International Schools in China and teacher turnover: The need for a more nuanced approach towards precarity reflecting agency

Tristan Bunnell, Adam Poole

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Abstract

The under-theorized arena of “English-speaking International Schooling” continues to grow and morph. The continuous growth seems paradoxical in light of the well-established view that the arena is an insecure and precarious working environment characterized by short-term contracts and subsequent high rates of annual turnover per school. We investigate this paradoxical situation in Asia Pacific, where a newer and large body of “Non-Traditional” models are beginning to appear. Here we ask: “what coping strategies do teachers adopt to survive, and even thrive on, the precarity as experienced by the short term contract?”. Our study of three teachers in the under-researched arena of “Chinese Internationalised Schools” in Mainland China reveals and explores how they plan their transitions both within and from school-to-school strategically, taking advantage of insecurity and precarity rather than merely being the victims of it. We develop a new concept of “transition capital”, which encompasses a newer, more nuanced approach, imagining the social reality of being a teacher as being a mixture of both an isolated “global educational precariat” and a member of a privileged “global middle class”, with much agency. Turnover offers an accumulation of resilience through experiences, which in turn are empowering and advantageous in the long-run.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Education
Early online date18 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Jun 2021

Keywords

  • China
  • international schools
  • precarity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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