Sunday, November 1, 2009


Yes, yes, YES!! This month I shall be bringing you a whole range of exciting information about the UK's EFL school accreditation process, kindly presided over by the British Council and English UK. As you probably know, these two organisations represent the greedy bastards known as employers, and really enjoy their task of shafting EFL's most important resource - the humble EFL teacher. Oh, and there's also a poll on the right (or rather, there will be when I get round to it), so you can make your own opinion known - interactive or what, eh?!

First off though is a recent submission from Agent D, currently doing battle with the Tefl bastards in London. This below is what he had to say the other day about his attempts to understand Britain's whacky Tefl Trade...

I am finding it hard to take this Tefl thing seriously at present. It seems that organisations expect teachers to be highly conscientious, always open to self improvement, and prepared to read up on or attend the gut-wrenchingly dull methodology seminars/literature (often apparently created by people on the autistic spectrum), while most companies /schools for are just in it for cash - and the British Council has no intention of including teachers' conditions in its protracted accreditation process.

I put this last point to a woman on the English UK stall at the language show today. She said she had no reply to my question. It was worth going to though, for the free pencils and high contingency of young females present.

Fair point, Agent D. I'm glad to see that your priorities were spot on too - I guess the young lady at the English UK looked a bit of a go-er, eh? And let's face it - wouldn't a good shag be a fuck sight better than a job in EFL right now!?!

Anyway, before I get a little too carried away with matters that are really not at all connected to Tefl, let me open Accreditation Month on the Tefl Tradesman with a posting of mine from a couple of years or so back. I mean, if I can't pillage my own back catalogue of rantings, what's the bloody point of hanging on to all this stuff?


English UK - They Don't Care, You Don't Matter

Or should that be ‘you don’t care, they don’t matter’? We’ll come back to that later, anyway, if I can remember to.

Actually, I’m presuming you’ve all heard of English UK, the Cosa Nostra of the British EFL scene? They ensure that EFL teachers get low wages and minimal job security through being an employers’ cartel, basically, although they themselves wouldn’t put things quite so bluntly.

Quite how they do put things is evident in this month’s issue of the EL Gazette, where they have responded at length to a reasonable enough request from a disgruntled Tefler (just how many of those are there in the UK, I wonder?). The teacher asked English UK just what they were prepared to do to resolve the parlous situation that British EFL teachers find themselves in regarding pay, conditions, low morale, etc. He ends his letter with the entirely practical question ‘are you part of the solution or part of the problem?’, which I seem to recall from the 1960s as a radical yippie slogan.

Of course, he could have saved himself the wasted ink and the stamp, not to mention the effort of writing in the first place. The replies, from Sue Bromby and Michael Wills, the two joint chairs of English UK, were Mandelson-like in their blandness and refusal to be committal in any way. In essence, they ain’t gonna do nuthin’, but the manner in which they put this across is a real triumph of marketing-speak.

Mr Wills makes the cringe-inducing statement that ”the guarantee of quality (presumably the British Council kitemark) costs the industry a lot”. That may be so, but who ends up paying for it? And what sort of guarantee is BC accreditation, anyway? In my experience, most schools just pay lip-service to the BC, especially when it’s inspection time. Otherwise, it’s back to normal – charge as much as you can, and offer the minimum, thus fleecing both the customers and the teachers.

What’s worse, he offers this glimpse of Teflerian logic: “the UK is probably the most expensive EFL destination in the world” – which is why the pay’s crap, apparently. So, should we all shoot off to third-world countries to get a better salary? Yes, Mr Wills, Britain is an expensive place to live in; that’s precisely why the teachers need a proper salary!

Sue Bromby offers a bit more window-dressing, but makes the outstandingly disingenuous comment that more trade unions in the private EFL sector would help to resolve things. Yes, Sue – have you ever tried to get unions recognized at a private EFL outfit? The boss would just laugh, very loudly, right in your face, and then show you the door.

Amazingly, she also states that what English UK can do to push things along a bit is “to continue to promote the accredited British ELT sector as the best in the world”. Pure marketing bollocks, in other words – more spit’n’polish, more glossy brochures, but nothing of any real substance.

Like I said, they don’t care – and neither do you, probably. It’s just a job, after all. Only the likes of Michael Wills, Sue Bromby, and other similar-minded snake-oil salesmen can look forward to making a well-paid career out of it. And they’re well away from the classroom now, aren’t they?

First published: 11 February 2006

PS: The suggestion that the 'letter' from that 'disgruntled Tefler' was in fact an e-mail from no less a person than a certain Sandy McManus himself is entirely without foundation - just like SM's teaching style!


Shaun Ryder said...

Heh. And tee hee. Might send you a little bit of a 'nonymous report soon, lad. Bit more up to date an' that: summat kickin' off soon BC-wise. Don't fookin' tell no-one it were me though, eh.

bez said...

Shaun, get off the crackpipe and spil the beanz... fookin let us ave it, our kid.

The TEFL Tradesman said...

Yeah, come on Shaunie - the entire UK Tefl Trade is poised, waiting to pounce on you and your answers! What tasty info do you have? Is it legit? Pull yer finger out, laddy!!

Shau Ryder said...

Aye, ir'll be legit an' that. Iss about that The British Coontsil. A couple of weeks an' I'll get round to it, yeh.

Bez said...

ya lazy fooka. coupla weeks yu'l be dead. gityerselftugetha an rite sum serious stuff bout british c, an im not talkin bout the stoof what you sniff thru yer nose an' smerk. do sumthing brave feronceinyerlife kid.

Anonymous said...

