FAQ

1 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 (you must be a current member of staff or have worked for us in one of the last two summers).
  • 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.
  • On average, over 60% of our staff return each summer.
  • We have one adult in residence for every 5 students (the British Council recommends 1:15).
  • There are pre-course inductions to make sure you are fully prepared, and handbooks for reference throughout the course.
  • Our 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 8 for details).
  • EFL teachers work an average 2 sessions per day (a session being a morning, afternoon or evening), and an average total of 11 sessions per week.
  • Teachers teach 16 hours 40 minutes each week. 
  • There's a Senior Teacher and a non-teaching Director of Studies 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 out when they're on duty, rather than be responsible for a house on set evenings (as often happens at other summer schools).
2 What happens when TVSS receives my application form?

You will receive confirmation that we have received your application along with login details to access a copy of the form from your personal TVSS portal.

Successful applicants will be contacted by e-mail/phone to arrange an interview. The interview may be face-to-face or on Skype, depending on the post applied for and where you live. Non-academic staff will usually be required to attend a second interview at our head office in Windsor.

Prior to interview you will be required to read the TVSS Safeguarding Policy and provide us with evidence of your right to work in the UK.

After interview, successful candidates will be made an offer conditional on receipt of all necessary documentation, satisfactory references and Enhanced DBS clearance and/or local Police check.

On confirmation of your acceptance of this conditional offer and submission of all necessary documentation, we will begin processing your contract letter.

Each stage of the process will be explained to you and you will have access to your TVSS personal portal to upload your documents.

 

3 Can I choose which centre I want to work at?

You can indicate your preference(s) on the application form and we will do our best to meet your request. 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!

4 Is accommodation provided?

As part of their salary package, all residential staff are provided with full-board accommodation in single rooms. 

5 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.

6 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.

7 What is a typical working week for EFL teachers?

Teachers work an average of 11 sessions per week. Typically, 5 of these sessions will be your morning teaching sessions, which is 3 hours 20 minutes (5 lessons) of contact teaching time per day (in some weeks, there may be a sixth morning of lessons to ensure students get sufficient contact time). The remaining 6 sessions comprise afternoon recreation activities, full and/or half day excursions, and evening social activities and welfare duties.

Some teachers will be asked to accompany students on off-site activities, these sessions will be extra and will be paid (pro-rata) along with final salary.

8 What is a session?

EFL teachers and Recreation Assistants work an average six-day week on a duty session basis.

EFL Teachers – You work an average of 11 duty sessions per course week. A duty session is broadly a morning, an afternoon or an evening. Duty session times are from 8.30am-1.30pm, 1.30-6.30pm and 6.30pm to 11.30pm. You are on duty for the whole session although, given the nature of summer schools, some flexibility is expected on both sides.

For example, if you are on duty for an afternoon session and a senior member of staff has specifically told you that you are not required for a period of time, you can use this paid time for lesson preparation. You must ensure, however, that your whereabouts are known and you are still available to be called on if needed.  

Recreation Assistants – You also work an average of 11 duty sessions per course week although some of these may be split because, given the nature of your role, the sessions cannot be as clearly delineated as for the EFL Teachers. 

For example, you may be on duty for a full afternoon session when there are campus activities running but your other duty session may be split between the morning and evening in order to fulfil the tasks of your role, e.g. completing morning sign-ups, preparing attendance lists and equipment and/or setting up evening activities, etc.

9 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, meaning that teachers' preparation time is substantially reduced.

10 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.

11 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.

12 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 –but always check with a senior member of staff first (see Question 8).

Typically, the time between the hours of 5pm and 6.30pm (depending on the centre and the day) on non-excursion days is ‘earmarked’ as paid preparation time (assuming your assistance isn't required elsewhere). This is the time between the end of afternoon activities and dinner, when you are still on duty but may not always be needed. At this time the DOS or ST will be available to help you if you need it.

13 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.

14 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. Do remember, however, that all activities must be adequately staffed, so requests cannot be guaranteed.

15 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.

16 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 would normally expect you to have studied, or be studying, a PE-related course as this will give you the experience of how to deliver sessions and related health and safety knowledge. However, not all of the recreation programme is sport-related (e.g. creative activities, excursions, evening events) so Recreation Assistants must be able to also apply their experience and enthusiasm to these other areas too.

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

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

18 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.

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

It’s definitely preferable, given the age range of our students (8-17yrs old) and the nature of our exam courses. If you don’t, we would be looking for evidence of your ability to engage with and motivate young people.

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

You need a valid First Aid certificate but not necessarily a Lifeguard qualification, although it is an advantage. If you don't have a valid First Aid 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 course (and/or RLSS National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) if required); we'll even reimburse the remaining 50% the following year, if you successfully return.  Examples of acceptable First Aid qualifications are:

  • First Aid at Work
  • Emergency First Aid
  • Schools First Aid
  • Sports First Aid
  • Activities First Aid

NOT PAEDIATRIC FIRST AID

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

Not necessarily, but you’ll need to demonstrate an ability to create a structured and stimulating environment so the students enjoy and learn from their time with you. Experience of working with the age-range is essential.

22 Who can I put down as referees?

We will need the names and contact details of two referees, one of whom must be your current or most recent employer. We cannot accept references from family members or friends.

Open references or testimonials can only be considered in addition to the minimum requirement of two confidential references. Referees will only be contacted after first interview, and will be asked about your suitability to work with students under 18.

23 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.

24 What is a DBS Disclosure?

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Disclosure helps employers make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children. A check is made of the Police National Computer and a certificate issued.

All our roles require an Enhanced DBS check which covers spent and unspent convictions, reprimands, cautions, final warnings, any relevant information held by the police and a check of the DBS Barred List. The DBS covers UK records only - depending on your circumstances we may also need an overseas Police Check from you.

25 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.

26 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.

If you don’t have a UK bank account, we can pay into an overseas one but this may incur charges. Alternatively, we can use Transferwise.

27 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 whenever on duty (except Course Director). 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.

28 What is the company policy on smoking and alcohol?

It has been agreed with each host school that alcohol will not be consumed anywhere 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 yet on duty, i.e. supervising students on excursions.

29 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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