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Falling Standards - UK Government Sector

 
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Robin_UK



Joined: 28 Sep 2007
Posts: 6
Location: UK

PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 11:35 am    Post subject: Falling Standards - UK Government Sector Reply with quote

Can anyone verify some of the following points made by a colleague, with many years experience in the UK government sector.

"The situation of funding is not so good. I believe there are more redundancies this year , now, too.

Another thing, the teaching is not what it used to be. The paperwork and preparation are a nightmare. Constant inspections and students who complain about the 'Skills for life' exams'. It is not called TEFL anymore. ( Those exams exist at some private schools, however.)

The 'Skills for life' Exams have similar levels but they are geared for Immigrants more. The Government won't fund students who go back home! They say it is wasted Govt money! These new Exams are too elementary at all levels! I just would not go back to those teaching conditions.! You feel like a schoolchild yourself!! There are lots of rules and complicated lesson plans, schemes of work, student profiles etc etc. Students have to write evaluations forms every term and you have to do self-assessment forms! I am so glad i'm out of it. It was exhausting!

Students don't like these new Exams and don't come to class that often, so money is not coming in either...

On an upnote, I did meet some wonderful students from around the world, and there are the nice holidays, of c ourse. Private Schools don't pay much, unfortunately.... "

Robin_UK
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thrifty



Joined: 25 Apr 2006
Posts: 1665
Location: chip van

PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also bottom feeder hourly payers like Language Solutions are taking contracts at unis and colleges, the sacked TEFL teachers are then offered their jobs back at starvation wages.

The govt expects TEFLers to get new qualifications that are largely irrelevant in TEFL proper and then no job security is there.

You would have to be very brave or very ignorant to consider TEFLing in UK.
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Robin_UK



Joined: 28 Sep 2007
Posts: 6
Location: UK

PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 12:41 pm    Post subject: Falling Standards - UK Government Sector Reply with quote

I don't know how unions operate in the teaching sector.

As a union rep in the arts sector (BECTU), unions are obliged to protect a member from employers who change the contracts,as an excuse to pay less (offering employees to re-apply for positions). I believe employers can give three months notice if they want to change a contract however.

(Re. UK private sector; a couple of teachers in Covent Garden told me they were paid 11 per hr, & could expect 17 per hr with the advanced teaching diploma.)
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coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1837

PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 2:58 pm    Post subject: Further Education Reply with quote

I've worked in FE so can shine some light on these points.

"The situation of funding is not so good. I believe there are more redundancies this year , now, too."
This particularly relates to adult education. The government's emphasis on improving the skills of the UK natives, but only to the level of a 16 year old school leaver (which isn't much to write home about) means that there is no subsidy for higher levels of adult education (i.e. 19 plus). So those wanting to learn advanced subjects, or things in which they're interested, or TEFL (wait for explanation) have to pay where they didn't before, or pay a lot where they used to pay relatively little. This means less course take-up and therefore less courses and more redundancies.

"Another thing, the teaching is not what it used to be. The paperwork and preparation are a nightmare. Constant inspections and students who complain about the 'Skills for life' exams'. It is not called TEFL anymore. ( Those exams exist at some private schools, however.)"
The paperwork has always been horrible in further education (FE). Inspections have worsened and become more frequent (constant?).
Skills for Life was never called TEFL. To clear this misunderstanding, I need to be a bit boring and explain. Those who were refugees, or had indefinite leave to remain or otherwise had some sort of parity, did something called ESOL; this wasn't different in content from TEFL, but dealt with students from another, subsidised, catchment. ESOL is now called Skills for Life, although the government has changed the rules, both in terms of examinations and reducing the number of subsidised categories of students. TEFL, however, has always been non-subsidised, with FE colleges competing with private colleges.

"The 'Skills for life' Exams have similar levels but they are geared for Immigrants more. The Government won't fund students who go back home! They say it is wasted Govt money! These new Exams are too elementary at all levels! "
I think my explanation above should clarify this paragraph.

"I just would not go back to those teaching conditions.! You feel like a schoolchild yourself!! There are lots of rules and complicated lesson plans, schemes of work, student profiles etc etc. Students have to write evaluations forms every term and you have to do self-assessment forms! I am so glad i'm out of it. It was exhausting!"
"Yes, I know TEFL teachers, often with full teaching qualifications as well as their CELTA or Trinity, who have moved back to enjoy life in private TEFL colleges here in the UK making a lousy 11 an hour rather than face the hassle of FE. As with going abroad and doing one-to-one tuition, you end up making money but not enjoying the process.

Hoping this helps.
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SueH



Joined: 01 Feb 2003
Posts: 1022
Location: Northern Italy

PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2007 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you get the right FE college you can get good support and mentoring, like I did when teaching a modern foreign language. On the other hand ESOL and Skills for Life was a pain though in terms of paperwork. Trying to agree with the student their aims when they were unable to speak any English always struck me as a bit difficult! The other issue was that certain students came for the social element and never progressed: indeed during the summer break they would regress. Once I made the mistake of saying this to my boss , regarding a particular student. Although the class was fulfilling a valuable function for that student it couldn't be justified from a funding and accounting point of view. As it happened the boss had a breakdown from all the stress and the matter was never pursued!

