Mat with his new students in Vancouver, Canada.

Mat with his new students in Vancouver, Canada.

Teaching Traveling: Welcome to Mat and Katie, a family who is teaching on an exchange program. Tell us about yourself, Mat!

Mat: I have been teaching for 12 years. I have swapped a busy role as a History teacher and Head of Year at Gillingham School, Dorset, England for a post as a Social Studies teacher at Gladstone School, Vancouver as part of an academic exchange organized through the Commonwealth Teacher Exchange, or CYEC. This exchange endorsed by some Commonwealth Governments including the UK, Canada and Australia aims at sharing ideas and experience of education between nations. Although the organizing agencies have changed over the years it is believed to be the oldest professional exchange programme in the world!

Mat's children swimming in Vancouver.

Mat’s children swimming in Vancouver.

TT: Amazing! Tell us more about how this exchange has enabled your teaching and traveling abroad.

M: Part of the pleasure of this exchange is that I have been able to experience many adventures with my family who have accompanied me. Vancouver is a wonderful city to be in, but as a highlight so far the opportunity to learn to Ski has been one that we have taken up as a family. Just 20 minutes from my home for the year in East Vancouver is Mount Seymour and as a family we have been skiing regularly. We have found both the experience and the beauty of the scenery amazing!

A favorite family skiing spot near Vancouver.

A favorite family skiing spot near Vancouver.

TT: Love it. How did you find out about this teaching exchange?

M: This type of exchange is not well publicized, however I found out about it through the CYEC website. Even then I had to be a little bit determined to make it happen. Fortunately friends helped me to find a wonderful exchange partner at Gladstone School.

What beautiful nature Vancouver has! Mat's wife poses with their children.

What beautiful nature Vancouver has! Mat’s wife poses with their children.

Exchanges are usually undertaken by single people, but please don’t be put off if you want to travel with a family. Your determination will mean that you will make memories that will live with you forever.

TT: What is the salary like in this teacher exchange?

M: This type of exchange sees you keeping your salary. I am paid as I would be if I was working in the UK (less some of my management allowance TLRs, though in most cases no deductions will be made). I was responsible for meeting the flight costs of both myself and my family.

TT: Good to know. How has this teaching traveling exchange enhanced you as a teacher?

M: The teaching experience has been very valuable to me. In England I work in a school which has predominantly white, middle class pupils. In East Vancouver the ethnic mix is vibrant and many students come from difficult backgrounds. The value that these students place on education and the wonderful warm atmosphere that they create has melted my heart. The experience has also reinforced that teaching is about building relationships, mutual respect and above all, enjoyment.

It has been pleasant working in the Canadian system. Teachers have more control over their profession here. I do think that the UK is a brilliant place to develop teaching ideas, however the inspection system (OFSTED) is restricting innovation to a large extent through creating a climate of fear. This experience has reminded me that it is the students that really matter.

Mat's children gain a lot by living abroad.

Mat’s children gain a lot by living abroad.

TT: Beautiful. How has this travel developed you as a person?

M: This experience has given me so much confidence and self belief. The younger generation throughout the world get so much criticism. This experience has helped me to fully appreciate how unfair this is. Teaching abroad forces you to be resourceful and open to new ideas; after 12 years of teaching what a wonderful thing!

Vancouver has exceptional cultural diversity.

Vancouver has exceptional cultural diversity.

TT: What advice do you have for other teachers looking to travel?

M: Anyone who has a desire to travel and teach should go for it. There will be dozens of reasons not to follow your dreams and it is not always easy. If like me you have a family then naturally you will agonize over whether you are doing the right thing. If, however, you do your homework, prepare well and are determined then you can have the time of your life.

TT: Thanks so much, Mat! Readers, what questions or comments do you have?

* So far, this article has been read by 14,257 fans, with 9 visits today. Share it around! *

Posted by Lillie

Lillie started TeachingTraveling.com in 2010 to share the infinite ways to combine education and world exploration. Lillie has been a Boston teacher since 2003, and chronicles her own travels at AroundTheWorldL.com.

51 Comments

  1. Hello! I am interested in teaching in Canada for up to a year. I am based in Brisbane, Australia. Any idea of the hoops I would need to jump through to make this possible. Thanks in advance!!

    Reply

  2. hi I am from Pakistan and I am a professional teacher. I applied for TEACH USA program by cultural vistas and got all my papers ready. I went to the US embassy for visa twice and they rejected me twice though all my papers were authentic and had strong ties with my homeland. I dont understand understand US mentality???

    Please guide me which teacher exchange programs i can apply for.

