So, here's the next instalment in the Tefl petition saga. I present, with total impartiality - which is a very queer thing for me - two views from certain vested interests about the whole shenanigans.
Please give them a good scrutiny, and then let me know how YOU, dear downtrodden Tefler, feel about the prospect of losing your crappy job if you don't support the bosses in this. Erm, I mean ... make your own minds up, guys!
The View from the Press
The government have gone demented and decided to subject international students to the kind of constant testing the school kids have to put up with. They have a bizarre obsession that the lower a student's level of English, the more likely they are to get a job and disappear into the black economy. They already demand that international students are level A2 (PET) before they are allowed into the country, and they want to not allow anyone in whose level of English isn't B1.
They are also planning to make it illegal for anyone from outside the EU to come in and study for A-levels or IB (degrees only). They also seem to be saying that if you are above Ielts 6 (C!) and you are studying English for some reason (say business English), you will have to take an exam at Masters level. English UK is right on this - the ministers have taken leave of their senses. It will smash a lot of schools and it will lose a lot of teaching jobs.
What they are wrong on, of course, is the wording on the petition which says Britain has the best educational system in the world. They are wrong here on two counts; first the UK doesn't come at the top of any world ranking of education anywhere - we're absolutely bog average for the EU according the European commission. They are also wrong to say that English UK and British Council accreditation has anything to do whatsoever with education.
The View from the Bosses
1. Should the minimum level of qualification that can be studied through the PBS be raised from NQF level 3? No, as this would raise the level of courses beyond the scope of most language schools, as well as stopping students taking A levels in independent schools.
2. Should the minimum level of English language qualification that can be studied in the UK through the PBS be raised from CEFR level A2? No, as this would mean that only students with an Intermediate level of English or above could come to the UK to study.
3. Should English language testing be introduced for all courses of NQF level 5 and below, including English language courses, and if so, through what mechanism? No, as this could force all students wishing to study in the UK to undertake tests in their own country before enrolling on a course, which would cause additional hardship, delay and expense, compared to studying in other countries.
4. Should access to vocational courses be restricted? No. Many students study vocational courses to help them with their careers. Why should this option be taken away from them? We believe this question may be because there are a lot of bogus colleges offering bogus vocational courses. The government should control these colleges through proper accreditation bodies, such as British Council/English UK .
5. Should we restrict the work rights attached to student visas? No. Students are permitted to work part-time, up to 20 hours per week at present. Taking away this opportunity to help them support themselves, when they have already paid high fees for their courses, will make it less attractive for students to come to the UK . This measure will not cure unemployment, as students only take part time temporary jobs.
6. Should we place limits on the progression of students on courses up the qualifications scale without their returning to their home countries? No. Making students return home would enormously damage progression into university courses, and make the whole education process far more expensive for them.
So there you have it - two not-so-independent views from Britain's tacky Tefl Trade. And what about the views and opinions of the many thousands of humble classroom Teflers in the UK? What about that? Where is their analysis of the situation?
For starters, do you feel comfortable about giving your unconditional support to the efforts of EnglishUK (the sponsors of the petition), who have done so much to keep your wages and working conditions at Dickensian levels over the years? Or do you think there should be some element of quid pro quo here? What should EFL teachers in the UK be demanding as the price of their support?
Anyway, I'm waiting to hear from you. E-mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org, as always.