Senior Associate Bill Turner and his wife Alison visited five Search Associates Schools in Muscat this February. They learned what teaching and daily life is like as well as what opportunities await!
A Search Associates candidate told Bill,
“Oman is a bit like the Switzerland of the Middle East: very safe, very independent, and happy to help other countries.”
“Omani people are the gentlemen and ladies of the Middle East.” These comments capture the commonly-described friendly and easy-going nature of the country.
The schools Bill and Allison visited included the following:
- The American School in Muscat - offering the American Common Core curriculum, including Advanced Placement courses
- American British Academy (ABA) - an International Baccalaureate (IB) World School
- Al Sahwa – a bilingual IB World School
- Our Planet International School – a Primary Years Programme (PYP) school
- The Sultan’s School - a bilingual school delivering an adapted bilingual British curriculum and the IB Diploma
The Omani schools’ overarching visions and student populations are as diverse as their curricula. The Sultan’s School and Al Sahwa provide mostly for Omani students. TASIM is American in feel. Our Planet can be described as “Omani plus international.” ABA is more international still. What is common across these schools is quality, both of vision and of teaching and learning. Bottom line: Muscat’s international school students are very well provided for, and teachers have great schools in which to develop their careers.
Each of these schools has experienced administrative leadership and career expectations are very good, with an emphasis on pedagogical excellence and professional development. The compensation package is competitive and varies with qualifications and years of experience. Remember, however, to look beyond just the salary: a package consists of many other items that matter, such as flights, medical insurance, accommodation, free/subsidised child places, relocation allowances, as well as your teaching timetable and professional development opportunities. Investigation of all of these aspects is very important. One example of a creative benefit is offered at The Sultan’s School, which will pay for up to two of your children to attend a different school, as long as the fees do not supersede their own.
Muscat is much calmer than Dubai. The city views are captivating. Sultan Qaboos decreed that all Omanis should be able to see the mountains, so no building is higher than eight stories. You are always very conscious of big blue skies wherever you are in the city. There are plenty of cinemas, hotels and watering holes for those who need them, and clubs are said to be increasing in number. The beautiful Opera House provides some of the higher end cultural offerings.
Bill and Alison heard it again and again: “Oman is fantastic for outdoors-oriented people.” Access to beautiful beaches and mountains is easy. You can pay fishermen to drop you on your own deserted beach for the day and pick you up again at sunset. Driving, cycling, hiking and camping in the mountains keep many busy at weekends. Some teachers even have their own boats! It is also a country where pet ownership is possible. Schools are happy to allow pets to share accommodation with their owners.
Prices are not low, nor are they particularly high. Car ownership is a good idea, and petrol is cheap. There are fewer temptations to “empty your wallet” than you find in Dubai. Roads are good, and a trip to Dubai takes only roughly five hours. Thirty-three different airlines fly into the city, including the main carrier Oman Air. A brand-new airport is due to open soon.
Oman is a great place for teachers to safely pursue their international careers whilst enjoying a unique experience surrounded by warm people in a beautiful and unique part of the world. As Dr. Peter Coles, Principal at Al Sahwa schools, says:
“Oman is not just a tolerant country -- it is an embracing country.”