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

July 19, 2018

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?

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Select one or more:

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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

Hired Without Even a Phone Call

June 21, 2018

   Hello ISR, I don’t know if this is a scam or the real deal. Days ago I received an email from a school in the UAE. The message, with attached teaching contract, informed me I had been approved for a teaching position. The email states: “There’s no need for an interview because your qualifications, as posted on a recruitment website, all check out.

   Accompanying the contract is a request for me to contact a specific UAE-based travel agent to start the Visa process. I did, and received a list of fees that must be paid so they can proceed with my relocating. I called the HR department (from the school’s website) and was told that this is the new procedure. They promised to refund all fees paid and said they’ve previously wasted a lot of money on processing work Visas, only to have the person not arrive. I have never before taken a position without an interview. What’s up with this? Do I believe their promises?

ISR Note: We searched the actual name of the school on Google and utilized their ‘Contact Us’ form in an effort to verify they are sending out Confirmation of Employment letters based solely on a candidate’s online resume. They have not responded to our request. 

We are unable to know: Is this a legitimate school or nothing more than a website designed to extract money from unuspecting candidates? As such, we have withheld the school name. We have, however,  posted the following correspondence received by the candidate, along with the country of location. If you are receiving such correspondences, proceed with caution!

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eMails from school to Candidate:

Name: (Candidate's name withheld)
Xyz School - U.A.E
Jun 3, 2018
Re: School Employment Contract

Dear ——

I am directed to inform you that the Board of Governors of the school have accepted and offered you an opportunity to work at Xyz School.

This is an Affirmation that your experience and qualifications were found successful and satisfactory to secure you the position. You require no telephone interview or further face-to-face interview.

Please find attached your Employment contract soft copy for your perusal and acceptance. Upon review and acceptance of this Contract Agreement Package, sign on the last page and send us the scanned copy of the Acceptance (last) Page.

As a new staff, you shall attend an orientation training Program for 7 days on arrival for work sign-on.

The orientation training program will avail you an opportunty to read and acquint [sic] with the school’s Mission Statement and Values, the staff handbook and your job description.

For the acquisition of your UAE Work/Residence Permit Papers to enable you to live and work in U.A.E., send the signed Copy of the Acceptance page to the Travel Agency by email. Also update us with the process between you and the Travel Agency in case of advice where necessary.

Ensure you provide them all required documents and fees promptly for the fastest process of securing the work permit papers.

Any Expenses you make in the process of registering your documents shall be refunded back to you immediately you [sic] submit your expenses report to us via email.

Be informed that once the process is completed your hard copies will be delivered to you through your postal address. Meanwhile, should you require more information, please feel free to contact us immediately.

Congratulations once more on your successful emergence!

Best Regards,


Mon, Jun 4

Dear —–

Please note that it remains our Official Policy that all Employees will incur the expenses for their Residence/Work Permits processing, as a proof of their seriousness and commitment to join our working team. The Company had to come up with this policy now, because, in the past, we have processed the Papers of Employees, who failed to turn up for work proper.

Also remember that any expense you make for the processing of your UAE Residence/Work Permit Papers shall be refunded back to you immediately you [sic] submit your expenses report/receipt to us via Email.

Meanwhile, I remind you that adequate arrangements has been made by us for your flight tickets, reimbursements and relocation allowances/benefits as soon as you complete the Processing of your Papers through the Travel Agency. 

Be guided accordingly, and do the needful!



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Too Bummed Out to Go Back – Need Advice

June 14, 2018

The miserable school I work for is in a hell-hole of a “city.” The school, director, parents, students, and everything about this place disgusts me. I’m feeling abused, angry, anxious, lied to, put upon, and, worse, have been clearly cheated$. I’ve about made up my mind not to go back after summer vacation. I took everything home with me that means anything to me. I came home with four, fat suitcases.

My distrust and hatred for this place started on day two when I was given a contract to sign in the local language. The government visa office (the school’s HR people said) would not accept an English language contract as proof of employment. Stupid me! When I received my first check I found a big deduction for electricity and rent! My original, recruiting fair contract said housing and utilities would be provided. Well, guess what? The local language contract says differently and that’s the only one that has any validity here. Damn!

From grade-fixing (to appease wealthy parents) to Xeroxing textbooks and bootlegging software, it’s an unrelenting assault on my professionalism. After I gave a “D” to a high school kid who rarely showed up to class I was told it was my fault — the kid said I was boring. It’s hard to find a student who feels worth my time to teach, honestly.

I contacted my recruiter who gave me some bull about how breaking contract would destroy my chances of getting an overseas position in the future. This guy should be arrested for human trafficking!