    Reply

    1. So frustrating! The fact is that it can take many tries for anyone to be accepted to programs such as these, so don’t despair! While I don’t have leads on specific other programs, perhaps other readers do. Best of luck!

      Reply

  3. Osei kwabena william March 22, 2017 at 8:57 am

    I am a maths teacher in Ghana teaching at one of the senior high school ,please can I be a friend to any one teaching maths in Canada or Australia .send me Message(cobbysatellite@gmail.com)

    Reply

  4. Caitlin Elliott July 14, 2016 at 4:37 am

    Hi
    I’m just wondering if it is possible to teach in Canada from Australia? Is the process of getting a working visa difficult? Would my qualifications work in Canada?
    Any advice would be great!

    Thank you so much,

    Caitlin

    Reply

  5. Do they have an exchange program like this for American teachers? I would love to teach in Canada.

    Reply

      1. Thank you so much for the information!

        Reply

  6. I’m Michael a teacher in Ghana,I wish to teach in Australia,how can I apply to be part? My mail is ackommicheal@gmail.com.

    Reply

  7. Hello,
    I am a Primary school teacher in Scotland, UK (UK educated)but I am not UK citizen, I come from the Czech republic. Can I participate?
    Thank you

    Reply

    1. The Scottish Government ( Riaghaltas na h-alba) has a very positive approach to exchanges and
      international development. There is a booklet, “International Opportunities within Scottish Education and Training ” which should be in all schools and educational establishments and which is a “mine of useful information and contacts.”
      The League for the Exchange of Commonwealth Teachers (Scotland) has the following postal address: LECT Scotland, Princes House, 5 Shadwick Place, Edinburgh. EH2 4RG.
      It might be helpful to contact: Jim Morrison (Development Officer) CYEC Commonwealth Youth Exchange Council (Scotland), Tel. 01349861110 Email: cyecscotland@cyecscotland.com

      Reply

      1. John, thanks for this.

        LECT no longer operates and the teacher exchange programme passed to CYEC which then merged into the Royal Commonwealth Society. CYEC/RCS is now the UK operating agency for teacher exchanges with Canada and Australia and is a Tier 5 licensed sponsor for this purpose. Most of the provinces and states in Canada and Australia participate, along with the four nations of the UK.

        Enquiries should be sent to Teacher.Exchange@thercs.org

        Matching with Canada has now closed for 2016/17.

        Opportunities with Australia are still open (starting January 2017).

        I have not seen the Scottish booklet you refer to, and will be interested to follow that up. Thank you for highlighting it.

        Kind regards

        Helen Jones
        Director
        Commonwealth Teacher Exchange Programme
        (Youth Affairs and Education Programmes)
        Award House
        7-11 St Matthew Street
        London
        SW1P 2JT
        Tel: +44 (0)203 727 4300

        Reply

    2. Hello Pavla

      Thank you for your query. Your participation will depend upon:

      1. Visa rules for work permit linked to your citizenship as operated by Australia or Canada. This should not be too difficult to establish, as a European citizen.

      2. Your teaching qualifications and whether or not they will be recognised by the Australian and Canadian teaching authorities. In your particular case you say that you are UK educated, in which case there should not be any difficulty here as there are agreements regarding recognition of first degrees and teaching qualifications from UK academic institutions for transferability. For other parts of Europe/the world there may be difficulties regarding recognition.

      3. Your English language skill and being able to evidence this as proficient for teaching in English in primary schools in Australia/Canada (again, in your particular case I assume there is no problem as you are already teaching in Scotland and your Head will be able to endorse your language skill).

      4, The number of years that you have been teaching in Scotland – we don’t normally accept people onto the programme with less than 5 years experience (including the probationary period).

      5. The reference from your Head being good! 🙂

      If you wish to explore this further, please drop me a line at Helen.Jones@thercs.org

      Best

      Helen Jones
      Director
      Commonwealth Teacher Exchange Programme

      Reply

    3. Good Afternoon Helen and Pavla

      Thank you Helen for bringing the UK application process up to date for me for what could be a hugely valuable opportunity and possibly the “experience of a lifetime” for anyone wishing
      to participate.
      It was my experience that many Canadians took a very special interest in Scottish cultural activities such as dancing, music etc. possibly, because so many of them came from Scotland. Further Scottish education, perhaps in part for historic reasons, is reported as being very strong in modern foreign languages and most particularly, French. Fluency could give the same sort of advantages to you, as an exchange teacher, as it does to Canadian citizens, in what is a bi-lingual
      country with a culture, curriculum, and education system that operates in both languages.
      In the admittedly unlikely event that you are living and working in a Gaelic speaking area of Scotland, this could also be to your advantage, if you were considering an exchange to Nova Scotia, where Canada is investing in and supporting this language in the typically enlightened way it has in these matters.
      Whatever your destination, it is well worth meeting and talking to teachers locally, who have returned from exchanges as well as seeking support from your Head Teacher and exploring with
      them the advantages of an exchange to your own school.
      It might also be wise to confirm that there would be no changes in eligibility criteria for exchanges from Scotland, if the UK decided to leave the European Union on 23 June 2016.
      Pavla, please accept my sincere best wishes that you will be able participate in what really
      can be, “the experience of a life time.”

