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3 Nguyen Du, Hai Bà Trưng, Hanoi
“It had been a long time since I’d been to the dentists, relying on the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” maxim. In the past I’d directed friends to Australian Dental clinic, and they’d always been happy. Eventually, it was my turn to call on them, because I had persistent toothache for too long, ...”
So I worked at Wellspring for the last 2 and a half years and saw it pretty much from the get go in its new premises, which are very adequate and well equipped for now.
I found this a very difficult school to work at, but it does have some positive points... some.
The teaching staff I worked with both Vietnamese and Foreign were hardworking and pleasant for the most part. Their patience with the school and management deserves the kind of regard normally reserved for a man trying to diffuse an IED wearing oven mitts.
They win the school its one star rating.
The negative aspects about this school have already been outlined in previous reviews.
A Vietnamese owner who cares more about the bottom line than educating.
Management, who are impotent or don't really care if it means putting their neck out. Anyone who doesn't fit into this management bracket is ruthlessly dispatched.
A HR department that will think of any reason to take money from your pay and treat you generally like a child. This is in addition to not knowing the Labour Code of their own country and trying to introduce measures that directly contravene it.
The most disappointing aspect working there was that I went to seek a job where I would learn more from my peers and management and develop further as a teacher. In hindsight I believe the opposite actually happened and I am now retraining to move out of the classroom. As a faculty we received no workshops or professional development, this despite promises every year, yet we were expected to make up hours by sitting at our desks with little to do (perfect time for some training) when we had volunteer teachers straight from school thrown in at the deep end after 40 hours TEFL training.
This for me was the saddest part of my experience. The school failed to renew contracts for teachers (some with families) weeks before the end of term and hired instead volunteers from organisations such as World Teach and this year Interexchange. These are mostly fresh graduates with little or no teaching experience, earning a paltry wage in comparison with other institutions. This is I feel a con, not only for the parents who pay a lot of money for their children to be educated by experienced and qualified teachers, but also for the volunteers who want to get some real experience and development for their futures as educators. Unfortunately, this would only be experience in how not to do it.
Finally and most importantly I dread to think how the students I taught will fare in future and whether they will have a settled environment to learn. The students at Wellspring are their biggest credit and it is saddening that the powers that be see them as $$$ rather than students to whom they have a duty of care.
You may ask why I stayed for 2.5 years? Well I believe in honouring contracts. That simple.
There are quite a few "fake" international schools in Vietnam- Wellspring is one of them. By "fake" I refer to the fact that they don't offer a service to match their enormous fees and self-presented image of an educational establishment set up and run to "international" standards.
The hiring of Western teachers and installation of air conditioners and sports equipment does some good; but this is often ruined by short-termist, greedy and often totally irrational policies by owners and HR departments simply not up to the job and/or ignorant of what is really required for a well-rounded educational of a global citizen (it's not as hard as you might think).
Generally, management of such schools is well-qualified and well-paid, but in my view deserves to take as much responsibility for the schools' failings as the owners. They fail to take responsibility for changing what they CAN change, and instead sit back and take all the crap from on-high, and dish it out and more to the poor staff below them; the trouble with all bureaucracies is that at each level sits an individual interested only in themselves. Never was this more true than in the sub-standard Vietnamese international school.
Whilst Singapore International school and Hanoi Academy fit this type perfectly, Wellspring takes things a step further by not even hiring trained, well-paid staff; instead "hiring" volunteers with no experience, who are told that they are "volunteering in Vietnam, helping underprivileged kids". What an absolute FARCE. This is NOT "a smart business move"; it is academic fraud that ruins the lives of students, and denies professional teachers and their families what could be a rewarding job.
There is chaos in Wellspring's classrooms, because teachers have given up caring.
My advice would be to put you children in the Vietnamese public school system; this place is WORSE than flushing your money down the drain.
The good: the facilities seem quite new and up to date (the facilities that are actually finished, the rest is a building site) staff are friendly grounds are spacious, however there are a good range of clubs and activities for the students. The Vietnamese staff are friendly and professional.
The Mid: As with other "fake" international schools this school is very image-conscious putting image way ahead of staff treatment, student welfare or actual education.
The bad: Staff turnover here is high, while now volunteer teachers are flown in from abroad with little or no knowledge of teaching or Vietnam in general, it seems to reflect the schools overall knowledge in the education field. Avoid.
I hope any new teacher here will look around and wonder why there are so many other new teachers. Parents-I hope you will ask to see teacher credentials. The school gets many of their teachers from a "volunteer" program,(almost all with no experience) saving them thousands of dollars a month by paying them a fraction of the salaries of "regular" teachers. The organization/management is poor, everything you're "required" to do is put on you last minute. Also, as with many places here, the money the school has available is spent in the wrong places (in the looks of the school). If youre friendly with your TA's and homeroom teachers, you might get lucky and catch wind of these requirements/events ahead of time as they always seem to know a week before due date. Also be aware of any "holidays/days off" given to you; you'll be expected to make up the hours up at the end of the year by staying late or working weekends. Make copies of all your paperwork you give to HR because they are often lost. As for the good, you'll be paid on time, the children and Vietnamese teachers are very friendly and hard working. I am extremely disappointed in the school and worry about the future wellbeing of my students there.
I've been meaning to post this for a few months now and can say that time hasn't softened my view.
Rather than posting a lengthy review let's just say that working at Wellspring isn't particularly rewarding financially, just ask any of the World Teach hires. Professionally you will not have much time to develop your teaching chops as you could be scheduled up to 28 classes a week.
But, that's all just sorta par for the course for these kind of Vietnamese/fake International schools.
Kudos need to be given to the foreign staff and the Vietnamese English teachers, they were golden.
I imagine that in order to really love this job you would have to love working for Vietnamese. If you can adapt to that I'm willing to bet you'll stay more than a year. Good luck!
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