Thursday, March 31, 2011

Crap School - The Burlington [UPDATED]

You see! I've only been back in the country a few weeks, and my TeflTrade spooks are STILL beavering away tirelessly, unearthing crap schools and passing on the news to Sandy. The latest piece of hot 'intelli' concerns a dump in London that rather grandly refers to itself as The Burlington School of English, and that rather gross-looking trout alongside is the Principal.

The report begins: "Several comrades have informed me about the Burlington School of English and how crap it is. They expressed surprise that nothing had been written about it, because everyone they know who's worked there thinks it's shit too."

I can easily believe this asessment, as I once went there for an interview myself, albeit many years back. The labels 'crap' and 'shit' were quick to establish themselves in my mind too, so I see that consistency is also one of their trademarks.

The reports goes on to state that this school pays less than £10 an hour for IELTS teaching, and has a pathetic lack of resources - just dog-eared old textbooks and a few dodgy worksheets. Even worse, the DoS is a disgusting fat bastard who, despite claiming to have ‘run’ a British Council School somewhere abroad (Libya? Saudi?), is utterly lacking in life or brains. On top of that, he has an elevated opinion of himself and is extremely rude and unprofessional in his dealings with staff.

In fact, this all sounds very déjà vu to me - it MUST be the SAME loathsome git of a DoS from way back when!? He was keen to impress on me that he'd worked for the BC in the Gulf, a fact that is hardly something to crow about - unless you're a saddo Tefler, I suppose.

Anyway, somehow The Burlington managed to scrape a measly pass for its British Council accreditation back in 2009. In fact, a closer inspection reveals they didn’t do too well, as the BC report mentions a distinct need for improvement in several areas, and zero areas of excellence.

So - any other news on this dump? Have you worked for this grumpy cunt of a pompous DoS? Please add your comments below!

UPDATE:

At the BSE the starting salary for a newly qualified teacher is £27.50 for a three hour session (20 minute break, unpaid). Those with a whole one year of teaching experience are on £28.50 per session, and the highest rate is £32 for a three hour slot – but only if you have a PGCE!

Incredibly, those teaching university preparation classes every morning for three hours are paid at the same rate, despite having to make do with various ageing coursebooks without CD's and having to make up a syllabus with pretty much no help. Asking the DoS for assistance was a waste of time, as he barely had a pulse.

Moreover, because of new Home Office regulations, the classes are going to be slightly longer with only a ten minute break, so that the students get the full three hours per day. Of course, there has been no mention of any increase in teaching rates to compensate for the extra work.

In fact, there is now a new Dos in place, as the old one left two weeks in advance after being badly treated by the Principal. Perhaps she rattled his coffin? Anyway, the new DoS was obviously more suited to the school, adopting a policy of “hear nothing, say nothing” in order to give the Principal no trouble.

However, one teacher had to keep pestering the guy for days to get ANY information about her new class, so that she could sort out books and prepare. Then he told her on the Friday before that there actually WAS no other class. Since the teacher was on a part-time contract, she was left with nothing but a suggestion of a 3-6pm class, which the dippy DoS knew she could not do owing to other commitments. Cracking management skills, eh?

The following Monday the same teacher, who had already considered herself unemployed, received a text message (the school only ever communicates by text) informing her of a new university preparation course starting the next day – even though she had never taught such courses before. It’s an absolute scandal that a school that is accredited by BC treats its students and teachers in such a shoddy fashion.

In contrast to its obvious failings, the school is extremely good at several things, though. For example, they successfully upset several teachers by putting up in the teachers' room a list of students who fail to improve on their exam grades. Alongside the student's name they put the teacher's name for everyone to see, which understandable causes no small offence.

The teacher concerned no longer works there, as she rightly figured she would be better off working in the domestic care sector. It pays the same money, almost ten quid an hour, but is much less bother – and no planning and marking! So you can see, it’s a cracking place to work at, is the Burlington School of English!

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

the principle - Polish woman on the photo, lives in Monaco. So cash goes to tax dodger in tax dodge central, bugger all cash goes to your standard EFL neerdowell straight outta CELTA.

Drew said...

Sandy,

good to see you back. As you're a kind of antecedent to wikileaks, maybe TEFLEAKS might be a good rebrand for your site.

Anonymous said...

