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British Council Schools child with globe ©

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Appointing a Modern Language Assistant is similar to appointing a member of staff. There are various HR and administrative tasks that need to be completed to ensure they transition well into your institution and local community.

Before the language assistant arrives

To help prepare for the arrival of your language assistant, the below tasks need to be completed in early summer.

Read application dossiers

Host institutions or the local authority will receive the application dossiers of their language assistants. The dossiers will be sent via email, so please ensure you include in your application an email address at which you can be reached during the summer months.

These documents should be saved, so they can be referred back to throughout the academic year.

Get in touch

Email or telephone your allocated language assistants to introduce yourself as soon as possible and let them know you have received their dossier. You will find your assistant’s contact details in their application documents.

This is important in order to confirm both the assistant’s and the host institution’s participation in the programme. This is also when candidates hear of where in the UK they have been allocated to, so it is an exciting step for them to receive your email or call.

You should also ensure that a main point of contact and mentor teacher is appointed and communicated to your assistants. Contact should be maintained throughout the summer period to ensure all necessary arrangements are in place. 

Offer the role

The role should be offered to the language assistant at your institution in form of an official Offer Letter. This letter should be issued to your allocated language assistant(s) as soon as possible and no later than 10 working days after receiving their dossier. We recommend that letter is included in the initial introduction email you send. An Offer Letter template will be provided by us.

If you are sharing a language assistant, the offer letter should be issued by the lead hosting institution.

The language assistants require the Offer Letter to start the process of applying for a Temporary Work - Government Authorised Exchange visa, therefore it is important this step is completed within the given timeframe.

A Statement of Employment should be issued to the language assistant no later than 8 weeks prior to the start of their placement. A template will be provided also.

After the language assistant arrives

Induction events

Language assistants will be invited to induction events either online or in person organised by cultural institutions in the UK. At these events, language assistants are given practical advice for their time in the UK and their role as a language assistant including classroom activity suggestions and useful teaching methods. It is also a chance for assistants to meet other language assistants in their local area to create support networks. Some local authorities may also organise induction events.


There are a number of HR and administrative tasks which should be completed within the language assistant's first weeks of appointment. This will include completing the relevant police check, assistants applying for a National Insurance number, and completing any payroll-related paperwork. 

Host institutions will be sent guidance on these processes over the summer, and further information can also be found in our MLA Information Booklet for 2023-24. Please be aware that the Booklet does not include up-to-date information for the 2024-25 academic year.

Certification of original immigration documents

Once your allocated language assistant has arrived in the UK, you will be responsible for certifying their immigration documents. Scans of the certified visa documents and records of online Right to Work checks will need to be sent to the Language Assistants team as part of an online survey. A simple step-by-step guide will be made available to you to complete this process.

The British Council will sponsor a Temporary Work - Government Authorised Exchange visa for all non-UK/non-Irish nationals coming to the UK as a Modern Language Assistant. However, as an educational institution employing a Modern Language Assistant there are also some reporting requirements to be aware of. For example, you need to let us know if your assistant is absent from work for more than 10 consecutive working days without your prior permission.

Further information concerning such responsibilities is summarised in our immigration reporting requirements document. 

Observation period

Institutions are encouraged to observe language assistants and offer advice where necessary. After initial observation classes which usually last between one and two weeks, assistants will take on their full role as a Modern Language Assistant.