Sunday, December 7, 2008
I wouldn't have her job for ANYthing. Decisions get made by upper management and she has to relay them, making her appear the bad guy. They undercut her at every opportunity. She spends most of her time trying to play mediator between staff and upper management, and gets caught in the middle all too often. The frustration is getting to her, too, I think, based on some things she's said recently. To be honest, I think SHE needs to get out as badly as the rest of us do!
They hired an EXCELLENT Primary Principal, who was ALSO told he would have autonomy. Staff loved him. He, too, felt that we were being spied on, and approached admin about it. He was told it was not true. HE was being spied on. (The evidence is there for anybody who works here.) He was told to discipline staff for things he did NOT think they should be disciplined for. HE was then treated shabbily. Left out of decisions, matter of fact, finding out about decisions from US in a number of cases. Staff were disciplined without his knowledge. In the end, he looked for work elsewhere, and was IMMEDIATELY hired by another school, which, by the way, appreciates both his experience, AND his integrity!!!
We were informed, in the MIDDLE of a staff meeting, that he had resigned. They LITERALLY called the primary co-ordinator out of the meeting and told him, then sent him back in, and called the Principal (who was leading the meeting!) out. Then came in and told us he was leaving. Effective immediately. Staff couldn't WAIT for the meeting to end, so we could all go say goodbye personally. He reassured us that he HAD resigned, but the situation was not exactly what he had expected.
There were employees walking into that office in DROVES, many in tears. Everybody from teachers to cleaning staff went in to personally say goodbye. THAT'S the sign of a good leader.
We later found out that they gave him 24 hours to get out of his apartment, and 48 hours to get out of the country. They treated him like a criminal, or like a bad boy who needed his hands slapped. And that's how they treated an ADMIN person. What would they do to a lowly teacher in the same circumstances? Trust me on this one, the staff were ALL on his side, and all of this only made staff morale even LOWER. And also added an element of anger to the whole situation, that, until this time, had been held in check.
Since then, things have continued on a downward trend. Staff morale is so low, I don't think it would register on a scale of 1-10. The only ones staying are those with little to no experience, unqualified, or too afraid to speak up. They are the same few who signed the "contract" we were given.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
There is also a shiny new branch of the Emirates National School in Al Ain - and it's very useless and disappointing, too. To be a new, well-resourced school, and end up worse than the troubled Al Ain English Speaking School, is quite an achievement. It has failed to retain most of its expat staff this year, mainly because local management is - let's be generous - somewhat useless.
Same old shit, all over again!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Pretty tense - there is a strong 'us and them' atmosphere. Staff meetings are not exactly warm and fuzzy - when they happen at all. Staff feel undervalued and not trusted. Management can be heavy-handed, arbitrary and there seems to be an increasing bias against non-arab staff. There is poor communication at all levels. Many teachers feel that management are spying on them. Paranoia or not, there is an 'atmosphere'.
In theory the school should be a great place to work. The reality is extremely disappointing - staff morale is very low and many teachers are saying they will leave this year. There is a strong feeling that we are being replaced by cheaper staff. Relations with management are bad - there is little trust on either side. Job security is a pressing concern for many. The possibility of being moved to accommodation 'out in the desert' will be a major issue for many considering renewing their contracts.
The management at ENS showed very little respect for international staff when I was there. I was around for the "staff are like a bag of onions" comments - easily bought on the international market.
Good luck to anybody working there.
Monday, November 17, 2008
There is also a MASSIVE divide between the Western and the Arabic staff, which is really difficult to overcome. Even worse, the students are out of control, the main problem being that the administrators are too scared of the students and the 'wasta' they may have, not realising that they are digging their own graves. Students constantly physically fight and are disrespectful to staff, with little to no consequences.
As far as academic credibility is concerned, the more important your family, the more your marks are changed. Sheikhs who EARN poor marks have them increased despite the protest of teachers and department co-ordinators. Moreover, the school's principals are puppets with NO power, as they just pass on commands from the administrators who are not EDUCATORS.
Last I heard the Primary School was 13 teachers down, and all specialist teachers (PE, Music, Art) were acting as class teachers due to the school's inability to attract staff.
Of course, you can make reasonable money, live a comfortable life (outside of school) if you go there with the mentality that 'no else cares, so why should I?' However, if you care about the education of students, I would really REALLY recommend you do not teach at ENS.
Friday, November 14, 2008
ENS looks impressive, and certainly has money, but you would be ill advised to consider working here. Morale is terrible and staff meetings (when they happen) are jaw-droppingly depressing, largely consisting of you being told how awful and useless you are. At one meeting the MD read out e-mails he had received from a member of staff who had been fired.
There is a bad 'us and them' situation with the management (mostly Jordanians), and there seems to be a clear trend to replace western staff with local hires (more Jordanians). Some departments have very few western staff left now.
Management overall is poor, with no clear definition and little in the way of forward planning. Clear incompetents have been promoted in some cases - including a HoD who revels in his many titles, but who does very little work at all.
Conditions of service and contracts are changed mid-agreement, and the school gets away with it - claiming to be above the law because of its royal connections.
So, think for yourself on this one. Is this awful setup the sort of school you'd want to join?