Before submitting an application, all candidates should take the time to read and understand their responsibilities as an English Language Assistant as listed below, paying particular attention to the Assistantship Code of Conduct and the terms and conditions.
Responsibilities of an English Language Assistant
Who is your employer as an English Language Assistant?
If your application is approved by us in the UK, it will be forwarded to our overseas partner agency in the relevant country who in all cases makes the final decision on appointments.
We place 2,500 assistants each year in 14 countries and work closely with overseas partner agencies who are responsible for finding the host schools abroad.
We manage the UK side of the programme and have responsibility for selecting English Language Assistants to recommend for assistantships overseas. It is important to bear in mind that we the British Council are not your employer and therefore are not able to provide references to future employers.
Should you need a reference please contact your school or local authority.
What are the British Council's responsibilities?
We will not be your employer but will:
- process your application and, if successful, pass your application to the relevant overseas partner agency
- collaborate with our overseas partner agencies and endeavour to allocate you to one of your preferences/regions (if applicable in your country of choice) although this cannot always be guaranteed
- communicate any decisions made by either the British Council or our overseas partner agency in relation to your application. Before you begin your assistantship, we willl share a line of referral with you to outline how problems should be reported and managed in-country
- assess your International Child Protection Certificate in line with our stated criteria
- share information with you regarding the approximate hours and salary in each country (subject to minor changes each year)
- provide guidance on how to prepare for your assistantship, including how to contact your school, tips for lesson planning, advice on moving abroad etc.
- provide any information which we might have to help you with applying for visas (if applicable). It is ultimately your responsibility to apply for and secure your visa
- provide advice and tips on how to manage your personal safety and on what to look for when choosing a suitable insurance policy for your assistantship
- send surveys to you during and after your assistantship to gather feedback which will help us to improve the programme each year.
What are your responsibilities?
It is your responsibility to:
- ensure you are eligible for the programme before applying by reading our eligibility criteria carefully
- research the laws and culture of the country and region to which you are applying and ensure you respect these
- manage the relationship with your employer (your school or local authority)
- fulfil your contractual obligations. We cannot intervene in contractual negotiations on your behalf
- read and follow any guidance or instructions which we send you
- attend any pre-departure briefings or arrival inductions
- follow the Assistantship Code of Conduct (see below)
- be responsible for your work/life balance and personal safety
- research and meet all costs associated with your assistantship including travel, accommodation, visas, authentication of documents, insurance, criminal record checks, vaccinations, medical examinations or treatment, attendance at briefings or inductions and any setup costs in-country unless otherwise stated in our country notes or country pages of our website
- liaise with your Erasmus+ coordinator regarding any matters in relation to Erasmus+ funding
- apply for visas / work permits where necessary and follow any advice which we give you in relation to this
- find acceptable accommodation which suits your needs. In certain circumstances, you may be offered accommodation by your host institution and it will be your choice to accept or decline
- support the teaching of English in an overseas school or university, including planning activities and producing resources to help students improve their English
- introduce UK contemporary culture in the classroom and support the running of international projects and activities.
It is not your responsibility to:
- teach in any language other than English
- discipline pupils or mark homework regularly
- cover for illness at short notice unless otherwise agreed in advance.
Assistantship Code of Conduct
In submitting an application, all candidates agree to abide by the assistantship code of conduct.
