Posted in Andalusia forum
I have worked in Spain for 10 years in British and International schools. My experiences have mostly been positive. I worked at Saint Philip's in Linares three years ago and it was a terrible experience. I did not post earlier because it had only been open for a year and I had hoped that things would improve, after I left, as it became more established. Recently, a former colleague, still employed by the school, told me that, if anything, things were worse and that the treatment of British staff has deteriorated even further..
So, what's wrong with the only British school in Jaen, as the school markets itself? To begin with, Saint Philip's is not really a British school. It's not even a billingual school. It started life as a Spanish school, failed and then morphed into a billingual school. After the entire British team walked out, following the unfar dismissal of the British Headteacher (I was one of the team) they re-re-branded themselves as a British school. The year after, they were going to sack the headteacher who had got them through their inspection because he refused to condone unethical conduct. He found out and resigned and they refused to pay him thousands of pound that they owed him. The only things that have really changed in 4 years are the description of the school and the deterioriation in the treatment of its British staff.
Imagine moving to Spain, lured by the promise of beautiful weather, friendly people, more PPA time and low-cost living. Imagine arriving to find a place that experiences freezing temperatures, more rain than London and people who are, to put it mildy, insular and not exactly welcoming or open-minded. Add to that the longest working day that you will find in a British school (8.45 - 5.15) with no lunch break - you eat with the children and then supervise their playtime, you teach and are responsible for writing plans for several subjects, most that you are not trained for and have far less PPA time than you'd get in the UK. Sounds awful, doesn't it?
Imagine then not being paid the additional allowance (a mere 1/3 of your normal wage) for compulsory summer school - often 5 weeks, regulary not being paid your monthly salary, being paid less than you should be or being paid up to 15 days late, with no warning or compensation and being called disloyal if you dare to complain or look for another job, which will result in you being ignored by the Spanish staff. If that weren't bad enough, imagine being managed by a Spanish guy who can't speak a word of English, slags off the British education system and openly favours Spanish staff over British staff. Imagine photocopiers that never work, running out of basic school supplies, such as paper and board pens, having to work Saturdays for training, payment free, not being given statutory rights and being sacked if you dare to complain.
Add to this the fact that you are stuck in the middle of nowhere, where no one speaks English, where Spanish staff refuse to socialise with British staff and where their views on everything form abortion, to LGBTQ and gender equality are still in the dark ages. Even worse, the parents and Spanish staff are stakeholders in the business, so this means your teaching assistant is technically your boss, as is the cleaner, and the parents quite literally own you.
The only good thing is that they are no longer able to use the most high profile international recruitment company to find teachers, because so many of the teachers that they placed at Saint Philip's have left, due to non-payment of salary and because the recruitment company's finder's fees have not been paid.
Dont get me wrong, I have loved every minute of working in British and International schools in Spain, apart from the year that I spend at Saint Philip's and living in Linares. Do yourself a favour and stick to big cities and coastal areas, where you will be treated fairly and with respect and where there are things to do.