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?