I posted a lengthy, truthful review of this school and now I’m afraid if I do go back they’ll accuse me of writing it. I could actually find myself in jail, when any number of teachers could write a very similar report. We’ve been texting as a group and we’re all thinking of not returning. We had to buy our own tickets home and they said they will reimburse us when we get back. Yeah, right…

Anyone have an experience like this? I could use some advice at this point.





Quirky Admin Agendas

May 24, 2018

Dear ISR, I’ve noticed that School Reviews from all corners of the globe occasionally include descriptions of Admins who get away with quirky practices that would easily be considered taboo, even illegal, in their countries of record.

Having been on the International School circuit for a while I am able to put admin faces to many of the stories I read in the school Reviews, despite never having been to the particular school being reviewed.

We have an athletics director at my current school, bizarrely a member of the SMT, who makes personal, directed attacks on teachers. He spies on them through the security cameras and reports them to the director for anything and everything he perceives to be out of the ordinary, all the while hiding behind the mantra of, “I’m doing it for the good of the school.”

Truth be known, our athletic director has a problem that requires treatment! The director, however, listens to this bully and allows him free rein, turning a blind eye to his open criticism of school staff on social media. At best this makes the director weak; at worst, complicit.

As teachers, we are on short-term contracts, in countries where we have no safety net and we often have our own children in the school. This makes us vulnerable. That such people can “hide out” and flourish in International Schools is unacceptable.

ISR School Reviews relate all sorts of strange things going on at various schools that would be deemed unacceptable/illegal in our homes of record. Is there a way, beyond writing Reviews, to make sure these people are exposed and their activities curbed? 

Many thanks for you attention to this matter,

(name withheld)

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Job doesn’t exist? Send me home!

May 17, 2018

s…Emergency staffing can be a fact of life for International Schools. It happens all the time. For example, a 5th Grade class that unexpectedly fills to over-capacity will dictate the addition of another 5th Grade teacher. Should not enough kids show up to fill a 2nd Grade class, the teacher recruited for that class may find themselves reassigned to the new 5th Grade. Whether or not they are qualified or willing to take the class is not up for debate.

Job reassignments as the result of unpredictable changes in staffing needs are unfortunate, yet understandable, since last-minute enrollments do happen. However, schools that knowingly employ bait & switch tactics to lure unsuspecting educators are unethical & to be avoided. More than a handful of teachers have related just such instances on ISR School Reviews.

Case in point:
(from the ISR Open Forum)

…”I was hired by a school in May via Skype for an administrative role. Upon arrival to the school I’ve been told this position does not exist, but I can teach Grade 2 instead. I don’t have credentials to teach Grade 2. I tried to negotiate to receive a professional allowance stipend for formal instruction/coursework on how to teach Grade 2 & they refused. They’re also refusing to reimburse me for the flights to get here, for the money I paid to obtain my visa, for nights spent in a hotel (the apartment they assigned me was inhospitable) & for a return flight back to my home country.

I’m on a tourist visa. The contract that I signed (which is not being honored) details OSH package benefits that they are now denying me. Example:  Contract says that the school will put me up in a hotel while housing is secured, but they went ahead & finalized housing that was inhospitable, without ever consulting with me & now don’t want to pay for a hotel..I did my part. I showed up to perform the role I signed a contract for. The job doesn’t exist. If I’m not needed, so be it, but then I should be sent back on the next flight out.

I cannot legally stay here & while there might be ESOL work here, I’m at a different point in my career. I seriously need some good advice!

ISR Recommends:

Most schools are well-intended & would never employ bait & switch tactics as a means to sign educators. If you do suspect something is “up,” or have reason (based on an ISR School Review) to be suspicious, you may want to take steps insure your safety. Adding a few lines to your Contract (before you/school sign) should do it. Here’s an example of what to add:

“If the position I am being hired to teach is no longer available upon my arrival, I reserve the right to accept reassignment or consider this contract null & void, at which time I will receive full compensation for all out-of-pocket expenses & a return flight to my home of record at the school’s expense.”

Not many schools would agree to this clause because staffing needs can & do change overnight. But you can learn a lot by watching & listening carefully to an interviewer’s reaction to the suggested clause. People with hidden agendas will respond differently than those who just want to leave an option open in case of emergency staffing needs. Use your best judgement & intuition to stay safe.

When in doubt, RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH & learn from those who have gone before you.

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UAE: Behind the Modernity

March 15, 2018

Planning to relocate to the UAE this upcoming school year? More than one expat has mistakenly allowed themselves to be lulled into believing the United Arab Emirates is a modern, progressive nation. Incredible architecture, modern roadways, world-class malls and high-line cars are all evocative of affluent, Western cities. 

