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Author Topic: Suzhou Experimental Primary School and Mr. Jun Zhou of Epoch Training  (Read 4557 times)


  • Barfly
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    • The Learning Tunnel
And yet another one.  This offer is for 16 hours at 6000 RMB or a maximum of 19 hours at 7200 RMB.

My main reservations are:
1. I would be working for Epoch Training out of Beijing and contracted to the school.  From interviewing the current teachers, it sounds like it might be a positive since I won't have to keep office hours, or attend flag raising in the morning, etc.
2. Accommodations are provided, but bills are not covered. According to the current teachers, the bills will run me 500 to as much as 800 rmb a month in the winter (including high-speed internet and cable).
3. During the winter break, I won't receive regular pay, but instead a 2000 RMB living allowance.  Taking on outside work is not frowned upon though.

The reasons I am considering it are:
1. Jun Zhou.  He is the director/owner of Epoch training and would be my boss.  The teachers I talked to couldn't praise him enough for his honesty, sincerety, and fairness.  Since I called them on their private lines, I tend to take their word.  As another thread emphasizes, a good boss is hard to find.  In addition, when he interviewed me, he really took it seriously and professionally, asking all kinds of actually pertinant questions about my background and teaching methods and experience.  He even called to confirm my references.  Most schools just look at your picture and are satisfied if you are caucasion and somewhat pleasant to look at, and I've never had someone check my references.
2. He wants me to come over on a tourist visa.  He and the other teachers attest to his ability to change it over and get me a foreign experts card within thirty days.  This is appealing to me, because I won't be obligated to him when I get there.  I can always change my mind if arrive and don't like what I see.
3. It's in Suzhou.
4. Free time.  Short hours, public holidays, school vacation.
5. Very relaxed dress code.  Shorts in the summer.
6. I'll only teach one grade (5th) with only one textbook, so lesson planning will be a lot easier.  Now I teach every age and every level with numerous different text books, and frankly, it gets hectic at times. 

Any feedback is appreciated.

« Last Edit: June 17, 2007, 07:20:52 AM by BamBam »
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Raoul F. Duke

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I don't know this school (I stay as far away from public schools, private primary schools, etc. as humanly possible, and only know what I hear from other teachers in these places), but on the surface the offer sounds OK.

One pointer: I'd make sure that this school is a public school (as I'm pretty sure it  is). Suzhou's public schools are pretty good. If it's a private primary school you may be heading into much dodgier territory.

This school (if it's the one I think it is; there's more than one experimental primary school here) is in the Canglang district, near where I live. You're in the city of Suzhou, not out on a fringe somewhere...definitely a good thing.

The salary isn't too bad for this kind of gig. Definitely take the 7200/19 option.
It'd be nice to get a look at the apartment. If this turns serious, see if they'd let me come in and look it over for you?

The only one of your reservations I'd worry about too much is the 3rd one.

1) My position on recruiters is well-documented here and I won't go into it all again. I've long since resigned myself to the idea that no one will ever listen to a single word of it anyway. ;) And hey, who knows, maybe you've actually found one of the 2-3 good ones out of the tens of thousands of such companies here... If things get down to the signature stage, might recommend that they let you talk directly to someone at the school and confirm your key contract terms.

2) This is not too outlandish a request. Bills in Suzhou will be high in the very hottest and very coldest seasons, but not bad when the weather is mild. The numbers you quote sound about right.

3) This one I have a problem with. The holiday doesn't mean you can just go fold yourself up in a sock drawer for a month because it's convenient for them. Full pay would be nice; I'd hold out for at least 4K (which can be survived on for a month if your rent is paid). If they seem serious about wanting to hire you, I would negotiate very hard on this point. I wouldn't take it as presented. A possible dealbreaker, IMHO.

BTW, I wouldn't sweat the visa thing too much as long as you have a signed, stamped contract in hand. (They can FedEx this to you; take reluctance to do so as a bad sign.) This kind of arrangement is pretty common, but the recruiter layer makes me more nervous here than usual. However, if they don't start converting your visa into a Residence Permit toot sweet upon arrival, you should be prepared to fight or walk. Also, make sure that THEY will pay the residence permit/work permit costs.
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