Frequently Asked Questions
English Language Teachers
1. Can you tell me about the relationship between Education Development Trust and CfBT Brunei?
CfBT Brunei is part of Education Development Trust (formerly CfBT Education Trust). The Trust is a global education organisation with a Head Office in the UK and regional offices in Brunei, UAE and Kenya. The Trust aims to transform lives around the globe by improving schools and school systems, working with governments, donor organisations or clusters of schools in education reform projects.
2. Can you tell me more about the work of CfBT in Brunei?
CfBT Education Services has been working with the Ministry of Education (MoE) in Brunei for over 35 years. Our focus is to raise the proficiency and attainment levels of Bruneian students through high impact teaching and learning in classrooms, specialised national support and intervention programmes, and the continuous building of our own and local capacity across primary and secondary schools and sixth form colleges.
As an employee of CfBT, you have the opportunity to make an important contribution to the success of the project through your specialised teaching, and involvement in education projects and professional development opportunities.
3. What is the interview and approval process?
The interview is conducted by a panel consisting of one of our Education Project Managers (EPMs), a CfBT Brunei HR representative, and a representative from the Brunei MoE who usually sits in to hear the interview and make notes. If you are successful, you will be placed on an eligibility list which is valid for one year. The outcome of a candidate interview is jointly decided by CfBT and MoE, and notification to the candidate is normally released within two weeks. Please note that notification to successful candidates is subject to the submission of the required documentation.
4. How long will my contract be?
An initial contract of employment is offered from January of the first year through to December of the following year (i.e. two years). If a teacher commences later in the year, the contract will still end in December of the following year.
5. What are the schools like?
Schools in the country vary widely in terms of size, age, location and state of repair, from the very modern to those in some need of renovation. Primary and most secondary schools have teaching in the morning only but one secondary school has over 2,000 students who split into two shifts: morning and afternoon. Most secondary schools, however, have around 1,000 students. Primary schools usually have around 300-400 students, although some have as few as 100, or as many as 1,000. It should be noted that you could be posted by CfBT to any school, on either morning or afternoon shift. However, we always consider your individual preferences when making the posting decision.
A secondary school is run by a principal, who is usually Bruneian, assisted by two deputy principals. There is a fairly standard hierarchy below that of senior teachers and heads of departments. In primary schools, there is a Head Teacher (Guru Besar) who is usually assisted by a deputy, although this depends on the size of the school.
In secondary schools, there are generally 3-6 CfBT teachers but some have fewer and some have more. In primary schools, there is usually only one CfBT teacher, who may also be the only expatriate in the school. However, primary teachers work closely with Bruneian colleagues in the school’s English department and liaise with class teachers over student progress and welfare.
Class sizes vary greatly from school to school. The smaller primary schools may have as few as five students in a class, whereas larger primary schools may have up to thirty-five per class, although this is rare. The average class size is somewhere between fifteen and twenty-four students.
In secondary schools, class sizes average around 20-25 students depending on the school and student level. Some schools have fewer students. One or two have slightly larger numbers of students.
6. What is it like to live in Temburong District?
Temburong is the easternmost district of Brunei and is separated from the rest of the country. A bridge connecting Temburong to the main districts of Brunei was completed in early 2020. It takes approximately one hour to drive from Temburong to the capital, via the bridge.
Temburong is a quiet and peaceful district, with largely unspoilt jungle and beautiful natural surroundings. It is quieter than the main urban areas of Brunei and suits teachers who are self-contained, enjoy more rural areas and are content with a limited variety of restaurants and entertainment.
There are 4 secondary posts and 7 primary posts based in Temburong. Only teachers without dependant children can be posted to Temburong due to the distance to the international schools.
7. How should I dress in school?
The appropriate dress for Brunei is fairly conservative, both in your professional and personal life.
At school, male teachers should wear smart long trousers with long sleeved shirts and tie. They should wear smart shoes with socks but not sandals. Some teachers prefer to wear a traditional long-sleeved Malay style shirt with Mandarin collar. With this, a tie is not required.
Female teachers are required to wear skirts in school, strictly no trousers. The neckline of the blouse should be high and sleeves need to be below the elbow, but preferably full length. Hemlines should be at least mid-calf but, again, preferably full length. Often women choose to wear the traditional baju kurong which consists of a full-length skirt with a tunic style top and can be made to order easily.
8. What are the students like?
Most of the students are Malay Muslims, but there are also a large number of Chinese students who may be Bruneian citizens or permanent residents. In more rural areas indigenous groups may be represented.
In terms of ability and motivation, Bruneian students are on a par with their counterparts anywhere around the world. They range from highly motivated to reluctant learners with a range of abilities and needs. English proficiency varies greatly among students with some having little to no English to those with a good command of the language.