      Yours sincerely

      John

      Reply

  8. I would absolutely love to have this opportunity – more from the point of view that I love to travel as oppose to wanting to move away from the school where I am now. I am a primary school teacher in Jamaica with seven (7) years of experience. I would love to be apart of your program, hoping to teach in Alberta, Canada.
    thanks
    Reply

    Reply

    1. My understanding was that the “Commonwealth Teacher Exchange Programme” (CTEP)
      had closed for UK applications, which was a sad state of affairs, given that it had been in operation for more than a hundred years in the 1980’s. However I am pleased to say that applications are being accepted for 2016-2017 for Canada and Australia.

      The initial deadline has passed, being 11 December 2015 but an extension has been
      granted to 31 January 2016. Anyone interested really will need to get their skates on!
      Try http://www.cyec.org.uk/exchange/commonwealth-teacher-exchange.

      Nigeria is a member of the Commonwealth but has not been reported as being included
      in the present programme. In the long run the question of exchanges would perhaps be best raised at Commonwealth Meetings. Your “parent from Nigeria” might try to seek a UK or
      other Commonwealth school interested in exchanging letters, e-mails, tapes, pictures
      (skype ) etc. as a starting point. Perhaps direct contact with a Nigerian Embassy would
      be constructive.

      Ketanya might consider seeking the support of the Jamaican Authorities in making a direct
      approach. Jamaica has been a member of the Commonwealth since 1962 and first competed in the Commonwealth Games in 1934.

      You might find this contact information helpful:

      Ms Helen Jones, Director
      Commonwealth Teacher Exchange Programme (CTEP)
      Award House, 7-11 St Matthew Street
      London, SWIP 2JT

      Tel. 044(0)2037274300 or Helen.Jones@thercs.org

      Hope this might be of some practical help to anyone thinking about an exchange to or from Canada or Australia.

      Yours sincerely

      John

      Reply

      1. Thank you, John.

        The CTEP is still continuing, but the programme currently only includes Australia, Canada and UK. Bi-lateral post-to-post exchanges are possible between these countries with special visa provision. Most of the provinces and states in Canada and Australia participate, as well as all parts of UK. The co-ordinator for the UK is currently The Royal Commonwealth Society, which works with partner co-ordinating agencies in Canada and Australia.

        For more information visit the website https://www.thercs.org/youth-and-education/teachers/

        or write to Teacher.Exchange@thercs.org

        Applications for exchanges with Canada for 2016/17 are now closed.

        A window is still open for UK teachers interested in Australia for exchanges beginning January 2017. We are currently matching UK and Australian applicants.

        Helen Jones
        Director
        Commonwealth Teacher Exchange Programme
        The Royal Commonwealth Society
        London

        Reply

        1. Big thanks for the update, Helen!

          Reply

  9. I’m a parent from Nigeria, my children’s school would like for a foreign exchange program teacher to come to their school, how do we go about it.

    Reply

  10. Hi Mat, I am a UK primary school teacher looking for an exchange in Canada. It has been great to read your blog and hear about another teachers experience of the exchange. There is lots of information about international teachers coming to the UK but not much out there about UK teachers who have gone abroad! I am thinking about applying for the Commonwealth teacher exchange but am aware that finding a match in a suitable locality can be difficult. I was wondering how you found your school in Vancover? Thanks again for sharing your blog.

    Reply

    1. Hi Lina,

      I know you are looking at going to Canada but I am currently on an exchange in Australia, organised through the CYEC. If I can help at all or answer any questions, I’d be happy to help.

      (I also had a friend called Lina who was a teacher, I wonder if it’s you : ) ? )

      Reply

      1. Hi Sally

        That’s really kind of you. Would be great to find out more about the process. Might be easier to do it via email. My address is Lina.haines@gmail.com

        Trained in Southampton with a Sally…. Could it really be that small a world?

        Lina

        Reply

  11. Samson Donkor June 17, 2015 at 5:37 am

    I am a maths teacher in Ghana with 9 years of experience. I seek to gain international experience in the teaching of math.How best can your organisation help me achieve that.

