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Gems of wisdom and pearls of advice from teachers who recently moved to the UK

04/06/2007 Joanna

This month I had the idea of providing words of advice direct from the teachers who have arrived here in the last few months.  So, here are a few gems of wisdom, pearls of advice, things that they wish they had been told when they were in your shoes! 



  • To bring originals or certified copies of documents the agencies need, plus extra copies of all my important documents. (Also leave a copy back home with Mum!)
  • I wish I had signed with a limited company before I left home
  • That you will need to have an address in the UK before you can open a bank account but apart from that its not too difficult to open one
  • I wish I knew how helpful Teaching Personnel would be and I wouldn't have been so worried/ nervous
  • I wish I knew, it's hard to buy food for lunch at most schools because of swipe card or finger print systems
  • That if London is not for you then there is plenty of work and other places in the UK to consider


  • If you can afford it take some time before you start working to do some sightseeing and get to know the public transport system (in London don’t just rely on the tube – learn about buses and the overland trains)
  • Getting lost is inevitable.  There aren’t street signposts, rather they are on the WALL, high up on buildings, or on fences on the corner... weird but handy to know!
  • Allow an extra half an hour to get places if you don't know where you are going ... just trust me on this one
  • Buy a Street Atlas immediately.  Use map websites eg: 
  • For London use the Transport for London website and by the newest edition of the A to Z! in the A5 binder size 
  • Carry your A to Z everywhere
  • In London budget about £40 a week for a travel card. If doing supply work, you will be travelling in Zones 1 - 6 so it’s the best value.  You need a passport photo for this.  OYSTER is the cheapest way to buy single train and bus fares. 
  • Out of London you’ll need to budget about £10-20 per week on travel.
  • Carry an umbrella in your bag.

    • Go with your gut instinct.
    • Network!  Ask all your contacts if they know of people who need a house mate.
    • Get a friend or someone at the agency to print out a map of the Tube and highlight the areas you should and shouldn’t consider living in. It might be their personal preference, but this information quite invaluable especially for females house hunting alone.
    • Expect to see lots of houses and don't just rely on one coming through, often housemates will leave you hanging while they see other people, honestly, its like speed dating.   

      • Load up a photo album / use your phone / Facebook etc with your favourite pictures. Remember you have loads of people at home who love you and miss you.  Talk about it – you’re not the only person going through all of this!


      • Go to events put on by your teaching agency, its a great way to meet other teachers. I know this one is slightly obvious but seriously!  London in particular can be quite anonymous so make use of what social networks you can.
      • Never refuse an invitation. Put yourself out there and say “I’d be up for that”. 
      • Network! Exchange numbers with people, ask them for their number, keep in contact, even if it’s just a text.

      Thanks to Ange, Amy, Hayley, Julie, Christine and Kelly – the major contributors!  We all hope that you find this useful while preparing to make the move to the UK.


      Kathy Elvin

      International Team Leader

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