Uncle Kim Uncle Kim posted March 10th, 2012 at 7:51 am to Other. Viewed 2501 times. Answered 58 times.

Hi all! I've been offered a job at Singapore International School in Hanoi but have since read alot of bad things about working at the school. I would appreciate anyone with experience at this school to give me their balanced opinion of working there. cheers.

Last answered by YMatt about 5 months ago.

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otago wrote on March 10th, 2012 at 9:08 am

I have never worked for SIS, however over time I have spoken to several groups of Vietnamese parents who sent their kids elsewhere when their course at SIS finished. They were alarmed at the number of different teachers taking the class during the course.
A school that can't retain their staff and so constantly advertise for teachers? think about it.

n8wcpo wrote on March 10th, 2012 at 11:38 am

Uncle Kim,
How bad is SIS? That depends entirely on you. How bad or good of a teacher are you? What are your expectations? Were all your questions answered satisfactorily at the interview? Did you do a walk through of your new school? Are they meeting your salary and working conditions requirements? I think asking the NH community for their opinion about you working at SIS is lazy at best and just plain wrong. Think for yourself, and no I do not work at SIS.

ltmagnificent wrote on March 10th, 2012 at 11:50 am
ltmagnificent (elite user)

I have never worked there but have heard a lot through the grapevine and had two interviews with them.

The majority of what I have heard is that they are in it for the money and don't treat their teachers with the respect that is deserved. However I do know of a Vietnamese family that moved their child from another (reputable) international school to the SIS Vietnamese program.

The interviews were quite strange, the first one I was offered a job on the spot, but turned it down for personal reasons unrelated to the school or its reputation. I didn't even have a CELTA at the time of the interview. The second interview was shortly after I had a CELTA and spent a year in part time work that was similar to the job being offered. I was turned down during this interview because I didn't have a degree in education. After that second interview, I assumed they had gotten their "S" together, but they seem to have a new ad on the jobs section every week, and more bad reviews seem to pop up from time to time, so there is that.

I have lived in Hanoi for three years and in that time have honed my ability to judge schools from a glance. Keeping that in mind, I would bet that SIS is not to a standard that teachers who have taught in a western country would like, but is far above many Vietnamese schools in terms of working conditions.

In regards to your current situation, you have less than three months left in the school year. Take the job and quit at the end of the year if you don't like it. June is the best time to be unemployed because everyone will be looking for teachers.

Freebird7 wrote on March 10th, 2012 at 12:37 pm

I think it depends on which school you will work at. I worked at SIS Cau Giay. I am fully qualified and have over 12 years teaching experience. I have to say that I enjoyed working with the staff and students there and am still friends with many ex-colleagues including the principal.
I don't know how qualified all the staff are, but I felt that they were professional and friendly. I didn't last there because I didn't have my 's' together at the time and partied way too much and the time card procedure to clock in and out didn't agree with me.
They are a business though, but this isn't hidden. They are transparent in terms of expectations and philosophy from the outset. The pay and insurance are above what most other schools offer. If you are here for a working holiday, then it may not be the right school for you. You have to work hard....

Uncle Kim wrote on March 10th, 2012 at 2:50 pm
Uncle Kim

Thanks for the help guys. I'm not in the country so I can't check out the school for myself. I believe the job offer is for the Ciputra campus. For the record I am a recently certified teacher with ESL experience and I hope this job will be a good start to a career in international schools. Any more insight would be greatly appreciated.

ltmagnificent wrote on March 10th, 2012 at 3:00 pm
ltmagnificent (elite user)

It would certainly be good from a resume building standpoint, it is a real international school with students that come from more than one country. Better to start at a place like that so places like UNIS can be available in the future.

justbee wrote on March 10th, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Check your inbox soon, i work there.

n8wcpo wrote on March 10th, 2012 at 5:42 pm

SIS is an international school in name only. They do not any accreditation outside of Vietnam. If I were you I'd grab the job, be prepared for the worst and try your best. It will be a learning experience and help you decide if you are cut out for teaching in a private school for profit environment.

happysmiler07 wrote on March 11th, 2012 at 2:09 pm

SIS is working on their WASC accreditation. If your looking for a stepping stone, prepare to commit for 2-3 years to gain the experience. Many international schools will not even consider you, if you only have a couple of months experience in an international setting. If you can take a lot of stress and endure it go for it, but if its truly for experience, you need to be able to show you can commit.

clock iconThen Some Time Passed...
HanoiHappiness wrote on January 17th, 2013 at 11:13 am

The unfortunate part about reading this thread (although very outdated)is that it doesn't reflect the changes taking place within the organization.

Yes, there is work to be done...the question is are you interested in contributing to the potential success or not? I've been on the international scene for over 15 years and have seen a wide variety of schools from the start-ups to the most reputable. None are perfect. All are projects. The schools with poor reputations are struggling to get better and shake the labels left behind by unhappy employees, while the schools with great reputations often rest on their heels not always deserving their esteemed reputations. BTW I know people at UNIS who hate it there! It all comes down to the individual.

I do work at SIS and I can tell you that there are changes under way and many more needed. I am happy to be a part of the solution. I love the kids. I work hard, my work is appreciated, and I have very good relationships with my colleagues. Let the corporate side of it go, and you will be fine.

I read the reports before I signed on. I did my homework. Despite the negativity I found, I still chose to come for the potential to help the place improve. There are a number of fantastic people in the organization who are trying to make a difference. It is a small cultural shift and a WASC accreditation away from taking a big step forward. There are lots of professional growth opportunities and also lots of things that will be frustrating. It's up to you which you embrace, just like any job anywhere in the world.

