posted by in Valencia forum
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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