Language school’s shock closure leaves 20 jobless

by Rachel Darcy

[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]Teachers at an abruptly closed English language college in Portobello are calling on the Government to introduce legislative protection for English Language teachers, after suddenly losing their jobs three weeks before Christmas.

Grafton College in Portobello closed suddenly on Monday, after failing to pay staff monthly wages last week.

It is understood that teachers of the college were unable to contact Grafton College’s London-based owner regarding their missing wages, finding out about the closure by a handwritten note on the door of the school on Monday morning.

Students pay upwards of €2,000 to study English at Grafton College, including a number of exam, registration and course fees.

More than 500 international students attend the school, but they are expected to be accommodated at other English Language schools across the city under the Marketing English in Ireland association.

A meeting was held between teachers and management on Monday morning, after students were told that there would be no further classes for the foreseeable future.

More than 20 teachers who work at the school have said their jobs had been lost and are now calling on the Government to introduce legislation that will protect teachers following these closures, not just students.

Five administration staff are also affected by the closure.

ELT Advocacy Ireland say that in the past few years, approximately 20 English Language colleges in Dublin have closed overnight, leaving both students and teachers in the lurch.

The group held a protest outside the college in Portobello on Monday evening to show solidarity with the teachers that had lost their positions, in addition to a lunchtime rally outside the college on Tuesday.

Teachers in the school occupied the building on Monday night, calling on the college to honour its commitments to staff and pupils. They also demanded meetings with the chief executive of the college, and Minister for Education, Joe McHugh.

Trade union Unite said that there are reports that the college is currently undergoing a liquidation process and may potentially re-open in another location in 2019.

The closure was also raised in the Dail on Tuesday evening by PBP deputies Mick Barry and Richard Boyd Barrett.

Deputy Boyd Barrett said: “I was down there when the teachers occupied the building out of desperation because they don’t know what to do. The owner has just disappeared into the night and the teachers have been left high and dry.

“I was talking to one of the teachers who said this is the third time [a sudden school closure] has happened to him.

“You remember it wasn’t long ago when a number of these schools collapsed. There were supposed to be protections put in place; there were some protections for students but none whatsoever for teachers. That’s just not acceptable. This can’t keep happening to these highly-qualified people.”

He called on the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice to introduce a teacher protection fund, and to open the social protection fund for the affected teachers as soon as possible.

A GoFundMe was also established in an effort to raise money to help the affected teachers, which had raised just over €2,000 by time of going to press, out of a €75,000 target.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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