    Reply

  12. Hello

    My exchange was to Delta BC with my wife and six year old daughter from 1987 to 1988. Our experience was much as Mat describes though my school was an Elementary School with a Grade 4 class.

    Mr Ed Wiens and his staff could not have been more friendly and supportive, making my experience a real life changer.
    School might not have involved a suit and tie nor even “top hat and tails” but didn’t the job get done! Harry,the Vice Principal, who had his own Hobby Farm, would say, “You know there is a Canadian way of doing things”. Recent PISA
    results suggest that that way works!

    Delta had a particular strength with the writing process and my daughter was fortunate to have been in the class of Ms Cheryl Tsaka at Ladner Elementary where they contributed to a book, “Canada is a country made of love” which was presented by Ann Mortifee to the Canadian ambassador who in turn gave it to Mikhail Gorbachev. The rest as they say is history!

    My LEA at the time was a good one and very supportive, even being prepared to underwrite my salary, if the exchange rate went against me, however the Aladin’s cave of resources and facilities that I found helped to make my year a really positive experience. British Columbia might have been 8th Province spending $4395 per pupil but their results and organisation such as the Delta substitute teacher process was a real eye opener. It was a particular pleasure to receive a minor prize from UK Teacher Associations for a report on comparisons between my LEA and Delta.

    Are there pitfalls? You bet there are, not least of which is language. Take care, it might sound the same at first but you like me will soon discover that communication can be a minefield ! It was the first time in my life that I had seen girls playing in a school football oops! soccer team! As it happened, sterling rose against the dollar in the fall of 87, so my salary increased by about 20-25% which really put the icing on the cake for us.

    We decided to make the most of every day, every weekend and holiday, so managed visits to Disneyland , a cruise to
    Alaska, swimming in the Rockies at minus twenty, living in a Pacific Coast Indian Longhouse, frequent visits to Point Roberts, Whistler and some time in Washington State. It helps to stay on good terms with the tax authorities of all jurisdictions!

    We made some great friends amongst other exchange teachers and were very fortunate in having an old friend who came from Vancouver and knew it really really well. Lots of visits whale watching, practically living in Vancouver Aquarium and just the slightest cancern that my daughter was picking up bad habits after a visit to Reno.

    Was there anything I regret? Yes, I have never really understood the contract that enabled Canadians to work the same number of days as the UK, yet to be employed and paid on a ten month basis. Essentially, they appeared to have two months, technically not employed, able to attend summer schools, University etc. to travel worldwide, to live and perhaps just to chill out!

    Be positive, work hard, prepare really,really well and you should have a great time.

    Reply

  13. I’m so glad I came across this site. I’m a Canadian citizen and also a pre-service teacher awaiting certification. I”m looking to travel to the UK, hopefully London, England but I’ve been through so many agencies and sites that I’m not sure are suited to what I’m looking for. The main purpose is to travel and teach, my two loves, but I’m also doing this as part of my university education program. If the UL isn’t an option, I’d like to visit Vancouver for the same reason. Are there any reputable organizations you can recommend I check out? I’ll be looking at the Commonwealth Teacher Exchange for now. Thanks!

    Reply

    1. Glad you found this site, too! 🙂 I’m not sure, myself, but hopefully other readers can give you ideas. Best of luck!

      Reply

  14. Hi,

    I have just returned from a teaching exchange in Adelaide, Australia and had the most wonderful year. The opportunity to travel and to learn is incredibly life changing! However, I would completely agree with Matt’s point that the experience serves to highlight the overzealous Ofsted inspection system and climate of fear that UK teachers are subjected to. There definitely is another way! Not that that should put off any potential exchange applicants to the UK, it’s an awesome place 😉

    Heather

    Reply

  15. Teachers in the UK can apply for a post-to-post exchange under the Commonwealth Teacher Exchange Programme – CTEP. This is a professional interchange programme that is recognised by the UK, Australian and Canadian governments for the issuing of exchange working visas. CYEC, a UK educational charity and accredited Commonwealth Association, co-manages the programme in partnership with education jurisdictions or their agents in the states/provinces of Australia and Canada. In the United Kingdom applications opened in November 2013 and are still being accepted for CTEP on a rolling basis until at least February 2014. If you are interested, apply as soon as possible. You must have 5 years full-time teaching experience and your Head must be supportive. Unfortunately, schools in special measures cannot be considered. Visit our website at http://www.cyec.org.uk/exchanges/commonwealth-teacher-exchange.

    Keep up to date on Facebook via the Commonwealth Teacher Exchange Programme page which also posts about education policy and practice around the Commonwealth and globally.

