Director Writes Own Review, Then Asks ISR Why He’s Named as Author

October 11, 2018

After writing and submitting a glowing Review of his school, Bill Fishbone, school Director, panicked. “Why is my name visible at the top of my Review? This isn’t good!”

Believing ISR had taken the liberty of designating him as the author of his own Review, Bill wrote to ISR: “Hey guys! I thought all reviews were submitted anonymously. Why is my name included with the review I wrote?”

All ISR Reviews ARE submitted anonymously and ISR guarantees your anonymity. Bill, however, deeply immersed in attempting to lure teachers to his sub-par school, didn’t realize his name appeared simply because he is the Director named in the Review, and not because he wrote it. Bill had revealed his true colors, true to Comments made about him in previous Reviews.


Bill Fishbone is not his real name, of course, but the incident is entirely real. Fortunately, ISR has a warning system in place for the Bill Fishbones of the International teaching world. When you see the words Who Wrote This Review? you can be sure something ain’t right and that further investigation on your part is in order. (Click link for more information)

Occasionally a teacher will write ISR to ask: “Why are so many directors writing reviews of their schools?”  We then explain that the Director’s name appears next to the dates covered because they are the named administrator in charge during the period covered by the Review. We thought it was obvious, but maybe not.

To avoid further confusion, we decided to clarify the meaning of data that appears along with ISR School Reviews. To do so we created a page that we hope explains everything. See our Guide to Reading School Reviews

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Gag Order: Silence Isn’t Golden at Our School

October 4, 2018

At Monday’s faculty meeting our school director gave us his anticipated, well-worn pep talk on what a great school we have and how lucky we should feel to be here. He started off with the usual dribble we’ve come to expect from this “educational specialist” who doesn’t have a college education but money enough to own a “school.” Today’s discourse was, however, startlingly different.

He stressed that, our school supports freedom of speech. And yes, the school encourages teachers to speak the truth, but NO!… not on ISR…..which he claimed is nothing more than a pack of lies from disgruntled losers. He went on to warn us that teachers suspected of reviewing our wonderful bastion of learning on ISR would be fired and duly prosecuted to the full extent that the laws of the country provide. End of discussion!! He had imposed a gag order. My hunch was a new review of the school had been posted.

When I joined ISR some years ago I was perplexed why various schools had reviews no more recent than three or four years back. Why hadn’t more up-to-date reviews been posted? Did things suddenly get better? Unhappy teachers do tend to be more motivated to post reviews than contented teachers. After Friday’s faculty meeting I’m certain that when reviews of a school suddenly stop, it may be a sign something is wrong. Thirty-two reviews and then Nothing? I get it now!

I’m gearing up to go recruiting this recruiting season and leave this “school” behind. I’m tired of rich parents who negotiate top grades for their lazy kids. I’m tired of being considered another form of servant by students/parents and admin. Most of all, I don’t like compromising my sense of right and wrong for a paycheck. Will I be posting a review? You can bet I will, when I’m safely away.


Keeping quiet for now

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New Head Asks Teachers to Evaluate Colleagues

August 23, 2018

The following comments recently appeared on the ISR Open Forum. We find the content worrisome and thought to share these comments with the greater International Schools Review Community. Your reaction is invited.

(From the ISR Open Forum)

Identifying Good Teachers & Bad Teachers

by Doctor » Wed Jun 20, 2018 7:48 pm

“I would like to get some feedback from other IS teachers about a question our new head of school has asked.

I’m working at a school in Asia which has been going through some turmoil over the last 2 years. We have gone through 3 heads, and a new head has been appointed for this school year. We are losing students and the projection is that only 75% of our current student body will be returning.

Even before his tenure began, the new head of school paid a visit to the school. He met with the foreign-hire staff and asked us to respond to 2 questions:

Q1. What is good about the school and what is bad about the school?
Q2. Name 3 teachers whom have had a positive effect on the school and name 3 teachers who have not lived up to expectations.

I’d like feedback on the second part of the second question.

I should add, other than that question, everything about the new head is fine: experienced, articulate, professional, but the “name 3 bad teachers” question is really worrying me especially since this is a country that takes all contracts with a grain of salt. It honestly seems inappropriate and the beginnings of a witch hunt.”

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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?

Take our Short Survey


Select one:

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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