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I've just been really grateful to a tip given to me about a school in the Italy forum, so felt I should return the favour in some kind of karma. I have taught in Valencia this year in a few language centres and schools and have heard the WORST things about Iale/Elians bilingual school. They go through teachers every few months, no British teacher has stayed for a full contract, you don't get sick pay (in fact, get deducted more than a day's pay for each day sick and still have to get a medical certificate), have regular weekend meetings, expected to do their summer camp during the holidays, have no PPA time, have to do duties every day, and the headteacher is on a complete power trip. She expects children to be silent and doesn't even allow teachers to have bottles of water because it's unprofessional. When you factor in that they will not pay for your translation fees and will shaft you for summer holiday pay by ending your contract in June, it's dud pay too. You're basically just there to give a pound of flesh and keep the reputation of the school (there is a lot of grade fixing to keep parents happy). I've even heard a rumour that some staff take bets on how long a British teacher will last!
Having said that - could be a good career break if you don't mind long hours and can tune out a bit. The actual quality of teaching is never going to be a problem, you can just turn up and roll out of a textbook. The hours are long but it's easy. Just pretend you're working in a factory and it's about right. Brilliant if you can switch off (and booze is so cheap here that you could just become an alcoholic). If you're a summer camp veteran looking to make a move to teaching, this could be OK. There really are better schools to work at in Valencia though if you've got the skills.
I must stress that all this is just rumour, but I haven't seen anyone else make it public and I've heard it often enough to believe it. I don't know anyone who has taught there particularly well (they never have any free time), so maybe someone can confirm or deny.
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It is 2021 and things have not changed in this school from previous posts. Bear in mind it is no longer known as Elians, This is Iale International School and it is not a school for native English teachers. I have worked in other private schools in Spain and took this job because I thought I had seen it all, but I hadn´t, and this is by far the worst. The employees who endure this company are Spanish, they team up together and protect each other because it is ultimately a terrible company to work for. They are also so used to native English teachers coming and going that they make very little effort and some won´t even greet you. The director came in as a Teaching assistant, married the owner who appointed her as Director. She values the indispensable, some of management and has very little or no value towards teachers. Worse still, if you disagree with her then she has the potential to shout at you and verbally abuse you in front of others, including children! This is the worst conduct I have ever witnessed in a job and the Management team do nothing. Read that again, Management do NOTHING. She will treat you as disposable because that is exactly what you are in this place. There is no support or protection at all. She lacks the professionalism to successfully manage her position and maintain native English speakers and worse still, she nor the company cares. It has been running like this for years! She will fire a competent employee on any last day of term if she wants to. It´s usually because they stick up for their rights or refuse to be submissive and has nothing to do with their teaching ability or passion for their job. She will then lie to the parents to cover up the real reason why their children have lost a teacher. For a doctor´s appointment you have to visit her personally with a paper to get approved. Most other companies have a system in place where you can get doctors appointments easily. She believes that a Director should be present and accessible around the school but with a director like this, the place would function better if she kept herself behind closed doors and the atmosphere would be better too. The positives of the place are there are some friendly staff, the students are fantastic and the job itself isn´t so bad. To put it in a nut shell, the job is like a dragged out summer camp with a vulgar director. You could potentially last the full year If you don´t mind long hours with a long commute on top, bossy or indifferent working colleagues, dragged out staff meetings, weekend work, a July summer camp that´s compulsory or you won´t get paid. They also pay the minimum. Other private Spanish schools I have worked in have had respectful, professional leaders who know how to keep their cool. There are schools that pay more with much better conditions. I would not recommend this place to any teacher, even the desperate.
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You Are Forewarned
To Parents a warning of how British teachers are Treated at the school you are contemplating taking your children.
To Educators wanting to live the dream in Spain!
For those of you who are contemplating signing on to the Elian’s group, think twice before you sign the contract. The contract itself is set up to leave employees in a lurch whenever the company decides that an infraction has occurred. So read and re read before you sign!
Before I start I will mention a couple of positives: The kids are brilliant to work with and most of the staff are hardworking dedicated teachers and enjoy it, when there are not living with the constant fear of losing your job over minor infractions. With 2 directors that are not qualified to run a school and the use of fear to keep teachers in check. The ethos of the school is Form over Function, where the profit of the director’s family comes first and foremost. I have worked in many state schools that are far better equipped in England than this private school in Spain. Decisions at this school are made with profit first, students and teachers second. Parents are aware of these things, but keep their kids in the school due to the lack of British schools in the area.
