Some clips of Flight of the Conchords. "Business Time" and "Jenny" are partcularly great. Two very talented and funny Kiwis!

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Smith's School of English, Japan

Mr Smith - he is beyond comparison. The biggest TEFL vulture to walk this planet. Some of what you read below will make your flesh creep. The only pleasant thing about reading what's below is the realisation that he peddles his pedagogical 'pornography' a couple of thousand miles away from me. Even so, the words below still make me feel very uncomfortable.

This guy should be checked out. He's selling franchises for 15,000 dollars, for which a teacher gets, well, I'm not sure what they get, and then they have to pay him $500 a month for admin, etc. It looks like a fairly major rip-off. I have heard many horror stories over the years, but I have never heard of teachers paying to be poor and sleeping in a classroom as an investment. This guy has taken it to lengths that your Skidrow on Sea shysters haven't even dreamt of.

I am putting together a piece about this guy, and the school he's trying to sell for over twenty thousand dollars that clears ... wait for it ... $500 a month! I wouldn't fancy trying to live off that even if I could sleep in the classroom. Yet he manages to lure people into investing in his set-up.

He charges $1,500 for a syllabus and training clocks in at $500 a day. This guy is so far beyond anything I have seen before. There may be worse somewhere, but I have never heard of it.

I suggest you pour yourself a very stiff one before opening the first link. I wouldn't recommend looking at the site while standing either. Make sure the bottle's near you for the odd top-up; you might well be there for some time, as there's a perverse pleasure in reading this one.

FURTHER COMMENTS

1) Thanks for mentioning my blog there. Anything to help get the word out about Mark Smith and his group is a boon to me and those he has exploited in the past and currently exploiting still. The comments section in the blog tell almost as much about Mark Smith as the pages do now since the man himself has been posting as aliases in comments since he couldn't get the bloghost to remove the blog itself.

2) I used to live in the Kansai area, where this Smith's scam is operated. The thing is just bad news on so many levels I don't know where to start. He advertises in all the local foreigner magazines looking for people to become "Coaches of communicative confidence" which means people willing to fork over tens of thousands of dollars and recieve nothing of value in return. Definite scam. Definite bad guy.

3) Yes, he's a shifty slut alright. I applied for a job there once, and his henchman (M) basically started putting the word out about borrowing cash, so I could buy up - through a Smiths financing scheme !! He has reached a high level of crotchrot in the EFL community over here in Japan, and is looked upon as being very very devious.

Click here for the soundtrack.

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Inspector McHammered of the Lard

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Mr Andrew Kirby (formerly of Harrow House, Swanage)

A story of woe from almost 10 years ago, but mercifully the gutless bullying dickhead (i.e., the Principal) in question no longer works there. My thanks to Lolwhites for this pleasant little item.

The Principal of Harrow House, Swanage, Mr Andrew Kirby, took me on as a teacher at the end of March 1997. During my time there I volunteered for the "staff revue" i.e. some short plays about teaching, performed for the students in our own time and paid for with a few beers afterwards; I was happy to do this in order to get to know my colleagues a bit better and earn a few brownie points.

As well as teaching, we were expected to give up one (paid) Saturday every couple of months to take the students on some organised trip. When I took a group to Oxford, a couple of them failed to show up for the coach home (everyone else had the right time and place) and we had to leave without them; they complained to the school and I was told off for not having phoned the school to say what had happened, which was fair enough as it goes though I had never been advised what to do in such circumstances until after the event.

In any case, I was trusted to take another group to Brighton a couple of months later and that passed off without incident. Unless you count the fact that when we went to the Pavilion, they hadn't heard of us, in spite of assurances from the Events Officer that we had been booked in and were expected - the students had to pay their own entry and get reimbursed later, but I'd rung the school and cleared it with them first.

Apart from that, I had no indication that anything was wrong with my work, until one day in June/July (I forget exactly) when the ADoS walked into my class and announced she was going to observe it (no advance warning, so no detailed lesson plan). Now, I admit the lesson could have gone better - if the video in the room had been working properly it would have certainly helped - but at the end the ADoS rushed off and didn't answer me when I asked when we could meet for a feedback session.

