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Induction Overview

The period of time from when an applicant first notices your school to them being settled in both your school and your location.

The need for an excellent induction

Today there are over 11,000 international schools worldwide with almost half a million teachers employed (iscresearch.com). From my research the average time a teacher stays at an international school is 3.1 years which begs the question, is there a way to increase the length of stay of an expatriate teacher, bearing in mind the cost, and effort it takes to recruit, train and embed a teacher within a school’s philosophy? Research also states that it takes up to five years for an individual to become an expert in their current position.


From my own personal research interviewing 190 teachers from international schools around the world, they stated: 

“…had basically no induction programme nor effective systems in place. Felt no real connection with the school nor city and its people.”

“…having a school takes time to make you feel at home can only benefit the education of the children in the College. A happy and secure teacher is a good teacher!”

“It helped me to feel comfortable in my first year, which then led to me staying longer.”

“The induction programme is a reflection of the values of the school.”

“Fundamental, it sets out the stall! First impressions count so much.”

“Feeling settled in both home and school is essential to retain staff for another contract.

Further Research

• 573,000 international school teachers, 6 million students in 11,895 schools worldwide (October 2020 – ISC Research – https://www.iscresearch.com).

  On average an international teacher will move every 3.1 years. 

•  Strong correlation between inadequate induction and early leavers. 

‘ … ignoring the challenges of mobility across cultures leads to real human suffering.’ – David Pollock in his book ‘Third Culture Kids.’

‘ … it takes six months for an individual to ‘pack up their heart’ and a further six month to ‘unpack their heart’ – Douglas Ota in his book ‘Safe Passage‘. 

•  Douglas Ota also compares leaving a school, colleagues and friends to grief. 

•  John Hattie notes in his book Visible Learning that ‘… mobility is neither good nor bad; it is just a massive challenge.’

• Research states that within the first six months of their international school, new staff will make up their mind if they will be starting beyond their first contract. Furthermore, research on first impressions indicates a strong link between an inadequate induction with early leavers.

• International schools are a melting pot of cultures, past training, and teaching styles which can often be contradictory and often leads to friction within the school.

• Culture/Country shock is a very real barrier to success in expatriate moves.

• School’s Costs – Recruitment and moving costs, lost opportunity, damaged reputation, reduced productivity, low morale, destroying team ethics, time console if unhappy upon arrival, or to fix disruption.

A calculation of costs to recruit a new teacher without any family at my current school is estimated to be around £48,300. 

• Teacher’s Own Costs: personal/family, financial, professional, emotional, career, self-esteem, marriage.

Current Induction Practices

From my research, 50.6% of all respondents rated their induction 4 or less out of 10 and only 6.3% noted it being 9 or 10. 

When asked how important a well-planned and executed induction programme was 72.7% rated it’s importance 8 or more out of 10, with 28.4% rating it a full 10 out of 10 to them feeling valued as a member of the school. 

It must be said there are some great induction programmes around the world but sadly this is a lot less frequent that I would have hoped. 

Why is this the case? There are many reasons such as the lack of time, to the lack of understanding of how important this managing of new hires wellbeing is. Let’s not pretend that doing a well-planned and thorough induction is not a big-undertaking! However, the results, from experience and the people I have spoken to, are incredible if done well. Also, schools often feel that induction events cost a lot of money. You will see that you do not actually need to necessarily spend any more on induction if you do not wish to. Finally, too many schools and leaders see induction as somebody else’s or HR’s job. 

Hopefully, this website will help you see that this is manageable and a little effort will go a very long way for your new staff and to build a strong learning culture at your school. 

Settling Staff into their new role effectively

From my research of 190 internationally experienced teachers, literature around induction from both the educational and corporate field, and my own experience, we have devised a simple to use plan that can be implemented in any school, in any country in any part of the world.

Each stage is mapped out into six separate parts as you can see below:

 Stage 1 – Planning (September)*

  • Induction Planning
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Mid-Year Inductions
  • Communication, Communication, Communication
Stage 2 – Application Process
  • Safeguarding
  • Job Advert
  • Personalisation
  • Interviews
  • Information Sharing
Stage 3 – Offers
  • Reject Kindly
  • Plan of Arrival
  • 10 Areas of Induction
  • What teachers want to know before arrival
  • Planning for Arrival 
  • Culture Shock
Stage 4 – Staff Arrival 
  • Arrivals  – Airport / Accommodation / School
  • Social Events
Stage 5 – First Term
  • NQT Feeling
  • Settled and Competent
  • Check-Ins’ – Formal and Informal
  • Teamwork
  • Failing Teachers
  • Evaluate your Induction
  • Next Year! 
Stage 6 – End of the Academic Year
  • Settled and Complete?
  • End of year survey
  • Take a break! 
 * September would be for northern hemisphere timetables – within the second month of your new school year in all other timetables.

Do not see induction as a ‘HR thing.; Induction and how well new staff settle into your school is a whole school thing.