Since I left funding has changed due to the major demands caused by new and massive EU immigration. Many of those EU workers are in low paid jobs, and won't be able to pay for courses where funding has been withdrawn.
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lolwhites



Joined: 29 Jun 2005
Posts: 158
Location: France

PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2007 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I worked in FE as a teacher of Spanish and EFL, and ran a languages department. When I left in 2005 for France, it was pretty clear which way the wind was blowing.

FE language departments have two main student bases - 16-19 year-olds doing A-Levels, and evening classes for adults. When the Government dropped the requirement to study a language after age 14, and cut the (already low) funding for adult education, it was a massive double-whammy.

Actually, TEFL did use to be subsidised for students from EU countries (non-EU nationals paid full fees) on the condition that they got a recognised qualification (e.g. FCE), in the same way that adult Spanish classes were funded providing they got a certificate at the end (e.g. ABC Certificate), because students from EU countries have the same rights as locals. Thus, once funding for all adult courses above level 2 (GCSE equivalent) were cut, TEFL funding went the same way for the same reason.

Ironic really as in my experience, the foreign students, especially the east europeans, worked really hard and made the most of the opportunities available to them while the local kids just used the college as a place to hang out with their mates. Basically I think Blair and Brown knew that the votes are in cute schoolkids, not evening classes and certainly not foreigners!


Last edited by lolwhites on Sun Oct 14, 2007 6:14 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Russell Hadd



Joined: 06 May 2004
Posts: 181

PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2007 4:18 pm    Post subject: Campaign and Privitisation Reply with quote

The UCU currently has a campaign

http://www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=2255

Also, many Universities have already privitised English Language provision for students from overseas.
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thrifty



Joined: 25 Apr 2006
Posts: 1665
Location: chip van

PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2007 5:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is there ever any good news in TEFL?
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SueH



Joined: 01 Feb 2003
Posts: 1022
Location: Northern Italy

PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2007 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

lolwhites, all true.

Then we get the government surprised that the uptake of language learning has collapsed! The kids I taught P/T had to do a language as part of a vocational tourism course but summed up a widespread general opinion "but they all speak English.."

Both you and I can probably vouch that it's not true! In fact, we depend on it!
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lolwhites



Joined: 29 Jun 2005
Posts: 158
Location: France

PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2007 6:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SueH wrote:
lThe kids I taught P/T had to do a language as part of a vocational tourism course but summed up a widespread general opinion "but they all speak English.."


Very familiar story.
Student: "But everyone speaks English."
Me: "No, everyone who speaks to you speaks English."

It's also generally the case that if you tell 14 year-olds they can drop anything, they probably will.
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coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1837

PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, EU students did indeed get subsidised learning. Can't remember if classed as ESOL rather than TEFL, but the two are essentially funding catchments rather than differences in teaching methodology. I think they probably don't get the subsidy now, as the private school I currently teach at has lots of Polish and Czech students, also the occasional French student.
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Phil_b



Joined: 14 Oct 2003
Posts: 239
Location: Back in London

PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2007 10:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SueH wrote:
If you get the right FE college you can get good support and mentoring, like I did when teaching a modern foreign language. On the other hand ESOL and Skills for Life was a pain though in terms of paperwork. Trying to agree with the student their aims when they were unable to speak any English always struck me as a bit difficult! The other issue was that certain students came for the social element and never progressed: indeed during the summer break they would regress. Once I made the mistake of saying this to my boss , regarding a particular student. Although the class was fulfilling a valuable function for that student it couldn't be justified from a funding and accounting point of view. As it happened the boss had a breakdown from all the stress and the matter was never pursued!

Since I left funding has changed due to the major demands caused by new and massive EU immigration. Many of those EU workers are in low paid jobs, and won't be able to pay for courses where funding has been withdrawn.


I get the feeling that a LOT depends on the college you work for. Personally the college I work for is very supportive and funded my qualifications. We haven't really lost any students with the funding changes - but the college set the fees much lower than some others. The paperwork is a pain in the backside - but nor is it as dogmatically adhered to as in some places....

However - go and read something about Harlow College if you want to see how bad it can get.....
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SueH



Joined: 01 Feb 2003
Posts: 1022
Location: Northern Italy

PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2007 12:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks again phil. I remember seeing this some time ago, but I didn't remember the 37 hours a week teaching load. As a career changer I used to find my part-time (although 2/3 different colleges) 10 hours bad enough!

I'm not well-off by any means, but in the circumstances at Harlow I'd be in the fortunate situation to be able to say 'stuff you'. If you relied on your salary getting a 10K pay-cut could bankrupt you.
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Phil_b



Joined: 14 Oct 2003
Posts: 239
Location: Back in London

PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2008 3:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just found an interesting article on the situation for Skills for Life (ESOL) teachers - worth a read...

http://www.literacyjournal.ca/literacies/8-2008/htm/simpson.htm
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SueH



Joined: 01 Feb 2003
Posts: 1022
Location: Northern Italy

PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2008 9:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks again! That all sounded so familiar, and it doesn't look as if it has improved since I left.

Other points I could add: your college only runs four different classes. Placement is done by the more senior SfL staff who is a maths tutor. In maths people tend to work on their own areas at their own pace: there is none of the communicative group dynamic and learning found in language classes. Said tutor places students willy-nilly to available places without regard for level......
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