BTW the salary is not bad. It may not be as good as some schools, but it is much better than others. I am enjoying Hanoi, the work, the students, and the lifestyle it affords me. I am also saving a stack.

Unlike one of the previous contributors, I would not advise coming for a couple of months then quitting. Most international schools pay attention to your commitment levels. The big reputable schools won't be attracted to people flying in and out. They want staying power.

I am happy with my decision to sign on with SIS and I plan to stay for a while. That said, I have been a global nomad for years and nothing shakes me. It's just another experience. It's not forever. There is much to be gained from any school if you look for the opportunities instead of the deficiencies.

MarkHanoi83 wrote on January 17th, 2013 at 11:31 am

Should this topic not be part of the review of the specific school?

D-Lincoln wrote on January 17th, 2013 at 1:54 pm


I appreciate your post, but can you give us some specifics that have changed.

As Ltmagnificent, I think he's worked at about every school in Hanoi for 2-3 months.

Traceyanne wrote on January 26th, 2013 at 12:17 am

Sorry but SIS is NOT a real International School. It is not accredited but is "working on" WASC accreditation. Real International schools are International Baccalaureate certified.

Bfamily wrote on January 26th, 2013 at 7:22 am

Sorry, Traceyanne, but the IB is NOT the only accreditation out there. While it is popular there are MANY other options for schools to pursue that are equally viable. In fact there are many schools who avoid the IB intentionally. SIS has had their initial site visit for WASC and are a candidate school. The full process usually takes a couple years after the initial visit. I am not responding to the question regarding SIS as an educational option, but need to set the record state that the IBO presents one option... they are not the only one.

ltmagnificent wrote on January 26th, 2013 at 11:58 am
ltmagnificent (elite user)

Wow just saw this and had to respond.

first off my 2-3 months thing was a suggestion as that was how much time was left in the school year at the time of the original post. I did not mean that after only three months the OP could move to UNIS, simply that SIS would be a good place to start working your way up as it is clearly at the lower end of actual international schools, shown in part by its lack of accredidation.

secondly I bounced around before I had my CELTA and had a bunch of part time work since getting it, but have spent the majority of my time at only two schools in the last 2 years.

Finally it seems some people read only the negatives in my first post.

Let me set the record straight; all I was saying is that, in terms of quality, it would be unfair to compare SIS to UNIS, HIS or Concordia. However it would also be unfair to say that it "sucks" especially when compared to Vietnamese schools.

I imagine it is a great place to work if you have realistic expectations (which many newly arrived foreign teachers with education degrees don't).

clock iconThen Some Time Passed...
helplesshanoi wrote on April 16th, 2013 at 4:52 pm

It really depends on what your looking for and how you want to be treated. More and more, the staff are degraded and treated like children...ITS IN YOUR CONTRACT!! Salary is just the tip of the ice burg to what REALLY goes on in SIS.

sleepless wrote on April 16th, 2013 at 8:22 pm

A simply dreadful place to work despite the marginally adequate salary package.

Bloodaxe wrote on May 10th, 2013 at 4:23 pm

@helplesshanoi is completely right in the saying what he/she has mentioned above.

SIS is a complete s**thole to work for in that it treats its teachers like slaves. There is a reason that they generally only employ people from overseas and get them to fly in for the job....because if you have actually worked in the industry here in Viet Nam you know how badly they pay and how much you are overworked.

I currently work for them, but also worked for a Vietnamese School for 2 years so I can honestly compare, and know so many teachers (at all campuses) who are looking at breaking their 2 year contracts because of the way they are treated by Management. One of our classes is on their 3rd teacher in 12 months because of people leaving. The kids are great, but as people have said it is a business first and foremost! All SIS care about is making sure the money keeps coming in.

The good thing is that with all the new schools coming on the scene (BVIS, Concordia etc etc) the parents are starting to realise how bad it is and are taking a LOT of children out and sending them to these schools that offer better facilities and curriculum. It is that bad that they are currently deciding whether they will shut the Cau Giay Campus down in August because there aren't enough students enrolled/have left.

Again, SIS is NOT an accredited International School (it runs a split International/MOET curriculum) and it definitely doesn't treat it staff right. When you have such a high turnover of staff, 15 foreign teachers out of 18 last year and around the same for next year - not including the 4 who have already left mid year (just at my Campus), that should start to sound the warning bells.

Karmak wrote on May 10th, 2013 at 5:03 pm

"SIS is a complete s**thole to work for in that it treats its teachers like slaves."

If that sums up your feelings towards the school you either are blind or do not have that much experience at all with international schools.

n8wcpo wrote on May 10th, 2013 at 8:27 pm

You don't need experience to know you're working in a s**thole.

Bloodaxe wrote on May 11th, 2013 at 8:21 pm

@Karmak - 3 and a half years teaching English in Ha Noi at Language Centres (3 months) Government (6 months), private Vietnamese (2 years)and now an "International" school close to 9 months).....I think I have a fair bit of experience. I'll admit that when I went to SIS (as an "International" school) I thought it would be better than the Vietnamese schools, but I was greatly mistaken!! The conditions, pay, workload etc etc, and the way I am treated was actually better at the Vietnamese schools. I am the first to admit that I was wrong and am now paying for it. I would be very interested to hear of your experience teaching here in Ha Noi....would nyou like to share with everyone?

