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The Teachers' Lounge => School Reviews and Experiences (ON-TOPIC) => Topic started by: eggcluck on April 21, 2014, 12:38:40 PM

Title: Suzhou Sunflower English Education Centre 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: eggcluck on April 21, 2014, 12:38:40 PM
Hey all, time to put down in writing my experiences. I will probably plop something down in the other place but given the nature of some of the creatures that dwell in that deep dank dark scary place it will be in a reduced form. This has been proof read but given the time that I did so, it is likely that typos and other little errors have been missed. Should this be a problem just point them out in a pm and I will correct them. EDIT - Changed my mind about the reduced version in the dark damp dungeon and just copied and pasted as it saved me some time.

Sunflower Review

Suzhou Sunflower English Education Centre (苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心) is a training centre located around the Suzhou area where it has several centres to its name. It teaches children from around three years old to seventeen years old in class sizes up to fifteen students. I shall try and break this review into separate sections due to a larger volume of content. This may result in some repetition but it has been avoided as much as reasonably possible. While this review is largely written by one hand it does represent the experiences of more than one teacher where permission to do so has been given.

Arrival

It should be of note that Sunflower will bring new teachers in on a tourist visa, this is becoming an increasingly risky option and the loopholes that sunflower (herein referenced to as SF) exploits to do this are being closed. SF will eventually provide a work visa however some people are issued with incorrect details and this is illegal and the police have paid random visits to several homes. The visa is generally done when you have a matter of days left on your tourist visa after being made to work all the way up to that point. A new arrival will eventually be sent to Hong Kong once that point has been reached. You will often be given less than 24 hours’ notice and very little information in the ways of details and getting around is given. There is no room for error because you only get to stay there the minimum time possible (1 night) and should problems arise it will be coming out of your pocket.
 
The contract signing is done with several blanks in the contract (such as salary) when questioned management will insist it is not to be worried about and the author was not given a copy of the contract (illegal) and all requests to acquire a copy went unanswered. In some instances, you are required to do things that are not specified in your contract.

Almost as soon as you arrive you will be pressured into the purchase of an e-bike (the reasons for this will become apparent later)

Getting settled in would be difficult were it not for the helpfulness of colleagues as the management will provide none. On the first day several teachers remarked that they were hungry and wanted some help on finding and getting some food only for the staff member to reply that they had already eaten and they will have to get something by themselves, and that one incident pretty much sums up the help the newbie can expect from management while trying to get settled in. This even extends to the e-bike purchase where you are told “home is that way” and left to try and find your own way back.

Contract

This section will be rather short as the teachers’ contract is only useful as expensive toilet paper. Any protection given will be ignored and anything enforceable against the teacher will be enforced. SF also has also changed the contract several times without permission, interestingly the teachers signature goes on a final page without much else on it though what is implied is pure guess work on the authors side and not based upon fact.

There have been several “improved” contracts over a very short space of time each contract essentially represents a pay cut as the hourly rate goes down each time. One such contract included some values in the benefits in the salary figure to make it appear more favourable (other offers usually list benefits separately and thus the SF figure was inflated) There was a rumour of having newer teachers on a sales based contract with those who do not meet a quota being fired (edit -this is now apparently a reality and no longer just a rumour). One employee was promised a contract that paid per hour and then was at last minute told he could not have it. Recently they introduced a contract that requires office hours. These hours are completely unnecessary as lessons are pre-planned and generic, so there’s nothing to actually do all day. In the school based in Kunshan you are asked to do even more than those in Suzhou.

Leaving Sunflower

Leaving SF is a simple process for those that are just leaving China, however for those that leave in order to start a new job in China you become labelled a “traitor”.

SF will (illegally?) refuse to do the things necessary to have your documents processed. The boss will stop speaking to you and the greetings will be replaced with scowls. SF claims it will just cancel the visa for every teacher and then provide them with a tourist visa, then tells another teacher they will not cancel the visa because they do not need to and that they do it as a special favour. They will be quite happy to take money as "payment" for things that were never done. This policy changes from teacher to teacher depending upon what is the most difficult for that particular teacher and then the company is surprised to be asked questions about why things were different for other teachers, the answers for such a question range from denial, being ignored and right up to outright threats.

