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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Shane Schools / Saxoncourt Recruitment


How could I have possibly forgotten about Shane and Saxoncourt, the definitive global Tefl Cowboys?! Here are a selection of comments about them from other websites and blacklists. Got that bargepole ready? You'll certainly need it!

To the left you have a genuine TEFL cowboy. Paul Mitchell of Shane Schools and now Marketing Manager for Saxoncourt Recruitment in London. How much misery has this smarmy self-opinionated twit caused to countless teachers? Here's how he describes himself on the Saxoncourt Recruitment website:

Hello,

I’m Paul and I work for Saxoncourt (recruitment) in our central London school. Having worked for Shane English Schools in Japan for two years and with Saxoncourt for six, I have been lucky to have been involved in some major changes – mostly good, occasionally not so god but always interesting. Having spent four years responsible for recruiting what seems like a million teachers for Shane in japan I am now charged with the duty of marketing Saxoncourt’s operations in the UK – raising our profile with other TT colleges and EFL teachers throughout the world.

I am looking forward to working with StaR members throughout the world and am sure that we can establish Saxoncourt as the first choice for prospective and experienced EFL teachers.

Paul

The Inspector senses a half-admission in the phrase "occasionally not so god" Interesting that he says god instead of good (a freudian slip no doubt). No Paul you are not God even though you may be lording it over your long-suffering "millions of teachers", oh and Paul, considering that you are suposed to be an EFL school manager don't you think someone should have told you that "japan" is wrong. It should have a capital letter, you know one of those BIG letters to make it "Japan". Sloppy - but isn't that the hallmark of Shane and Saxoncourt which of course are one and the same thing?

So the Headmaster will have to keep you in detention and write out fifty times. My name is Paul Mitchell and I dunno me grammur but I'm gonna lern.

Now down to the nitty gritty..............

There is a lot of negative stuff on the net about Shane. None of it is wrong, but some is inaccurate. Let me rectify these inaccuracies.

People are leaving Shane in droves, and they are experiencing problems recruiting new staff. This is mainly due to the multitude of illegal practices the company carries out and acts of intimidation that have become common knowledge via the internet and word of mouth in Japan.

For example if you are sick they charge you a day and a half’s pay (people have been forced to leave due to this and incur huge debts), and pay the cover teacher half a day’s pay (if they are lucky).

The healthcare is also a total scam, and gives kickbacks to Shane. They are expensive and reserve the right not to pay out. If they do, it takes months, and goes through so many NZ bank accounts, which all charge a handling fee, you are lucky to get 75% back. The Japanese national scheme costs less for your first year than Global healthcare does for two months and it's not impossible to get off of it once you are on, contrary to Shane’s mantra.

You must work 13 extra days a year unpaid. Days off are rarely consecutive. Unpaid leave must be applied for three months in advance, with no guarantee of getting it. They do not pay all travel expenses as promised. When you arrive, you are charged highly inflated prices for apartments, bedding etc. You must then pay back the money used as a deposit within three months, so you are held to financial ransom for a quarter of your first year.

They also demand that you have a telephone and are contactable at all times, yet won't install a phone or sponsor you for a phone to be installed. They send bad references when you leave and show you a false copy. They tell future employers that they are considering taking legal action against you for leaving to scare them out of hiring you. They ask for two months notice to leave. This is illegal. The law says that you must give two weeks, unless your contract states otherwise; then one month is the maximum. If a national holiday falls on pay day, you get your money after the holiday.

They sell themselves as a 'British' English school, yet use American language texts. They lie to students to get them to buy the same book for their children twice and keep them in the same class with no prospect of progressing. They only use their own home made texts which are terrible and full of errors. Students are put into any available, level class to maintain targets.

There are many teachers that have been with Shane for around 8 to 10 years, but they came here when the economy was good, and their pay hasn't changed since then, and they couldn't earn that money elsewhere. People trying to start unions have not had their contracts renewed.

In a recent typhoon which killed 7 people, teachers were forced to stay in the schools and not allowed to go home early even though most students cancelled and the train lines shut down. Contracts state you will get an hour for lunch yet the reception staff are told to only allot you 45 minutes. Students are told lies about why you leave the company. Japanese receptionists are paid less than they are in a local hamburger shop.

I could go on longer but I'll leave it for your good selves to double check all of this. Try www.efl-law.com/japan or www.ewaosaka.org, or call the Tokyo Bar Association on 03 3581 1511 to have a contract checked by a Japanese solicitor with a translator for free. Other than that, come here and get a job in a state school.