Longh wrote on May 12th, 2013 at 8:46 am
Longh (elite user)

*cough* local hire *cough*

Karmak wrote on May 12th, 2013 at 9:22 am

I'm sure someone who is working as a teacher and has that amount of experience is able to produce something a bit more objective and better articulated. You talk about not being happy with workload, conditions and pay (which I like to think you agreed upon before signing the contract), can you elaborate?

Surely if the school is not complying to the terms in the contract you would have the grounds to terminate it, right? Why are you sticking around?

sleepless wrote on May 12th, 2013 at 10:21 am

I'd be interested to hear of Karma's teaching experience.

Karmak wrote on May 12th, 2013 at 10:43 am

8 years teaching experience, 4 of which in management roles

ltmagnificent wrote on May 12th, 2013 at 11:23 am
ltmagnificent (elite user)

Gotta weigh in here on the back and forth between Karmak and Bloodaxe, I promise I will try and stay "on topic"

While I have never worked for SIS and cannot comment on working conditions or teachers being chained up and forced to work against their will, I do have to side with Bloodaxe on this one.

If you are a local hire, without an actual teaching degree and experience in a real international school (or western school), it is generally better to go with a Vietnamese school (especially one of the fake "international schools") than a real international school.

The reason is simple, at a Vietnamese School they want you to be Mr White face, and are willing to shell out a reasonable chunk of change to have you on their campus. At the same time, that is all you are, so they really don't give a sh*t what you do in class (your class will be in addition to the Vietnamese curriculum all schools must teach and won't help the students on the all important government exams). This creates a dynamic wherein, as long as you maintain a positive relationship with your employers, they will leave you alone.

Since I know this will be brought up in opposition; yes there are a ton of Vietnamese schools that can't be trusted, but there are many that can. You will also have to be able to deal with Vietnamese administration. But if you can learn to do that, you will rarely have a problem.

Conversely, an International School views a teacher with a CELTA and only Vietnamese school/center experience as expendable. You haven't been through any kind of training outside of a month doing CELTA and you have been involved in the kind of system that I described above. This puts you at a huge disadvantage, especially if the school is heavy on the business end of things. Since it is an international school, they are likely going to have a stricter curriculum/standards and actually care about things like lesson plans. Therefor the workload will be heavier.

SIS is clearly the latter of these two. While we can go on all day about how crappy it is or is not to work there, it is an international school. An under-qualified teacher is going to have a much easier time at a decently run private Vietnamese "international" school than at SIS.

Karmak wrote on May 12th, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Thank you for that Itmagnificent, you made your point in an a very clear way.

I have no problem with people expressing their views. On the contrary, part of my job is actually to get people to do so even though cultural/social factors come into play and make it difficult. The one thing I have a problem with, however, is people coughing useless remarks just for the sake of venting before even trying to get things changed through the "official" channels. So, bloodaxe, please help me understand:

1. Have you been asked to do things that are not in the contract you signed?
2. Have you been paid less than what specified in your contract?
3. Has the school not met any of the contractual terms?

If you answered yes to any of the above, have you actually complained to management? How did they respond?

Bloodaxe wrote on May 12th, 2013 at 4:40 pm

@Karmak - how much of your teaching has been in Viet Nam? You seem to be dancing around the topic here and very vague in your answers? Unfortunately, after 4 years in Management, I think your ideals might be a bit clouded and not really in-line with what a teacher on the coal-face experiences each day.

As for me being "objective and better articulated".....sorry if my writing doesn't meet your high standards but I believe in calling a spade a spade, not a long handled digging device ;-) Why beat around the bush and fluff it up?

The whole point was someone asked if SIS was as bad as they have heard. I answered that question with personal experience because I am working there. And it is just not my experience but those of my fellow workmates (and most of them "fully qualified" teachers) who are/have experienced the same issues. I know 12 teachers, 4 from my campus, who have left within the past 12 months - all of them breaking their Contracts.

As for me and why I haven't left - I'm a bit old fashioned in that if I make a commitment I try and stick to my word and last it out, even though it is getting harder and harder for me to do this. I seriously doubt I will last out the next 12 months of my Contract.

Yes they do change the conditions of the Contracts whenever they feel like it, and they do this because the Contracts are so vaguely worded that it falls back in their favour if you push it. The thing is that the Contracts are legally based in Singapore, not Viet Nam, and that creates great difficulties for a teacher.

The thing is that SIS is only "International" in name, it is not an internationally recognised school and runs under a split MOET programme with some "International" curriculum. The more that people speak out about all the things they do wrong, hopefully there is more of a chance of someone else getting caught...and a very small possibility that SIS might change so that they can retain teachers (but I doubt it very much).

Part of the WASC accreditation that they are going for actually mentions the high turnover of teaching staff. WASC have said they need to do something to stop this and make sure that teachers actually stay - the current average time for a teacher is 10 months - so even WASC can see the problem. I actually don't think it will ever change as the process of WASC accreditation takes a minimum of 6 years.

Karmak wrote on May 12th, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Bloodaxe, you have to understand that while your thoughts may be uber-clear in your head they may not be as clear once you bring them out in written form. I'm not criticizing the way you express yourself for lack of form but for the lack of usable information. From your first post I just perceived your frustration in working for the school but didn't really understand why. That made me really hard to side with you.

