How to Get on The Hong Kong NET Scheme
What is the NET Scheme?
When looking at teaching in Hong Kong, it is most likely that you will have come across the NET Scheme, but what exactly is it? The NET Scheme is the brainchild of the EDB (The Education Bureau) whose vision is to provide quality education for all Hong Kong students.
The NET Scheme is one particular prong of this vision which offers opportunities for teachers to be placed in a pool of “recommended teachers” that will be screened and contacted for interviews by local primary and secondary schools throughout Hong Kong.
Why Would You Want to Join It?
The NET Scheme actually offers you some pretty good packages and incentives for staying around which is seen as a luxury by those of us who are in the Kindergarten segment of the market as they don’t have a Master Pay Scale like the NET Scheme does. If you want to get an idea of what your salary might be, the EDB offers a helpful guide for both primary schools and secondary schools here.
The NET Scheme also offers certain fringe benefits that they have listed here, straight from the horse's mouth. We aren’t saying that horses work in the EDB, but it is possible…
“NETs are entitled to the fringe benefits (including Special Allowance, Passage/Baggage Allowance and Medical Insurance) under the NET Scheme in Primary Schools / Enhanced NET Scheme in Secondary Schools only if their normal place of residence is established to be outside Hong Kong.”
This last sentence about having your “normal” place of residence outside of Hong Kong causes a bit of confusion as to who is/isn’t allowed special fringe benefits like housing allowance.
Some teachers claim that it isn’t possible to receive a housing allowance if you’re a permanent resident of Hong Kong while others have disputed it. What is clear is some people are getting a housing allowance even if they are a Hong Kong Permanent Resident and some aren’t. It’s more than likely the case that people who are claiming housing allowance have dual nationalities and are able to say their “normal” place of residence is in another country. Either that or they are able to show significant connections to their country in order to get a housing allowance.
How Do I Get On the NET Scheme?
The EDB actually offers a pretty simple breakdown of what is required of prospective candidates. It’s worth mentioning that you should know what grade you want to teach as the requirements are slightly different for primary and secondary positions.
When you are applying for the NET Scheme, you will be graded based on your qualifications. We’ve talked about qualifications before and it’s something that matters when applying to the NET Scheme as they put you into categories that denote the order of priority you will be given when schools are looking for teachers. If you have a bachelor’s degree in English, a recognised teacher qualification in primary/secondary, and a TEFL/TESL (or equivalent recognised by the EDB) you will be in category one, which will give you the best chance of getting onto the NET Scheme and make you more attractive to schools looking to pick up a great teacher.
If you aren’t quite as qualified, don’t worry, the EDB will still consider you if you have a bachelor’s degree in any subject and a TEFL/TESL* (or equivalent recognised by the EDB), however, this will put you in category 4 (the lowest) which makes it difficult for you to be noticed by schools, although you still may have some success with landing a job. Teachers have mentioned that it is possible to land a job, but being in a lower bracket may affect which school you are offered in terms of banding*.
Note on TEFL/TESL* If you are thinking of taking one, make sure you take one that has a practical component. Courses with a practical component are favoured over ones that don’t have a practical component.
Note on banding* In Hong Kong when a school is referred to by “band” it gives you an idea of what kind of school it is in terms of academic achievements. Most parents want their children to go to a “band 1” school which is considered excellent. “Band 2” is run-of-the-mill and “band 3” is considered a poor school, academically speaking.
Passing the Interview
Once you have submitted your papers, if you are successful, you will hear back from the EDB inviting you for an interview. The interview lasts roughly forty-five minutes to an hour and consists of a spoken and written component.
Spoken Component- Roughly lasting thirty minutes, teachers get asked about their teaching philosophy and knowledge of the local curriculum, so make sure you have read at least the footnotes of the local curricula! The primary one can be found here, and the secondary one is here. Having this knowledge will make you more familiar with what your role as a NET will be, thus more desirable, too!
Written Component- This is somewhat easier. Lasting roughly twenty minutes, you are offered a choice to write about one of three topics. Schools want to know that you have a good command of written English which is pretty standard in the private sector, too. Nobody wants an English teacher that can’t write!
Once you’ve gotten through the interview, it’s important to remind yourself that even if you are successful, it doesn’t mean you have a job. All it means is that you are part of a “teacher-soup” that schools can sample and pick from. Teachers have noted that you can apply directly to schools also instead of just waiting to hear back from the EDB. This is probably the smarter thing to do. You want to be exploring as many avenues as possible. Teachers have also mentioned that you can find teaching jobs in the private sector that will likely match what the NET Scheme is offering in terms of pay scale and benefits so don’t rule those options out.
Looking for Work
While some teachers here back from the EDB regarding possible jobs, you should also be applying to schools directly. A good place to start is by looking at the primary and secondary school profiles website and sending out your C.V. It isn’t uncommon for teachers to spend a whole day emailing each school to widen their chances of getting a job.
What’s It LIke Working on The NET Scheme?
Each teachers experience of the NET scheme will be different but there is something that almost all teachers on the NET Scheme agree on, and that is that there is no uniform standard across schools. How management operates and how schools implement and use the curriculum will be different from school to school, so your best bet is to look up the schools you would like to join to get a better ideas of what you might be dealing with. A good place to start for primary schools is by looking at the Primary Schools Profile website. The one for secondary schools can be found here. These should provide a base to explore each school further.
The EDB offers a FAQ section that might be useful to some of you looking for further information on all things related to the NET Scheme here.
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Thank you so much for reading!