Value for money


The issue of money has been bugging me for a while now. Since becoming a freelance ‘lone gun for hire’ I have to chase payments and also make choices based on pay. This has led me to ponder more on what students pay and if they really are getting their money’s worth. Particularly when we teachers are often the middleman so to speak. Students pay schools and they pay us. We may feel we are worth our pay but we forget that students may be paying double that to our employers.

I just looked at some London schools and they are charging about £190 a week for 6 mths for a basic course or £290 for an intensive one. Another says 11,500Euros and 12800Euros for 6 months for the same course.

Now these probably consist of 3/4 hours a day so the £190 course works out as about £12 an hour. Now, I feel that my classes are worth that, maybe more depending on what the course is but the 11,500Euros one at 3 hours a day is about 32 Euros or £27. That is a very high price. Maybe it includes a book and even accommodation, if so then I could live with that but if it isn’t then I would be in a pickle.

I worked in places like these for years and did my best to provide quality but as my salary wasn’t amazing I wasn’t prepared to kill myself over it. Students did complain about the price/quality issue though but this was a lot to do with commissions from sales offices and all the others cuts for admin, school bills, advertising etc. The teacher gets the leftovers. But hang on!! Aren’t we the most important??? They are selling classes with teachers, that’s it. so, why aren’t some places developing the quality of those classes and teachers? Better teaching means better classes, student progress and image and reputation. Bottom-up. But maybe we are still in a top-down situations of sales, admin then finally the class.

Another place I work charges 7000Euros a year but the students get a lot of class, English being one of them. Some days they have 6,7 and even 10 hours. My pay for those classes isn’t brilliant but I get all the materials given so I have very little prep to do. To be honest, my lessons aren’t amazing but definitely more interesting than what they’d be if I just followed the PPT. As a freelancer I have limited time so have to use it wisely. I would love to put for effort into those classes but 1)financially my time is better spent working elsewhere 2)from what I’ve seen the other teachers just read the PPT aloud 3)the students don’t generally appreciate really thought off lessons 4)I would not be praised or even noticed if I put in more effort 4)based on the other heavy classes students actually just want an easy light class.

Some friends who teach at unis in the UK said that their fees are going up by huge amounts to £6000 and £9000 a year but, surprisingly, their pre-uni courses are packed full. Maybe kids getting in before the fees kick in, I’m not sure. Now, I don’t think I’ve studied anywhere that was worth that money. Definitely not somewhere that does lectures and then 1 hour seminars with only 3/4 courses a term concluding in timed exams or submitted essays. Add a VLE and some online bits and it is better but still NOT worth that money. However, I was guaranteed an amazing job after then it may help change my mind but I doubt that is the reality.

Lastly, for 121 classes I’ve been offered from 10Euros to 35Euros by schools. I have a feeling they charge up to or over double that which means those students pay 20 to 70 Euros an hour. Now, I will admit that my classes are not worth 60/70 Euros when I am only paid half that. If I was going direct and was paid 70 then I would certainly put in the work and deliver something the best I could that would be worth that. But I don’t and most of us don’t either. Does that mean that students and companies should all go direct or that we should get a bigger slice of the pie??

A friend who runs a school recently said that after all the deductions ranging from franchiser fees to bills, overheads and taxes they can hardly pay the teacher minimum wage. If so, why bother?

As I said before, teaching and delivering courses is meant to be about quality and helping students. The teacher-student relationship but when you have bosses, bills etc things get complicated. Perhaps the solution is crowdsourcing or a co-operative of teachers who work together like a school and share a common premises. They could undercut schools, provide better quality and be more flexible.


How much do you think your classes are worth?

Do you worry about how much students are actually paying your boss?


10 thoughts on “Value for money

  1. I read this from beginning to end, and all I can say is: this is why I am so happy to have landed a full-time job in a decent college program where English is part of the curriculum. Teach for 10 euros an hour? No way…

    • Thanks Betty.So, is the course free or do they pay?I’ve workd at som french unis where students have paid noting, others where there was an admin fee of 300E and one or two private Superior Schools where they just charge whatever they want. They seem to be free to hire who they want and mainly get business people. Whether a manager is better than a teacher with Agregee in France is up for question but I personally would prefer the guy with real experience.

  2. Great question. Teachers at my school who tutor charge over US$100 per hour. We’ve been reading about tutors in Manhattan making close to US$400 per hour – and we’re beginning to wonder if we’re undervaluing our services.

