Two teachers from Northern Ireland give their verdict…
Rachel and Derbiled, Northern Ireland
Arriving in a new country at 4.30am in the morning before having to spend two weeks in quarantine is far from an ideal start to any move. Yet two professional women who hailed from the same county in Northern Ireland but did not know each other have now developed a firm friendship in the new place they call home while strengthening the Isle of Man’s education cohort.
Rachel Lucas and Derbiled Boyle may have lived in the same province of Ulster but they never met each other until university.
Indeed, they were only brought together by a tutor. The rest is very much history.
Now Rachel and Derbiled share a home and a passion to help educate youngsters in the Isle of Man.
After completing an undergraduate degree at Queen’s University in Belfast, Rachel moved to Liverpool for her PGDE (Professional Graduate Diploma in Education).
Hailing from Carrowdore, a small village in County Down, she decided to make the move to the Isle of Man in August 2020 after accepting a role at Ballakermeen High School.
Only a few weeks earlier, Derbiled had relocated from Saintfield, County Down, to take up a post as a Religious Education teacher at Ramsey Grammar School.
‘It’s funny how things work out isn’t it,’ said Rachel. ‘After living in the countryside all my life, I wasn’t too keen on city life as it felt a bit claustrophobic so I had no plans to stay in Liverpool. I was planning to go back to Northern Ireland, although there was no guarantee of jobs for geography teachers, when the head of Ballakermeen came across.
‘In her speech she spoke about and showed footage of the Island and it really appealed. To cut a long story short, I ended up getting the job.
‘At that point, I found out through the tutor that Derbiled had been offered a teaching position and was looking for a place to live. She suggested we could live together which has worked out really well and we’ve both settled at a place in Crosby. My head teacher Adrienne even arranged viewings of property for us and had furniture delivered. She has gone out of her way to help and the Island already feels a very natural fit.’
As ‘really outdoorsy people’ both are enjoying Island life.
Hockey fan Rachel joined Valkyrs and has been ‘pleasantly surprised’ at the standard of Manx hockey. ‘I only thought there were a handful of clubs until I got here’.
As a keen rider, Derbiled has signed up to a local riding school and joined a running club.
‘It’s been great to meet new friends and I am on target to run a half marathon which I would never have thought possible. I didn’t even run before I came here! I now spend my weekends going for long walks and hiking and love the relaxed lifestyle. It is a nice pace of life and provides many opportunities to explore.’
That ‘laid back island-living’ besides the sea is what Rachel also loves, with trips to Peel for an ice cream a particular favourite.
The career prospects and progression provided in the Isle of Man has also not gone unnoticed by both women.
‘The rate you can progress here is clear,’ added Derbiled ‘with opportunities to gain experience in all areas of school life and the chance to apply for extra roles within the school.
‘As well as that, the atmosphere is very laid back. All the schools work together and you get an opportunity to meet teachers from other schools.’
That view is echoed by Rachel: ‘One of the first things that struck me was how welcoming everyone was within the school and the sense of community both in and out of work. My now not-so-new colleagues are really friendly, I have a good set of students who helped me settle into school life.
‘Naturally, I was a bit apprehensive because I had not been to the Isle of Man before, had little idea of what it was like and I was moving in the middle of a pandemic. The boat arrived at half past four in morning, it was dark and we had to then spend two weeks in quarantine in a new house. The welcome was warm though and you remember that. Even at that time of the morning my new head was there to meet the boat and we both followed her car to our new home. After the two week isolation period, that I had literally a few days to look round, explore and find my bearings and then school started so it took a while to get to know what the Island was like.
‘I didn’t really have pre-conceived ideas or worries coming here so I take every day as it comes. What I can tell you now is that it provides a safe, relaxed way of life and the countryside and views are second to none. There are lots of benefits for teachers too such as monthly housing payments. It all helps.’
As for anyone considering relocating as teacher: ‘I would tell them that, for me, it has been the best thing I have ever done,’ added Derbiled. ‘The people, the job, the experience is once in a lifetime. Although it is very hard to spend time away from family – especially during Covid – everyone here is so welcoming and you make a whole new family on the island. The Isle of Man is simply beautiful!’