Visas can be cancelled same day but only with the companies help which of course sunflower will refuse to provide denying that it can be done which is the opposite of what the leaving teacher will be told should they inquire with the visa office. SF will always demand the leaving teacher surrender them the passport for processing, this is an unnecessary move and some teachers have had their passports returned with no processing done at all given that SF has in the past withheld teachers passports one would be forgiven for thinking this behaviour at leaving time is a deliberate attempt to entrap the leaving teacher right up until the end. In some cases, you are threatened with being blacklisted for not doing as you are told.

It should also be of note that after leaving some teachers have not been given their final salary, others got some money (after pestering) but not the full amount and for some the contract completion bonus was not paid.

Management

As previously mentioned the management was found to be particularity unhelpful at arrival. This extended right through the authors term. Teachers that have had serious administration issues that need to be urgently dealt with have been refused help despite it being managements responsibility and told to go find a “Chinese friend” to help them. This does include visa matters.

Ideas are best kept to oneself while in SF's employment. As the management will constantly press you for your thoughts and ideas and then (on occasion) ridicule you for presenting them after the initial rejection, to quote another review by Canada Dream “they have an answer for everything”. Naturally much later on management will have a “great” idea that is shockingly similar to what you previously proposed

Teachers are subject to unpaid monthly meeting in which very little of any import is accomplished and usually only amounts to having things dictated to you, or to be shouted out by senior management about how lucky you are to be in SF and that you are being lazy while everyone works so hard to support you and give you a good life.

In short the management is happy to shout at teachers, issue threats and resort to bullying tactics. A warning must also be given that management has thrown several temper tantrums that are physical in nature, several chairs have suffered as a result.

Company Environment

The company environment is one of fear and oppression with fines and punishments hiding around every corner. The only staff members that display any sort of contentment are the company owners. It really does seem like there is a fine for everything, a TA  (Chinese) suddenly gets ill and has to run to the toilet? There's a fine for that.

Some of the Chinese staff have also been made to inform some of the foreign teachers that they have to do more (unpaid) hours or the Chinese staff will not be paid any salary for that month, this is has been done while management looks on, some members of the management have even been observed laughing while this occurs.

All classes are observed and monitored by CCTV that even records sound, this footage can and will be used against you. Should you follow the company's instructions to the letter they will still have an answer on why you are not a good teacher. This footage is also broadcast into a public area for people to sit and watch at their leisure.  Classes are rated by parents who themselves do not want to be there but are shoved in by Chinese staff trying to meet the parent in classes quota. Any small complaint a parent has made will be used against the staff  (SF will even lie about complaints should they feel the need to create some complaints against you) no matter how small or unreasonable a comment. Just one remark from a parent can and has been used against all the teaching staff.

The offices for the teachers to reside in that have been moved now and of course all been outfitted with glass walls, one has even been moved to place right on a corridor, most likely to get more views of its zoo exhibit.

You find yourself having to travel from centre to centre usually during the very precious lunch break some teachers just buy light snacks rather than a full lunch as a matter of necessity. This is where the e-bikes come in. You can resist buying an e-bike and use public transport however you will receive no help in figuring out how to do so and despite some unrealistic tight timings the teacher will be held responsible for any lateness.

There is a very large feeling of sales pressure also that even the teachers are subject too. There was even once a league of sales for the teachers where those at the bottom first had to be “re-trained” and then there was a number of escalating punishments for repeat offenders. Rewards were given to those at the top but that is of little consolation to those that are on the firing line.

SF claims to provide professional development, this did not materialise to any significant extent during the authors term. There has since been a one time visit from the publisher of the textbooks in use but this is being mentioned on the understanding that what the publisher wanted to do was altered to fit “how we do things here” and it did not amount to much more than what would be covered on a basic non 'scammy' TEFL course. Whether that is the text book authors fault or not is unknown.

SF has also committed several price hikes in quick succession each time costing SF a number of students. SF will place blame for this on the teaching staff and consequently increase pressure and increase work demands on the teaching staff while still proclaiming “you have never had it so good!”


Holiday policy

The holiday policy is one of the working arrangements that have been changed against staff wishes, as to whether it represents one of the un-agreed to contract changes, it is hard for the author to say given that no copy of a contract was provided.

