FAQ

What are the benefits of working for Thames Valley Summer Schools?
  • We offer competitive salaries and terms and conditions, with extra incentives for returning staff. We'll also give a bonus of £100 for every friend or colleague recommended who successfully completes their contract.
  • All residential staff receive free full-board accommodation.
  • Statutory holiday pay (12.12%) paid at the end of your contract, in addition to your salary.
  • An average 61% returning staff each summer.
  • We provide a staff to student ratio of 1 : 5.
  • There are pre-course inductions to make sure you are fully prepared, and handbooks for reference throughout the course.
  • Our Young Learner courses take place in some of UK's top boarding schools, where you'll have access to the high quality facilities.
  • For EFL teachers, paid and allocated lesson preparation time - typically 17.00-18.30 four days per week (see Question 11 for details).
  • EFL teachers work an average 2 sessions per day (a session being a morning, afternoon or evening), and a total of 11 sessions per week.
  • Teachers teach 16 hours 40 minutes each week. At Rugby they teach 20 hours, and are also paid an additional £45 per week.
  • There's a Director of Studies and a Senior Teacher at each centre, to manage the academic programme and support EFL teachers.
  • Housemasters/Housemistresses will be in charge of welfare and boarding houses. Teachers will just need to help them when they're on duty, rather than be responsible for a house on set evenings as in a lot of other summer schools.
What happens when TVSS receives my application form?

Successful applicants will be contacted by e-mail/phone to arrange an interview. This may be by telephone, face-to-face or Skype, depending on the post applied for and where you live. All senior staff will be required to attend a second interview at our offices in Windsor.

Successful candidates will then be offered a position subject to receipt of satisfactory documentation, references, and DBS clearance. You'll need to reply to this provisional offer and send us any outstanding documentation if you haven't already done so. This will enable us to reserve your place and begin processing your contract letter.

A contract letter and additional supporting documentation will be sent to you via email along with some essential forms which you 'll need to return to us - this will be fully explained in the email.

Can I choose which centre I want to work at?

You can indicate your preference(s) on the application form and we will always do our best to give you what you want. Of course, all centres will need to be staffed with the right gender balance and expertise. The sooner you apply the more chance there is of getting your first choice!

Is accommodation provided?

As part of their salary package, all residential staff are provided with full-board accommodation in single rooms. If you live within commuting distance of one of the residential centres, there is a limited number of non-residential EFL Teacher vacancies.

Do I need residential experience to work at a residential centre?

Yes, to be a Housemaster/Housemistress. For other senior staff it is preferable. For teachers and other residential staff it is not a requirement but would be an advantage.

What kind of support will I get while working for TVSS?

All residential staff arrive at the centres well before the students for a briefing, induction and orientation period. In addition, there are regular staff meetings.

TVSS handbooks guide staff through all relevant procedures and processes. All excursions and the majority of recreation programme activities will have been pre-planned by the Windsor office staff.

Experienced Co-ordinators visit the centres regularly to consult with staff and help resolve problems. The Director of Education provides additional support to Directors of Studies, Senior Teachers and teachers.

What is a typical working week for EFL teachers?

Teachers work an average 11 sessions per week. Typically you will teach 5 sessions per week in the mornings - each teaching session includes 3 hours 20 minutes of contact teaching time. At Rugby School you teach an additional 3 hours 20 minutes over two afternoons each week. The remaining 6 sessions (only 4 at Rugby) comprise afternoon recreation activities, full and/or half day excursions, and evening social activities and welfare duties.

What teaching resources do you provide?

We have our own short-course syllabus, designed by a team of language experts with over fifty years' experience between them. Students are provided with their own copy of the TVSS Trinity Student Book which covers all sorts of up-to-the-minute topics like film, sport, music and technology.

The TVSS Teacher's Books provide excellent support with an easy-to-follow syllabus and detailed lesson plans. With up-to-date coursebooks for students, and access to DVDs and computer facilities, teachers' preparation time is substantially reduced.

Can I choose which level I want to teach?

Where possible, yes. Your Director of Studies will take into account your preferences and try to allocate you to a level which you feel comfortable teaching.

What support do you give EFL teachers?

Teachers are briefed at the centre before the students arrive. All centres have their own DOS and Senior Teacher, to provide active support. You will be paired up with another teacher so that you teach one class before morning break and another class after the break. We'll make every effort to pair less and more experienced teachers.

When do I prepare my lessons?

We’ve made every effort to reduce preparation time with our detailed syllabus and lessons plans. However we recognise that, in order to deliver fun, effective lessons, some teacher preparation time is still required. As in all schools, summer and year-round, it is expected that some of this preparation will inevitably be done in your own time.