Drew, you carefully remembered everything I told you!! This is hilarious. However, ouch about the DoS! Principle if very deserving!! This school also pays (via Monaco) by cheque which, when it comes on time, arrives on the 5th WORKING day (so often the 7th) of the following month...which then takes time to clear. A lot of financially struggling people work at this school... a few 'old timers' too who have been there forever, so they must be doing SOMETHING right...just not east to see what...

I love your wit. Very funny article. ANON :-)

Anonymous said...

Let me fill you in on another of their tricks: they hire people on a 'full-time' contract (which are usually for 6 months) and then over the holidays they are forced to take, they are paid for those two 3 hours sessions they are contracted for. However, most of the full time teachers also take one or two 'grammar/fluency' lessons a day. These are permanent classes, but teachers do not get paid for these in their holidays.

Anonymous said...

It is extremely sad that people get a kick out of using words like these to hurt each other. It shows a serious lack of care or concern for other people and shows a lot of deep felt hurt on behalf of whoever wrote the text. My thoughts are with you. I would have thought that the world was stressful enough without people seeking to add to it.

Just to bring some correction to what was written (not that people are actually interested in the truth here, as long as the school is made to look bad and people are made fun of):
1. As the director of studies here, I do actually have a pulse. I just checked and, yes, it is definitely ticking. To be honest, if I didn't I would be dead.

2. I was actually working for the British Council in Rwanda, and not as the Director of Studies, as the article helpfully gets wrong, but as a teacher/trainer.

3. I have had a lot of feedback from my colleagues and customers regarding my level of professionalism and my friendly disposition. Rather than being considered as 'rude'.

4. The author of the text says that I was probably the DOS from 'way back when'. This is actually impossible as this is my first DOS job and I have only been in post for about six months.

5. I have never worked in the Gulf. Neither had my predecessor.

6. All our courses have syllabuses, and the books have recently been updated to the latest versions of mainstream course books.

7. We always let teachers know about new classes opening up for new terms a week in advance.

8. No such list of failing students and associated teachers was ever put up in the staffroom. It has been produced, but was kept safely in a file in a cupboard in the Dos's office.

9. Oh, and one more thing for the record. I am currently at a normal weight according to the BMI. I run 5km every morning, play tennis at least once a week, go hiking, am cycling 100km over the next bank holiday weekend and am certainly not what the author kindly described as a 'disgusting fat bastard'.

Lying and using words to deliberately hurt other people is not what I would call the actions of a stable person, and I notice that whoever wrote the text has not been brave enough to put their name to the text. This suggests that they are probably a little embarrassed about what they wrote. I just hope that whatever personal issues they may have which led to them writing such a text are quickly resolved.

All the best,
Graham McFadden
Director Of Studies
Burlington School

The TEFL Tradesman said...

Well done, Graham - spoken like a true DOS! I guess the school must be proud of you, except, erm, you didn't really defend the school at all, but preferred to labour defending yourself.

So, does BSE pay 10 quid an hour for IELTS and Uni Prep teaching? If not, how much? Do they have crap resources? Are there smart boards in every classroom? Is the Principal a disreputable foreigner and tax-exile who resembles a pouting librarian?

More importantly, do you think you'll be working there for much longer?

Anonymous said...

Hi TEFL Tradesman

Thanks. Glad you liked the response. I am just trying to prevent slurs against my name as, for some bizarre reason, it kind of rattles my cage when people make personal slurs against my character and self. I know I am far from perfect, but having someone lie about me in order to try to entertain or inform others is something that upsets me a little.

In terms of the school defending itself, our legal department is investigating possible courses of action at the moment and will be in touch.

In terms of me remaining at the school for a long time, watch this space...

In terms of our resources - we are working on it! We have more course and supplementary books here than at any other college I have ever worked at. We don't have smart boards in every room. Do many colleges?

In terms of pay, the rates are currently being reviewed.

All the other areas are being investigated by the legal department, so I had better keep silent on these in case they want to pursue them further.

Thanks
Graham

Anonymous said...

Graham,

Points 6, 7, and 8 are shameless lies. All 'mainstream' (simple emelemtary, intermediate, upper intermediate etc...) courses have a coursebook, others don't! 7, well that is not true. One day's notice is not a week. It may be generous for a cover class, but not for a permanent, coursebook-free course. And 8, that list was only torn down (by your assistant, not you!)from the wall after one teacher got particularly upset after another teacher made fun of the number of students printed beside her name.