Please read the following quote from NABBS inspection report 2015 and keep your eye open for the next one coming up soon.
The proportion of new teachers is relatively high and the school is aware of the need to improve staff continuity pg.3
On average there is at least a minimum of five teachers who will leave in the academic year and as high as ten in some instances. This has nothing to do with going back to England. The majority of people who leave are normally fired, quit or forced out. Now you might think they deserve it, however, this is because the school does not offer or have any support in place to teachers thrive. If you do decide to work at Elian’s, make sure you don’t make any mistakes, or you will be out of that school and onto the street with no support to help your labour affairs because there is no union to back you up. They would rather fire a teacher and save some salary than support any growth in teacher’s professional development.
This lack of support is apparent throughout the school. Management literally does the minimum it has to do for its employees, to get the paperwork in order to enable them to legally work in Spain. Their foremost need is to make sure they are covered by Spanish law. But unlike other private schools, there is no infrastructure to help teachers get even the basic health care. If you don’t speak Spanish, promises are made to help you get general health care but are never followed through. It has been known to occur where some teachers are years without this basic tax right. If you need help sorting anything else out i.e. getting to Spain, getting a flat, your healthcare, learning Spanish etc. you are on your own. Also forget CPD, if it costs money they aren’t interested. If you are complacent with no promotions and to keep bringing in numbers of students to the school because of your English sounding name and English degrees then this is the school for you. Remember this school is about profit, not the well-being of staff.
Due to the school being a private entity and there being no teacher’s union, the heads are allowed to do as they please. If you do not comply with the school, or do not fit into the Elians “standard” which is not mentioned in any handbook to staff, then you will be let go without any warning or pay. If they want to fire you, they will arrange a secret Skype interview and will fire you without any warning, knowing that being a foreigner gives you little chance of taking them to court. So unfortunately unless you have an understanding of Spanish and have the means to afford a lawyer there isn’t a great deal you can do about it.
There was, however, a case in which they fired a Spanish teacher on the last day of the school, they took the Elian’s Group to court and won the case; but being British you have zero chances of starting a slow process while trying to pay your rent with no income.
There are a number of examples that will cement my warning. One I can think of from the top of my head is: Leaving the classroom lights on (only half of them are actually connected in order to save some money). Such a serious matter in management’s eyes will mean that you get a minor infraction. Two of these will mean you have now incurred a serious infraction for which you can be suspended or even fired. But this doesn’t apply to all teachers; the school excels for uneven treatment amongst members of the staff as well.
You may be required to teach any subject at anytime and they will not contemplate a “NO” for an answer, even though teachers are unfairly losing the few free lessons that are entitled to you.
So, expect to cover lessons with a smile on your face, or else, they will be on your case stating that "you don't fit in the school ethos and you are being negative and uncooperative.” Expect to cover lessons, if a teacher is fired/leaves and no replacement is found you will do subjects you are not trained for. The facts are clear: the school has a high turn over rate, which is the case year in, year out since the school tried to get a secondary aspect to their growing school. You could bring this up in the interview it would be a neat question to management. Why do teachers not stay at Elian’s?
As for wages you make very little compared to any northern country in Europe but the schools sells you on the dream of living in the sun and affordable living. But here is the catch after 5 long years if you pass the probation period of the first year you can look forward to a 50 Euro increase a month for a total of 600 Euros bonus for lasting 5 years. This bonus Wage increment will get you excited about your well-deserved raise after serving for 5 years. Hmmm no wonder they can’t keep staff!!! Oh and for the icing on the cake: there is no advice on how to gain a pension. No wonder people don’t stay and use this school as a working holiday and not a long-term commitment.
Holidays in Spain could mean that you get to enjoy the sun, and by law, you are entitled to get 7 weeks off during the summer or pay you for 3 weeks of work at the summer school (this is supposed to happen in alternating years. One year you work 3 weeks with extra pay and the following one, you get 7 weeks off). But at Elians, they force you to work this period of the summer for free or else, you won't get paid for the month of July. The rest of the British schools in the region offer you the chance of getting a double pay for working summer school or giving you the holidays, but not Elians.
Finally, if you are considering bringing your family think again, if the students are English the school does not have enough subjects to teach English/foreign speakers. In these cases, the school would rather give these students frees or study time which can be up to 3 hours everyday. Marks, comments and even contact must go through management which have been known to be modified to satisfy parental customers to ease their worries on the child’s development when students slip through the system. Resources are kept to a bare minimum. There are limits to photocopying, uniforms are over priced and the cafeteria has some issues with what they serve. But then again parents don’t complain so the motto,” if it ain’t broken don’t fix it” which management and owners embrace to make a profit.
