Teaching at a Private School

In this article we take a look at the procedure of getting hired to teach at a private school.


Global Partners is an education company that sends teachers to private schools throughout Tokyo and Japan while providing the service ‘EduCareer’ to help teachers level up to direct-hire contracts with their schools.

What are Private Schools like?

Private schools are funded by financial stakeholders and student tuition, this allows independence in their policies for student admission and educational standards.

Assistant Language Teacher (ALTs) positions exist in private schools, but most positions are for Lead English Language Teacher (ELTs) positions for teachers capable of performing every aspect of English education. There is a growing need for teachers for integrated English, where another subject is taught in English. There are also homeroom teacher positions for private International Schools. Despite the difference in positions, there are some similarities to be expected.

Full-time contracts are usually 20 hours a week, 6-7 lessons per day at 50 minutes long with 40 students per class. Working hours are 8:00am until 5:00pm at minimum, Monday to Friday with occasional events on weekends. Some contracts can only be renewed 2 or 3 years, while others are indefinite. But contract renewal usually follows the academic calendar of Japan.

What is the Academic Calendar of Japan?

For most schools the year is divided into three semesters. The first semester begins in April and runs until late July. Beginning with the Entrance Ceremony, the official welcome and introduction for new students and teachers, with explanations of school beliefs and expectations. Followed by a separate Opening Ceremony, which defines the theme and agenda for the year. The first semester is split into “half terms” by mid-term and final examinations before summer vacation.

A direct-hire contract is when there is no middle-man between the school and the teacher. There are many benefits to this for both the school and teacher, but with a rise in responsibility as well.

Summer vacation is quite long for students, but many schools offer summer intensive courses, and teachers are expected to teach or plan during this period. With a shorter summer vacation for teachers, plans must be submitted to the Vice Principal well in advance. Sometimes requiring travel details and extra contact information as well. When traveling it is a good idea to bring back a cookie or treat as a souvenir for the faculty as this is a Japanese custom.

The second term is divided by exams as well, just like the first semester. But schools usually host large student festivals before the mid-term exams. Third-year students of Jr. and Sr. High School will begin to study for their entrance exams to High School and University moving into winter vacation.

Following the New Years Holiday the third semester begins with January and runs until the end of March. Many classes during this final semester will change or close in order to prepare students to study for entrance exams, which means that teacher duties may change as well. This is the shortest semester of the year ending with the Closing Ceremony. Held after the Graduation Ceremony, which is the largest, and most formal of the school ceremonies. Teachers may be expected to dress in a very specific fashion for this often emotional event.

The Japanese academic year begins and ends in Spring. So the hiring season begins as early as November, with the peak in early January, right up to the end of March. There are possibilities for openings all year long, but these are irregular and not always ideal.

What is the Hiring Procedure?

There are always more teachers than openings, but certain qualifications can help you stand out. A degree in Education is a big help but not necessary. CELTA, TEFL, and other English teaching certifications, or qualifications to teach other subjects can be gradually obtained while working or through intensive courses. Any work experience related to teaching and education is helpful. Experience and ability with Music, Art, Science, PE, Computers or Japanese language is also a plus. When lacking these, look for opportunities for extra part-time work to build up your resume. Because success breeds success and experience breeds experience. Maybe a private school contract is something you will have to build up to. Beware of breaking contracts and quitting prematurely. Because private schools follow up on your work history and references, and a professional track record shows signs of a dependable person. If you’re doing an excellent job now, than it’s only natural this will help you in the future. This is also true for teachers who are currently working at private schools and hoping to take on a direct-hire contract.

How do I get a Direct-Hire Contract?

This sort of relationship with your school is earned through hard-work and by being an essential member of the faculty. Direct-hire contracts are what other teachers in the school have, so there will be expectations that your duties will be fulfilled to the same degree by adopting a work ethic similar to your co-workers. By definition a full-time member is not meant to think about work hours, but to see them as guidelines. The clock is just something on the wall, and you’re not finished with your job until your job is finished with you. Because full-time teachers have responsibility not only for planning, grading, and teaching lessons but also for their student’s wellbeing outside of the classroom as well. Being involved in activities such as after-school clubs, applications to foreign universities, speech contests, and ideas to improve the school. In many success stories of teachers obtaining a direct-hire contract, it is the effort made outside of the classroom that convinced a school their teacher was vital to their organization, and requires a long-term direct-hire contract with all the benefits and compensations that entails.

This is where Global Partners stands apart with our Educareer service. Because we foster excellence in both teachers, schools, and students by encouraging direct-hire relationships. However, the heavy responsibilities may not be for everyone. Some teachers may prefer dispatch contracts, with their long vacations and flexibility. That said, Global Partners recommends positions with fixed rate 12 month salaries which pay for transportation costs to provide teacher security and stability.

Where do I begin?

If you are interested, the first step is to polish up your resume. Although the best season is late Autumn, it never hurts to check job listings on GaijinPot and sign up for interviews. Different dispatch companies all have their own procedures for the hiring process. Global Partners prefers face-to-face interviews with candidates before introducing them to schools where you may be expected to also interview with the head of the English department, perform a demonstration lesson, before a final interview with the top members of the school for the final decisions to be made.

Make sure you understand what will be required, ask questions, and see the school for yourself before you make your decision.

Global Partners is an educational support company, check out our jobs at: jobs.gaijinpot.com/globalpartners