IASAS schools in SE Asia, some scattered throughout Europe, South America, and Africa) otherwise just stay clear of second or third tier schools. For example, when I first started teaching internationally decades ago there were only a handful of international schools in Thailand and China. Now each of those countries has well over 30 schools claiming to be “international” or “American” when in fact they are just for profit institutions set up to impress local folks who have the financial means to attend a school with Western teachers. It isn’t worth the headache to accept a job at a 2nd or 3rd rate school. Aim for the best overseas or stay home.


    • Anonymous says:

      I agree. Leaving a good job in your home country for a crazy job overseas is terrible when you have so much to deal with in a new climate and environment without a bad management and poor support. I made a poor choice once, and had the worst experience of my life at what was considered a top tier school, but you have to watch for change in those schools. Sometimes, they have new administrations and leaders who can change it in one year, so do your homework and ask your friends and hopefully on here we can find out if a school is indeed – top tier.


  5. anonymous says:

    Had a two year contract from the out-going director the second year of which was not honoured by the incoming director who wanted to hire his own people. No financial compensation or finances offered to attend a job fair. This was very disruptive for myself and my wife who had left a permanent job at home to join us, thinking we would be there until 2019. It seems some directors have no empathy for teachers or their families, you are just a pawn to be removed and they do not care about the consequences for the family.


  6. Anonymous says:

    I worked with a very similar situation in a horrific school in Chongqing.


    • Anonymous says:

      Me too. One of my worst experiences was teaching at an international school in Chongqing. Unless the Western Co-Principal and the Head of Primary are fired and replaced with leaders who know their jobs, it cannot be called a school.


  7. Anonymous says:

    Dear Deniece,
    Please see my email below with regards to The Taleb owned schools inDoha
    Dear Sabena,
    I’ve passed your concerns to my colleagues in the International Job Advertising Team and they will respond to you directly as soon as possible. In the meantime, if you wish to contact them, you can email or call +44 203 194 3080 (Mon – Fri between 9.00 am – 5.00 pm).

    Kind regards,
    Online Customer Services
    Original message Sabena wrote:

    To whom it concerns,

    I am writing out of deep concern for future teacher applicants applying to teach at Cambridge International School for Girls, Doha, Qatar. I note you have given the school an advert seeking teaching staff through your website.

    I am a qualified a fully Teacher from Europe. I am a full time teacher since 2005. I was recruited like many through for the Cambridge International School in 2017. I even met with the Principal and mgt in person in Manchester UK at interview. How we were to be let down afterwards is shocking. I have an honours degree, a P.D.E. and a first class masters in education and an impeccable teaching record.

    AFTER our arrival and a week in to our induction, my UK, Irish, Canadian, Irish, Australian, American and South American colleagues learnt our hours of work and contract terms and conditions were changing. There was no agreement. We all questioned it and were told that’s whats going to happen snd this can happen in the middle East. We were stunned. We had our signed contracts soft and hard copies but it meant nothing and so began the mental torture and horrible experience which was to follow us all. We were shown massive disrrspect by the Principal and other Management and lied to often. The owner met with some of us but all our concerns ( we are honest very hard working people) fell on deaf ears.

    We had already handed in our passports and the medical process had started. We were treated appallingly and degraded. Passports not kept onsite and lied to about whereabouts. The Ministey didn’t have passports for long yet ours were held on to for months. After huge heated arguments some got their passport back in late November. Plus all classrooms had audio record and cameras revording every single teacher. The offuces had audio record also when called to meetings. Friends and witnesses (colleagues were not allowed into such meetings and it was slways their lying words against yours. We were not offered or allowed copies of audio. Staff are hired especially to monitor teachers methodologies of teaching and if the mgt did not like the style of differentiation or teaching methods for example we were fined and forced to have deductions on our wages and brought by adm to meetings where we were ridiculed snd belittled.

