Holding Teachers’ Careers Hostage

When school directors write to ISR asking us to remove a specific Review from the web site, they often try to severely discredit the individual they believe wrote the Review in question. They obviously feel their poor opinion of a suspect teacher should be cause enough to eradicate a Review from ISR, an attitude that speaks volumes.

In response to these emails, ISR explains: “From your position as school Director things may look quite different than from the perspective of a member of your teaching staff.'” We then stress that, “Not everyone has the same experience at your school. Everyone is entitled to share the truth as they know it.”

Soon realizing that discrediting a suspect teacher will not yield their desired results, some (most?) directors quickly resort to threatening ISR with legal action. These individuals treat ISR in the same bullying manner portrayed in the Reviews to which they object.

A Disturbing Trend

In an underhanded attempt to get Reviews removed from ISR, some directors are now refusing to write teachers Letters of Reference until specific Reviews are, in their words, “taken down.” Essentially, an administrator tells a teacher (or teachers), “We know one of you wrote the review.” Get it removed and we’ll then write your Letters of Reference.” Some directors have even gone so far as to refuse to verify employment!! ISR condemns this and believes it amounts to holding teachers’ careers hostage. 

Apparently, just how low some directors will go to squelch dissenting voices is yet to be seen. You can rest assured, however, if you are the author of a school Review that’s upsetting your school director, no one, not even ISR, knows you wrote it, unless you say so. Don’t be fooled by school personnel and/or their attorneys who will say and do anything to get a ‘confession.’

Fortunately, not all directors who disagree with a Review of themselves or their school will resort to holding teachers’ careers hostage. Most are in favor of ISR, support free speech and use information gleaned from Reviews to improve their schools. These school directors normally write to ask us what steps they can take to publicly contest a Review. ISR salutes these schools!!! THESE are the schools we’d all like to work for!


42 Responses to Holding Teachers’ Careers Hostage

  1. Max Power says:

    I really appreciate this post, but one thing bothers me a bit. You write: “You can rest assured, however, if you are the author of a school Review that’s upsetting your school director, no one, not even ISR, knows you wrote it.”

    It’s much harder to feel confident in that anonymity when your credit card is attached to your account. I suppose a reviewer could go to the trouble of setting up another account and using another IP address (or a VPN) when submitting a review, but how many do that? And I know, I know, ISR feels it had to set up a paywall to insulate itself from legal claims. I’ve read the rationale, and I feel much less offended by the paywall than I did before. I’m willing to give the folks at ISR the benefit of the doubt that they truly felt charging $29 for access to this important information was a reasonable way to head off litigation.

    But even that “reasonable way” plays into the hands of the bad actors who are trying to intimidate teachers and ISR. It accomplishes their goal of keeping negative information off the open web. It means that, to the overwhelming majority of potential teachers, those negative reviews will never be seen.


  2. shaina2 says:

    Thanks a ton to ISR for publishing the truth! You guys are doing a terrific job! Please keep it up! We need someone like you to tell the truth. Kudos!


  3. shaina2 says:

    All touts of the industry who pretend to be employment agencies should not be trusted because that’s who they are – touts. They have no place in education.


  4. Anonymous says:

    Wow! What have we become? Some of us are old enough to remember when International Schools and International School Teachers were held with such high regard and integrity. Judging by this article and subsequent thread …those days may be behind us.


  5. IB_Educator says:

    My true experience with ISR (and I believe this is also true with most members) is that what I have read from potential schools, current school and previous schools that I have worked for are almost 100% correct.
    I am yet to find a forum out there that matches ISR: that is the TRUTH according to me!

    … even Search Associates, with its reputation as one of the best recruiting agencies will not tell you about a school with open details as ISR does.


    • Anon says:

      Ah but sometimes it is hard deciding what is fact and what is fiction. There are some crazy and rabid teachers out there amongst those of us who are normal and hard working!


    • dismasdolben says:

      My experience with Search Associates is that they NEVER tell you what is the truth about any school. They do not represent teachers; they represent schools, and some of the schools they represent are guilty of fraud and what the Ib calls “malpractice.”

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Leona Greenlaw says:

    If I were still in the international teaching field, I would list my tenure at that specific school in my resume, followed by a simple statement that “The headmaster of this school is currently withholding letters of reference for all departing teachers pending the identification of the [1, 2, 3, 4,…] negative evaluations posted from contributors to ISR.” Give your future headmaster credit! They all know who the hotheads and bad behavers are!


  7. Anon says:

    Unscrupulous recruitment agencies should be named and shamed – never mind Search, Teach Anywhere represents some really dodgy schools and only cares about the commission.


  8. Ally says:

    Of course schools shouldn’t hold teacher’s careers “hostage.” However, on the other hand, there are some “teachers” who give international teaching a bad name with their behavior and who also make personal and unsubstantiated attacks on their heads of school. I have worked with colleagues who come in late, refuse to do lesson planning and take lots of sick days. If they get called on it then they write a negative review on ISR. This makes the rest of us look bad and one teacher’s bad behavior ends up with consequences for those of us who do the job professionally. Perhaps some teachers get what they deserve!


  9. Jiminy Cricket says:

    This despicable conduct demonstrates the effect International Schools Review is having. Yes, any director who seeks to have a post removed because it wasn’t particularly favourable should be exposed. Name names. Perhaps it is a prudent policy to herald such a practice beforehand. Now that it is known that such conduct exists, there should be nothing to prevent ISR from announcing the consequences.


