Site Search:
 
TEFL International Supports Dave's ESL Cafe
TEFL Courses, TESOL Course, English Teaching Jobs - TEFL International
Job Discussion Forums Forum Index Job Discussion Forums
"The Internet's Meeting Place for ESL/EFL Students and Teachers from Around the World!"
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

Harassment from a disreputable Prague school

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Job Discussion Forums Forum Index -> Czech Republic
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Czexpat



Joined: 14 Aug 2011
Posts: 45

PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 5:25 pm    Post subject: Harassment from a disreputable Prague school Reply with quote

I've recently had dealings with the most bizarre and unreasonable school director I've ever encountered. I signed up with this school and should have been alerted first of all by the state of his offices.

They were shabby in the extreme and not even clean. There was a faded school flag, which must have once hung at a window, draped over some shelves. Everything was a mess.

Yet they claim to be leaders in providing corporate English to "ambassadars", and the like. The school is run by an Englishman who at first seems affably eccentric but quickly reveals himself to be dishonest, unpleasant and unstable.

When he interviewed me, he looked dishevelled. In fact, I remarked to someone that he looked like a friend would look if he was ten years older and ruined by drink. I have no idea if this man drinks - I'm just trying to convey something about his appearance.

He wore an ill-fitting company t-shirt that must have been years old and had shoes patched together (quite carefully) with black insulating tape. I don't expect people in the teaching community to be smartly dressed but I expect a school director to be of tidy appearance when he has come directly from a class to conduct an interview.

I first became concerned when I was told a direct lie, quite unnecessarily. His "assistant" (it's never clear who is sending emails, regardless of who signs them) claimed that the school had cancelled a class with the teacher I was to replace, just so she could meet me to discuss the students' needs. I guessed that was untrue and that was confirmed by the teacher - the students had cancelled the class and he had insisted that she go to the school to meet me. A small deception but it made me wonder why they didn't just tell the truth.

That day I heard him talking to his assistant, telling her to mislead clients. As she tried to explain some situation, he just kept repeating an instruction again and again and again. It seemed unreasonable and rather bullying. He then told the teacher to mislead the students into thinking she was going to return in case the clients cancelled the class. The teacher was clearly upset about it and I thought it an unprofessional and unethical way to behave but I had signed a contract, needed work over the summer and, foolishly, set my concerns to one side in the hope that it wouldn't get any worse.

He also called one day asking me to take up some classes immediately. He gave me a long-winded story about a teacher suddenly quitting on him because he couldn't pay his rent, even though the kind-hearted director had offered to give him a cash advance. I didn't believe it for a minute and resolved to limit my involvement to the class I had signed up for.

My contract was only a short-term trial with the client so, though nobody has taken that approach before, I saw it as a get-out for me if things didn't work out. The contract itself was draconian. It banned teachers from giving clients their contact details, defined any teacher cancellation under any circumstances as "a breach of contract" and required a medical certificate even for a one-day absence.

There were also screeds of paperwork required for every class and to get paid - so much that it would have exceeded my preparation time for every class.

I got to the class and found that the school's program was unsuitable for the students and relayed this to the director. They were of very mixed ability and could only attend irregularly, not even being able to attend full classes. Their management wanted practical work-based English, the students wanted the same and I agreed that it was best for them. The director insisted I should press ahead with a pre-intermediate coursebook, despite there being two B2/B1 students in the group.

I chose to go with my judgement, though I was prepared to try to include the coursebook work in some way. The result was that the students told me that they were getting a lot from the classes, one said it was "a real bonus" for them and their manager contacted the school to say how happy they were and asked if I would also teach her and a colleague.

Then I got a phone call from the director about testing. A garbled message had been sent saying something about testing, I admit. However, it wasn't clear what they wanted, they didn't clarify and, with the fact that I was moving house and had had a bereavement, I put it to one side, believing it wasn't urgent.

He called and ,when I explained that I hadn't understood, had no experience of his procedures (which were not explained) and what my personal circumstances were, he just kept saying, "You've never tested students before, you've never tested students before, you've never tested students before..." He must have said it 20 times, though I hadn't said anything of the sort.

He was clearly getting round to saying I wasn't going to be paid and so I said, "Okay, what do we do now?" He replied that he had no idea as he had "never encountered this situation". I told him to get to the point and tell me what he was saying and then he changed his tune completely, becoming very conciliatory and asking me to drop in for a chat as there had been a communication issue and it was all a misunderstanding. It may have been exactly what he should have said but the suddenness of the switch was unsettling.

When I went in, he couldn't have been more affable, asked if I would test them on my materials and fill in a form, saying "that really is awfully kind of you; it's very nice of you". By this point, I had concluded I was dealing with a nutcase. He said someone would collect the results after the class.