However, where operational demands allow, non-contact time during duty sessions may be used when your assistance isn’t required elsewhere – check with a senior member of staff. Additionally, and again if your assistance isn’t required elsewhere, time between the hours of 17.00 and 18.30 (depending on the centre and the day) on non-excursion days is ‘earmarked’ as potential preparation time. At this time the DOS or ST will be available to help you if you need it.

Do I need experience of teaching for the Trinity College Examinations?

No, but preference will be given to teachers with experience of teaching for EFL/ESOL examinations. Teachers are briefed fully on the examination format, on the TVSS syllabus, which is rewritten on average every 4 years, and receive detailed information on the exams prior to their arrival.

Can I choose which recreation activities I will be involved in?

You'll have told us of your preferences at interview and when you arrive at the centre. Your Recreation Director will discuss these with you and try to integrate your preferences into the duty rota. However, all activities must be adequately staffed so requests cannot be guaranteed.

Do I need a TEFL qualification or experience to work as a Course Director?

No, but you will need to have proven organisational and people-management skills, preferably in a residential capacity. Most senior staff have teaching experience.

Do I need to be PE qualified to work as a Recreation Director or Recreation Assistant?

No, not if you're applying to be a Recreation Director, but it's a distinct advantage. If you're applying to be a Recreation Assistant we'll expect you to have studied, or be studying, a PE-related course.

As Recreation Director would I be responsible for planning the recreation programme?

You'll be working to a pre-planned framework of recreation activities, both on and off campus. However, you'll be expected to confirm bookings, organise and manage the staff duty rota and ensure that activities operate successfully.

As a Housemaster/Housemistress will I be responsible for running a house on my own?

You will be responsible for the smooth running of your boarding house but you will be assisted by teachers when they are on duty. Adequate cover is provided on days off.

Do I need experience of teaching Young Learners to work as a DOS?

No, but it's obviously advantageous. We'll take into account evidence of your ability to engage with and motivate young people.

As a Recreation Assistant, do I need a valid First Aid at Work and/or Lifeguard qualification?

You need a valid First Aid at Work certificate but not necessarily a Lifeguard qualification, although it is an advantage. If you don't have a valid First Aid at Work certificate, we will require you to do a course to obtain one prior to the start of summer school. We will reimburse 50% of the cost of a successfully completed First Aid at Work course (and/or RLSS NPLQ if required); we'll even reimburse the remaining 50% the following year, if you successfully return.

Do I need a teaching qualification to work as a Specialist Recreation Teacher?

No, but you'll need to persuade us that you can create a structured and stimulating environment so the children enjoy and learn from their time with you. Experience of working with the age-range is essential.

Who can I put down as referees?

Someone who can comment accurately on your character, qualifications and ability, but NOT your family or friends. We usually ask for your current or most recent employer and one other. Referees will only be contacted after first interview, and will be asked about your suitability to work with students under 18.

If I am not an EU citizen, do I need a work permit?

Yes, unless you already have permission to work in the UK. Due to the nature of short summer courses, we are unable to apply for permits on your behalf.

What is a CRB or DBS Disclosure?

A vetting process for people working with children aged 18 or younger. On 1 December 2012 the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) merged with the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) to become the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). This new organisation provides the same criminal records checking service that the old CRB provided. We require an Enhanced Disclosure for all staff.

How long can I work for?

Contracts are guaranteed for a minimum period - usually 3 weeks but can be up to possibly 4, 5 or 6 weeks.

How and when will I be paid?

You provide us with written details of the UK bank account into which you would like your salary to be paid. Payment is made in UK sterling by bank transfer in your third week for the first two weeks and fortnightly thereafter.

What is the company dress code?

As an employee of TVSS you are representing the company and so we expect you to be smartly and appropriately dressed. We provide company polo shirts with our logo which are to be be worn when on duty. Jeans, shorts and trainers are not acceptable in the classroom, though are fine on excursions. For afternoon sports activities, appropriate sportswear, in addition to your polo shirt, and non-marking sports footwear are essential. Given the nature of the schools we are working in, parental expectations and possible cultural sensibilities, we ask that when on duty any piercings (other than in the ears) are removed and any visible tattoos covered.

What is the company policy on smoking and alcohol?

It has been agreed with each host school that alcohol will not be consumed on the campus. Staff must not have consumed alcohol prior to supervising students or return to houses under the influence of alcohol which causes their behaviour to be disruptive or makes them a risk to the students.

All TVSS campuses are non-smoking environments. Staff are not permitted to smoke anywhere on campus. Staff are also expected not to smoke when off campus but on duty, i.e. supervising students on excursions.

What do I need to bring?

Bedding is provided but toiletries and towels are not provided.

If you bring any valuables, please ensure you have the relevant personal insurance in place. We will endeavour to provide staff with a lockable room, cupboard or drawer to safeguard their valuables but this cannot be guaranteed.

There are limited car parking facilities at the centres.

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