  10. Anonymous says:

    Search gets much more money from the schools when they place teachers as compared to the teachers’ fee. They will always side with their pockets which are becoming deeper as their integrity lowers at every chance of monetary gain. Sad state of affairs with bullies and huge ego managers at the helm of school.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Honesty says:

    I do believe that ISR gives a teacher, looking for a prospective job in the international field, a “picture”of what they are heading for. If all these pictures are clearly depicting a climate of corruption, untruths and manipulation in a particular school or expose the school in a negative light and when these reviews are coming from several teachers… WHY then – DO SO CALLED REPUTABLE RECRUITMENT COMPANIES LIKE “SEARCH” continue to support these schools? Why then does a reputable company such as SEARCH, at an internatiional job fair, house and represent such dispicable schools? Yes I know, and you know, it is for monetary gain. Is this not exploitation of the unknowing teacher? We put our trust in these reputable recruitment companies if your job did go through one of them. Should they not be there to support that particular teacher who is having a problem trying to get a reference? It has been known that a company like SEARCH, instead of supporting such a teacher where the clauses of a contract have not been fulfilled, rather goes to the extent of blacklisting and archiving a teacher! So because of lack of support from such a recruitment agency the teacher goes on to break contract… as a consequence, you write a negative review about that particular school. But what of the recruitment company? They get off free! Not even receiving a bad review from ISR. I wonder how we can make teachers aware of this?? To tell the truth, the international school business has become exactly that! A Business! Cut throat! With very few people left having honesty and integrity. And this we teach and portray to our students? What does the future look like?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Anon says:

    I agree with commenters above. If schools really do threaten you (or their teachers), you should publish their names so we know to avoid them. I do think teachers should be allowed to edit their comments though – I once wrote a review and wanted to change something legitimately but got no response on how to do that.


  13. Anonymous says:

    I have only asked one principal for a letter of reference. I didn’t trust anyone else. I usually ask friends to write reviews for me. Works every time. I even ask friends to call my current / recent prinipcal pretending to be a potential future prinicpal for a review. If they get a negative review they let me know and I then avoid even mentioning that person. There is always a way around a problem.


    • Anon says:

      No reference from the Principal is a serious safeguarding issue. I have know people who were given bad references by a Principal still get jobs, but the principal ticked the box that there were no known safeguarding issues. Any school that accepts a teacher without proper safeguarding checks is a school I would never work for. And I know one that claims to be first tier that is in that category.


      • Laitf says:

        Is a reference from a principal indicative of there being no safeguarding issues? No, it is not. Safeguarding is done by the appropriate police checks! My experience of ‘International’ teaching has been extremely negative when it comes to the principles of the principals. I recruit through word of mouth. I tend to trust the judgement/views of people I know rather than of people I don’t. I certainly wouldn’t trust the view/judgement of the vast majority of international principals I have come across, who, IMHO, are unscrupulous and are, I do not mince my words, out and out liars.


      • Honesty says:

        And Anon why don’t you then expose this school? Why don’t you warn other teachers?


  14. Anonymous says:

    The truth is that many directors are given so much credit for being amazing but frankly they have the world fooled because the people who get taken in by them never actually see what goes on in the actual school. When the accreditation team comes its all a show and best behavior. No one really sees are the directors really kosher or are they just enjoying the perks and travelling business class ? These are questions which comes to one’s mind but in certain countries where the colonial mentality still exists a foreigner can never do wrong. Teachers are reluctant to post the truth as they are scared and job security is important.
    Some schools really need to be checked and when a superintendent stays in a school for over 30 years you can see that that change is scary and the looting continues!


    • Anonymous says:

      Have you experienced CIS accreditation by any chance? In the past 5 years? They ask all the stakeholders about the administration. Trust me, if you got a shady head of school, someone will say something to CIS. I think there is probably a question about the admin in the CIS survey that all schools now have to do as part of their self study. The problem is, CIS can’t really do anything if the Head is doing their job. If the standards are being met, they can only make recommendations. If the board or owner loves the Head, what can CIS or any of the other accrediting bodies do? Nothing.

      That’s why we have ISR. As someone who has been on an accreditation team, I find it a bit of misinformation that they can do something about a head that is shady. They can’t.


      • Grace Tracey says:

        Same is true for IB accreditation – IBO cannot act on direct complaints about teachers’ salaries, directors or principals misbehaving BUT these malpractices will normally manifest themselves in other areas that IB directly looks into like meeting curriculum requirements and school organisation structure, THOUGH a cunning director can very well cover his/her tracks – that is why some teachers here are saying that during these visits, it is ‘show time’.


  15. Anonymous says:

    Letters of Reference are not required in law. It may be practice that many employers follow but season professionals will always find work in the current market.


  16. omgarsenal says:

    An excellent review of how far some low-life directors will go to try and block any dissent or criticism of their institutions and themselves. I believe you should publish their identities and schools on ISR and shame them for their duplicity, bullying and hollow threats. They may live in a country where free speech is at a premium and their egos are so fragile that they cannot tolerate even the slightest shade of honesty, but most ex-pats are citizens of true democracies and hold freedom of speech and assembly as core personal values, not to be trampled by feudal directors. Keep up the good work ISR.

    Liked by 1 person

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