There are now huge restrictions in places on when you can take holiday this includes a “busy time” restriction that amounts to about six months, the school “encourages” teachers to take holidays in line with national holidays however these are included in the “busy time” restriction. There are also very large fines for taking a holiday such that you might even be able to afford to take the time off. One teacher, who took one weekend off work, lost 1/3 of his monthly wage in this way.

Working

Firstly there are a large amounts of hidden hours that are all unpaid and SF has all sorts of answers and tricks to dodge paying you overtime. Such answers have included “ teaching outside of the classroom does not count as teaching”. It is not unheard of for these unpaid hours to sometimes be more than double the contracted hours. This typically comes from activities that can eat up 6-9 hours of a day or preparation for them but as it is “not teaching” or “not teaching in a classroom” it does not count as “work” and no overtime will be paid. There have also been several occasions where the calculation of hours have been changed to avoid what would have been overtime. Such as going from a weekly (the contracted calculation) to a monthly average..and then back to a weekly.

Salary is mostly paid on time, there have been a few occasions where it has been late however.

It should also be of note that what an “teaching hour” in SF is,  it is an actual hour rather than a “teaching hour” as a “teaching hour” is usually 45 minutes a 20 hour contract with sunflower is actually 25 “teaching hours”. This is of import when comparing to other job offers. SF has since risen the hours to 25 thus making a new teacher do more than 30 “teaching hours” where 25 is the recommended limit to avoid stress and burnout.

Days can be as long as 09:00 to 20:30 with sitting down forbidden, this is of particular concern as classes are usually back to back. The boss will happily shout at you to tell you how lucky you are to get that five minute break between classes and how great SF is to include that time in your hours payment calculation. The reality is that in those five minutes you are expected to talk to parents, escort the children to the toilet, play with the children, prepare for the next class and get yourself some water, there are also restrictions on what you can do with the free time that do you get. The water is important as you are expected to sing and dance for the entire shift, and showing signs of tiredness is forbidden.

The classes themselves offer the teacher with no freedom, a strict procedure is prescribed and the teacher most follow it in a robot like fashion, any deviation will be punished. This results in every class just being the same thing just with different vocabulary and grammar. This results in eventual boredom for the children of which the teacher will be held responsible as well as burnout for the teacher. The learning follows the local custom of rote memorisation but SF will resist any such claims and the textbooks used are also raced through at double the publishers recommended speed.

SF does have a fantastic set of resources that could be used for its lessons this includes a good sized library of English books and CDs as well as interactive whiteboards. However the foreign teachers do not get to use those white boards in their classes and the other resources go to waste due to the fixed nature of how the teachers are forced to teach in the lessons that prevents those resources from being used.

Teachers will also be expected to dress up in costumes to perform classes, with parents watching. At the interview stage SF will claim that its foreign teachers will never be used for marketing as they feel this devalues the teachers. Several teachers have since been devalued by performing in shopping centres, KFC, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s and doing public costume performances to large crowds. The children themselves are also used for marketing, SF will deny this, but when teachers are made to do some classes outside in places of maximum visibility rather than the most suitable outside location for teaching and then they are followed by clip board wielding sales reps it seems absurd to deny that it is marketing. The author is of the opinion that SF feels the intelligence of its teachers is lacking and they will believe anything they are told.

Closing comments

The author is of the opinion that any prospective recruit could do a lot worse than SF, there is also much better out there even the low salaried universities offer an attractive package when compared to SFs low pay for actual hours and lack of benefits.

SF was not always the way as seen above and was much better, what it has become is the result of a series of “improvements” to the company and the company has promised many more “improvements” to come. The management has also clearly stated its aim to become the most expensive training centre around, unfortunately it does not seem intent on providing the elevated service and smaller class sizes of the more expensive training centres.

Part of the SF marketing slogan (if you can call it that) contains the words, truth, kind-heartedness and purity. It claims to want to instil these values into its children. It seems that this will never be truly achieved as SF is incapable of displaying these virtues to its own staff, and certainly will not inspire the staff to take those extra steps to make such a thing reality.
Title: Re: Sunflower 太阳花英语培训
Post by: babala on April 21, 2014, 01:02:22 PM
I hired a teacher who came from working at Sunflower. Sunflower did everything in their power to cause problems with the teacher's visa. The teacher finished his contract and even helped them out for a few weekends after his contract finished. SF would not cancel his FEC and kept demanding his passport so they could change it to a tourist visa. We couldn't apply for his FEC as SF won't cancel it. We eventually had to contact the FEB to take action. SF refused to pay the teacher until he handed over his passport.