English language assistants are reminded that the assistantship is a job. Colleagues in the school(s) where you are appointed will expect you to behave in a responsible and professional manner. In cases of serious misconduct, assistants can be, and have been, dismissed by their host school. You should therefore ensure that you follow the guidelines below:
- dress should be smart/casual. Take your lead from what the other teachers are wearing and ask them what is appropriate for that particular school. As you are in a professional situation please dress accordingly (i.e. no cropped tops etc.) and respect the guidelines given
- be punctual for every lesson and, if possible, arrive before the class is due to begin
- you must observe the timetable that the school sets for you and attend school on those days. Always ask permission, in writing, from the head teacher for any unscheduled day of leave that is a genuine emergency, and abide by the response; it is not acceptable just to leave a message with any other member of staff and assume permission is granted
- you are obliged to work the number of hours expected of you as stated on any official documentation, this is usually between 12-18 hours per week excluding preparation time; any hours worked over this are by mutual written agreement and should be paid on a pro rata basis
- speak at the earliest opportunity to the Head (or Head’s secretary) when genuinely incapacitated by illness and unable to take classes; ask your school what the procedure is for providing a doctor’s certificate to justify your absence
- offer formally to make up any class missed on account of personal illness or any other reasons
- prepare thoroughly and in advance for lessons; check what is expected of you; remember that you are an employee of the school and are being paid as such
- if your accommodation is on school premises, respect regulations regarding noise, visitors etc
- if you find yourself unsupervised with a student, conduct the class with the door left open so that you can be observed at all times
- under no circumstances should you ever have physical contact with a child/student, not even in a friendly or encouraging way
- always be aware of your behaviour and relationship with the students, and check if these are appropriate in the school
- you are encouraged and expected to use the internet for professional purposes, and you can usually do so at your school. However, you should check with your mentor when you can and cannot use the internet. If you access pornographic and other unsuitable sites (even accidentally) on school computers, you could be dismissed from your assistantship
- you should be very careful about how you use social networking sites (such as Facebook) during your assistantship. Keep your profile private so that it can only be seen by people you intend to see it. You should never swap personal contact details with pupils or invite them to be ‘friends’, or accept similar invitations from them, as this is regarded as inappropriate behaviour and could lead to disciplinary action
- ensure you behave in line with our Equal Opportunities Policy and treat all people fairly and with dignity
- refer to the line of referral document if you experience problems during your assistantship.
Terms and conditions
Terms and conditions
- Should you be selected to participate in the Language Assistants programme, you must adhere to the Language Assistants code of conduct.
- Should you be selected to participate in the Language Assistants programme you must complete the full period for which you are appointed.
- You must have read and accept the conditions for each country you are applying for.
- The British Council cannot guarantee your preferred environment, age group or region. We encourage assistants to be as flexible as possible.
- Referee details cannot be changed once an application has been submitted. It is each applicant’s own responsibility to ensure that the contact details for their referee are correct and that their referee submits a reference by the deadline. If a reference is not submitted by the deadline your application will not be considered.
- The remuneration which English Language Assistants receive is intended to support only one person. If you will be accompanied by any children or a partner or spouse on your assistantship, they must be financially independent and not require your financial support during the assistantship.
- The British Council does not require a formal medical certificate but it may be required at a future date by the overseas partner agency or employing institution.
- In line with our Child Protection Policy and our approach to safeguarding children, we cannot accept your application if you currently have any outstanding prosecutions or criminal proceedings for the offences outlined below or have ever been convicted of or received a caution, reprimand or warning for: a sexual or violence-related offence, or any offence involving any type of harm (physical, emotional or sexual abuse) to a child or children. We reserve the right to reject your application for any other offences. These will be assessed on a case by case basis based on the considerations stated on our website.
- You will be required to apply for a criminal record check at the cost of £60 as part of the application process and you will not be allowed to start your post until we have received and approved the original version of your criminal record check. You should not travel or book travel to your destination country until we have approved your criminal record check. Offers made will be subject to confirmation of a valid International Child Protection Certificate (ICPC).
- Please note that after submission of your application, form if you commit a criminal offence or are the subject of any criminal proceedings, you must inform us in writing as soon as possible as this could affect your application and may lead to your application being withdrawn if this is not disclosed.
- The British Council shares personal data with Gradcore Limited, 22 Paradise Square, Sheffield, S1 2DE, who have access to the ELA applications in connection with processing, assessing and scoring the initial application forms and the online video interviews. By submitting an application, you are agreeing to us sharing the information included in the form with our suppliers Gradcore.
- The British Council shares personal data with our overseas partner organisations, local authorities and schools, and to assess and allocate your application. For undergraduates taking part in a period abroad as part of their degree, where appropriate, we may share details of your allocation with your home university in the UK.
- The British Council and our overseas partners reserve the right to withdraw any offer made, either before or during your assistantship.