Teaching at a PHORMS school?

32 posts in this topic

Posted

Hi, I have the possibility of teaching at a PHORMS school but wanted to know from actual teachers what the schools/management are like. Also interested in parents who have their kids there. If you are English speaking with non-german speaking kids, what has your experience been like?

Do you like how the schools are run? What do you love about them? What concerns do you have?

Thanks for any information you can provide.

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Posted

My (very superficial) impression has been that Phorms is mostly geared towards Germans who would like to have exclusive bilingual education, perhaps also people from the international community who are very mobile with their job, too. Not "regular" English speakers in Berlin (unlike Berlin Kids International, and the state-schools like Nelson Mandela <--- although NMS is in fact meant to be exactly for this community of highly mobile parents). There are several other schools like this in Berlin (Familienservice, Metropolitan, Cosmopolitan).

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Posted

Phorms schools in Heidelberg and Hannover have recently closed/or closing due to financial problems. Maybe check the current situation with the school in Berlin before coming over.

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Posted

don't work for PHORMS. i was one of the original staff memebers i helped them develop their curriculm...

buisness to make money, not a school to educated children. to give you a better idea... the main people (ie: Bea Beste and friends) who started PHROMS schools are no longer there...

they are buisness people who have moved on to other buisness deals.

Happy you are no longer developing curriculm at Phorms :o

I have neither experience as a teacher, nor any infomation regarding the administration of the schools but I have a child attending Phorms. I am a satisfied parent with what is offered and with the performance of my child. Based on my observation, however, I would not like to teach there . A lot of the parents are very 'liberty taking', thinking that because they are paying they have a right to be disrespectful to and overly demanding of teachers. Generally the teachers look like a very unhappy bunch, and as already mentioned, the turnover is pretty large.

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Posted

Unfortunately, the parent thing is par for the course with a lot of private schools. The main issue is the motivation of the school and its business. I myself have not worked for Phorms so can't really make an educated statement on what they do but I know many people who have worked for them.

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Posted

You say the payment is rather not very interesting, especially for new teachers. What would be the pay scale for a NQT?

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Posted

I wouldn't go to work there as an NQT. Pay is not too good anyway.

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Posted

are most private international schools like this? which schools have a good reputation?

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Posted

I have done quite a research about international schools in Berlin, almost exclusively from my own perspective (parent with soon to be primary school children). I haven't looked into conditions of teachers (although I probably should - overworked and underpaid staff is not exactly what one would want to have as a child-minder, let alone as an educator), but some of the schools I have looked into did not have the complaints about high teacher turnover, so I would assume that they treat their staff nicer:

- About the Metropolitan, a little birdie hinted that they had a huge split with many teachers and staff moving to the Cosmopolitan - but it could be only assumed by the way this birdie has spoken of this crisis, that it was not something usual with this school

- Haven't heard of vast turnover at the Cosmopolitan or at Berlin Kids International

- There are several threads in the "Family in Berlin" section praising the International School Berlin-Brandenburg and the British School. Both of them are way out of my price range, but they seem to have a "normal" turnover.

- Platanus is too new to have any real information.

A study by the US Dept. of Education indicates that teacher turnover in private non-sectarian schools in the US is about 21% ( http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2005061 ). One of course could claim that you can't draw from US statistics on Berlin ones but it could give you a rough idea of what is an "acceptable" rate for a private non-sectarian school. However, having said that, Phorms has, according to reports here and elsewhere, a much higher turnover rate, while other bilingual/international private schools in Berlin seem to be below (or about) the average.

As a side note, I send my children to a private bilingual nursery school. One of the things that the management and the brochures keep mentioning (and demonstrating) is how part of our fees are going for staff development, extra hours, better wages (than what a nursery school teacher in Berlin usually makes), etc. I wish they had a primary school with this attitude.

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Posted

Teacher turnover in international schools is normally high by definition. They are international, their staff are international and many staff move on after two years because of the tax issues. It is also true that the not-so-good schools (not-so-good in terms of how staff is treated) have a high staff turnover. Without being in any of these schools, it is difficult to know the real reasons why teachers are moving on. However, look at how many teachers are moving on and that should help. As a teaching professional it would be wrong and unprofessional of me to talk about any of these issues on an open forum, especially as I have never worked in any of these places and do not know of what goes on. I do, however, have access to places where I can find out but again it is difficult for me to know what is the truth and what is sour grapes.

As a parent though, you don't need to worry about that. You can be assured that your child will get the best his/her teacher can give, regardless of that teacher's working conditions (of course, happy teacher means even happier pupil though). The children always come first.

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Posted

If you wanted to stay longer than 2 years, is that an option? Do the international schools have an "expiration date" for teachers?

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Posted

That would depend on whether or not the school wanted to give you another contract. Most contracts to begin with are one or two years fixed.

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Posted

I am an International School teacher. A high turn over of staff at the end of every two year contract indicates a low salary. Teachers generally love their kids, enjoy their colleagues and try to do their best for the school. Consider how much energy and passion most teachers put into their school community. If teachers are not paid a salary that is comparable to that they would earn in another school/ in the state system they leave. Berlin is a great city. There is absolutely no reason for a constant turn over of staff. As well as looking at the turn over, consider the age of the staff. If the majority of the staff are in their twenties it indicates that salaries are too low. A school that pays well will have teachers of all ages (late twenties to fifties) and the majority of staff (in a city like Berlin) will NOT leave at the end of 2 years.

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Posted

Teachers leaving can be down to low salaries, true. However, the low salaries might be indicative of the quality of the school and its philosophies and ethos. If a school is "good", it strives to keep its teachers happy and thus pays higher salaries. Shows that they value their staff. Low salaries therefore would equate to a school valuing their staff less in comparison. And then, when a "good" teacher sees a low salary, they are less likely to go to that school so the school ends up hiring NQTs and other teachers with little experience, without being able to support them properly. Said teachers leave, criticise school, school gets bad reputation. However, the bad reputation is usually deserved and is usually down to bad management practices.

However, a lot of teachers do only stay for two years because of tax reasons or because of "Wanderlust". Therefore, many international schools, if not all, do experience a higher than normal teacher turnover when compared to a state school.

And yes, parents, do go to a school and look around. You will more than likely like what you see. That's because school politics and problems are not on public display. But as a parent, as long as your children are catered for and happy and progressing, that's the most important thing.

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Posted

How did you get on? Or did you go elsewhere? What have you heard about the Charles Dickens Schook and the Berlin Metropolitan Scool?

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Posted

but do any of the international schools offer tenure?

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Posted

Not until you've had fixed term contracts.

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Posted

BTW, not all schools that have lower salaries are the bad ones, it has to be said. Some are just getting started and having to cut their cloth accordingly.

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Posted

At the international school my child attends, teachers often leave after 2 years because their contract is not renewed. If you teacher more than 2 years, you become TENURED. Thus, the school over time has become picky about who they want to MARRY / keep till the teacher decides to move on. Also, some teachers have economic benefits to leave Germany after 2 years. For example, for American teachers who meet certain criteria, and who decide to leave Germany after 2 years, Germany will return the income tax they paid while they taught in Germany.

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Posted

Hi all! Could anyone tell me about the pay/benefits at Phorms? Thanks!

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