Look at this drivel from supposed teachers - and they want more pay?
Couldn't make it up.

Bez said...

'drivel'? what sort of pompous prick uses that kinda language these days? ah yeah anonymous fookin' troll, how fookin' cleva. now where was i?

Ok, British coontsil. I rang them last week. See thought aye’d lost me certificate thingy what you need to like, show ‘em that you’re suitable an all that. It’s on their ac-cruditation malkarky. This lass answers the phone and see’s real helpful, like.

Aye asked her, do i need the originals or will a paper scan be ok? She looked through the dead long list of stuff and said, -no i don’t think you do. But she advised I talk to this other lady who was more senior but who turned out to be all stuffy like and a real daft cow.

First thing she said was, sumthing like (and of course this ain’t the exact word for word but you get the drift),
Well of course you need your original document.

I don’t see why any school would employ you without it, you silly tefl peasant.
So she had me down for some ex junkie, ex e popping brain-dead goofy dancer when i replied, ‘ok so can you like, show me in your ac-cruditation list where it says what you just said?

So she reads out some mumbo jumbo and i point out that it doesn’t say that at all. I ask here, why did you just tell me it said the peasants need to give the ‘riginals when it don’t say that in the handbook?

She carries on all prig like, but the fact is i caught her oot an’ she knows it. fooka like me, like no way would them lot employ me for their posho an’ hard to get jobs abroad but when it comes down to it, i tell ya, them stiff upper lips are as shifty as the guys doing laptop scams out of vans in Salford.

The TEFL Tradesman said...

One of my 'moles' hidden deep in the bowels of the Tefl Trade business has just sent me this...


Downtrodden Teflers might like to note that the UK Borders Agency, who now run the Tier 4 student visas system, DO care a little more about teachers' terms and conditions. As a government enforcement agency, they take a very dim view of flagrant breaches of employment law by sponsors. Sponsors have to be (in the UKBA's opinion) a "fit and proper person." I'm on the case finding out what the implications of this are in practice, and how teachers can benefit from the UKBA's more serious approach to upholding the law in the Tefl sector"

Hmm - a 'fit and proper person', eh? That should eliminate almost half of the bastards currently running language schools (and English UK), I reckon. Can't wait to see how this one pans out!

Agent D said...

The sponsors are listed under lists A and B which the UKBA says, 'The register of sponsors lists all organisations that the UK Border Agency has approved to employ migrants or sponsor migrant students .

a list can be downloaded from the ukba's website at:

I think I'm right in stating that this list applies to October's Teir 4 revised application form.


Agent D said...

The TEFL Tradesman said...

Thanks very much for that, Agent D. Keep 'em peeled, wuntcha!>

Clarence Rhode said...

'Fit and proper person'? That explains a lot.

The Windsor English website now admits that Paul Lowe has failed the accreditation tests, but is still 'seeking to reactivate the process.'

No doubt he will be successful.

Being a convicted criminal serving a nine month prison sentence for fraud (with a mental illness disclosed in court in his own mitigation). . .well, if that's not 'a fit and proper person' - what is??!

At least UKBA got this one right. . .

Anonymous said...

Hardly surprising really. English UK is just a collection of muppets who collect fees from member schools, and really only have an interest in protecting about 20 of the top schools. They have no interest in teachers, only Agents and collecting their membership fees.

Complete waste of space!

Kaptain Krapper said...

And why should they care about teachers? That is not their job. Everybody has vested interests. If EFL teachers weren't generally such hopeless losers unable to organise the proverbial, they'd probably have a Union or something .

Ulysses said...

It's time we had our own union. If you want to read how those at the top in EFL - English UK - act as apologists for keeping wages low, read Mr Mike Wills disgraceful letter in last February's EFL Gazette. Remember, this is from a guy who owns a long-standing successful school - it says all you need to know.

We have to organize; at least to the point of pushing people like Natfhe to make a real fight to improve our pathetic, arguably immoral wages.

Anonymous said...

not all schools are terrible, my school in manchester pays £17 an hour. it is a kind of vicious circle of poor schools and poor teachers. We have all worked at our fair share of rubbish schools but also met a huge amount of rubbish teachers. Neither one works together and neither one has an apprieciation of each other's postion. My school has a really hard selection process, and we work like dogs but we get sent on delta courses for free and earn a really good wage. Its mutually respectful. Only when schools invest in teachers and teachers stop coming to work dressed like tramps, stinking of booze and half pissed will the situation change, union or not.

The TEFL Tradesman said...

Dear anon (above, if, as you state, 'teachers stop coming to work dressed like tramps, stinking of booze and half pissed' then half the EFL schools in the UK would cease to function!

But if the schools treat their teachers as an important resource, rather than disposable razors, and pay them a decent salary, then I think you'd find the appearance of EFL teachers changing quite considerably, and for the better!

Anonymous said...

Look at the language the dancing happy monday prick uses. Looks like some northern drivel to me. How these people keeps jobs is beyond me.
But soft, is it a pretense of literary type? Like a sort of DH Lawrence type thang. Who knows but it ain't art.
Name and address provided

Anonymous said...

Hmm 17 quid per teaching hour? It's not that great really. For 25 hours a week that's about 22 grand a year, which is like an entry level graduate job. TEFl in the middle east and you might get some good money. Let's face it, tefl is alright if you do it as a travelling 20 something and then go on to other things later. Once you make it to the dizzy heights of middle eastern TEFL, you know you've hit the top and it's time to look for something else.

P.S. TEFL wages and conditions are low because there are plenty of willing teflers. Simple economics.