You are giving more information now, and it is becoming clearer, so thank you. Yes, the original question asked whether it is worth working for the school or not and your experience obviously can contribute to the answer. You said the word their contracts in a bit of a vague way and then use that to their advantage. Can you give an example? To myself, as an employer, that is kind of worrying and would like to know more. I'm sure people looking into working for SIS would want to know as well.

ltmagnificent wrote on May 13th, 2013 at 1:22 am
ltmagnificent (elite user)

@helpless, sleepless and bloodaxe; Please write a review on their page http://tnhvietnam.xemzi.com/en/spot/781/singapore-international-school-van-bao-hanoi

ltmagnificent wrote on May 13th, 2013 at 1:43 am
ltmagnificent (elite user)

@Karmak; When I was working for another school, they would constantly find little things in the contract like "The teacher is responsible for______" or "from time to time the teacher may be required to do _____" whenever they wanted something out of me or didn't want to bother dealing with a complaint I had.

I imagine this is the kind of thing bloodaxe and the others are dealing with.

If the school is looking at your contract every time a problem arises, then you are probably dealing with a crappy school.

While you did technically sign the contract, these types of things have been in every contract I signed. Aside from making a guess at the interview, or reading a review on here, there is no way of knowing if the school is going to use this kind of thing to their advantage or not.

de23facon wrote on May 13th, 2013 at 1:57 am

I can't say I know very much about the ESL business, but every contract, no matter how brilliantly written or well-balanced, is only as good as the parties to the agreement. Short of working out an acceptable modification, it can only mean big bucks for enforcement.

The contract may be a good one, but maybe the deal was not so hot.

Bloodaxe wrote on May 13th, 2013 at 9:39 am

I will be definitely writing a review when I leave.

As for the Contract, it is exactly as Itmagnificent said...they find little things to use all the time against you. The Contracts say "in the attached documents", but unfortunately they aren't attached. You sign your main Contract and they say they will forward them to you but they never do. When I pushed the issue with HR, it actually came out that they don't have these documents and everything they use against you is mad up on the spot. Even this took me nearly 4 months to get them to admit, and now HR just refuse to answer any of my emails.

@Karmak, I have brought numerous things to managements attention (eg. workload, curriculum, WH&S issues etc etc) and am now labeled a "troublemaker" and received written warning letters for it. As long as the parents are still paying money, it is always the teacher who will be the "bad guy". And the company always likes to remind you that "there are plenty of other teachers willing to fly in for your job".

Breaking a Contract has to be done very carefully. The last person I know who did this was locked in a room at HR, with 5 goons standing over him, and then forced to withdraw money (quite a bit) from his account to pay "reimbursement" to the company before they would give him back his passport. This was all because he left 3 days early before his 30 days notice expired, plus they withheld some of his pay.

The company bluffs people in to handing over their passports so that they can "get the work permit and temp residents card cancelled". I know that they have no right to do this, and they will definitely not be getting mine, but others fall for this all the time. This is the type of company SIS are!

As I said, I will be writing a very truthful review of the whole thing when I leave, but until then everything has to be quiet because I don't want to be put in a bad position. No names anywhere here for them to track me down.

Hanoinewbie wrote on May 13th, 2013 at 3:33 pm

A couple of things to consider, and a separation of fact from fiction. I do work for the company; I am not necessarily thrilled with it, but I am certainly more objective than most who rant above and I have experience (believe it or not) at worse places. Thanks to Karmak for trying to keep things real and useful.


1. SIS has 5 schools in Hanoi. Therefore, job satisfaction is largely dependent upon the cohesion of school based leadership and teaching staff at the individual campuses. If job satisfaction is entirely based on things outside of the classroom (and I know it all plays a part), then it is likely the corporate/political end of things will frustrate people, not the individual school itself.

2. SIS "management" as referred to in many posts above more likely refers to the Corporate Office and HR Departments, not school-based leaders/managers, although at times it may apply too, as with all schools. However, seeing as most focus seems to be on contracts and working conditions, it is worth pointing out that Principals and school-based leadership have nothing to do with salary and contracts.

3. I have a signed contract and have yet to see any issues. Things seem clear. No dramas. I know exactly what I signed on for. Do your homework, and you will be okay. I get paid every month, as indicated, and I have yet to be asked for anything beyond the contract. I don't care how much more or less people make than me. I signed on the line. Talk to the school Principal you will be working for before signing anything. Most problems are avoidable.

4. Sorry Traceyanne. International schools are not defined by the IB. I know and personally love the IB philosophy, but it is not a curriculum, nor is it a badge guaranteeing quality or internationalism. It helps to create quality and internationalism as the school matriculates through the accreditation process. It is only as successful as the teachers and administrators make it. ALL schools start out as unaccredited until they are. Does that mean they are crap until they get the badge? Not a chance. I have worked internationally for almost 2 decades and have worked within IB schools that suck too, until they don't anymore.

5. I suggest keeping a clear separation between the quality of school in terms of education for children vs. quality of working conditions for teachers. The former is our job as teachers to get right. Best we not throw mud in our own faces.

6. SIS is not a slave ship. SIS has proven to be the easiest, least demanding job I have had in the last 18 years. It may seem like you're a slave compared to SOME other places in Hanoi, but it is a dream compared to many others out there. It really is about perspective. Punch the clock, do your best in the classroom, enjoy the wonderful kids, punch out, collect your pay check, and let the rest roll off your back. Keep your nose out of the politics and negativity,and you will find a little sunshine.

FACT AND FICTION (no particular order)

1. The average contract length is not 10 months as indicated by bloodaxe. That figure was plucked out of the air. Was that average calculated based on this year, the last 5, 10? Analyze the stats carefully. You are wrong.

2. 15 of 18 teachers left last year and again this year? Simply inaccurate. Total embellishment. Perspective limited to one location at best.

