It’s been a tough year for workers in the TEFL industry.


In an industry without a history unionisation or external regulation, it’s no surprise that language schools have unapologetically taken out the cost of the crisis on their staff. 


We’re not aware of a single language school that topped up their staff beyond the 80% furlough pay.  And when it came to make redundancies, we’re only aware of a single school that actually made an initial offer over the statutory minimum.


But in all this, the union hasn’t come across any employer as cutthroat or as nakedly exploitative as Kaplan.


Kaplan is a huge network of companies that stretches across the world and across education.  But this success has come off the back of some of the worst contractual terms in the industry.


In short, teachers and other staff at Kaplan are employed on rolling fixed-term contracts.  This means that when it comes to calculating length of service for the purposes of redundancy, Kaplan does not recognise any of these employees as having more than a year of service.  So 20 years of fixed-term contracts or just one, it’s all the same in Kaplan’s eyes.


On top of this, Kaplan wants those who don’t get make redundant to accept a 10% pay cut.


Below, we’ve included testimonials from our members at Kaplan laying out how this has affected them.


If you work at Kaplan, the TEFL Workers’ Union has got your back.  Email tefl [at] iww [dot] org [dot] uk for support, advice, and a to organise a free redundancy law training on Zoom.


Kaplan has denied me of my rightful entitlement to accurate redundancy pay


I have worked for Kaplan for many years, developed myself as a teacher and staff member so as to give the absolute best to my students and to the school. After all this dedication and these years of service, Kaplan has denied me of my rightful entitlement to accurate redundancy pay. They suggest that I deserve the same as someone who has been employed for less than a year. They have denied me the ability to feel secure during such an insecure time in the world.  I feel cheated and personally disenfranchised by their actions.


I feel like my love for teaching and desire to help others learn has been exploited.


I’ve given years of service to Kaplan. I created personalised syllabi, developed and ran training for other teachers, and supported students as learners and as people, but I am left with little to show. According to Kaplan, I have only been employed for under a year and so don’t deserve what I am legally entitled to. I feel like my love for teaching and desire to help others learn in a supportive and stimulating environment has been exploited.


The years of my life I’ve dedicated to Kaplan are all for nothing


I’ve been a loyal, hardworking teacher for the last 4 years. I’ve always tried to go above and beyond to help out and given my all to the school and it’s students. This is despite the awful contracts I’ve been forced onto, despite the lack of security I’ve been given, despite being made to feel like a second class teacher.


Now after months of uncertainty I’m being told that my job is no longer viable, that the years of my life I’ve dedicated to Kaplan are all for nothing. They say I’m not entitled to redundancy pay because I’ve only been on contract for 6 months, despite working continuously for nearly 4 years. I’m being told that I should gratefully accept what little I’m being offered because they could have just sacked me. It’s a kick in the teeth for years of hard work and dedication to be shrugged off so callously. Though honestly I’m not sure I’d want to stay and be forced to take a pay cut, but this has been Kaplan’s way in recent years, demand more, give less and then act like they are doing you a favour. I’ll miss many things about life as a teacher but I’m not sure Kaplan will be one of them