So, my Diploma in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. This is the high-level qualification in ELT, compared with the basic one I did at the start of my career; this is how you get senior teacher/Director of Studies type jobs or can train new teachers. It’d also be, I think/hope, a solid argument for ‘give me a job at an academy [aka a school where you don’t need the legal thing of teacher status like you do in normal schools] - I have a third of a Master’s in a teaching subject and years of experience - while I get the next qualification’. I don’t know if I’ll do that yet!
Exam's at the end of November so I probably won't be around much til then, is the big thing.
I did the first two parts in May (practical teaching and a phonology exam) and now the summer’s done, so it’s time to do the next two parts. I might actually beat the school record for getting this done, which is ten months. One of them is the exam I’m doing at the end of November. It’s a shame, actually, because I’d like to give myself more time to prepare, but it doesn’t happen again until May and I can’t wait that long.
The other part is coursework -- three parts. I've started Part 1, just got the write-up/analysis left. Which is great -- it involves ten hours of observing other classes, and you need six students minimum in a class for the observation to ‘count’. The student numbers get really low in the winter, so it’s a bit of a race to get this done.
There are two other parts after that; one also needs six students minimum, over fifteen hours of basically my trying new things in my classroom and then recording it. I’d like to do that in December - my boss would give me a class with six students to help me get it done, if one exists. And then comes the independent research project. It’s like a 3k wordcount, though, so I think I can get it done by my birthday (21st of February), although that depends on my highly unpredictable work hours. At least if I end up with really little work - I’m on a zero-hours contract - I’ll be doing something useful with the unpaid time.
And then, since you normally hear in about four-six weeks after submitting coursework, I should have an escape hatch of a high-level teaching qualification ready to go in March or April. Which is VITAL.
My school’s already teetering on the edge - there’ve been a couple of redundancies and it’s not a big place. The English-as-a-foreign-language industry in London was going downhill well before the Brexit referendum, and a few established schools have had to close. So if there’s no deal, meaning the economy maybe goes into freefall and the EFL industry definitely takes a serious hit from visa and international-reputation stuff and that finally does for my school - well, at least the Diploma would help me jump ship.
And honestly, when the time comes round again next April for getting new jobs (we’re a seasonal business with lots of work in summer, so you change jobs in June-ish and hope they keep you on) I’m quite likely gonna leave, either way. That’ll be three years here, so at least I’ll have my first solid stint, which is especially important if I end up leaving the industry - people moving around a lot & being on limited-term contracts is common, here, but without that context I’ll look like a massive job-hopper.
As for why I’m gonna leave - well, I’m not sure the school is stable. But the owners are also untrustworthy cowards, as it turns out.
So the school’s a family business; used to belong to the dad, I think, and now M is the owner and J, his sister, is part-owner and also the accountant. If that seems shady, you’re NOT WRONG. The school hasn’t been profitable in years but it also gives M and J their well-paying jobs so it sort of doesn’t matter - except I’ve heard from a couple of credible sources that M paid for his daughter’s destination wedding using the school’s money, to the tune of six figures. There’s a board of directors and I don’t think they know.
So they were always dodgy, and bad at running a business, and would just stop paying for a service until they got cut off from it. But honestly the school was still the least-dodgy London school I’ve worked in for any real length of time. Only it’s got worse.
They hired this part-time CEO to help them make proper money maybe six months ago? He’s never introduced himself to the teachers and sent out a vague ‘here’s the plan’ email to only the people who teach more expensive classes, so we’re not fond of him. He apparently knew the owner M personally? Plus supposedly he brought in outside investment and was part of the conditions for that investment, except now I’m hearing the ‘outside investment’ was just more of M and J’s dad’s money. IDK.
Our principal, i.e. sort of the office manager and a truly lovely guy, got made redundant a few weeks ago. He’d worked there for twenty-five years, he was two years off of retirement, and they gave him no warning and they did it BY EMAIL. On a Saturday, telling him not to come in on Monday.
WHAT THE FUCK.
And then we found out that the reason the very nice cleaner - who I see a lot because I teach evening classes - had walked out with no notice was that he HADN’T BEEN PAID IN THREE MONTHS. So crazily illegal and awful.
So both of those make me feel like… I don’t wanna help these people make money? Plus the other teachers are a huge part of why I like working here, and they’re almost all looking to leave. The place doesn’t seem stable, and I’m on a zero hours contract - I think I’d probably get nothing if I was ‘made redundant’.
And THEN this month, several teachers were paid a few days late, and my colleague/flatmate SasukeFan4Lyfe didn’t get her holiday pay included. Now that could’ve been because the principal did payroll and he got made redundant, and this was the deputy Director of Studies’ first time doing it. Except he explicitly confirmed to SasukeFan4Lyfe that the holiday pay thing was because there wasn’t enough money in the account, and the teachers getting paid late seemed… not random. Like it happened to evening staff who M and J wouldn’t have to face, and one full-time teacher - the one who almost certainly earnt the most this month.
This would already be illegal and shady as hell, especially the lack of warning/transparency or offers to make it right on overdraft costs. But it’s also REALLY concerning about the school’s situation. The deputy DOS did tell my flatmate no when she asked if the school was gonna shut down in the next two months, and I think seemed a bit surprised? But even the principal barely suspected he might get made redundant. More importantly, we’re a seasonal business. London English schools make all their proper profit over the summer; the rest of the time we’re just ticking over. They weren’t paying the cleaner over the summer, and now this has happened at the start of October. Plus they played silly buggers with our pay for the last week of August - we only got it with our pay from September. If it’s this bad already, it’s gonna be really fucking rough by January.
IDK. I’m here til next March at the least. Hopefully we stagger on til then, and hopefully my colleagues who’re looking to leave get new jobs quickly - for their sake mostly, but also so I’ve got a better shot at getting proper hours this winter! Last February I made enough to cover my rent, but literally nothing else. Food and transport required an overdraft.
So yeah… things are messy rn. I’m just glad I’m in the classroom. Sometimes it sucks to be a teacher when your management’s shitty, cos you can’t really do a slow-down or work-to-rule or anything without hurting your students, even if we were unionised. But at least we get to avoid M and J and their part-time CEO mate!
This was originally posted at https://lokifan.dreamwidth.org/376154.html. Comment wherever you like :)