As in any country, discipline problems do exist, although they tend to be born of frustration and manifest themselves more in lethargy than in confrontation. Systems to deal with such problems are in place in most schools, though they may not always reflect home-country systems.
9. What is the the school year?
The school year runs from January to November.
The main holiday takes place at the end of the school year in December. There are around 10/11 weeks school holiday per year, usually taking place in March, June, September and December, though certain holidays are dependent on the timing on Ramadhan.
10. What is the school day and week like?
Teaching takes place from 7.30 – 12.30 on Monday to Thursday and on Saturday with teachers normally arriving at school between 7.00 – 7.15 for morning assembly or form duties. There is a split weekend on Friday and Sunday.
A normal teaching load is typically about 14-18 curricular contact hours a week or 28-36 teaching periods of 30 minutes each. Teachers in general teach up to a maximum of 6 periods in any one day. All teachers normally have a block of two or three co-curricular/extra-curricular (CCA/ECA) periods once per week in addition to their curricular loading. Teachers also have to be in school for 4 ‘stay-backs’ of 1.5 hours for an additional 6 hours per week. This time is set aside for clubs, extra classes, meetings, professional development, planning and preparation. All teachers are expected to be available until 4.30 for any school-related activities though you are frequently able to leave before then.
Because of pressure of numbers, one secondary school runs a double shift (7.30-12.30 then 12.30-5.30), but teachers will only work one of those shifts.
11. What resources are available?
In primary, there are class sets of graded phonic readers in each school issued by the Curriculum Development Department (CDD). For Pra, CDD has produced thematic posters and flashcards that align with the syllabus units. In addition, there is a wide range of teaching materials that have been developed by our teachers. Some of these are distributed during your Induction Programme while others can be accessed on the CfBT intranet.
In secondary, there are core textbooks produced by CDD for each syllabus which are issued to every student. CfBT has also produced many support resources over time and these are also available in schools or from CfBT.
In three of the four districts of Brunei, there is a CfBT Education Centre, with a fairly extensive stock of books, magazines, videos, etc. as well as photocopying facilities. As resourcing levels vary from school to school, each teacher has an annual photocopying allowance which can be used in the Education Centres.
In primary schools, teaching is supported by a bespoke curriculum designed to meet the needs of the Bruneian student, the primary syllabus in which all learning objectives for the year are provided for each year group and a teaching programme from Pre-school to Year 6.
In secondary schools, teachers generally design their own programmes depending on the school, student level and student needs. All schools do have schemes of work but our experienced teachers usually create their own schemes.
12. What technology is typically available in schools?
Schools vary in the amount of technology available to teachers. An increasing number of schools now have interactive whiteboards and data projectors in some classrooms, though most do not have these yet. Schools usually have an ICT room but it usually needs to be booked in advance by teachers. Access to the Internet or WiFi also varies and may not be available at all schools.
13. Who is my line manager and how is my performance measured?
There are six Education Project Managers (EPMs), including a Head of Primary and a Head of Secondary, who are your line managers. Teacher performance is ascertained through a variety of means such as Advisory Lesson Visits, Walkthroughs, Teacher Record Audits (work scrutiny), formal Performance Review Meetings, target setting and feedback from school leaders. Learning conversations are a key part of this aspect of professional learning. Teacher classroom performance is assessed against the Brunei Teaching Standards (BTS) and the Teacher Performance Appraisal (TPA 2.0), both of which are criteria based.
14. What are my Safeguarding responsibilities as a teacher?
A CfBT teacher must demonstrate a commitment to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. This includes a clear commitment to implementing and adhering to CfBT’s safeguarding policies and code of conduct, thus ensuring the safety, health and well-being of children and students is maintained at all times.
Safeguarding responsibilities of CfBT teachers include the following:
• Providing a safe and respectful environment in which children can learn.
• Remaining vigilant and reporting any safeguarding and child protection concerns.
• Ensuring all safeguarding and child protection concerns are reported and recorded as per CfBT’s safeguarding reporting procedures.
15. What is my relationship with the school administration?
Whilst your EPM will be your direct line manager and responsible for your performance management, you will be part of a Bruneian school team, working collegially with local staff members and taking direction from the school administration.
16. What educational projects can I get involved in?
CfBT partners with the Ministry of Education annually on a range of national educational initiatives and programmes. All CfBT teachers are expected to contribute where appropriate to these activities as qualified and experienced specialists in participant, support or lead roles. Teachers are encouraged to apply for leading roles which often have additional remuneration attached to them.
- O Level and IGCSE ESL teacher training
- Secondary exam item writing and reviewing
- Vocabulary and communication workshops
- Learning study peer observation programme
- Primary and secondary item development training
CfBT also runs a number of internal educational initiatives that are typically led by teachers. Our current programmes include:
- Communities of Practice (CoPs)
- Internal continuing professional development
EPMs are responsible for the management of our projects and provide on-going support to teachers in all roles.