In the end because of all the problems SF caused, we couldn't just switch over the RP and our teacher had to go to Hong Kong  at our expense.
Title: Re: Sunflower 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: Stil on April 21, 2014, 04:19:47 PM
The author is of the opinion that any prospective recruit could do a lot worse than SF

Really? Aside from not getting paid, how?

Thanks for the write up.
Title: Re: Sunflower 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: eggcluck on April 22, 2014, 02:03:01 AM
Well I came across one guy that had 60 hours of teaching with no day off and had to make his own lessons plans from scratch in his own time, there were rules about what he could and could not do in his free time. They even tried to dictate where he could and could not eat, and never got a proper visa and never got his full salary.

I would like to think that qualifies as worse!
Title: Re: Sunflower 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: piglet on April 22, 2014, 06:27:05 AM
My goodness EC I can't think of much worse than what you describe.I thank my lucky stars I chose to come to CHina as the employee of a legal,considerate and mostly helpful body (State University) .Despite occasional things that rile us I can't imagine being treated by an employer in the way you describe! I would never have stayed in China had I landed in such an environment.
Title: Re: Sunflower 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: Escaped Lunatic on April 22, 2014, 06:46:27 AM
Brutal. aoaoaoaoao aoaoaoaoao aoaoaoaoao  I'm glad you've managed to extract yourself from them.

All classes are observed and monitored by CCTV

So that explains why I keep seeing you giving classes on television. ahahahahah
Title: Re: Sunflower 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: eggcluck on April 22, 2014, 06:53:00 AM
I'm on TV? Great! Now I can reasonably start demanding a celebrity level salary and join the ranks of the Hong Kong "millionaire" tutors :)
Title: Re: Sunflower 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: bobrage on April 23, 2014, 12:59:49 AM
Madness, pure madness. 
Title: Re: Sunflower 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: Tree on April 23, 2014, 01:46:42 AM
Holy cow.

Kudos for sailing those seas, and double kudos for sharing your experience.
Title: Re: Sunflower 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: Stil on April 23, 2014, 03:07:54 AM
Well I came across one guy that had 60 hours of teaching with no day off and had to make his own lessons plans from scratch in his own time, there were rules about what he could and could not do in his free time. They even tried to dictate where he could and could not eat, and never got a proper visa and never got his full salary.

I would like to think that qualifies as worse!

Yes this would be worse if it didn't seem like complete bullshit. (not meaning you but the guy who said this to you)
Title: Re: Sunflower 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: eggcluck on April 23, 2014, 03:29:38 AM
There are other things and other teachers that convince me it is no BS. Both that particular school and Sunflower have reduced teachers foreign and Chinese to tears. Though this  thread is about Sunflower I would rather not steer it off onto a different company  bjbjbjbjbj
Title: Re: Sunflower 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: Stil on April 23, 2014, 03:49:28 AM
Are all the teachers 'fresh off the boat' types? Do many teachers quit, do a runner?

I don't understand signing a contract with no pay specified. Is this everyone?

What's the reaction of the teachers when the management shouts at them or gets physical?

Are teachers not getting paid if they don't do extra work not in their contract?
Title: Re: Sunflower 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: eggcluck on April 24, 2014, 07:00:22 AM
Are all the teachers 'fresh off the boat' types? Do many teachers quit, do a runner?
All new teachers do tend to be fresh off the boat types.  I am unaware of any teacher that has done a runner but there have been people who have been fired for "non attendance".  There is a steady stream of teachers leaving though some of the teachers have been there for years, some of which are locked in due to changes in the visa requirements and other commitments. That said some of those teachers are now quitting, Those teachers are all from the era before all the "improvements" started. Teachers that joined after that era have never stayed for long.

I don't understand signing a contract with no pay specified. Is this everyone?
To my understanding the salary was brought in as part of the "improvements" (READ - pay cut) and every teacher with a salary has signed a contract like this. The older teachers are now being forced to sign such a contract or leave.

What's the reaction of the teachers when the management shouts at them or gets physical?

As a whole from the incidents I have witnessed they do nothing. Being known as a troublemaker is very damaging and can make your life a misery, no one wants that.

Are teachers not getting paid if they don't do extra work not in their contract?