James, ripoffbuster@hotmail.com, Tokyo,

______________________________________________________________________________________________

I recently left Shane after working for them in Japan for abour 15 months. I have to agree that they should be avoided at all costs. The vast majority of Shane teachers are deeply unhappy in their jobs, and at the time that I made my departure, teachers were leaving in their droves to work for other language schools. Morale is kept deliberately low by removing holidays at the last minute, unfair distribution of cover days teachers are required to work, and frequent impositions on teachers´ free time by requiring them to teach additional hours for very little, and sometimes no additional reward.

Accommodation is very, very small and poorly furnished and they charge roughly twice the market value for it, thereby making a profit from their teachers accommodation needs. Most other schools subsidise teacher accommodation.

Attitudes to their teachers vary. Some DOSs are fine, but central management at Shane HQ seem to regard teachers as property rather than people. Shane provide virtually no professional support. As far as I am aware (and I did make enquiries) none of the DOSs has more than a CELTA, which means that if you wanted to undertake a DELTA you would be in trouble, as there is most likely no one within the company who will be able to act as your mentor (a requirement for anyone wishing to undertake a DELTA by distance study).

And if you find yourself in any kind of trouble, you can expect absolutely no assistance from the company. Their only concern is that you turn up for work, regardless of what calamity may have befallen you. I certainly wouldn´t recommend Shane as a first teaching job. It really offers no potential for professional development and in the majority of cases seems to put people off the teaching profession. Just about everyone leaves with a fairly bitter taste in their mouth, and I would suggest that any postings to the contrary are certainly written and posted by Shane management, or DOSs, under instructions from head office.

A bad company to work for. Very disappointing.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

I left Shane after my home was flooded in a typhoon. I lost quite literally everything I owned, including my home, my clothes and eight months of work for an MA in Applied Linguistics.

So, having nowhere to live and no possessions other than the clothes I wore to work that day, my partner and I decided to leave our jobs and move to her home town in the west of Japan, where we would at least have a roof over our heads and some assistance from her family in straightening ourselves out.

My DoS was very sympathetic and understood the necessity to leave the company without serving a period of notice. Unfortunately the Principal of Shane English Schools did not share his compassion and proceeded to chastise me as if I were a badly behaved child. This just two days after I had lost everything.

I am 37 years old and I spent the ten years prior to my employment with Shane working as a journalist at a number of newsrooms in Moscow and London. Newsrooms can be aggressive and highly competitive working environments, but I never experienced such intransigence and insensitivity in any of those where I worked.

Of course, the day to day experience of working for Shane is not so extreme, the Japanese staff are generally very helpful and in most schools there exists a co-operative and amiable working relationship between school managers and teachers. However, senior management seem to consistently demonstrate a quite staggeringly complete disregard for the well being of teachers, which must inevitably affect the way teachers perform in the classroom. This, combined with the lack of resources (schools have no photocopiers or internet access, and you are restricted to using Shane´s own texts for all but upper intermediate and advanced classes) alongside the absence of potential for professional development and the inadequate and overpriced accommodation I outlined in my previous posting, means that the majority of Shane teachers are permanently demoralized and unhappy.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

I worked for SHANE English School in Chiba, then Tokyo in 2004/05. Fresh from doing a Cert Trinity TESOL it was my first (real) teaching job. I had been on the JET programme in Fukuoka for one year in 99/00.

I found SHANE good in that it was able to be fully-arranged outside Japan, in fact, by the English language school that hosted the Trinity course. Also, they meet new teachers at the airport, which is more than my present school in Prague did. However, finding your way from A to B on the subway is virtually impossible for the fresh teacher arriving at Narita Airport, and taxis impossibly expensive, unlike Prague.

I soon came to see SHANE as a post-cert training organisation, rather than a serious education provider. Scheduling was rather higgledy-piggledy, sometimes up to 10 different classes in the 6-hour teaching period. Chiba is traditionally a district hard to recruit to, meaning many days like this - rushed.

I will briefly speak about the three different DOS's I had, before briefing you on the financial shenanigans.

The first DOS was great, professional to a fault, empathetic despite the sometimes impossible task of assigning staff to back-breaking contact hours, and a good sense of humour. However, she up and left suddenly when her district was merged for cost cutting reasons, delivering two districts into the hands of a merciless SHANE warrior.

This fellow was well suited to wielding a stick, had no real social skills to persuade teachers to work the endless standby and cover days required for a short-staffed district, dismissed a teacher with great prejudice who had only been in the country two weeks for not being able to teach to the required standard (usually a DOS would take a personal interest to coach, you would think...) then allocated him four weeks of continuous cover while he completed the final month's employment! Eyesbrows were raised amongst many of us teachers at the logic of this.

