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

Saturday, August 30, 2008

EF College, Oxford

Posted on TEFL Jobs in the UK. Any comments?

I can't seem to nominate a school for the blacklist, so I'm leaving it here as a comment. This is my resignation letter from EF College, Oxford:

Dear Kim,
I am writing to inform you that I have been forced to resign my position from EF Language College, for reasons outlined below. I am truly sorry for the inconvenience my departure has caused to my colleagues at the Oxford Centre, however to remain was to place myself in an untenable position. I have listed the below issues in chronological order.

1. Confirmation and arrival. As I did not receive, as promised, an information pack over the weekend of the 27-28 June providing details of the position, it was not until I spoke to you on the morning of Monday 30 June that I was informed of the location of the Centre. You gave me the address: Cherwell College, Paradise Street, Oxford OX1 1LD. On arrival at the Paradise Street address I spent a tedious hour between different departments, none of which had heard of me or knew anything about EF. I find it unbelievable that you did not have the correct address of 7 Norham Gardens, especially given that this was where all the EF resources and merchandise had been delivered. You had also misdirected other staff to Paradise Street and this was a very poor introduction to EF.

2. Teaching facilities and OH&S. The facilities at Norham Gardens were completely inadequate, only two toilets, a staff room with only two chairs, tiny classrooms, boxes strewn everywhere, a lack of fire extinguishers and most appallingly, not one staff member had comprehensive first aid training. The first aid kit in the office my have been adequate for a single traveller, but certainly not for a camp of 150 teenagers. Additionally, there was no epipen and no one trained in the treatment of anaphylaxis. Basic OH&S standards were clearly not adhered to and there was no procedure for doing background checks on employees. Given the duty of care owed to the students attending the camp, I found these conditions unacceptable.

3. Program organisation and resources. Despite a comprehensive English language program being available for the teachers to follow, there was no information about the drama component other than the comment “we’re doing ‘A Mid-summer Night’s Dream’ with a performance at the end”. No one could tell us whether it would be one performance or several, whether all students were expected to participate as actors regardless of their level of English, or what particular material needed to be covered in our lessons. All these questions were secondary however to the main problem – there were no copies of the play! In the middle of this discussion a representative from the Oxford Theatre Company showed up unexpectedly and began going through some lesson plans that she had been asked to prepare. Unfortunately, the plans, which covered such obscure topics as ‘pointalism’ were far too advanced for ESL students. Additionally, she had only prepared 7 out of the 14 lesson plans, leaving the teachers to complete the rest on their own, which again would be impossible without copies of the text available. One option discussed was to download a copy of the play and photocopy it, but this could not be done as the Centre had no internet access. No timetable had been organised.

4. Board and Accommodation. Given the dilapidated state of the Centre, I was not surprised to find that the accommodation was also sub-standard. All teachers had been told they would be given their own room and instead the majority of us had to share. The room I shared had only one light, the beds were old and uncomfortable, the facilities musty and dirty. There was no bathroom on our floor and no lighting on the landing. Despite being promised ‘full board and accommodation’ we were informed that there was no budget to feed us on Monday night and that we’d have to ‘fend for ourselves’. This was not what anyone wanted to hear after such a tedious day and completely unfair of EF to mislead employees in this way. I stipulated to the Centre Manager and my ‘House Mother’ that I had particular food allergies and they both assured me that I could be catered for without a problem. Despite this, I was unable to eat the food at either breakfast or lunch on Tuesday.

Kim I have to say my experience of EF has been one of complete disorganisation and unprofessionalism. I feel that I accepted the position after being given misleading information about the company, the Oxford Centre and the teaching position. I am still considering whether to pass my concerns on to the relevant authorities. I expect full remuneration for Monday 30 June and Tuesday 1 July, along with reimbursement of my travel costs. The receipts of these I have posted to you along with my P46 tax form.
Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Pamplona, Spain

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