And then it got really silly. The class had to finish an hour and a quarter earlier than scheduled (the school had changed the class time without telling me or, apparently, remembering) so I asked if we could change the collection time accordingly. Otherwise, I would drop the papers off at his office (ten minutes away) or, if that wasn't convenient, go home and send him a scanned copy within 30 minutes - 45 minutes before the scheduled collection time.

The answer was that I had to wait where I was until the agreed time. I asked for an explanation and said I couldn't see why I needed do that when there was no class, to which he answered, "What you can see isn't necessarily what's important. It's a workplace instruction." He then went on one of his repeating sessions with "It's a workplace instruction" ad nauseum.

I told him that was the end - I had completed the last contracted class - and explained to the manager of the client that I was sorry but due to issues with the school, I would be unable to teach the students any longer. She told me that she had just been about to call the school to say that she was only prepared to extend their contract if I was guaranteed as the teacher as my professionalism was at a completely different level to that of any teacher they had been given before. (At first I was flattered but then realised that no teacher with a modicum of professionalism would work with that guy.)

The next day, I got a text at 7am, demanding the return of books before 4pm that day. I was teaching all day so that was impossible. However, I emailed offering to return the books the following day at the previous meeting point in return for my pay. When there was no response, I emailed again clarifying that I would not be there without confirmation.

He got back telling me I had to return them to his office before 8am the next day, saying they could fine me 500Kc per book, per day. Again, that was not convenient and was typical of his behaviour - always issuing orders and deadlines but it meant that the "fines" exceeded the pay.

Three days later, I received a very long email, purportedly from him but obviously written by a non-native, outlining costs associated with his losing the contract (I know that to be a lie - the term of the clients' contract had ended on the same day as mine), threatening to take me to court, report me to the police and send an email to TEFL schools worldwide decrying me as a criminal. Alternatively, I could leave the books at the main reception desk where I "might have to bang hard on the door for 15 minutes" and, bizarrely, go back to working for him. Presumably, he thought coercing me into working for him was a good idea and would win him a new contract.

I replied that I wasn't going to be threatened or bullied but offered to return the books at a mutually convenient time, after he told me the amount that I would be paid, given his threats about fines and a comment that my "debt exceeds the amount of pay". His reply was that there were no other options and they were about to "ruin my career".

Has anyone ever encountered anything like this? And, what would you do?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9500
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 7:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

He can't ruin your career. Try to trade the books for as much money as you can get and forget about it.

Sounds like one or two guys I used to work with long ago, who were heading in the direction you describe way back then...
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
johncoan



Joined: 02 Jul 2010
Posts: 27

PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 12:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Name and shame, please. People need to know about such operations.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Czexpat



Joined: 14 Aug 2011
Posts: 45

PostPosted: Sat Aug 20, 2011 2:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

johncoan wrote:
Name and shame, please. People need to know about such operations.


David James Camidge, The British School - http://britishschool.cz/.

I include the link only so people don't confuse it with schools that have similar names.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
steviok85



Joined: 31 Aug 2006
Posts: 87

PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2011 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bizarre website
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Czexpat



Joined: 14 Aug 2011
Posts: 45

PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2011 7:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

steviok85 wrote:
Bizarre website


Quite. I thought this graphic said it all.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Czexpat



Joined: 14 Aug 2011
Posts: 45

PostPosted: Wed Sep 07, 2011 12:19 pm    Post subject: Re: Harassment from a disreputable Prague school Reply with quote

Czexpat wrote:
Alternatively, I could leave the books at the main reception desk where I "might have to bang hard on the door for 15 minutes" and, bizarrely, go back to working for him. Presumably, he thought coercing me into working for him was a good idea and would win him a new contract.


So this guy has continued to harass me - or got his assistant to do so, pretending to be him.

However, I met the manager at the company I'd been teaching at and was told that he got said assistant to call her up continually, promising that I'd be their teacher if they signed a new contract. She said she actually felt sorry for the girl because she was obviously getting embarrassed by the lies she was having to tell.

I can't imagine that this sort of thing is going to do his reputation any good. The owner of the company is extremely successful and, due to the nature of his business, extraordinarily well connected. I'm sure he doesn't spend a lot of time talking about language schools but he's the kid of guy who could have recommended a company to his blue chip clients if he had been satisfied with the service.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
sharter



Joined: 25 Jun 2008
Posts: 878
Location: All over the place

PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2011 7:02 am    Post subject: erm Reply with quote

Have you tried the 'Glaswegian' approach to your dealings with this DOS?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Job Discussion Forums Forum Index -> Czech Republic All times are GMT
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


This page is maintained by the one and only Dave Sperling.
Contact Dave's ESL Cafe
Copyright © 2011 Dave Sperling. All Rights Reserved.

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group

Road2Spain - TEFL and Spanish with one year student visa
EBC