3. Cau Giay is not considering closing because of a drop in numbers. It is scheduled to close in 2014 when the new campus opens at Gamuda Gardens. In fact they are thinking about staying open longer, because there is a significant number of parents wanting to stay at the Cau Giay location.

4. WASC does not take 6 years to have an effect. As soon as the process begins, so too does change for the better, but it doesn't happen overnight.

5. Teachers make a great school, because of their dedication to and guidance of children, not accreditation. Accreditation helps move and challenge schools and staff in positive ways and sets a standard for schools to maintain. When the individual schools in the SIS network get accreditation (assuming they will), will they somehow turn into great schools overnight? Nope. It takes a lot more that that. A label is just what it is.

6. Bloodaxe, the story of your friend who broke contract? Shame on you. You really blew that one. Locked in a room, 5 goons, forced to withdraw money, passport withheld? Please! That's fiction very loosely based on reality. He's a friend of mine too, but he quit without notice. He let the kids and his colleagues down. It had nothing to do with 3 days before a 30-day notice, because there wasn't any notice. Of course there are repercussions of some sort. They withheld his salary? That's another lie, seeing as he quit immediately after his paycheck was deposited in his bank account. It is not cool to make crap up in the absence of knowing the truth. It makes for a good story at the pub with a pint and a willing audience, but it's also a good way to lose professional credibility and give away your dignity. Read YOUR words "Breaking a Contract has to be done very carefully." What happened to honoring contracts? Committing to jobs? Trying to find solutions to problems? And by the way, he didn't leave SIS because he was grossly unhappy. He tried to transfer to another city within the company first, but there wasn't an opening available. I guess you knew that too, but forgot to mention it.

7. No offense bloodaxe, but the experience you listed above has very limited scope in the grand scheme of the international school world, and is limited to Vietnam. You have a long way to go. I suggest you do a little more homework before throwing out too much authoritative info. All humans are guilty of reacting on emotions. I can appreciate that you are unhappy. Best to be objectively unhappy and move onwards and upwards.

Yes, the grass is greener in some places, but it is browner in others too; you can trust that as fact.

ltmagnificent wrote on May 14th, 2013 at 12:17 am
ltmagnificent (elite user)

@Hanoinewbie; first, you should change your username or create a new one, because this posts shows you are clearly no longer a newbie.

Second, THANK YOU THANK YOU for posting something grounded that objectively explains the pros and cons! Why can't everyone do this?

Third, You mentioned both management (the business end) and principals (the school end) and that the two have little contact with eachother. I am wondering if either of these groups of people are Vietnamese, Western or Singaporean. Also how much important is cultural awareness in dealing with them?

Karmak wrote on May 14th, 2013 at 8:30 am

Good god... that was some bad-ass spring cleaning to this post.

Bloodaxe wrote on May 14th, 2013 at 8:32 am

@Hanoinewbie - I see that you only recently joined TNH, I was wondering how long you have been in Ha Noi/Viet Nam? How many schools have you taught in here?

As for our mutual friend - are you sure you are talking about the same person? Our Principal even confirmed in a staff meeting that this is what occurred to him, and that they were trying to ensure it never happens again.

Cau Giay closing - you obviously mustn't of got the email that was sent out to all staff that stated this. The company is now starting to back peddle on this email as copies of it have been put in the public forums...but they can't change what was written.

I am not saying ALL campuses are bad, but unfortunately most of them are...and it does boil down to the Principal who makes the decisions. Some of these are company policy but others are personal things that they decide at each campus.

So overall, I just recommend that people read reviews like this and meet with Principals or teachers BEFORE making a decision. Yes there are worse places to work, but there are also better places. That is the idea of a discussion like this, to make informed decisions. And unfortunately SIS has a lot more negative reviews out there on the internet (not just TNH) so there must be some truth to it.

helplesshanoi wrote on May 16th, 2013 at 12:57 pm

*Bloodaxe I would be careful about what you are saying and disclosing about the company. You say, "No names anywhere here for them to track me down." However, it is unfortunate for you that your fellow employees and your employers are aware of your experience (which you have listed here) and as the "troublemaker" You have given yourself away and I would be certain that following the policy just released asking you to represent the company in a positive manner including social networking and other sites, that you will likely face repercussions for your blatant disregard for professionalism and privacy. Maybe the "mutual friend" didn't want his business shared, that was his story-not yours.

You can answer the question, "how bad is Singapore International School" without embellishing, revealing others private information, and without venting. Yes, they use contracts to their advantage but the contract does clearly state they have a right to modify it as they see fit.

If you know how to manage your time, the workload is reasonable. Clearly you have plenty of time to rant and rave on FB and here, how much planning do YOU as a non qualified teacher actually do?

Minsker wrote on May 16th, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Bloodaxe...you are not in the wrong school. YOU ARE IN THE WRONG JOB!

Please think about this carefully before you try to take another position in any school. It takes about 2 seconds to work out who you are. You are branded a 'troublemaker' because your complaints are constant, unreasonable and petty.

Please think hard before you post any more rubbish about SIS. You are damaging the reputation of a our school and the fantastic staff that they have managed to attract from all around the world. SIS is full of caring dedicated teachers who work very hard for the children in their care.

You do not represent me, or any of your fellow employees. So please stop speaking as though you do.