The next suspicion I had that anything might be wrong was on the Friday afternoon, when I noticed that my name had been removed from the timetable on the wall in the staffroom. At midday I'd been pleasantly surprised to see I had a very full timetable the following week and was down to teach every session, but by 5pm my name had vanished.

After the weekly staff meeting, Mr Kirby took me to one side and asked if he could speak to me in his office for a moment. As soon as we were alone he turned round and told me that it had been decided to terminate my contract. He then gave me the letter to say that I had one week's notice but was not required to work for that week. When I asked why, his exact words were "I don't want to go into details except to say that it was a management decision". In other words, "You're sacked and I'm not going to give you any explanation".

I later found out that he'd done exactly the same to another colleague on the same day - apparently he gave her 30 minute to clear her desk, no reason given. Incidentally, I'd read Harrow House's policies and there was something about the right to have a colleague present at meetings with the Principal; I can only conclude he tried to be as discreet as possible in front of the others so I wouldn't know what was coming and ask for a colleague to come with me. So the guy ignored his own rules.

As it was summer I found work fairly quickly elsewhere. The following year I worked at another school in Bournemouth where the DoS was so happy with my work he wanted to extend my contract past the summer (though by then I'd already made up my mind to leave TEFL and do a PGCE). While at this school I was observed by someone from UCLES for the practical half of the DTEFLA, which I passed.

The upshot? I can't see that there could have been anything wrong with my teaching. If there was, a professional manager would have told me what the problems were, and what I should be doing about them, not fire me without warning.

Now I've seen some dodgy outfits in my time but I can safely say that I have never seen anything more shoddy, unprofessional or downright gutless than what Andrew Kirby did to me and my colleague that day. I'm not saying "don't work at Harrow House", especially as he is no longer working there - but watch your back [if you ever cross paths with Mr Kirby in the future].

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Inspector McHammered of the Lard

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Monday, May 22, 2006

East London School of English [UPDATED]

A recent contribution to the list...

This school sacked me from my DOS position for gross misconduct. So what had I done? Deleted my personal emails. Yes, honestly, that was it. Apparently, that is 'destruction of company property' and therefore qualifies as 'gross misconduct'. Incidentally, it happened just as my salary was supposed to increase (as negotiated when I started there). And legally, could I do anything? Of course not - I had been employed (in London) for less than a year, which meant I had fewer rights than a goldfish.

Thanks very much! Please keep these comments coming...

Sandy


UPDATE!!



Thanks for your support, Sandy. I did contact a solicitor, but as I had been employed under a year, I had no rights at all! I threatened to take the school to an industrial tribunal and frightened them a bit, but that was all I could do.

Things were not much better for the teachers there. They were paid no holiday pay, which should be illegal now, but the boss got round that by saying that it was already included in their measly £10 per hour. The teachers had to buy their own tea and coffee, and I had to constantly monitor the counter on the photocopier to check they weren't doing too many photocopies.

Students had to pay for anything they asked the office for, i.e letters of attendance (£15 and was due to go up to £25) and bank letters (£15), and the boss even tried to introduce a charge for giving students the transport for london oyster card application forms!! He would also come up with any excuse he could think of for not refunding fees in cases where students had their visas refused.

The boss was just soooo mean. When I first arrived, I suggested that we add a 79p box of biros to the stationary order I was doing- he refused, saying that we 'acquired' pens. What he probably meant was, everytime he went to the bank he could pinch a load! I am so glad I don't work there anymore!



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Inspector McHammered of the Lard

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Bloomsbury International, London

This particular TEFL sweat-shop is apparently run by a family of Japanese mafiosi, and has already achieved a good deal of notoriety in EFL teachers' circles.


Any further information would be appreciated, obviously.

Inspector McHammered of the Lard
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Abbey College, Malvern

Let's kick off with an old favourite of mine - Abbey College, Malvern! They have tried to suppress this little bit of unkind publicity on several other websites, but this one's still going.

Here's the URL, if the link above fails to work:

http://abbeycollegemalvern.blogspot.com/

Please send me more stories of the same type, and we should have a rollickin' old blog here very soon!

Sandy

Inspector McHammered of the Lard
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