Arnaud and Clare Germain – Head of MFL and Year 6 Class teacher and Primary Science Co-ordinator
We have been teachers at the British School, Alexandria for two years now.
The school is a very pleasant place to work. Students are friendly, determined to gain high grades and want to learn. Opinions are listened to by Senior Management, initiatives are supported and there is a positive working atmosphere amongst staff. Resources are readily available, there are interactive whiteboards in each classroom and access to computers for the students. The curriculum is British based but with flexibility to adapt to local culture and to include an international perspective. Professional development is seen as important by the school both for staff themselves and also for the school as a whole.
Alexandria is steeped with culture and activities once you gain familiarity with the city. In the surrounding area of school accommodation there are numerous cafes, restaurants and gyms. Moving outside Kafr Abdou there is any amount of eateries at very affordable prices. Bars are dotted all around downtown Alexandria a short taxi ride away depending on congestion. If you world rather eat in and have a drink at home there is an online food (otlob) and drink (Drinkies) service.
There are several cinemas in town showing English language films including new releases. There are lots of restaurants and cafes offering a range of different food choices. Plenty of sporting/ musical activities are available for children within the community. There is also the Opera house/Sayed Darwish Theatre.
Perhaps the greatest leisure activity is the local Sporting club. In this oasis in the heart of the hustle and bustle of the city, you have access to an 18 hole golf course, numerous tennis courts and swimming pools, a running track and lots of subsidised eateries.
On Fridays members of the school also visit a hotel just outside of Alexandria. A bus is organised by the school at a very reasonable price. The result is a postcard view of the sea and numerous teachers topping up their tans, reading, swimming and playing different sports.
Childcare can be difficult to arrange if you want children looked after at home by an English speaking carer but there are many nurseries in the area for young children.
Travel within Egypt is reasonably priced and readily available. Kite surfing and diving/ snorkelling in the Red Sea, cultural visits around ancient temples and simply relaxing at the beach are all options.
Our apartments are very spacious and to a very high standard. We have three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a large living room, two balconies and a decent size kitchen. Bills are minimal and as a couple our monthly expenses would be roughly £50. It's only a short walk to school and the shops. There is no need for a car - taxis are readily available and cheap, the local tram is even cheaper.
The salary is great compared to cost of living and it is easy to save plenty of money. From a financial point of view you can easily save at least 75 - 80 % of your salary. The cost of living means you could enjoy dining in 5 star venues which would not be possible as a teacher in Europe.
Everyday life is made easier with restaurant and shopping home deliveries, ironing services and cleaners at very low cost compared to Europe.
Whilst there are cultural issues, local Egyptians are extremely friendly and caring people. The language is not a huge barrier as Egyptians really try to help westerners. However using limited Arabic will mean you will become an instant hit with the locals.
Finally the climate is much better than in the UK. Spring and Autumn are like Summer should be in the UK and although the Summer in Alexandria is probably too hot for most people’s liking, with a Summer holidays of 2 months, most staff are not around much in the Summer time.
Nichelle Jackson – Head of Senior School
I have worked in Alexandria for over 10 years and can say it is a fantastic experience. The students at the school are eager to learn, want to do well and rarely present any serious discipline problems. Students have a high standard of English and we aim for native speaker level – all students leaving the school will have achieved IGCSE First Language English. Small class sizes enable teachers to personalise learning and to get to know their students extremely well. In addition, in the English department we have the flexibility to formulate our own curriculum and to expand our creativity.
Life in Egypt can be challenging at times but it presents wonderful opportunities. As Alexandria is a much more manageable city than Cairo, one can really get to know the place well. There are many sightseeing opportunities, together with excellent fish restaurants and a number of bars. The school holidays enable teachers to travel to other parts of Egypt such as the archaeological sites of Luxor and Aswan, the oases of the Western Desert and the Sinai peninsula. In addition, Cairo is only a 2½ hour train ride away and is a host to far too many sights to mention!
Although Egypt is not for the faint-hearted, I would thoroughly recommend coming to live in Alexandria and to join our friendly and professional staff.