Bloodaxe wrote on May 16th, 2013 at 6:58 pm

@helplesshanoi - as for the "Policy on social networking", I don't ever recall signing and acknowledging any such document when I signed my Contract. We might be living in a Communist country, but I'm still entitled to my opinion and I gave it. SIS don't own me, nor can they tell me what I can write on my own personal social media sites. In regard to our friend, it is common knowledge at school and there has been no mention of names here, so I am not saying anything that isn't already known. Are you denying that this occurred to him? Don't you think it is relevant for any prospective teacher to know that this occurred? And as for my planning as an "unqualified" teacher - if you know me, and you obviously do, then you would know that my job doesn't entail any planning as such. Can't understand why you would have an issue with this? I know a get paid a lot less than you because you are "qualified", and I guess that is why you have to work more.

@Minsker - at no time have I run down any teachers at the school, nor have I said I speak for the teachers. If you read my posts you will see that I have stated MY opinion only. The good thing about opinions is that not everyone has to agree with them. You don't agree with me, and I don't agree with you, that is the great thing in having freedom of choice.

@helplesshanoi and @ Minsker - if you read the original question for this discussion, the poster actually says that they have read so many bad things about SIS and wants to know is it really that bad. Now, some have said it isn't (you included) and some of us (me included) have said it is. As far as I can see, all of us have given our own PERSONAL views and it is now up to the OP to decide. And this is what a discussion board like this is about, isn't it? Now that person can make a more informed decision.

And as a final note - everything I have said here has been said personally to those involved in our private meetings, I don't back down from what I have said. Now, as for the pair of you - you have said the same and complained as much but the difference is that you have done it behind peoples backs. At least I stand by my convictions and principles and am not afraid to voice them publicly.

I really hope this is the end of this discussion on here now. But of course if you want to come and approach me at work to talk about it then I am willing to discuss it further and we can talk of the more personal issues you have raised.

n8wcpo wrote on May 16th, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Poor Bloodaxe, pummeled by Minsker, outted by helplesshanoi and marginalized by Karmac. The triumvirate from hell. I'm sure Bloodaxe's contract can't end soon enough for all. So before Bloodaxe reviews SIS on TNH, International Schools Review, My International Educator and whatnot, why don't you guys just agree to disagree, finish finals and hit the bia hoi? This thread should be required reading for anyone thinking about working at SIS.

Bloodaxe wrote on May 17th, 2013 at 6:58 am

@n8wcpo - well written...a bia hoi session sounds good :-)

helplesshanoi wrote on May 17th, 2013 at 10:02 am

Bloodaxe- As you said "everything I have said here has been said personally to those involved in our private meetings" the key words you used are personally and private and as a professional some things need to be maintained as just that.

The reason I inquired about your planning is because you complained of the work load. Let me use a term you are more familiar with, you winched about the work load yet your position requires no planning so I am confused about what your complaint of "work load" is?

As for the mutual friend the contract clearly states if you fail to give 30 days notice you are liable for 30 days pay. I don't care if it was 3 days shy or three hours shy; it broke the contract and the person signed and agreed to this.

I think newbie and n8w summed it up this is great Bia Hoi venting but to finalize your "I didn't sign anything about social networking"-I don't care enough to do the research for you, but carefully read through your contract and employee information or handbook and you will see where you are fully liable and could be sued for slandering the company. In addition, its a policy for the students not to run in the hallway-yet it happens. so disregarding the schools social networking policy just proves how professional your not.

With the experience you listed, a few months here and there, not a chance I would bring you on into an entry level position. I need to see commitment and concrete time in any position. There are issues at any school, company or work environment. Considering your few months here and there I'd have to agree that teaching is just not for you.

Hanoinewbie wrote on May 17th, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Hey Bloodaxe,

Just a couple of things here:

1. hanoinewbie is just a user name. If I was batman47, would that make me batman or 47 years old? I think not. I was once new to the New Hanoian, not necessarily new to Hanoi.

2. It's the same friend, and even if it's not, if your Principal actually stated what YOU wrote, then shame on him too. Over the top.

3. Yes, Cau Giay was planned for closure, but for a different reason than you would have people believe. It was due to the opening of the new school in Gamuda Gardens, not because of dwindling numbers as you suggested.

4. I AGREE WITH YOU HERE: There are a lot of negative comments posted here about SIS. I agree that people should read forums like this as a means of making informed decisions. I agree there are better places to work, and worse. I also think people should post objectively.

5. Nothing personal mate.

ltmagnificent wrote on May 18th, 2013 at 12:16 am
ltmagnificent (elite user)

I wasn't going to say anything, but since everybody, including helplessinhanoi who agrees with Bloodaxe's general opinion that the school is subpar, seems to be wondering about his expectations; I have some knowledge on the subject.

TNH rules bar me from going into specifics (as my contact was entirely via PM); but I actually used to hold the same job he held at the aforementioned private Vietnamese school.

Lets just say we had drastically different opinions about the working conditions there. He told me before I took the job that it was, and I'm paraphrasing here, a pit of hell from which there is no easy escape. I found it to be the easiest, most stress free job I have ever held.

The only time anyone in administration ever talked to me was when grades were due, when there was some sort of school event, or I needed to be paid. No one ever asked me about lesson plans or how class was going.

The biggest difference between my experience and Bloodaxe's was that I immediately made friends with the (very) traditional Vietnamese principals, and he pissed them off something fierce.

That should give you a pretty good idea of what is going on.

ltmagnificent wrote on May 18th, 2013 at 12:40 am
ltmagnificent (elite user)

I would also like to see what Uncle Kim's (the OP) experience was, if any.

Bloodaxe wrote on May 18th, 2013 at 5:08 am

@Joseph - a BA and a Cert 4 Tesol classifies me as a teacher under Vietnamese Law to teach as an English Teacher, but some people regard this as being "unqualified". Yes, I'm the first to admit I'm not qualified to teach in a western country with this, but with just over a year to go in my BA Teaching this is what I class as on the job training.