    We boarded our bus at 6am. we were to be at briefing at 6.50am daily. We were expected to teach and work 7am to 5pm with a half hour break only and not a 3pm finish in our original contracts signed before arrival in Doha. At interview even verbally we were told the terms and conditions, yet all changed after we arrived.

    We had to do extra curricular unpaid work 3pm to 5pm. Extra tuition unpsid, corridor duties, mind and supervise kids during extra curriculars no one wanted to do.Our signed contracts were not honoured and were rubbished when we questioned it. Terms and conditions were simply not honoured and we were bullied. World Teachers will not recruit for this
    ‘ Taleb’ owned school ‘ The Cambridge International School for Girls or its mixed sister school TCS in Doha no more as a result of the appauling treatment we received. Guardian don’t want to recruit for them.

    It was late November when I got my passport back. I and others had no choice but to leave. We had hoops and arguments and bisits to head office to try get it back. Our villa was not as promised either in our contract. 3 to an apartment instead of 2. There were a litany of things to obey and curfews if a friend called to visit for a cupa of tea. Passports were demanded off them. zthey had to sign in and out. Many had no access to getting our passports back even when requested. Some demanded yet were lied to and told the ministey had the passports when infact adm staff admitted Taleb held on to passports so teachers would not leave after they arrived. We had checked the ministry and they did not have them.

    Taleb also owns ‘TCS’ secondary school in Doha too. I believe from Asian friends still teaching there that another school in Whakra is being opened by Taleb and a construction worker died there. Taleb has construction companies too.

    I am 40 years of age and what I saw there is not typical of what my many friends and cousins experienced teaching in international and IB schools in UAE and Qatar in other schools in Doha, Oman, Abu Dhabi and Dubai experience or experienced. There were fabulous really experienced teachers recruited, and we were trying like us all to reason with mgt in a mature reasonable and professional way. Parents noted with more British, Irish Canadian english speaking teachers from the west the UK curriculum was indeed being reinforced as requested by parents and grades improved as did learning for their children. Yet staff were treated so poorly and unfairly. Parents knew too what was happening to us from kids saying what they saw. We had daily senior staff interrupting and it was not yoir typical senior leadership learning walks. Some parents complained on our behalf to the Qatar ministry. Two muslim British teachers from our school ( British A level teachers) went to court against Taleb. They were verbally threatended by him when they met him. He had a travel ban imposed on them through the courts for not teaching under his new longer and ever changing and imposing changes to teacher contracts. They had their british passports taken off them for months. They had no pay and really are now really scarred for life from their international teaching experience at the Cambridge International School for girls. When all the secondary school new staff got out of there late November ( those of us who had jobs and support to go home) QNSA came in saw major failings on mgt and the school in secondary level after seeing for themselves cameras audio record and other things. I have never in all my life saw such hurt done to human beings and mental and emotional abuse including targeted bullying.

    I met many in education locally socially in Doha including Principals of other International schools ( Brirish Principals etc). They knew ‘Taleb’ owned schools had a terrible reputation for its treatment of all staff in education and construction. Please please re consider advertising for Cambridge International school for girls. We were bullied and lied to daily and it is with deep regret I see the school actively seeking qualified teachers from a stellar UK website such as yours. I appeal for you to not put any more qualified experienced teachers go through what we went through after our arrival in Doha last August.

    Shame on Taleb.


  8. Anonymous says:

    While I worked at a school that breeched the contract on 5 major points, I also found it to be a valuable situation in the end. Of course, the beginning was hard, but when I learned that contracts could be changed at will, I also realized that they could be changed both ways. I learned how to be firm and stand my grounds and at the same time communicate in ways to get what I wanted. I negotiated extra paid time off, extra classroom material, extra support for class projects, and in the end they even offered me a department head position. Of course, it only worked because I worked really well and they were extremely happy with my teaching. So my advice to people who get in the same situation (cheating school) is play their games to your advantage. See it that way: if they changed your contract, it means you can change your contract too.