References to weight etc are a bit much, I agree. I'm sure you can also be friendly, but you do conceal the truth whilst blaming your/the school's faults on the character of the 'author'. The fact you say these things are 'under review' shows otherwise...

Son of Sandy said...

Graham, you're really being a pompous twat and a bullshitter, as no EFL school has a 'legal department', not even the big chain schools.

What you're referring to is a contact of the Principal, which is hardly a 'department', is it?

As for their chances of success, I refer you to the link below. That schools 'legal department' - the school owner's brother's personal City lawyer - has managed to achieve sweet FA over the past few years.

http://windsorswindler.blogspot.com

Enjoy!!

Anonymous said...

Another point against BSE: Last year there was an American lady working there, and she had around 21 teenagers in tiny classrooms.

This teacher was extremely experienced but desperate due to arriving in London at the wrong time. She was paid little more than the novice Teflers, and was there on a 'cover' basis. When she found something better paid, the school threatened not to pay her what they already owed her unless she finished the two weeks. Awful place, truly.

BTW, the owner pays everyone by the good old ancient CHEQUE on the fifth WORKING day of the following month, which often falls on the 7th, then with time for clearing .... you always get paid late.

In December the cheques actually got lost in the post so we were paid very late. The owner had to do a direct debit transfer in the end. The following month the cheques were again late.

I don't think the British council have been particularly pleased with the school ... and they know ALL about the goings-on there now!

Anonymous said...

"In terms of pay, the rates are currently being reviewed."

How does that answer the question about what you pay now?

Even when foaming at the mouth, the Berkshire Bullshitter didn't claim to have an entire legal department.

Anonymous said...

Hi

Thanks for the responses, although I see that the ability to have a reasoned debate without using personal insults is beyond some.
In response to your points:
Anonymous:
6. They do now.
7. I remember the particular class you are referring to, and it was opened at the last minute. We needed a teacher for it and offered (please note which verb I used there) to a teacher, who kindly accepted to take it up. Our regular, 'normal' courses are always known about well in advance. It was a two-way decision for that teacher to take on the class. If they were that unhappy with it, I am surprised they agreed to do it. They did a good job though, from the feedback I received.
8. Thanks for the information. I believe I was actually away when this was happening, and I will investigate what actually took place. You are right, sensitive documents should not be left lying in full view of everyone and it is an area I will seek to address.
I don't mean to 'blame' the author. Don't reflect your personality on to me. I am not seeking to blame anyone, just trying to imagine what prompts a person to write with such venom about situations they clearly have half truths about, and to openly attack people they don't even know very well (clearly from the mistakes about my past and weight for one thing).

Son of Sandy: Thank you for your articulate use of expletives. Thank you for the link, too. I will enjoy having a good read, too.
One question, though - how many people make a department?

Anonymous: We had a verbal agreement with the teacher in question that she would stay for the duration of the contract that she was employed for (and this was only for two weeks). She was one of only two CRB teachers that we had on site at the time. Walking out without completing the contract would have had her in breach of her promise. We did what most businesses would do and chose to withhold payment until the work we were paying for was completed.
Your words about the British Council are based on...what, exactly? We have had other messages from them that the school has a lot of potential and is developing quickly. Interesting.

Anonymous: It doesn't. It wasn't intended to. It was intended to indicate that if the rates of pay are low at the moment, we are reviewing them with the possibility of increasing them in the near future.
Also, again, how many people make a department? A lawyer, a school owner and a school coordinator enough? Or do we need to add more people to this mix?

Listen, I am enjoying our friendly discussion, but I really must end it here. Thank you for all your questions, and I wish you all the best in your search for the perfect language college. If you find it, please let me know!!
If I may, I would like to add one request on behalf of all the other DOS's etc who are going to be targets of abuse for you. We really do encourage feedback, and it makes it far more effective if you are brave enough to do two things:
1. Use constructive language instead of personal slurs.
2. Before you make aggressive accusations, make sure you have your facts right (it does make you look a bit daft if you don't), as I found out too with the list mentioned above.

Also, if you are feeling really brave and have a real complaint to make, how about addressing the person or organisation directly instead of hiding behind false names on a web site? It will speed along the process of change, if that is truly what you are after.