    Best

    Helen Jones
    Director
    Commonwealth Teacher Exchange Programme
    Mail@cyec.org.uk

    Reply

    1. Such a great opportunity. I hope many apply!

      Reply

      1. Thanks Lillie! We hope so too.

        Helen
        🙂

        Helen Jones
        Director
        Commonwealth Teacher Exchange Programme
        London

        Reply

  16. Benjamin Sebastian October 22, 2013 at 2:43 am

    Iam a professional mathematics tutor in the junior high school.Iam a
    Native of Ghana here in west Africa,I love to be part of your exchange program.

    Reply

  17. Thank you so much for this info.
    I am hoping to apply for this scheme to potentially
    participate in a 2014-15 exchange however
    I can’t find an up to date application form on
    the website and haven’t had a reply to my email
    when I tried to contact the organisation.

    Any ideas? Many thanks

    Reply

    1. Would help to know what country you are in and where you are hoping to go.

      Reply

      1. I am in England and hoping to go to Australia

        Reply

          1. Many thanks.
            It seems this link refers to last years application forms,
            Do you think the current application forms are not up
            Yet?

            Many thanks

          2. You are probably right. New South Wales just posted their 2015 applications last week.

        1. Hi Sally

          Presumably you kept an eye on our website and saw the forms posted up in November? Go to the teacher exchange section.

          Let me know if you any help. You may already have applied in fact?

          Best

          Helen Jones
          Commonwealth Teacher Exchange Programme (CTEP)
          http://www.cyec.org.uk

          Reply

  18. Gbolahan Laniyan July 1, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    This is absolutely fantastic! I’m a Mathletics Lead Educator who happened to train the fastest mathlete in
    africa, I love maths and skilled with explaining mathematics in a very simple and fun way and also using technology. I am travelling to UK to share best practice and want to use this summer period to visit more schools and many countries sharing what I have learnt over the years in maths learning and also give my best to help to reach a wider audience. Please, let me know how I can reach more schools. Thanks, this is a great opportunity!

    Reply

  19. Thanks for the article, Mat – I am wanting to apply, through this organisation, for an exchange in Canada in 2014 – 15. I am also married (to a Canadian) with two children and am looking for an exchange in Canada (not bothered where as my wife’s family is scattered all over). What I want to ask is the following:
    1. How far in advance did you apply?
    2. What did you do to make a match as likely as possible?
    3. How did you sell it to your school?
    4. Have you set up any exchange program/ links between the two schools?

    Feel free to correspond through my email.

    Reply

    1. Hi Mark
      I’ll send you a message and give you as many tips as I can.
      Good luck

      Reply

      1. Thanks, I look forward to hearing from you soon.

        Reply

        1. Hi Mark
          Send me a message on this – matvanlake@gmail.com it is easier for me to reach you this way.

          Reply

    2. teacherexchange.ca has lots of links to exchangee blogs – they’re great reading and offer firsthand insight into the exchange experience. I will be on exchange to Australia in 2014 and started the process in September 2011 – initially applied for the 2013 year but was not matched. There are so many factors at play: teaching responsibilities, location, accommodations… there isn’t really any one thing you can do to increase likelihood of a match.
      It doesn’t hurt to make posts and share info about your desire to exchange – it is possible to find your own partner as long as they have also gone through the application process and received all the necessary approvals. Good luck with your application!

      Reply

    3. Mercy Buitrón October 30, 2016 at 10:42 am

      Hello Lillie,

      I am an English teacher from Ecuador South America. Is any teaching exchange programm available to teach in Canada for Latinamericans?

      Reply

  20. I would absolutely love to have this opportunity – more from the point of view that I love to travel as oppose to wanting to move away from the school where I am now. Sadly I’ll have to wait a couple more years as it seems you need at least 5 years teaching experience before you are eligible! Will definitely be keeping this idea in mind!

    Reply

    1. Luckily, there are many other opportunities to travel besides this one that you can do earlier in your career!

      Reply

      1. I’m honestly struggling with which websites to trust that offer jobs teaching overseas. You hear so many horror stories! I was wondering if there was anyone who would kind enough to give me some advice as to where to look? I’d deeply appreciate it.

        Reply

        1. Such an important question. My general rule of thumb is ask the company for the contact information of 3 other people who have worked with them. Talk to those people and get honest accounts of how their experience was. If the company is any good, they should be able to provide you with this information. Good luck!

          Reply

      2. i teach frensh , italiano , arab , also i am poet , also i am opera singer Tenor dramatic i had a cd in sale i want so to teach in Australia and sing what i can do ??? plz u can help me ???

        Reply

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