Sandy MacManus of the popular TEFLTrade blog recently wrote to IATEFL, the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language, asking them what they were doing to protect ESL teachers in the UK.
This is against a background of declining salaries; the London Skills Institute has pitched the rate of pay for its squalid McJobs at an all-time low of £7.50 an hour. Here in Phnom Penh, with a far lower cost of living, some schools pay that and you can get a comfortably higher rate working with privates and some of the Business English places. The day when schools in the UK offer the legal minimum salary is almost certainly on its way; the London Skills Institute are only offering a couple of pounds over the minimum rate, despite asking for a degree, which involves going heavily into debt for most people, and a self-financed and expensive training course like the CELTA.
IATEFL have responded by setting up a working group to see what they can do within the restrictions of their charitable status. While they will undoubtedly be constrained, there is room to hope that an official body taking the ESL crisis in the UK seriously might have some positive impact. ESL is in such dire dire straits in the UK that the industry needs shaking up; this might be a small step towards doing that.