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International schools in the Middle East currently employ the highest percentage of Western teachers in the world at 86% of all full time staff. In the leading international schools in the Middle East, the number of Western teaching staff increases to 92%, predominantly from the United Kingdom and North America.

The data was presented by Richard Gaskell, Director for International Schools, The International Schools Consultancy at the ongoing International Private Schools Education Forum (IPSEF) Middle East conference taking place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

According to Gaskell, the global international schools market is growing at pace. At the end of the last academic year (2015 – 2016), international schools around the world were employing a total of 417,000 full time teaching staff. Within five years (by 2021), ISC Research predicts there will be a need for 613,000 teachers.

“If international school standards are to remain high, justifying the school fees and maintaining the high demand for school places, this will require the employment of teachers who have the skills and experience to teach globally recognised curricula such as the National Curriculum of England, the International Baccalaureate and American curricula,” Gaskell explained.

In the UAE, which currently has 589 English-medium international schools across the pre-school, primary and secondary school levels, the teaching staff are dominated by the British at 49%, followed by those from North America at 15%. The rest are made up of teaching staff from Australia or New Zealand (5%), other European (7%) and local/Arab expats (less than 1%).

“In addition to staffing, another major challenge confronting international school operators is the continuing uncertainty in the oil price situation. “Some of these schools are being impacted by the world’s oil and gas slump as a significant number of families employed by the sector and in related industries have not returned to expatriate postings following the long summer holidays,” said Mark Roelofsen, Co-Founder, IPSEF.

To address this challenge, many schools have had to cut back on staffing, have stepped up admission marketing efforts and going through their existing wait-lists.

– IPSEF 2016 Media