Escaping the fire for the frying-pan? British teachers entering International Schooling

Tristan Bunnell, Adam Poole

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The arena of ‘English-Speaking International Schooling’ continues to grow, reaching almost 12,000 schools in 2020. The growing teaching arena attracts 30,000 new entrants each year and continues to be dominated by British-trained teachers. Little is actually known about the motives or subsequent experiences of this body. However, the narrative about this ‘brain-drain’ tends to be negative and condescending, referring to teachers ‘fleeing’ Britain and ‘escaping’ neoliberal performativity and accountability, and finding ‘refuge’ overseas. The reality is that many may enter an equally difficult, insecure, and precarious environment. This paper explores the emergent terrain and shows how it has changed over time, revealing the reality of teaching in a new arena of profit-driven activity in mainland China, aimed mainly at local Chinese parents. A resultant new narrative is proposed, based upon positive notions of ‘resistance’ and ‘self-care’, which helps to explain why the exodus tends (at present) to be largely one-way.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)675-692
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Studies
Issue number6
Early online date27 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2021


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