I briefly mentioned some of the reprisal and bullying tactics regarding this in the main review. I am not willing to go into specifics as there is a very real need to protect identities.
Title: Re: Sunflower 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: opiate on April 24, 2014, 08:05:12 AM
Tourist visa...
Salary left blank on the contract.......

Sure!! Let's do this!! Where do I sign? Nothing bad could come of this I'm sure......
 mmmmmmmmmm
Title: Re: Sunflower 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: eggcluck on April 25, 2014, 03:15:12 AM
Try to insult me all you want it is not the first time you have done it and I am not the first poster you have left snide comments directed at.

Fact of the matter is it was my first time and I knew nothing , the job actually came with a recommendation and the e-mails I was given sang the places praises. I did not like the contract but I thought "that's it, I am stuck with this"

If the only thing you can do is rile others up with sarcastic comments I suggest you do not post at all.
Title: Re: Sunflower 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: opiate on April 25, 2014, 09:06:45 AM
Try to insult me all you want it is not the first time you have done it and I am not the first poster you have left snide comments directed at.

Fact of the matter is it was my first time and I knew nothing , the job actually came with a recommendation and the e-mails I was given sang the places praises. I did not like the contract but I thought "that's it, I am stuck with this"

If the only thing you can do is rile others up with sarcastic comments I suggest you do not post at all.

You didn't know anything? What a cop out. If you went to a foreign country to work and did not do any research beforehand then who is to blame for that? I bet you did though....I bet you knew it was a terrible idea not to mention illegal to work under a tourist visa but did it anyway. And....why on earth would you think you were stuck with it? You ended up in a crappy position because you let that school take advantage of you. If you heeded the first 2 HUGE red flags you could have saved yourself a lot of headaches.

Really, it's not personal. I just have zero sympathy for those who throw themselves into a fire and are surprised when they get burned.

Title: Re: Sunflower 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: The Local Dialect on April 25, 2014, 10:43:31 AM
This sort of situation happens more often than you might think. Not everyone is able to land that perfect cushy non-exploitative uni job their first go round. Lots of schools lie. I am sure Sunflower made a lot of promises and I am sure the OP got conflicting information. It is hard for a newbie to know who to believe.

The OP kindly shared his experiences with this shitty school so now others know to avoid it. He isn't here looking for sympathy or asking us to chip in on a plane ticket home or anything. He was probably more fair to Sunflower than the school really deserved.

I'm honestly a bit perplexed at the hostility towards people for with shitty job experiences that we've seen recently. It is one thing when you have someone who just won't listen to advice and insists on doing things that Saloonies have told him will result in disaster, who begs for help but always has an excuse for why X or Y solution won't work; that gets frustrating for those trying to dispense advice and be constructive. But that's not what's happening here. OP has left this school and moved on. Lesson learned.

If we want people to keep posting about bad schools, it would be a good idea not to attack those who share. The schools are the enemies, not the teachers.
Title: Re: Sunflower 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: Escaped Lunatic on April 25, 2014, 10:46:56 AM
Opiate, hold those horses before you trigger a stampede. asasasasas

Not everyone knows the sort of scoundrels that ALL recruiters and quite a few managers can be.  A few people hear about someone who came over, had a fine time with few problems, and came home to tell stories of wonder and awe.

So, what's a total clueless newbie to do?  Sorry, but "beware of flying in on a tourist visa and watch out for dodgy contracts" won't be the top link on the search engines if you search for "Teaching in the Big Silly".  There's also not a lot of bad press in the west about "teacher gets abused by a bad English school".  It's MUCH easier to trip into a nest of advertisements promising wonderful working conditions, easy schedules, and "we take care of everything for you."  There are also plenty of online tales about people successfully coming in on tourist visas.

I personally did do the research and I still got bent over and got a proper lube-free reaming - by someone who used to be a respected Saloon member.

As it stands, Sunshine was in the Saloon's list of good Chinese jobs at the time Eggcluck signed up.

Could Eggcluck have done a little more research?  Sure.  Did he have enough clues in advance to warn him how badly he needed to do this?  Probably not.  Would it have saved him?  Maybe, maybe not.  After all, once you've just flown to the flip side of the world, what do you say if the boss says "sign here" and you know the alternative is to give up and go home?

