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HomeNewsFast-food chains trump UK Dos salary rates

Fast-food chains trump UK Dos salary rates

Forty per cent of all the UK jobs listings on one major EFL recruitment website in October were for a director of studies (Dos), a Gazette investigation can reveal. Further, our analysis shows that typical pay rates for a Dos are now below those on offer at Kentucky Fried Chicken.

The problem appears to be limited to Britain. Of 172 EFL jobs in 32 countries listed on the same job site, just 15 were for a Dos, but of these 80% were UK-based.

The pandemic has led to ‘the great resignation’, with 38% of workers quitting their jobs or planning to do so, according to the BBC. The key factor behind the decision to go is how the sector in general, and their employer in particular, dealt with them during the pandemic. Whether the Dosses of the UK were made redundant or quit of their own accord is unclear, but anecdotal evidence suggests they are not applying for new Dos jobs.

EFL is not the only UK sector where the great resignation has led to a shortage of managers. Forty per cent of all adverts on a job site for the hospitality industry were at manager or assistant manager level.

Brexit is often cited as a factor in hospitality management shortages, with hiring and staff retention the biggest problems, according to a recent survey published in Big Hospitality magazine. One-third of employers are reported to have responded by improving terms and conditions.

Many language schools see themselves as part of the hospitality industry and indeed there are clear similarities when it comes to the factors creating staff shortages, such as Brexit. However, terms and conditions are notoriously poor and retention of academic managers during the pandemic has clearly been low or fewer schools would now be looking for Dosses.

Take salaries. While 90% of adverts for hospitality management now publish the salary, for private language schools that drops to less than half. Typically, a school just states that rates of pay are ‘competitive’. However, the limited evidence we’ve unearthed suggests they do not compete with the salaries offered in hospitality.

A Dos position in the northwest of England, for example, was advertised at £25,000 a year, a little more than the £24,000 offered to trainee managers at McDonald’s and less than the £28,000 on offer for a manager of a nearby branch of Kentucky Fried Chicken. The KFC rate is still below the median average salary in the region which, in 2020, was £30,000, according to the Office for National Statistics. Median incomes are used rather than the mean average, because then the figure is not distorted by a few high income individuals.

The £32,000 quoted by a language school in London is below the KFC rate for the capital, but on a par with the rate for an assistant manager at a well-known sandwich shop chain. The median average salary in the capital is £37,900.

The £32,000 to £35,000 on offer at a south coast school is in line with hospitality norms in the region and around the median wage of £34,000. However, the school is owned by an education group.

A quick analysis of recruitment ads of such employers suggests that they offer their EFL managers salaries on the education scale, typically £35,000 to £43,000 pro rata. However, unlike their peers in other subjects, EFL managers are required to work during the summer holiday period.

Average Dos salaries quoted on Glassdoor show two large chains, EF and EC, also have pay rates in the £30,000 to £41,000 range. Both providers score highly on inspections and tend to run large schools with high academic manager-to-teacher ratios and class sizes of 15-plus.

It should be noted that the Glassdoor listings had a tiny sample size and did not factor in location. However, other EFL chains listed on the site had salary ranges of £31,000 to £36,000. These chains have smaller schools and higher management- to-teacher ratios, according to their inspection reports, and these are both risk indicators for school failure. Indeed, one of the chains with this profile is now in liquidation.

Other private language schools do pay education salary scales, but only to non-academic managers. One small chain advertised for a centre manager on £35,000 to £45,000 a year. Applications from managers with experience of the hospitality sector were specifically welcomed and no knowledge of EFL was needed. The advert made clear the Dos would cover the academic side and lead the school through the upcoming accreditation inspection.

Unfortunately, the centre concerned doesn’t currently have a Dos. An advert for the vacant Dos post at the same school on the same web page includes a long list of qualifications needed and the number of years of EFL experience required. Remuneration, however, was described as ‘competitive’.

Unless this post is filled before the inspection, the school could be in trouble because, while you can get through an inspection without a centre manager, having a Dos (or at least an acting Dos) is a condition of accreditation for most year-round schools.

Melanie Butler
Melanie Butler
Melanie started teaching EFL in Iran in 1975. She worked for the BBC World Service, Pearson/Longman and MET magazine before taking over at the Gazette in 1987 and also launching Study Travel magazine. Educated in ten schools in seven countries, she speaks fluent French and Spanish and rather rusty Italian.
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