Finally, at the end of 12 months in Chiba, I managed a transfer to the West Tokyo district. This district had a much better DOS and even scheduling. You will see some postings on this site on how the quality of Shane DOS can affect your stay, bear it in mind.

This is not meant to be a diatribe against Chiba district. It is just that I had such different experiences in the three districts I worked in. After merging, a few problems popped up with the salary payments. Outlines as follows:

1. Sometimes the extra 'standby' hours I worked were not included in the monthly salary calculations.
2. Three times the 5,000 yen 'cover' day bonus was not included at the end of the three month calculation period. Today, I am told teachers on new contracts don't even get this. Be prepared to work on your day off for free, with the real chance of not receiving one pence for your effort.
3. When I moved out of the SHANE apartment, the staff took out double the amount for final power and gas bills. I ended up having to catch a train to collect the refund (not reimbursed despite requests) as the two district admin offices' payroll systems couldn't, or wouldn't talk to each other...

So yes, you should be careful to check salary payments and keep utility receipts. When mistakes occur at Shane, it generally seem to be at your disadvantage.

SHANE was a punch-drunk, cash rooting, commercially-charging bull. The money supply screwed down extremely tight, and the fat little man has a truly gasp-worthy array of tactics to get teachers into working like little trojans for low pay.


Posted by Geetus on St. Dave's and saved by The Inspector before the thread is shredded.

_______________________________________________________________

Inspector McHammered of the Lard

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12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, and don't forget this one, either...

I was paying Shane 70,000 yen for a one room shoe box. I learnt through an estate agent it was worth only 50,000 at the most. I now pay 80,000 yen for an apartment 3 times as big privetly. Shane profit from teachers accomodation. Convenience? I lived 15 mins walk from my nearest train station!

I have a PGCE, making me more qualified than most DOSs in Shane, and the Shane books are terrible, Shane Elementary Orange is so confused, I think the author must have been drunk! Shane dosn´t care about teaching quality, just money.

Someone, somewhere. [2006-03-01]

Yankabroad said...

I don't know if Shane Korea is or has anything to do with Shane Schools International mentioned here, but I'll tell the story anyhow.

When I first came to Korea in 1996 I got a job at a certain Hyundai Hagwon. A few weeks (or perhaps months) after I started working the name changed to "Shane/Hyundai Hagwon." My boss paid for a sign to be made that said Shane/Hyundai English Language Institute and (perhaps not proudly but I don't know as he was a man never to show his feelings easily) proudly hung it outside the building. About the same time, this Korean guy in a plaid jacket and thin tie. trailing an impeccably dressed Native English speaker shows up. The teacher (he was Canadian if I remember correctly) put on a good teaching demonstration, the man in the plaid suit said call if you need anything, and they both left.

About two weeks later I called the young Canadian man to order books. "I'm sorry to say this," he told me over the phone, "but I've been fired."
"What for?" I asked.
"I wish I knew," he told me.

From then on it was just a sign hanging outside the door. A sign that my boss had paid 25 million won to use (that was for the name, not the actual physical sign itself). 25 million won was about $32, 000 U.S. at the time. Plus, on top of that, he was still giving Shane 10% off the top of every student walking in the door. I told my boss he was a fool to do so, and he decided to take my advice, and stopped sending Shane the money, but I think he mentioned something about intimidation, and how they constantly threatened him with "legal action" if he stopped paying.

That's my experience with Shane English Language School, and it was in Korea, so I'm not sure it was the same, but from the sound of it, they could be the same, as Shane Korea and Shane Japan appear both to be organizations driven by very evil people.

Anonymous said...

Yes. I once went on an induction day with Shane schools. Oooooh deeaaar, most of the others were fresh faced kids who believed 16,000 was a good salary for a 6 day week, always teaching in different parts of the city, being available 12-14 hours a day in Tokyo ! Hahah. But get this, even on the first day of induction we were told never never never so much as say one word to the receptionist at any school- they aren't there to help lost EFL teachers. We even had to sign a 'letter of understanding' in Japanese which later turned out to be a contract. When I pulled out they went ballistic threatening all sorts. Or at least Tim Langley did - the fat, smug piece of shit who was running things in London at the time. Laughable really, an obese heart attack candidate like that threatening anyone. I'd happily piss and shit on the fucking cunt's grave though.

bytchazz said...

Pyeong-Taek

Director/Supervisor: Mrs. Kim, Mrs. Yoo, David (Korean Teacher)

Tel: 652-0509
Email: jasan58@hotmail.com

This school goes by either JaSan and/or Kids Club. They all keep changing to different job titles so I just added all the names above.