Title: Re: Sunflower 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: Stil on April 25, 2014, 01:06:33 PM
I hope your next experience (will you have one?) is a good eggcluck. Looks like you had unfortunate timing at Sunflower.

Private schools can be especially frustrating with regards to recommendations because they can change hands so often. Give me a cushy Uni position anytime and I'll make up the lower salary with side work.

As far as coming on a tourist visa, there is always conflicting reports on doing it. Many people have had good experiences this way and that just makes what to do as a newbie all the more muddied.
Title: Re: Sunflower 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: piglet on April 26, 2014, 01:32:01 AM
Kudos to LD and Stil! We need to keep a civil tongue on our keyboards guys.People come here to vent,to seek help and to get comfort.That's what we do,right?
Title: Re: Sunflower 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: dragonsaver on April 26, 2014, 11:25:02 AM
Kudos to LD and Stil! We need to keep a civil tongue on our keyboards guys.People come here to vent,to seek help and to get comfort.That's what we do,right?

Yes piglet that is right.   akakakakak bjbjbjbjbj agagagagag agagagagag
Title: Re: Sunflower 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: milkweed on April 29, 2014, 04:57:48 AM
The irony is Sunflower were an advertised school on this site and because of that I interviewed with them on Skype and posted about them inviting teachers over on Tourist visas which is illegal.
 My interviewer was very keen on hiring teachers that 'had no previous experience in China' which I guess is code for exploitation and manipulation into 'their ways' of running the operation aka making as much money as possible without redress to teachers employment entitlements.
Title: Re: Suzhou Sunflower English Centre 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: eggcluck on May 04, 2014, 07:28:23 AM
I have been reading on SAFEA and found the following that are relevant...as sunflower does not provide them and thus is breaking the law. It does state that these are the 2002 regulations but is the most up to date official thing I could find.

1. What is the arrangement for the international travel expenses for foreign experts and their families?

    (1) For those foreign experts whose employment term exceeds one year (one academic year), the host institutions shall provide round trip economy air tickets for them and their spouses and one child under the age of 12 who live together with them during the employment term.

    (2) For those foreign experts whose employment term is of half a ear (one semester), the host institutions shall provide the experts themselves with international single trip air tickets.

    (3) For those experts who have special agreements with related Chinese departments of institutions, their travel expenses shall be arranged according to the agreements.

11. Shall medical expenses for treatment in hospitals other than the appointed one be reimbursed?

The host institutions usually appoint certain hospitals for medical treatment for foreign experts. If the appointed hospital gives the opinion of the need of transfer to another hospital, or the disease needs treatment in a specialized hospital, the medical expenses thereby incurred may be reimbursed with the approval by the host institutions. If the expert goes to other hospitals for treatment without consent from the appointed hospital or host institution, medical expenses thereby incurred shall bas a general rule not be reimbursed.

15. How long is the vacation and how much is the vacation allowance for foreign experts working for one year in China?

According to the Provisions on the Living Standard of Foreign cultural and Educational Experts, the experts are entitled to a one month vacation for one year's work, and a two week vacation for those working for less than one year but more than half a year. Foreign experts working in schools are entitled to the paid summer and winter vacations (foreign teachers are entitled to the same vacation treatment as that for foreign experts).     

16. What holidays are foreign experts working in China entitled to?

        (2) Foreign experts are entitled to the following holidays according to their nationality and religion: two days for Christmas, three days for Corban, one day for Lesser Bairam, and one day for Water-splashing Festival.

        (3) Foreign experts can have a one-day holiday if they request to celebrate their own National Day.

 
Title: Re: Suzhou Sunflower English Education Centre 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: Guangzhou Writer on June 02, 2015, 06:29:20 AM
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Title: Re: Suzhou Sunflower English Education Centre 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: giesej on August 08, 2015, 01:49:15 AM
Positive Experience at Sunflower English Education, Suzhou  bfbfbfbfbf

   Hi, I am a 23 year old American English Teacher at Sunflower English Education in Suzhou China. I just finished my first year at sunflower, and am set to start my second year next month.  I know that a lot of bad things have been said about Sunflower, and that many may have been true before I came.  However, since I started work in September of 2014, I have found sunflower to be a fairly good employer, no worse, or better than any jobs I had had in the states.  I would like to quickly reply to some of the things posted in eggcluck's very thorough post, and let you all know how it is now, a year after he had his experiences.  I speak fairly fluent Chinese, which has influenced my experiences for the better, but the following reply reflects what all of us teachers are facing now at Sunflower.