  9. Anonymous says:

    One school I taught in the mid year tried changing the policies related to salary and benefits. Few teachers hired a lawyer and finally it was solved out of court as school didn’t wanted to spend more. They don’t give any increment even when one renew the contract after completing the 2 year contract.


  10. Anonymous says:

    My feeling is, if I get screwed on a contract then I just sit in the classroom and let the students play games, then give them all A’s. I don’t work for free. It is a simple solution.


    • AnotherTeacher says:

      I feel your pain. Unfortunately, the victim is some poor little kid who has been put in your class probably by a nieve parent who may or may not be placing all their efforts into their child’s education.

      Unfortunately, the people causing the problem do not get hurt by this. I wish they did.



  11. kaduzy says:

    This is funny! Has a school ever failed to honor its contract??? Only EVERY SINGLE TIME. I’ve NEVER taught at a school that didn’t renege on at least one major part of the contract. I’ve had to report two different employers to the labor board in Korea (and only stopped doing it with my last two employers there because they were so ineffective), had to hire a lawyer in Albania to pressure the school for me, and then hired another one in Poland where we actually filed an action in court and got a judge to agree that they were at fault, and issue an official order for the school to pay me what they owe me. Still waiting for them to actually follow the order. And the worst part is that in EVERY case, the school could have easily complied — the amounts of money under dispute would have been easy for them to pay. But no, they’d rather be assholes.


  12. loveteaching says:

    My school now has changed my contract half way through a 2 yr contract. Without warning. No annual payrise in line with cost of living, although contract clearly states so. Other staff received payrises as usual….

    They now withold our June, July, Aug salaries till Sept. No payslip has ever been given in my time there, to see what my gross salary is. Have asked continually, as it is stated in the contract it would be given….

    (I should have learnt, from an earlier incident wherr teaching job was advertised & an expat living locally applied. They were told there would be NO salary, just free schooling for a child! They have since given the job to an overseas hire with full salary!……)

    As usual, the school website looks wonderful & convincing……hum haa. We take the risk – we pay the price…


    • Anonymous says:

      There is such an in balance of power in favour of the owners or directors of these schools overseas and that’s why I decided to return home and work locally where at least I get respect and their word means something. International is ok if you have no worries like student loans, kids and spouse, but it is doggy when you have other concerns and you can’t just leave.


  13. A.H. says:

    Schools need to be held accountable. Sometimes they get so bold, they don’t follow the countries labor laws and intimidate teachers with either no pay, breaking of contract or other. This is shameful as I’ve worked in 3 international schools and 2 of them were acting in this manner.


    • Anonymous says:

      Well, maybe we need to start a forum of the labour laws for each country so that teachers have somewhere to go and can read about their rights.


  14. omgarsenal says:

    I was terminated during the summer vacation because I did m y job as college counselor but the owner disagreed with how I invited foreign colleges to visit the kids and the school!


  15. Anonymous says:

    I actually just went through this with a local school district in the United States! I was supposed to pilot a new program and was promised a number of things to get the program started, plus a moving cost reimbursement (my costs for moving here were very substantial). I ended up not only having to shoulder moving cost in their entirety, but also had very large classroom expenses. Plus the program was not continued on.


  16. Just finished working in a school in Kuwait where they halved my salary, exceeded my workload, started deducting for “days missed” when I have never even taken a sick day. My airfare reimbursement was only half of what a flight home costs. Please, please do your research!!!


  17. Anonymous says:

    Worked at a school in Kiev. Housing was terrible. Had to live in a 3rd world, crumbling, soviet built building. Avoid at all costs.


  18. Don't Work in Mexico says:

    Yes, just left a school in Mexico, lured with International Contract, then Mexican laws change that. No Medical at all, two salaries to cheat government on tax, flights not honored. Visas not sorted, holiday for July not paid


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