Signing out. Thanks again for the chat.
Graham

Anonymous said...

I suspect that BSE's 'legal department' is as well-resourced as its ... resources room!

Anonymous said...

Graham, I agree! This conversation is getting a little tedious.

The teacher in question in relation to the course the author is refering to kindly took up the class because it was the only class available. This class or no class. Of course, Burlington doesn't pay for sick leave or any other class not taught, unless it is, admittedly, the statutary holiday pay. Therefore, to not accept the class would have surely meant even deeper poverty.

On the other hand, the teacher in question was happy to have the opportunity to gain experience teaching pre-university level students. She wasn't, however, confident in taking a class at less than a day's notice and asked you, the DoS, the allow her a couple of days to come into the school and prepare some materials (at no pay, of course.) This was declined. It was a case of start tomorrow or the class goes to someone else.

Yes, the observation for that class was constructive.

There was no written two week contract, though I would need to confirm what verbal agreement took place. The lady in question says she agreed to take the class whilst she was searching for other positions.

There is obviously more than one anonymous person here, and one of them certainly never meant to sling personal insults. But when truths/facts are dusted over over 'professionalism' that fails to match outside of the cyber/written world.

Of course it is always better to approach the establishment directly...if that is fruitful. But teachers have certainly conplained, to no avail. It's always been a take it or leave it attitude. There is a sense of comradeship amongst the teachers though.

The Principle doesn't know who the teachers are, let alone settle any disputes. I would ask you what better course of action you would suggest, one that WOULD be fruitful? But I understand this conversation is over.

Anonymous said...

Hello,

have been following the thread and was wondered, is it normal for a principal of a school to live in another country? I thought 'principal' was akin to a head.

Isabella Anders said...

Dear Blogger,

your blog at tefltradesman.blogspot.com/2011/03/crap-school-burlington.html has been brought to our attention. The content of your ‘blog’ is provocative, insulting, and defamatory and is immensely damaging to both the reputation of the School and those of the individuals identified.

You are required to remove that content forthwith. If you continue to publish this information including the display of a copyright image without consent, then legal action will be taken.

Please be in no doubt that we have taken action to establish your identity and will take such steps as are necessary to seek legal redress and damages against you personally in respect of the false and unjustified comments made.

Yours sincerely,


Isabella Anders

Pouting Librarian said...

Forthwith- whoo, sounds like top notch legal advice from your 'Legal Department'- you must have a fair few silks in there.

Son of Sandy said...

I bet Sandy is shitting his pants in fear at the hot air being blown from Monaco by Miss Pouting Librarian.

Sandy's been running rings round crap schools and their dodgy owners for many years now. I've no reason to suspect this case will end any differently.

Just take a look through the pages of this blog and you'll see just how many crappy EFL schools have been exposed by Sandy. Not one of them has been able to get the offending blog-post removed.

Isabells Anders should be proud that she has joined such an elite band of crap outfits outed by the TEFL Tradesman!

Shaun Ryder said...

Aye, aye. Is there a picture of 'er from the "legal" department?

I remember the days when that would 'ave been called the "illegal" department, lass.

But then the anal sex laws went all modern an' they couldn't arrest you for it. Even if you're married.

Anyway, 'ope you're snug in there with that fat oogly coont. But then you're probably a fat oogly coont too. By 'probably' I mean 'definitely', fatty.

Good fookin' luck with findin' Sandy's ID. Twats like you always say that. They always fail. Look at your fookin' fat, stupid fookin fat face in the mirror if you want to know why.

Anonymous said...

This one from 2009 is one of my faves from Sandy's back catalog of exposed crap schools.

http://tefltradesman.blogspot.com/2009/06/crap-job-crap-job-leeds-language.html

They never nailed him either!!

Anonymous said...

Hideous architrave betrays itself once more, yes, and the shrieking woebegone flinkmister is one of those who do such

The internet as we both know is a basis for FOULNESS of all types but I seek to raise my declension to a higher level
I pay 15 plus a fag brake
15 you little screwmongers 15
shrieking shrieking shrieking
Aiiiieeeeeeeeee
batman
Frothing at mouth, froth on screen here
pigs
squirrels
have never loved a rodent
have always loved a grrtuyyiop type
15 an hour
and she laughed at me
LAUGHEDC AT ME
LARFED AT ME

God almity I am INSANE
Little screwmongers think I am worth LESS but I am MORE so
Grrg gunggh rtthutyh
I WILL get out of this BATH

The TEFL Tradesman said...