Visa:  I did indeed come over on a tourist visa, but agreed to this with full knowledge, as it was the only way that I could get to China to work without the TEFL or experience required for my work visa.  Other teachers here now have just done to work visa from there home country.  For me the process fine, and I received as much help as I needed from the company, plus plenty of time to do what was needed. I had two weeks notice before my trip to Hong Kong. Although the tourist visa is not the best way, it the fasted way that recent grads in my position can come to work in China. 

Management:  There are horror stories about Sunflower management all over the internet, but I have found them to be no more intrusive or cruel than my old American supervisors.  In fact, since last year, there has apparently been a huge shift in the management and business style of Sunflower.  The owners are hardly ever seen, and when I have seen George he has been very nice and always directed me to someone who could help better.  I have been very nice and professional to everyone here, and have been flexible when I needed to be, in exchange the staff has been nice and professional and has been flexible when I needed them to be.  Sunflower follows the Golden rule apparently. If you are nice, so are they. 

Leaving Sunflower:  This was the section of eggcluck's main article which frightened me the most, as I was coming to end of my contract.  I was very pleasantly surprised when I found that the teachers who will be leaving us in the next couple months, after their contracts end, have had nothing done to impede their exit.  Most of them in fact seem to be fairly satisfied with the way things have turned out.  My own best friend Eric signed a contract to work with us, but received a better offer even before coming to work on the first day.  Far from being in opposition to his decision, I witnessed George being very understanding and doing what needed to be done to move the work visa to the new company.  Since I have not left, I cannot say much more, but I can say that I am much less frightened now than I was after reading this article. 

General notes:  Although my contract did have blanks, they were all filled by the addendum page at the back, which was legally bound to the contract, and before I signed I stipulated that the blanks be filled, and they were filled by the company before I signed and sent it back.  I was promptly given a copy.  When I resigned last month George and I signed two contracts, and I kept one, he the other.  I have always been paid on time, and what I am owed.  Sunflower has asked me to do some things outside the bounds of my contract, but nothing humiliating, and nothing that was not then rewarded with ample overtime pay. 

Conclusion: No matter what Sunflower was like in the past, I find it to be a fairly good company today, and look forward to many years here in the future.  So I end my saying that Sunflower is no longer a company that must be avoided at all costs. It is a fairly good choice in a jobs market which is very uniform in its quality and options.


Title: Re: Suzhou Sunflower English Education Centre 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: babala on August 08, 2015, 08:27:11 AM
Sorry but I disagree. You are staying so of course they will treat you satisfactory. George is a vindictive ass. Before last year I knew every Suzhou Sunflower teacher and pretty much all of them had been screwed over by George. Not too mention the dealings my company had with them. A zebra can't change it's stripes. I'm glad you had a good first year but endorsing George and Sunflower is just wrong.
Title: Re: Suzhou Sunflower English Education Centre 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: opiate on August 08, 2015, 08:28:57 AM
Positive Experience at Sunflower English Education, Suzhou  bfbfbfbfbf

   Other teachers here now have just done to work visa from there home country.  For me the process fine, and I received .... Although the tourist visa is not the best way, it the fasted way that recent grads in my position can come to work in China. 

I have always been paid on time, and what I am owed. 

So I end my saying that Sunflower is no longer a company that must be avoided at all costs. It is a fairly good choice in a jobs market which is very uniform in its quality and options.

Your English leads me to believe you're an imposter. Nice try, Buttercup.
Title: Re: Suzhou Sunflower English Education Centre 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: babala on August 08, 2015, 12:38:13 PM
It is irresponsible to recommend this school.
Title: Re: Suzhou Sunflower English Education Centre 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: Escaped Lunatic on August 10, 2015, 09:48:06 AM
So giesej, anything else to share, or was your sole purpose in joining the Saloon to post in a single discussion thread to try to damage the credibility of EggCluck's experiences?
Title: Re: Suzhou Sunflower English Education Centre 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: giesej on August 11, 2015, 02:54:58 AM
What a very harsh response to my post! I posted here not to destroy eggclucks credibility but to share my opposing perspective. The thread is titled Sunflower English and I replied with my own experience of that school, if that damages the credibility of eggclucks experience it was not my intention.  I am simple relaying how things are a year after he left.  If this is how my experience which is on the topic of this thread is treated, I am not sure whether I will join any other discussions or not.  As a forum for expats, I had not expected my reply to be read with such biased scorn and insinuations about my motivation and qualifications.  I have written about my own experience at sunflower, and would be glad to discuss it further.  However if you are just going to shoot down anything but your established truth, then I might as well not bother.   llllllllll 

Think what you like, you're entitled to an opinion.  Mine is a positive one, I leave the negativity to you.