17. What professional development is available?
CfBT is committed to the continuing growth and development of all of its teachers. As a learning organisation we are responsible for the capacity building of all our staff. We therefore offer a range of formal and informal development opportunities with ranging degrees of financial assistance for all involved.
Current professional learning on offer includes:
- CELTA and DELTA Cambridge courses
- Malay language training
- CIE on-line courses
- Language awareness workshops
- In-service awards for relevant postgraduate study
- TET Fellowships in ASEAN countries
- Annual specialised CPD for all CfBT teachers
18. What is the induction period?
The induction period starts on the first day after arrival and is usually 2 weeks long. Both welfare and educational sessions are held which cover topics such as the education system, syllabi and schemes of work, assessment and reporting, Ministry of Education expectations, school visits, medical services and insurance, purchasing a car, housing options, customs and culture, company policies and procedures, and safeguarding training. We also assist with immigration matters and banking, and we provide advice on obtaining a local drivers’ license.
19. What are the salary and benefits?
The salary range upon commencement is from BND$3,500 to BND$5,000 (tax free), based on qualifications and years of experience as a teacher. A bonus is paid upon completion of the contract period, which is 1/6th of the salary earned during the contract.
Benefits provided to a teacher in Brunei include the following:
- Furnished rent-free accommodation according to marital status and family size. Please see also our answer to the question 20: “What sort of accommodation is provided?”
- Incoming and return (at end of employment in Brunei) economy-class flights for employee and dependents, and baggage allowances.
- Medical insurance coverage for the employee and dependents with premiums paid for by CfBT. Please see also our answer to question 23: “How is medical coverage provided for teachers in Brunei?”
- Generous education allowance for private primary/secondary schooling for up to two dependent children, or four children where both husband and wife are employed full-time by CfBT as teachers.
- Child allowance for up to three dependent children who are below school age.
- Interest-free computer loan.
- Interest-free car loan.
- Annual flight allowance paid in the second year of the contract, upon acceptance by the employee of the offer of a subsequent contract.
- Financial assistance for continuing professional development.
20. What sort of accommodation is provided?
Temporary accommodation upon arrival in Brunei will be a house, hotel or apartment, during which time teachers may view permanent accommodation options using either a real estate agent or information provided by our Property & Facilities team.
Teachers have a permanent accommodation choice of either a house or an apartment. Most accommodation is furnished although some teachers prefer unfurnished accommodation so that they can furnish it themselves. Accommodation will have curtains/blinds for most windows, a lounge set for the living room, a dining set, and beds and cupboards, while kitchens will be fitted with a cooker, oven and fridge. Most rooms have air conditioning units.
21. Do I need to be able to drive in Brunei?
Teachers need to be able to drive a car as public transport is limited, which effectively prevents you from getting to school, to the CfBT office, to government offices or to social events by yourself. During the induction period CfBT will provide you with a rental car to enable you to undertake essential activities and errands, as well as look at permanent housing options.
There is an active second-hand car market with a wide range of car models available. CfBT offers an interest-free loan of up to B$10,000 for the purchase of a vehicle.
All foreign residents need to pass a manual driving test in Brunei before they can be issued a driver’s licence.
Some teachers with school-aged children opt to purchase two cars to facilitate travel to work and school-runs.
22. What type of schooling is available for school age dependents?
Most teachers enrol their primary or secondary school children with one of the following two schools:
- International School Brunei (ISB) www.isb.edu.bn
- Jerudong International School (JIS) www.jerudonginternationalschool.com
Some of our teachers enrol their children in the following schools:
- St Andrew’s School
- Yayasan Primary and Secondary Schools
A small number of our teachers choose to enrol their children in a distance or home-based learning programme for which an education allowance is also provided.
23. How is medical coverage provided for teachers in Brunei?
Medical care in Brunei is not free for foreign residents. Therefore, CfBT provides health insurance coverage for teachers and their families, with annual premiums paid for by the Company. This covers inpatient and outpatient care. There is an excess of BND$300 which applies to outpatient claims.
For the first year of employment with CfBT, pre-existing medical conditions are excluded from the coverage provided for a teacher or any dependent.
24. Where can I find out more information about teaching in Brunei?
Please view the CfBT Education Services website at www.cfbt.org and a collection of videos about teaching and living in Brunei on our website at www.cfbt.org/resources. If you would like to find out more about Education Development Trust and our work globally, please view www.educationdevelopmenttrust.com.
Block D, Unit 5 & 6, Kiarong Complex
Lebuhraya Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah
Bandar Seri Begawan BE1318