If I can make a recommendation, look at any other school within the Valencia province. Most schools have a far better reputation than Elian’s, with a far smaller turnaround of staff and are not made to work as many weeks at summer school. You have been warned.
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I too have just finished working at Iale. I have many years of positive teaching experience behind me and would rate my experience there as the worst I have ever encountered. As the previous teacher wrote, if it were not for the fantastic english coordinator we had, the year would have been almost impossible to endure. She was the only person who genuinly had the interests of the English team at heart and was brave enough to stand up for what was right for the english department and her teachers.Unsurprisingly she has found a more worthy position and many others have also left. In my opinion this support will not be so readily available in the forthcoming year.
The roots of the problems at that school start with the 'directora' (head mistress). She is an unsympathetic woman who seems to take pleasure in demeaning and intimidating her staff. She makes unfair demands on the teachers (most of which are unneccessary and left to the last moment), is often heard making snide remarks about staff during staff meetings and will belittle teacher's opinions and ideas. For various reasons a large majority of hardworking teachers have been reduced to tears in her office. She is basically a bully. Furthermore, the teachers are simply not supported as proffessionals and the demands (however unreasonable) of the parents and students come first, which can be incredibly frustrating when your genuine priority is the education of the children.
The negative and highly stressful influence as the head of the school simply feeds down the organisation tree on every level. The entire management team behave in a way which leaves the teachers overwhelmed and edgy. Should you have any objection about your working conditions, demands or hours (often being kept up to 4 hours after the children have left, being TOLD at the last moment to come in at the weekend etc..) you must be prepared to be ignored on EVERY level. Furthermore, all teachers are not treated equally and there are a select few who are exempt from meeting the demands which the other teachers are. They seem to get away with behaving in a way which would see the average teachers fired or, at least, seriously reprimanded. This adds to the awkward working environment and is very frustrating for the average teacher.
It is true that there are nice members of Spanish staff at the school but the atmosphere does not foster friendships easily.
On a practical note:
You will frequently work above and beyond your working hours, including weekends. It was made obligatory that the majority of staff go on the two 1 week residential camps even though they were not needed and the few who were left were overwhelmed with the sub classes back at school.
All teachers have to do break AND lunch duty EVERY day.
Teachers have to do bus duty. Going to and/or from school on one of the school coaches to monitor the children.
You only have 4 free periods a week (45 mins each). However, the school does not employ substitute teachers so, commonly, your free periods are for subbing other teachers.
You will be expected to produce hefty planning which is given to the parents. All students throughout primary get homework every day and, on average, are tested about 3 times a week. You need to grade your students online for every subject, every week.
All your photocopies and stationary requests and stringently monitored.
There is no staffroom to relax in (no kettle/coffee pot/fridge/sofas etc.). Just desks and chairs. You have to buy any refreshments at the school coffee shop (where you can expect every child to be served before you!).
There are CCTV cameras in the Year 1 & 2 classrooms and lessons are often 'spied' on.
There are intercoms in every classroom throughout the school which are also used to listen in on your classes.
The English team produce nearly every extra curricular activity: Halloween, Christmas play, Fallas construction etc. with no compensation made in the timetable (just your breaks and free time).
Not once during the entire academic year were the staff encouraged or thanked in any way. The family owner of all 3 schools would use the staff meetings she attended as a platform to undermine the members of staff and to basically scream at us how awful she thought we all were, when it it obvious to anyone with any sense that the problems in the school lie with how it is managed. On the last day of the school year there was a staff meeting and the directora couldn't even bring herself to thank her teachers or wish them a good summer.
I would seriously consider whether you want to pursue a career at this school. There are so many other better options in Valencia, particularly the schools which follow the British curriculum. There are also a lot of academies in Valencia and you can easily earn a good salary, have more sociable hours and a reasonable workload.
Good luck whatever you choose!
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And how are things at Elians these days? What is the pay like and is it really as stressful as teachers say? I imagined that Spanish schools would be far more relaxed than English ones. As part of my PGCE i spent a month in a Madrid primary school and the teachers were very chilled!
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I´ve been looking for a job in a primary school in Spain but when I do a bit of internet research about the schools, there is nothing but bad reviews! I suppose disgruntled ex-employees are more likely to write reviews as some kind of revenge!