Aimee Evans – SENCO
Alexandria is a lovely place, which is very different from Britain. Alexandria is made up of different areas, which differ to shopping places, eating places or "ghettos" (the poorer parts). I live in the same area as the school which is Kafr Abdou, and it is considered the nicest, most afluen part, and is really nice in comparison to others. Life here is good, I don't feel like I miss out on anything major from home as there are cafés, shops, restaurants, bars and hotels to fill your free time, as well as the people you meet through the school. You have too many social gatherings to choose from! The place is busy, always full of people working and enjoying! There are certain things to follow when walking around Alex such as clothing but you are well informed and supported by the school in knowing this. There is a great support to help with the language differences too! I'm learning Arabic slowly on my own and am currently booking Arabic lessons through the school!
Arriving here was so easy. I was really nervous on the flight to be honest, but the school and agencies helped me a lot in this as they made sure I was travelling with someone else from the school, and it turned out 4 more people were on the flight and 2 existing teachers too! They talked us through arriving at the airport with our visas and customs and the Principal, actually met us at the airport. The people are so nice as they have been through the exact same thing as you previously and you are in a group of like-minded people, it makes things so much easier.
As I said, the social gatherings are great, however usually you need to make the effort and arrange them yourselves. It's been pretty easy for us as people here know the areas and what to do and we have used this info to explore ourselves. So far in the 6 weeks we have been here we have visited 2 hotels in the north coast weekly, had half term in Cairo, gone to bars and hotels in Alex, and been shopping down town! We also go locally to Kafr Abdou for food where there is lots to choose from - Thai, Lebanese, cafés and French!
I am teaching a reception class, called FS2 here, and they follow the same curriculum called Foundation Stage and in England. This is because it is a British school. It is very much the same, but honestly you need to adapt and make do with the resources you have as with any school you are in. It is difficult to receive post and deliveries here.
It was hard to leave my family and sister but as I had no other ties in Britain and am young, so I thought, "It's only 2 years and when am I going to have this experience again?" I found it the same as being away for University really. The school are very supportive in ensuring you have WIFI or access to internet to Skype friends and family so you don't really lose contact!
Honestly, there are some things that are difficult but the people and the kids in the school amongst other things make it worthwhile. I don't regret my decision to move here and never have and I don’t think I ever will!
Lisa Moley – Year 4 Teacher
On my initial arrival to Alexandria I found it to be a slight culture shock! Although I felt I had researched the area well and knew where I was going, you do not realise what Alexandria is like until you are here, in the flesh. The city is quite busy as expected but generally easy to get around with public and private taxi companies. With the price of taxis being inexpensive it means you can use them frequently unlike at home.
The social life in Alexandria is good as there are many different restaurants and bars to try and lots of different cuisines to sample. Most weekends are spent by the beach which is a nice luxury and again it doesn't cost a lot for luxuries like those you would get in Britain. There are also many shopping centres around Alexandria meaning you are never stuck for some retail therapy, especially in Carrefour where you can find all your traditional European clothes shops, a cinema and a great food court.
School life is good as the children are eager to learn and because of the smaller class sizes you learn so much more about individual children and their abilities. This gives you the ability to focus your teaching on certain children each day and on certain areas children need to develop in order to ensure clear progression each term. There is a friendly atmosphere around the school and nobody is afraid to help you no matter how big or small your problem is.
With being female I find I sometimes get unwanted attention on the streets from males. This can be frustrating but again this is something you get used to and once you know the area you will not find this to be a big problem. In terms of housing the flats are lovely once you take out all the Egyptian furnishings that tend to me slightly over the top. Then you can make it your home away from home.
Mala Nagulendran – Director of Digital Strategies
I currently live in Kafr Abdou, Alexandria, and I am in my third year at The British School. My apartment is close to school and I literally have a 5 minute walk to work in the morning. My daughter Ruby goes to Pre-Prep which is also en-route to work. For working mums and dads at the school there is the added advantage of a range of After School Activities and after school snack club, the usual drop off's and pick-ups are not such a worry as they might have been at home in London. All of this allows for some much needed quality time with family that for me, wasn’t possible elsewhere.
Whilst it can take a while to adjust for children (and parents) the extra-curricular activities on offer and the welcoming staff body, have eased that adjustment.
In terms of activities for children outside of school, when it is hot there are local hotels with lovely beaches and swimming facilities. There is a local sports club for more competitive activities. The local malls also have entertainment zones which can make for a good afternoon of fun.
The school community, although small is welcoming; parents and teachers alike. The close proximity of the school means that everyone lives close by and you are never short of having someone to hang out with or call if you need some help.