    I suppose the answer depends on the balance between the demand and the extent to which you can meet the demand. At least in the tutoring world, unhappy customers will not hire you for a new session or school year.

    I also charge different amounts, depending on the market I am targeting. If I’m tutoring or consulting in a nonprofit school or religious organization, I tend to charge less than I do for overseas schools supported by oil companies, individuals running schools for profit, or large corporations.

    I like what you said – we have to consider the quality of education we provide. It’s good for brand and for business – no matter what the market.

    • OMG!! I remember a friend used to get about £100 an hour in China for doing intensive exam prep to 100+ students.It was mainly ‘cheats’ though.

      The other problem is that would a DELTA/MA amazing lesson be valued by the students who aren’t used to that quality?? I taught a lesson that I then typed up as a plan which won some awards. It was a good lesson but my students didn’t value it as much as ones in an EFL school perhaps. I may sound a bit selfish but with such classes where I get no student FB or boss FB i tend to push myself to teach to reach a set level which I think other great teachers like you and my PLN work at or for. In this way it helps everyone ie I improve and students get better (from my perspective) lessons.

      • Students and parents probably won’t recognize a CELTA/DELTA-certified teacher or lesson. At least in China, parents want two things:

        1. Help my child be ranked #1 in class (ranking is a cultural thing – not ever done in the international school where I work).
        2. Help my child get into an American/Western university.

        In those cases, parents are looking for a teacher who has worked in an American school or Western/American-style international school.

        I can’t promise to make their children top students. What I CAN provide them is information on the expectations of a US college or university. That is worth more to these parents than the Prada bags they buy in Hong Kong. When I work with poor families in rural China, my services are free. It all balances out in the end.

        • Oh yes, I remember China. I had to give 90% of students 95%+ and the lowest I could give was 80% but only for real slackers or foreigners. I once watched a daft kung fu/gymnastics competition and scores ranged from 99 to 99.99. Apparently in high school everyone gets 100% so when they get to uni they expect the same. Some/all unis are assessed on the pass grades and also how many graduates got jobs so I’ve heard of students being asked to say they had found jobs but hadn’t.

          I know a lot of parents who give their kids piano lessons or make them run in races because both give students extra credits. Same at uni in societies. Having studied abroad for a year used to differentiate you but now everyone does it so students need to do a full degree and work abroad. I even had some who redid their BA in the US because their Chinese one was not valued as the same.

    • Probably better. I’ve never worked anywhere that charged students more for lesson with higher qualified teachers. At the hair salon though you pay more for an expert or stylist. I wonder if any student would do the same. Schools could have a menu and they select the class,level and type of teacher.Interesting idea to try out.

      I may also develop the co-operative idea too and then see if anyone would try it. It would be perfect for Barcelona I think.

  3. HI Phil,

    I recommend a rate of €1.17 per word and €15.00 per grammar item.

    Seriously – this is a question I’ve pondered myself ( – but it’s also a question you’ve asked before…..

    Charge what the market will bear. At the end of the day, if someone’s prepared to pay you €30 per hour? Take it. At least you know you stand a chance of delivering value for money, why let someone else who isn’t as … assiduous(?) get the spoils?


    • Yes it is but this time I was pondering it from the view of student tuition and the ‘middleman’ angle.

      When you earn 20E an hour you teach at that level but if you realised that your students are paying 60 would you teach better? Also how better are classes taught by teachers who get that kind of money?

      We all definitely have to come to our own personal line about how good we teach. I try to be professional and give good lessons but will always do more for those at a higher rate.

      If we cut out the schools/bosses and went direct then we could offer lower tuition rates, get a higher pay, have more control and get better PD. Imagine if you and 5 mates from your school rented a building and offered classes? I’m sure you’d know how to design courses, could offer any course for any level, any times etc. You’d be able to undercut anyone and offer better quality. As long as you and your colleagues worked together the students would get something far better than at a school. The only issues are 1)How do you get students to sign up? 2)Accreditation (but abroad less of a problem) 3)Would the final certificate/course be valuable for them?

      This is all crowdsourcing but in these economic times certainly worth considering.

      10 students at 3 hours a day for 6 months. At 10E an hour that’s about 3600 for 6 mths and works out as 100E an hour for the teacher. Using online stuff you wouldn’t need to buy books either and you could add on a free activity now and then.

      Comments on an e-comment postcard below please..

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