It’s probably the worst school around in this area (Pyeong-Taek) The director has conned numerous teachers and owes millions to former employees. Do not expect your own apartment or any form of payment whatsoever.

Severance pay has been withheld from teachers on at least three occasions.

Contractual obligations in relation to accommodation, pay dates and vacations will not be kept. The director has little or no respect for Westerners. This is a poorly managed school with no interest in education. No teaching materials for native speakers are provided. Expect your pay to be docked if you decide to take your contractual vacation time.

Poor accommodation with a complete lack of privacy. Do not expect your medical insurance or your pension contributions to be passed on.
Do not expect your final wages, or your contractual notice time to be honored.

There is a high turnover of staff here, with very few teachers staying longer than 6 months. Former teachers have found the director deceptive and guilty of trying to implement ridiculous rules.

Teachers here were fired with short notice so that the director could save money. Compensation was not paid.

Statutory notice not given. Expect to be fired unjustly.

Delays in pay and non-payment of some wages and original deposit. Tax, insurance and pension are taken from teachers' wages but are not paid.

Horrible and unsafe living conditions

Less than half salary was paid to three foreign teachers and two Korean teachers due to various, dubious deductions. Airfare also wasn't paid.
The apartment provided lacked furnishings.

Early firing of teachers to avoid severance pay for two teachers.

You may be harassed, threatened and not paid if you work here.

I know I may have repeated a lot but I want other foreigners to be aware. I suggest that you ask the school to provide you with the other foreign teachers email address and/or phone number and contact them first before taking the job. I made the mistake of not listening to the other foreign teachers and took the job because the school was the closest to my friends. As of July 2006, I know of 2 Canadian teachers, 4 American teachers, 2 New Zealand teachers and 3 Korean teachers that have worked there in the past. Be wise as to which schools you choose. I have been working at other schools and I have never had any problems like this before so please be careful. If you have any question concerning this school or any other questions please contact me via email: bytchazz@hotmail.com

The TEFL Blacklister said...

Many thanks to Dipso for drawing my attention to this little gem which he posted on Saint Sperling's site and feared would be pulled soon. Seems they regard themselves as hobbing Roods in that they rob from the poor and give to Sheriff Shane, king of the cowboys......

I was recruited by Saxoncourt to work for a school in Europe. (Not a Shane school, but they used Saxoncourt for recruitment.)

For reasons I am still not entirely sure of, my Saxoncourt payslips were in pounds sterling but the school paid me in cash in the local currency. Just before I finished my contract I was looking through my payslips when I noticed an "R" in the tax box on one of them. At some point the Inland Revenue had given me a reasonably large tax refund via my UK employer, Saxoncourt, but this hadn't been passed on to me. I advised my British colleagues to check back through their own payslips and most found that they too had been granted tax refunds. We complained to Saxoncourt and several months later cheques finally came through for *our own money*, with no word of apology.

Dipso

Hmmm...

The TEFL Blacklister said...

A nice row between management, managemenet stooges (posing as normal posters) and unhappy teachers can be found here:
http://www.englishschoolwatch.org/webboard_detail.php?topic_id=349

Phew they sound odious. As for the Paul. He must be Paul Mitchell a complete Prat that works at Saxoncourt Recruitment now.

Anonymous said...

I think you guys have mixed up Paul Mitchell and Paul Douglas. PD was the SES Principal referred to on the thread. PM was a teacher and works in recruitment now. PM is OK, PD is a prick.

The TEFL Blacklister said...

Ah the plot thickens. Thanks for the tipoff. Definitely worthy of further investigation. If a mistake has been made then rest assured that God (aka Paul Mitchell) will get an absolution and Paul Douglas will get a surprise crucifixion.

Who dunnit?

The Inspector will start digging.

Inspector McHammered of the Lard.

Anonymous said...

"....and Smith must score....."

With such a large, slow, easy target as Shane, how have you managed to hit the corner flag?

You defintely got the wrong Paul but I think both Pauls have moved on now anyway.

Paul Mitchell isn't a genuine TEFL cowboy, he's just another tefl Indian - undervalued, easily pushed around, paid in buttons and borderline alcoholic - like the the rest of us.

Anyone who has worked for Shane/Saxoncourt will be able to tell you how the system works, but here's a quick summary:

Everything comes from the top down. Shane has a very small clique of yes/hatchet men in Tokyo and a trusted mini-me in London. No-one below (company) director is of any relevance.

