Let the Summer Scramble for Teaching Work Begin! by Yvonne Dagan
This is the time of year when Universities, Further Education (FE) colleges and language teaching organisations such as International House World, British Council, Bell and many others start recruiting for work over the summer period. This work tends to take the form of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) which often includes IELTS preparation, General and Exam English intensive courses or summer camps for teenagers and young learners. Let’s take a look at the options available in the industry.
What’s the deal with UK University work?
Websites such as www.jobs.ac.uk post job adverts for pre-sessional tutors to do 5/6 week, 7/8 week or 10/11 week contracts focussing on Academic English or IELTS preparation for student admissions. It is in a University’s interest to accept as many foreign students as possible for revenue and prestige; however, sometimes the applicant’s linguistic level is not quite at the required level for undergraduate studies in the UK. Rather than decline the applicant, Universities tend to give conditional offers of acceptance based on the proviso that the entry level IELTS score, often a 6.5 or 7, is achieved by the beginning of term in September. This has created a solid market for summer teaching work.
Break down the basics for me
Whilst Pre-sessional English Language Tutor or Associate Lecturer roles mean a lot of high quality prep work and mountains of marking, they are considered to be well-paid within the industry. Salaries tend to be paid one or two months in lieu so you will need a decent float to tide you over until pay day. It may be worth it though when you consider that a ten-week contract is worth approximately £7,000 gross of tax and NET of holiday pay for a Delta qualified teacher on Band 7, spine points 28 to 36 of the government pay scale. Holiday pay is then usually added on at a rate of 12% worth around another £840 for Deltas, as can be seen on this advertisement for pre-sessional tutors by The University of Sheffield.
As a British national, if you haven’t worked in the UK previously in that tax year then you will be within the non-taxable allowance of £10,600 in England and Wales (Scotland varies) and able to claim tax back, effectively meaning you will receive the gross salary. If you are a foreigner coming into the UK to work, income tax should be charged in the same way according to Gov.uk.
You must also make social security or national insurance payments, which are transferable between EU member countries. Other foreign nationals should check out any existing agreements between your country and the UK.
Any other benefits?
Accommodation in student halls is sometimes offered either for free or at a reduced rate. If not, don’t be frightened to negotiate as most Universities will find a way to reach a compromise with the Accommodation department when pushed. British teachers can also contribute to the Teacher Pension´s Scheme which is still decent despite the significant changes made at the beginning of 2015.
I’m only CELTA qualified so should I even bother applying?
Although mainly targeted at Deltas, Universities will take solid CELTAs if that is what is available to them, so do apply. A single application takes eight hours to complete on average which is a considerable time investment on your part. Prioritise by checking out the University’s ranking first as the higher ranked will easily fill quotas with Deltas whereas the lower listed yet still very reputable will be more likely to take CELTA’s in the summer scramble for teaching staff. You will be paid less than a Delta; however, you will be paid fairly based on the government set salary scale, will gain very credible experience for your CV and hopefully, receive repeat offers of work once the relationship is built. With all academic jobs, a high standard is expected so you do need to be confident you can deliver.
UK Futher Education (FE) Colleges
Colleges are often considered to be a better option for CELTAs as the success rate here is potentially much higher. The work is typically, although not always, less academic as you may find yourself with groups of well-to-do foreign teenagers in summer camps. These are generally well organised and are at least in an academic setting with a reputable college. Pay rates for FE Colleges are similar to those of Universities although colleges tend to advertise the NET hourly rate of pay (tax already deducted) whereas Universities show a gross pro-rata salary which you need to work out based on contract hours over the number of contract weeks and again, the 12% holiday pay rate applies. Look for college jobs at https://fe.jobs.ac.uk/.
The main difference compared to the Universities, is that accommodation is unlikely to be offered. If you already have a base in Britain, it is more cost effective to work at a local college otherwise it may be best to arrange a home stay deal with a local family via the college.
Language Teaching Organisations
An easier option in terms of prep and even better option for CELTAs, are summer schools run by a British Council (BC) or International House (IH), both of which have just started recruitment drives with numerous posts available in Vietnam. Opportunities abroad like this are good as they provide a two-month taster of what the country is like, flights are contributed toward with BC and accommodation is often offered at a reduced rate. In the UK, EF, LAL, Bell and Kaplan schools are all currently recruiting for teaching, management and pastoral care roles.
Terms and Conditions
It is good to be aware that market forces, country-specific economy, law and tax rates often result in franchised centres offering different pay rates and contract conditions so do your research and always check out currency conversions to ensure you have a clear idea of what you are being offered. Also, check out what constitutes a working week and whether holiday pay is accrued or not.
Long term benefits
BC and IH contracts can be very hard to come by in prime locations. However, if the school likes your summer school work, they may well keep you on which gives you access to the BC and IH networks global jobs network with an internal applicant’s passport. Again, check out Bell and Kaplan for similar benefits as these positions often help open up future job and training opportunities.
Locally organised summer camps
European summer camps for YL´s and VYL´s are an excellent development opportunity for those teachers who wish to specialise in and gain more experience of teaching these age groups. It can also seem like an attractive option for CELTAs nervous about teaching grammar to higher level students or working in a place where they will be formally observed regularly. That´s fine, but do not underestimate how much physical energy and stamina you will require or the exhaustive list of age and level appropriate resources, materials, songs, games, crafts and language worksheets you will need.
These types of camps can be lots of fun to work in although do be aware that they are frequently run by small language centres owned and managed by non-educators. This means that staff, hours, pay, groups and types of classes tend to be confirmed very late in the day and the summer schools can be chaotically disorganised. You may find yourself nannying rather than teaching and you may be asked to do things in ways that you don´t necessarily agree with.
Safeguard your professionalism
Most importantly though, you need to ensure you are protected and insured for your own sake when working with children so do make sure you ask about liability should an accident, or worse, an accusation of something takes place. Never be on your own in a delicate situation with a child such as having to help them in the bathroom. Be very aware of religion, local customs and remember that sadly, you are always professionally at risk nowadays if you have any physical contact with minors.
Apply for jobs responsibly
Thoroughly research local teaching centres before you sign up to ensure they are reputable, pay their staff and treat their teachers well. Clarify the accommodation situation, travel time and costs as in whether these are reimbursed to you and also ask about what your colleagues are like and their age groups to make sure you will fit into the tight-knit community of teachers that will inevitably form.
For all summer work of any nature
As with full-time work, do make sure you understand your summer contract; what is the actual rate of pay, how and when will you be paid? Ensure that your contact hours (teaching hours) vs contract hours are clearly defined and acceptable to you. If you are required to participate in or host evening and weekend social programmes or do extensive administrative work, clarify what the hourly rates for this work is as these duties are normally paid at a much reduced rate.
Query as to whether off-the-shelf materials, resources and lessons are readily available or whether you will have to adapt them or create new materials from scratch. There is a big difference between delivering a course and designing a course and you need to be able to calculate how prep hours depreciate your contract pay and to decide whether the job is viable or not.
You know your summer season has been worth it if it has been spent with good people and has been a rewarding experience, financially and in terms of development.
Yvonne Dagan is a DELTA trained, Cambridge CELTA Teacher Trainer who switched career from management and contact centre work to EFL teaching ten years ago. Having skinned her knees several times, Yvonne feels it only fair to share what she’s learnt with others in the industry to help prevent episodes of wobbling and random disappearances down rabbit holes.