-Josh
Title: Re: Suzhou Sunflower English Education Centre 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: Nolefan on August 11, 2015, 03:37:15 AM
just to make things murkier and more confusing:

1- About 6 weeks ago, we received an application from Georges to join the forums and give his version of the facts which also contained "legal threats." We talked about it amongst mods and told him to go stick his legal threats where the sun don't shine.. we also agreed to let him in with a very tight leach... fair right to answer, right? He never followed up or replied to our communications

2- All of a sudden, a teacher from the school joins and the first post is about the school. I'm sorry to say, it's more than suspect. People start with introductions etc... we're more than willing to give the benefit of the doubt but if it's hot, there is smoke and flames, one has to see the fire.

Josh.... suspicion and caution are quite different from negativity.
Title: Re: Suzhou Sunflower English Education Centre 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: babala on August 11, 2015, 03:58:01 AM
Josh if in fact you are a teacher at Sunflower then I feel bad for you.

Sunflower has the reputation of screwing over teachers.  I used to work for EF. When a Sunflower teacher switched over to us, they did everything they could to make it difficult for the teacher. They insisted on changing the teacher's visa to a tourist even though he worked an additional two weeks for them so we had to send him to Hong Kong (absolutely unnecessary). They also played a tape of a CCTV newscast against EF for over a month in their school.

George is vengeful.  You have only been there a year and have no idea what he is really like. My company had to call the Foreign Expert's Bureau in Nanjing just to get them to do the legal thing and cancel a teacher's FEC.

Title: Re: Suzhou Sunflower English Education Centre 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: giesej on August 11, 2015, 04:39:10 AM
I had no idea that George had done that, and it makes me understand a lot of the suspicions. I will soon post a review of my experience, as a stand alone, but do not intend to harp on this issue.  After I post my review I will move to other parts of the forum which are of more interest.  I understand all of your unwillingness to believe me, and have no grudge against you or your opinions which I respect.  With what George did, I am very thankful that you let me in at all.  It speaks well of this site that you value free speech enough to not only let him in, but then a foreign teacher from his school.  My opinion of this site just rose again akakakakak  When I hit post for my own review, I will let this issue lie and move on to more enjoyable forum pursuits :)
Title: Re: Suzhou Sunflower English Education Centre 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: Escaped Lunatic on August 11, 2015, 09:36:42 AM
Perhaps if...

1.  George hadn't threatened legal action against the Saloon if EggCluck's post wasn't removed. (This show's how much George Chen values free speech)
2.  He hadn't crawled back under his rock when he was invited to come here and present his point of view. (Shows how George Chen isn't willing to come in and deal with complaints in an above board manner)
3.  Your glowing recommendation (as your first post) hadn't followed so closely on the heals of items 1 and 2.

It's not like some school owners would be above hiring someone to post about how great their school is.  I'm sure if the tables were reversed and you were one of the mods, you would look at this situation with a high degree of suspicion.  If the Saloon were against free speech and required everyone to follow the will of the Mods and Admins, you'd have been instantly banned and your posts erased.  Instead, you are still a member and your posts are on display with no modifications.

I will give you points for not disappearing in the face of adversity (unlike George) and for making some additional posts on other subjects.
Title: Re: Suzhou Sunflower English Education Centre 苏州太阳花英语教育培训中心
Post by: eggcluck on September 14, 2015, 01:17:51 PM
Just copy pasting my thoughts on the positive review into this thread for those that do not want to search around (and also because it appeared in this thread):

Just noticed these. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, however it is my understanding that this was indeed written by a foreign teacher however they are paid +1000 RMB for each new foreign  teacher they recruit, might be some bias there. Of course I can not directly prove that statement but I would not say it if I thought it was not a genuine possibility.