Although Shane looks like Jabba, he organises things like the Emperor and his trusted apprentices in Japan have inlcluded Ian Holden, Ian Wilkinson and Paul Douglas among others (I'm a bit out of date now)

I didn't work in Japan, but worked in Shane London where there are enough ex-SESJ teachers to get a feel for things. The school in London was a reasonably good place to work for a while until Paul Douglas was sent back to sort it out.

Around the same time Ian Holden was hand-picked by Shane to bring Saxoncourt Recruitment into line. The result of this has been lots of redundancies, cost-cutting and general unhappiness in both Shane and Saxoncourt.

Ian probably deserves a whole blog to himself having been Shane's right hand man in Japan for years (setting up failed ventures in Thailand, Korea and elswhere) before running Saxoncourt after Tim Langley.

I'll leave you to investigate further - but the words "anal herpes" should be enough to whet anyone's appetite.....

Anonymous said...

I worked for Shane a few years back in Tokyo. Things don't seem to have changed much since the time I was there from what I hear. Overall, it is a good place for a new teacher to be totally immersed/overwhelmed by all sorts of class genres. But, it is essentially a commercial enterprise designed to maximize bums on seats, so the long term appeal suffers as a result. I didn't like the Dos' (they were quite frankly bullying and downright NASTY) and I didn't like their insurance scam or housing package. I did love many of my students, some of whom I still keep in touch with today. I'd say hack it out with Shane for a year and experience all Japan has to offer, then move on and don't look back with any bitterness.

Anonymous said...

Worked with Shane for two years In these two years the company progressively went down-hill.

1) First change to be made was due to the fuss caused over Health insurance, Shane as is well documneted its own Company insurance. People kicked up a fuss about not having a choice to go on the government one.

Shane solution: contractually limit all its foreign employees to less than 25hrs a week, so they are not illegible for the government one. No mentioning of course that if an employee decides to go on the government scheme Shane has to cough up an amount as well.

Problem: contractually limited teachers to 25hrs BUT still tried to enforce Teahcers in time so... all teachers had to come in an hour before the first lesson or no later than 1 o'clock.. so if a teacher started at 3pm they still had to come in at 1, and if they finished at 9:30.. well you do the maths..

One way they got around this was that a teacher had to come in at 1pm do 30mins prep for the whole day then they were free to do what they wanted for the rest of the day between lessons..

Sounds good BUT if youv'e got a hell of a day 6hrs maxed out, and a block of 4hrs with no break between them (many cases this happened) you are going to have to prepare more than this 30mins.. thus Shane got teachers working the same amount of hours and dodged the Government insurance.

2) A bizarre off-shoot of these new conditions.. existing teachers got bonuses slashed (methinks they were waiting for an excuse to do this) and...... suprise, suprise.. new teachers from 2006, wouldnt't get the 5000yen for the extra day.

3)and... new teachers had to work more extra days...

4)These extra days have been mentioned before.. when I worked it was 12 extra days in my first year then 10 in my second.. I was reasonably lucky, my district was pretty healthy at the time and of course if I worked I got paid an extra 5000yen for them.

5)But if I got sick they took of 15000yen of my salary for a day, and either paid the covering teacher an extra 5000 if they were employed before 2006, or paid nothing if they joined after 2006. SO in fact they made money out of the sick teacher.

6)The Sick teacher also had to phone head office before 10am, then phone the cover teacher themselves (could be one of your mates) that they have to work on that day.

7) The next great Shane invention, halve the districts, by joing two or three districts together. Promises were made at first that the old boundaries would be artificially in place and a covering teacher wouldn"t have to cross this boundary.. a big deal when the journey times could be in excess of 1 and a half hours, door to door.

Did they keep this promise? of course not..

8)Last but not least, bigger districts, with more teachers in them and... LESS DOS', exellent... more than 60 teachers, 3 ADOS' (if your lucky) and a DOS.. which means less contact time with your ADOS and DOS.. good in some respects if you're experienced and want to be left alone.. but if you've just come of the plane and are thrown into the fire probaly not the best idea..

When I came there seemed to be a 3 to 6mnth cap where you got used to the job and then got the extra days.. from what I gather this has been taken away with some teachers having to work extra days almost form day 1.

9) I'm not even going to start on the mess of the accomadation contract, as its already been documented here..

What can I say.. I enjoyed teaching and the students were great, if you want a job in Japan look around.. Shane isn't the worst it does have benefits (nearly 5wks hols) but read the contract throughly to know what you're getting into...

Anonymous said...

I don't believe 90% of the posters on this "blog". Firstly, SAC Orange is hardly the worst, that goes to SAC Yellow. Accomodation is overpriced, but so what, move into a guest house, it isn't hard.

Everything else is just a downright lie.