But that may be where the comparison stops. Behind the mask of modernity, the UAE continues to adhere to a stultified, archaic system of laws that can entrap even the most savvy of travelers.

 Read on! These recent cases involving foreigners defy all logic and serve as a “heads up.” 

Teacher jailed for allegedly insulting the UAE on Facebook:  A British teacher has been locked-up in a vermin-infested jail in Abu Dhabi since October 2017. The charges? Writing an insult on Facebook. Christian Wilke, 39, was denied legal representation for 52 days after his arrest. At his hearing, conducted in Arabic, he was not told the charges against him and sentenced to one year in prison along with a stiff fine. He is reportedly being denied medical care and sufficient food. His mother fears for his life.

News articles about this case: 
British Teacher Jailed in UAE
British Teacher Sent to Hell Hole Jail in UAE

Man jailed in Dubai for WhatsApp message sent to crooked car dealer:  Yaseen Killick, 29, a British real estate agent, was jailed after sending a WhatsApp text message to the car dealer who sold him a car that broke-down just hours after driving off the lot: “How do you sleep at night knowing you’re ripping people off? I’ll see you in court.” This was enough to motivate the police to jail Yaseen as the dealer claimed he felt threatened.

News article about this case:
British Real Estate Agent Jailed After Messaging Car Dealer Who Sold Him a Lemon

British Woman Faces Jail in Dubai after Witnessing Bar Fight:  Asa Hutchinson, 21, an accounts manager for a global transport company, says she was not even there when a fight broke out between her friends and a man who was reportedly drunk. On their way out of the bar, Asa’s friends saw a man passed out on a bench. They took some selfies with the guy, who woke up and started throwing punches. It’s been reported that it is common in the United Arab Emirates for witnesses to be arrested and prosecuted just for being nearby.

News article about this case:
British Woman Faces Jail in Dubai

There’s More:  In September, a man was detained for ‘flipping the bird’ to another driver. In October a man was jailed for accidentally touching another man’s hip in a bar. In November a man was imprisoned for having smoked marijuana – before he had even arrived in Dubai. An expatriate couple was detained for 6 weeks for having sex outside of marriage.

You could take a hard stance and say all these people should have done their homework, learned the local customs and taken responsibility for themselves. Easier said than done. Some things are just unimaginable and beyond the foresight of a Westerner. Wherever in the world your next teaching assignment takes you, ISR recommend extensive research into the customs, traditions and laws.

More ISR Articles about problems for Westerners in the UAE:
Women, Rape and the Law in UAE
Collect on Everything a UAE School Owes You
Buying a Car Overseas Can Land You in Prison
Janitor at Al Rabeeh School Abu Dhabi Sentenced to Death

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ISR Private Messaging for Questions You Shouldn’t Ask at an Interview

February 15, 2018

private messaging iconYou’ve read the school Reviews. You’ve done your homework. Things look good…except for one lingering, personal concern about the school on your radar.

You could ask the school director at the conclusion of your interview, but questions of a very personal nature might taint a director’s otherwise positive opinion of you. Likewise, it’s probably not wise to confide in the school-appointed teacher who’s been selected to field candidates’ questions by email. After all, he/she was chosen for a ‘reason.’

When you don’t want to reveal more about yourself than you should, ISR’s Private Messaging Feature is the perfect alternativeHere’s a chance to connect with teachers who may have the answers, while maintaining complete anonymity.

Here’s How it Works: Log in as usual to the Member Area. Proceed to the Member Forum. Create an anonymous user name “on the fly” and introduce your topic. As other teachers join in you’ll see the option to Private message each individual. Click the PM icon and send a private message. That’s all there is to starting a secure, behind-the-scene conversation that only the two of you can see, all while remaining anonymous.

The ISR Member Forum with PM hosts thousands of topics covering any and all aspects of International Teaching. LGBTQ concerns, personal medical/medication needs, dating, being of color, and, of course, candid discussions about specific schools are just some of the topicas already in progress. You may be able to jump straight into Private Messaging with individuals already sharing information on topics of interest to you. GO to the ISR Member Forum


Note: ISR hosts two distinctly different Forums:

1.) The Open Forum:  The Open Forum is located in the non-member area of ISR. It does not support Private Messaging, posting on certain topics or sharing school Review information.

2.) The Member Forum with PM:  The Member Forum with Private Messaging is located within the Member area of ISR. It was specifically created so teachers could ask and share information on any and all topics in a secure environment. GO to the ISR Member Forum

Don’t Leave Your Career to Chance. International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed is what International Schools Review is All About!

GO to the ISR Member Forum