@itmagnificent - yes we both had different views of the school, and again different experiences with it. The difference is that I worked out my 2 year Contract with them despite the issues, whereas you broke your contract before 12 months was even up and left the students stranded. If it was such a good place to work then why did you do this? I'm only saying this because it shows that what one person says is good could be viewed as bad another. And on another note, I can't have done to much wrong by them because they started chasing me down 6 weeks ago to come and work for them again - so at the start of July I'm back in the same job at the same school that you left/

And now to finalise my dealings with the school - it would appear that they do take a dim view of someone reviewing them the way I did and looking for work so I have now left their employment.

I can confirm that they tried the same type of standover tactics with me as they did with the mutual friend. The bad thing for them is that I didn't stand for it and also that there was no signature on any media policy from me. So I have been paid out my next 2 months of my contract and told I am no longer needed. The good thing about this is at least I don't have to resign now.

I'm glad that this part of my life is done and I can get on with what I came here for - to help kids with their future.

ltmagnificent wrote on May 18th, 2013 at 9:31 am
ltmagnificent (elite user)

I would also like to see what Uncle Kim's (the OP) experience was, if any.

de23facon wrote on May 18th, 2013 at 9:39 am

Mods Oi!

There may be one on TNH already, but this topic seems better suited to a separate discussion forum.

Lot's of useful info for ESL folks but housed in a different location might work well.

Just sayin'.

Ben-E wrote on May 18th, 2013 at 10:30 am

sssh let them finish fighting it out first and then let the mod team come in and clean it all up.

As far as I see it Bloodaxe had a pretty bad Friday...

de23facon wrote on May 18th, 2013 at 10:51 am

Good point.

To make it really on for young and old, add in the CELTA v DELTA v IOTA v THETA or whatever the deal is into mix.

Been reading that "Fail" Fest for so long on Asia sites, it deserves a separate chapter in the Book of Expat. ( Same old story for the past hundred years or so but now updated to include the " Who has the best ESL certification program?" and computer-based classroom techniques).

ltmagnificent wrote on May 18th, 2013 at 12:10 pm
ltmagnificent (elite user)

Oh boy!

@bloodaxe; if you remember correctly, I knew that I would be leaving mid-year and therefore needed a job at a school I would feel comfortable screwing over. You highly recommended that I screw over your former employer, VIP international school and more specifically Alfred Nobel High School and I stupidly took your advice.

After finding out what a great job it was, I personally recruited a replacement on my own time and gave them several options to choose from, minimalizing the time the classes would be teacherless. I also took your advice and waited until after I got paid to tell them, which obviously pissed them off royal. Well VIP anyway, since I made friends with the principals at Alfred Nobel, they were sad to see me go but happy I found a replacement.

It may have helped that I first presented the Head Principal with a bottle of Chivas Regal and the Vice Principal with a bottle of Johnny Walker black. Take note Bloodaxe, THAT is how you quit a job.

przn_grd wrote on May 18th, 2013 at 3:48 pm

"so now I have left their employment"

"don't have to resign now"

Saigonskip wrote on June 14th, 2013 at 12:15 pm

I worked for the SIS school @ Saigon South for 4 years. From what we heard, the Hanoi School is even worse. It all starts from the top (Ricky Tan) is a robber baron with no interest in education - just exploiting the Vietnamese. Unfortunately, Bloodaxe is speaking the truth (and has obviously worked for them).
1) Their contracts are very unsophisticated (I had a lawyer check mine and those were his words - so run tell that) it is a fact.I'm no Singaporean lawyer but I doubt that they would hold water there.
2) You will go far if you suck up to management but if you have the audacity to suggest e.g. that they buy a working printer for the computer lab (with parents paying $10,000US+ per year), you will not.
3)You might end up with a QLD PE teacher as principal because he happens to be mates with the overseer from Australia - more interested in holidaying than education.
4)Uniworld or whatever you want to call it has been run out of Singapore & China (now why would that be?)
5)They have no interest in improving things - just constantly expanding & over extending themselves.If you think this is wrong or that you can make a difference you are being naive.
6)The kids are great (as are 9 out of 10 Vietnamese people) which is one of the reasons I stayed.
7)They did always pay (mostly on time) except when tax came in & we had to back pay around 2 months salary at SIS's convienience ie ASAP (so yeah, we didn't get any pay one December; kind of defeating working for nothing)
8) They generally treat their teachers & Vietnamese staff poorly (& with little respect)
Cue SIS management responses...No I didn't work in Hanoi BUT if SIS @ Saigon South was their "flagship" (they actually said this!) god help you.If you work there any longer than 2 years (usual minimum contract) it may just put you off teaching for life, purely because of the politics and mis-management.

Bloodaxe wrote on July 28th, 2013 at 8:59 am

@Saigonskip - interesting to hear that it is as bad down south as it is here in Ha Noi. By the looks of it, it is definitely a whole-of-company issue and generally not campus specific.

@hanoi136 - if you had of actually read all these posts then you would see there is no chance of your son meeting me as SIS and myself parted ways and I have gone back to teaching at a Vietnamese school where I get treated a lot better. Same workload but what I do is actually appreciated.

@ everyone else - a final note to what happened with me to make others research and think carefully before going to SIS to work : due to this thread, SIS and myself parted company. SIS were of the belief that they could dismiss a teacher whenever they want, but unfortunately they obviously have no idea of what the Law actually means, and that it is there to protect everyone.