"Please be in no doubt that we have taken action to establish your identity and will take such steps as are necessary to seek legal redress and damages against you personally in respect of the false and unjustified comments made."

When I receive the summons at my home address I'll let you know, sweetie.

P60 said...

What a lot of people don't realise, although a few smart ones do, is that these schools run by offshore proxies are very often just a tax dodge or, even worse, a means of laundering money.

It's very easy to funnel in money from abroad, dirty money that is, as it raises no suspicions. After all, it's a school, with well-off students from all over the world, so what could be more natural than having thousands of pounds coming in from foreign places - especially ones with liberal (or non-existent) tax regimes.

This works both ways, of course - such schools are ideal means of siphoning off money to avoid the UK taxman. Perhaps Mrs Anders could throw some light on this operation?

Val Keery said...

If it's true that this organisation posts salary cheques each month from Monaco, that is highly irregular and should attract the attention of HM Revenue immediately.

The Revenue will want to know whether corporation tax has been paid on UK earnings; whether the company is domiciled in Monaco or the UK; and most importantly whether the owners are personally resident in the UK but are possibly using Monaco residence as a means to evade UK income tax. Of course, this may all be quite legal, but the authorities must take a look.

By the way, doesn't Paul Lowe's brother live in Monaco??

Val Kilmer said...

Last point: If the DOS Graham McFadden receives his salary cheque from Monaco, does he declare this on his tax return under 'Foreign Income' and does he state that this comes from a non-domiciled source?

If he does not do this, he is liable for massive penalties from the UK Authorities. Assuming his salary last year was £20,000, the penalty would be 20k x 1.3 plus £100 per day undeclared, ie he's looking at a penalty of around £32,000.

The Tax people can make orders for immediate bankruptcy and confiscation of assets without appeal. This process may already have started.

Oliver Twist said...

Companies House gives the following free info about Burlington...

Name & Registered Office:
BURLINGTON SCHOOL LIMITED
1-3 CHESILTON ROAD
LONDON
SW6 5AA
Company No. 05725732

Status: Active
Date of Incorporation: 01/03/2006

Country of Origin: United Kingdom

Company Type: Private Limited Company
Nature of Business (SIC(03)):
8042 - Adult and other education

Accounting Reference Date: 31/03
Last Accounts Made Up To: 31/03/2010 (TOTAL EXEMPTION SMALL)
Next Accounts Due: 31/12/2011
Last Return Made Up To: 01/03/2010
Next Return Due: 29/03/2011 OVERDUE

Last Members List: 01/03/2010

Strange abou that exemption, eh - and the accounts are overdue too!?

Val Dorsay said...

This makes things worse, in fact: if the company is domiciled in the UK, it cannot possibly be lawful for them to pay off liabilities (ie staff wages) from an account in Monaco - unless all the staff have specifically entered into a tax evasion agreement with their own employer, which sounds pretty unlikely.

Mr McFadden should take immediate advice from a tax specialist and also a solicitor. Remember that the HM Revenue will go for the easy bites first.

Anonymous said...

The syllabuses are inadequate and morale is v low but most of the teachers are good and committed. One of the DOSes has their back.

The staff resources are horrific though. The staff room's too crowded to move and there's not even any drinking water onsite! Board pens are rationed and half the time teachers can't even get their hands on coursebooks.

Bonzer said...

Talking of staff resources, I went for an interview at one of those accursed 'callan' method schools in Mayfair, London (St Nicholas school?) about a month ago, and it was a truly horrific experience.

The DoS had problems speaking English (native Russian?), and the 'resources room' was a complete joke - just a shelf in the teachers' room!

I kid ye not! Worst of all ... the place had BC accreditation!! Unbelieveable...

Clarence Rhode said...

Then they must feel the lash, yes the lash. Let loose the nine-tailed cat, and may it loosen their tongues.

Oliver Twist said...

Any sign of that libel writ yet, Sandy?

Anonymous said...

Bum licker!

Anonymous said...

Ooh look - a great opportunity! Burlington are looking for a new DoS (again).

http://www.tefl.com/jobs/job.html?jo_id=53054

Strange that nobody wants to stay there more than a few months, eh?

Well, not really...