If you’re at all familiar with the ELT industry in the UK at the moment, you’d be familiar with euphemisms like “a period of transition” and “challenging market conditions”. It’s all a far cry from the boom years of four or five years ago.
That’s not to say that things are in dire straits just yet, though. Student numbers are down across the board, and many schools have heavily discounted offers just to get people through the door. However, business is still relatively healthy, there’s lots of sponsored business around, and in many staff rooms things are just plodding along as they have always done.
Regardless, costs still have to come down to reflect the new reality of the market. And that means making decisions about staff and recruitment. Many teaching staff have had hours cut, and some teachers unfortunately find themselves looking around on tefl.com a lot more urgently than before.
This leaves academic management in a difficult situation with regards to staff development. Most of the private chain schools across the country (and around the world) have different pay scales depending on how experienced and qualified their teachers are. For example, a newly-qualified teacher with a CELTA might be on Rate A, while one with two years experience on Rate B, and so on.
Obviously, the ideal staff room has a range of backgrounds and experience levels, but there are budgets to manage and while having a lot of very experienced, well-qualified staff might be a good thing in general, it can mean that your staff room ends up being relatively expensive.
So where does that leave CPD for ELT in the UK? Should Directors of Studies continue to encourage their best staff to go on and complete DELTAs and Masters degrees, in the knowledge that they might then not be able to offer them any work?
This might sound a bit hysterical, but it is an area of concern. I recently asked a senior member of staff at a big private language school about how to best deploy a teacher with a lot of experience and a DELTA/MA. The reply? “Oh, we wouldn’t have anyone like that here!”.