Now my Degree is associated with the legal field, and I also spent just over 5 years working in a courtroom as part of this, so I have a generally good understanding of what can and can't be done by law. Long story short is that I pointed out to SIS where they breached their Contract with me, and also what due process and natural justice mean.

They then tried to get me kicked out of the country by reporting me to Immigration on an issue with the Residents Card that they (SIS) suppilied. After showing all documents and emails to Immigration, they told SIS that they must inform their employees what their obligations are in future and not to withhold things that could be used to blackmail employees!! And I'm still here.

After this, SIS decided to play by the rules. I received everything that I was entitled to after the 1st year of my Contract. When I went to their Head Office to collect final pay and Certificates that were owed to me they had one more thing up their sleeve.

They showed me everything that I was entitled to but then pulled out another piece of paper which they wanted me to sign.....it was a disclaimer against them that said I would not sue the Company or take any other type of legal action against them!! I was told that if I didn't sign this then I wouldn't be getting anything. I signed because I just wanted everything finalised.

Now, to all those who say SIS treat their teachers well and stick to their Contracts - if this is so true then why do they have a piece of paper prepared for this? If they aren't/haven't done anything wrong then why would they be making an employee sign a form like this before giving that employee what they are legally entitled to?

All I can say is if you are offered a Contract with SIS, please go through it very carefully before you decide to sign it. Most of the teachers that I met and worked with are great people, as are the students. I am not saying that ALL SIS Campuses are bad to work for (I know a couple here in Ha Noi that are good), but by researching the internet for reviews you will find that the odds aren't really good.

sweetnessuk wrote on August 6th, 2013 at 8:22 pm

This has been a very interesting read....I was sent details to work for the school in Hanoi, I don't think I will now. I'll stick with the Language centre for now I think.

Just a note....I think generally you can be just as good a teacher as a fully qualified one. Ive seen many teachers with a PGCE who were awful!!!! My friend has no degree and is a great teacher and is very tuned in with the children and adults. I only have a CELTA, TEFL and degree, but I agree, I have a lot to learn.

Although, there are many with PGCE who are better teachers because they have a better understanding of the psychology and the students as a whole.

stinkyha wrote on August 8th, 2013 at 9:29 pm

Be prepared! Experienced or not you will be writing “curriculum.” Every year their curriculum changes. Nothing is streamlined across the schools. The teachers must create this each year for each grade level. Although, presented to WASC is a “streamlined” curriculum which is false. Its not used. You are thrown to the wolves and not supported. In addition, there are no standard based test. Teachers have to write tests. Teachers are from all over the world and their own writing and understanding is completely different than what the students understand. Ever hear of six year olds taking tests? Well this is the place that will do it. They have you record students scores from their god awful books, spelling, etc. Which is completely pointless and a waste of time. Students receive their entire years grades based on two tests that teachers created. So why do the work? You spend five months going nuts teaching your students a dance, because your now a music teacher. Your told your appraisal is based on this “End of the Year Concert.” You will practice this dance day in and day out until the magical day arrives. Ricky Tan demands that each school put on a performance and the National Convention Center, which just eats the kids up. The facility is WAY to large for this show and its absolutely ridiculous to put this kind of pressure on the teachers and the students for a damn dance. Mr. Tan needs to get his hands out of this company, hire qualified leaders and step back OR get an education degree yourself so youll stop screwing up your schools. You will clock in and out everyday because us teachers want to be degraded. You will be at the school for nine hours a day plus do random nights and weekends as they freak out and try to kiss parents ass. As a teacher, you would think that you get time off with the students right? WRONG. At SIS you must “accrue” your leave, and you wont ever have enough to take all the time off, cuz Mr. Tan is banking that you will take time off without pay. Or you can just work for a week of bordom, plan away, watch movies and waste his electricity. Your taxed on everything, even tho the tax laws say expatriates aren’t to pay taxes on annual flights, housing ect. Your taxed on it all and it just gets higher and higher. When they make mistakes they just randomly take it out of your paycheck, without warning. They lie about the qualifications of the teachers and administration. There are unqualified teachers drizzled throughout the organization and people without teachers licenses in the administration team. Truth is there really is no leader. Teachers who are abusive to students, sleeping, stealing just get to keep on doing it. No body addresses the issues with staff. No one cares if the teachers aren’t teaching. This place is all about the money, hands down. Principles are provided bonuses with the number of enrollments, yet teachers cant even get coffee provided to them on parent teacher interview nights! We are a babysitting service as kids show up to school an hour early and never go home. Parents, nannies whatever can’t seem to pick their children up when school is finished. In general, they don’t care about staff moral or heavens forbid, their happiness. No. Sadly, this school ONLY cares about THEIR bottom line, their money. I have been happier working in a fast food joint. Working for SIS is hell and many DO break their contracts and give up their “reimbursements.” That’s another thing be prepared to pay for everything up front with no support or preparation.

clock iconThen Some Time Passed...
YMatt wrote on May 3rd, 2019 at 8:50 am

Considering a job at Kinderworld Education Group. Wanted to check how Singapore International Schools are doing in terms of education quality etc. Seems like the last discussion was a long time ago, in 2013. The reviews were mostly negative as I can see. Maybe something has changed since then? Would appreciate new reviews from some teachers and other staff working there. Do you like your job? Are you satisfied? Maybe you have stories from friends and acquaintances who work there. Thank you!

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The New Hanoian Ltd is registered with Companies House in the United Kingdom. Started in 2006 it remains the premier source for English-language information about living in Hanoi, and other major cities in Vietnam.