Frequently asked questions

In the sections below you will find our frequently asked questions around the Language Assistants programme and how to host a Language Assistant in your school. If you do not find the answer to your question here, please feel free to contact us.

Hosting a language assistant in 2017-18

When is the deadline for language assistant applications?

To ensure the best chance of the British Council finding a suitable language assistant for your school, you should apply by 31 March 2017. However, we will be accepting applications until 31 May 2017, when online applications will close.

When is the deadline for funding for Chinese language assistants allocated to Wales?

Full funding for Chinese language assistants in Wales will be confirmed in Spring 2017.

When is the deadline for applying for an assistant from our partner school in China?

27th March 2017. You must also ensure that you have told your partner school in China that you would like an assistant from their school and that they have asked teacher/s from their school to submit an application.

Programme information

Which languages can language assistants support?

Assistants are native speakers of French, Spanish, German, Italian and Mandarin Chinese. They are allocated from fourteen countries around the world. 

Can I host more than one language assistant?

Yes, institutions can host as many language assistants as they wish.

Can Further Education Colleges and Higher Education Institutions apply?

Yes, except Higher Education Institutions for Chinese language assistants.

When and how much do they work?

Unless agreed with the language assistant beforehand, all assistants should have 12-18 hours classroom contact time per week. 

England and Wales: Core employment periods are from 1 October to 31 May. 

Scotland and Northern Ireland: Core employment periods are from 1 September to 31 May.

Are there case studies available?

We continually update our website with videos/testimonials of schools’/MLAs’ experience on the programme.

How do I find out more?

Please visit our website to find out more and apply, or contact the team for further assistance.

Sharing arrangements

Can I share an assistant?

Yes, assistants can be shared between up to three schools, and this can be across primary and secondary. The team cannot currently support the forming of sharing arrangements and this must be coordinated between schools before submitting their application, informing us of the details once confirmed. If you are a local authority school, the application should come directly from the local authority. If you wish to use a more flexible sharing arrangement, please contact the team.

Costs

How much does it cost?

The current standard rate for the 2016-17 academic year is £896 per month for 12 hours per week. Any additional hours are currently paid at £13.29 per hour. The rates vary for assistants based in the London area (further information can be found on our ‘Costs’ page). The rates for 2017-18 will again be set by the relevant Departments for Education and confirmed in June 2017 (in recent years nominal changes have occurred in line with inflation rates).

Who pays the salary for an assistant?

As the employer, schools pay the assistant’s salary. In the case of local authorities allocated language assistants, the local authority is responsible for paying the assistant’s salary.

Two schools are sharing an MLA – how do we organise sharing the cost?

The host school should pay the full amount to the MLA and invoice the other school(s). For example, if schools are sharing 9 hours and 3 hours, one school would pay 3/4 of the total cost, and the other school would pay 1/4.

What if I don’t have the funding for a language assistant confirmed by my school or local authority?

You can complete your application in draft form and save it on Schools Online (without submitting). Once funding is confirmed you can then submit the application. 

Is there any funding available?

It is the responsibility of schools/LEAs to provide the salary for assistants. However, Chinese language assistants are subsidised via an allowance from our Chinese partner organisation, Hanban, so UK schools need only pay the standard living wage of £7.20 per hour. 

Application procedure

How do I apply?

Complete the online application form by logging into or registering with Schools Online.

When will I receive my login details?

Within three working days. Should you have difficulties, please email the Schools Online team.

Do I have to register every year I want to host a language assistant?

You only need to register your school once on Schools Online. If your school or local authority is already registered, you will be able to log in using your username and password.

What if someone from my school has already registered?

When registering on Schools Online you have the option of adding a school to your profile, so multiple contacts can be added.

What if I have forgotten my username and/or password?

If you have forgotten your password you can request a new password via the login page.

I have filled out the form but it won’t save

Please ensure all fields marked with a * are completed.

I want to change my form

If your application is currently in ‘Save Draft’ form but not submitted, you can go in and edit it yourself. If it is in ‘Final Submit’, please contact us and we will change it for you. 

Upon completing the application

Will I receive a confirmation email?

Yes, if you have not received this then please contact us so we can confirm your application.

When will I receive details of my school's language assistant?

We will be sending dossiers electronically (in PDF format) to schools in June.

What happens if I submit an application but can no longer host a language assistant?

Please contact the team at the earliest opportunity. Please note if this happens after allocation and initial contact the host institution may be liable for costs incurred by the MLA (flights, visas, etc.), as per the Withdrawal Reimbursement stipulation on the application form.

Why aren’t the dossiers sent until June?

Although we recognise that schools would like to receive details of their language assistant(s) as soon as possible, our last meeting with our overseas partners to allocate assistants to schools is at the end of May. June is therefore the earliest possible time that we can send dossiers to schools.

Receiving language assistant dossiers (June onwards)

We have received a dossier however we no longer require an assistant.

Please inform the team as soon as possible, as they will need to be reallocated.

We contacted our language assistant but they haven’t replied. Can we have a new assistant?

Have you tried to call the language assistant? This is the quickest way of establishing contact. If you have emailed them, please give the language assistant at least 10 working days from the first email to get back to you. After this time, please contact the relevant Project Coordinator using the contact details box at the bottom of your allocation email and we will liaise with our partner organisation. If this is unsuccessful we will try to find you an alternative assistant. 

We are not happy with the assistant we have been allocated.

Whilst we try to match assistants to schools’ requests, this is not always possible. Please contact the relevant Project Coordinator indicating the reason(s) for which you have reservations and we will proceed accordingly. Please note we cannot support a request to reallocate based on a protected characteristic, including, but not limited to, age, gender, race (including nationality) or disability.

My allocated language assistant's dossier only contains one reference letter, and our school requires two.

We have informed our partner agencies that schools may require an additional reference; please request this directly from your MLA.

What is the process to follow if our allocated language assistant is from outside the EU/EEA and requires a visa?

The British Council acts as the visa sponsor for all non-EEA assistants, and we provide guidance and support to assistants regarding their application for a visa. However, the host school will need to provide an offer letter to support the application (details will be in the allocation email) and this should be provided as soon as possible to avoid any possible delays.

Arrival of your language assistant

Who is responsible for accommodation for the assistant during their time in the UK?

The assistant should source their own accommodation, however some initial support from their mentor teacher/host school is always useful. We provide guidance in our MLA Booklet, and if temporary accommodation can be arranged it may help the MLA to settle in.

What training does a language assistant receive?

Shortly after their arrival in the UK, language assistants are invited to induction days by either the British Council or the cultural organisations we work with, where they will receive both administrative guidance as well as a pedagogical training session and introduction to the UK education systems. Some language assistants are already trained teachers, however, this is by no means guaranteed, so please be patient while they find their feet! With a little support in the first few months, language assistants can bring a great deal of creativity, enthusiasm and culture to the classroom.

What support is there throughout the year?

You can always get in touch with the team if you have a problem – the programme has 100+ years of experience so we are well placed to support you. There are also language assistant training sessions offered by our partners in the UK and webinars for school/local authority contacts on how to get the most out of your language assistant experience. Please see our support and next steps page for more information.