Foreign Language Assistants (FLA)
How to apply and their benefits.
There are 2 types – Comenius Language Assistants and Foreign Language
Assistants. Both are provided by the British Council. Their roles and how
they can be used are slightly different.
Comenius Language Assistant
Comenius Language assistants are prospective teachers of foreign languages
from Europe who work in schools and colleges across the UK.
Assistants are funded by the European Union to work in schools and their role
can include :
Enhancing the European dimension across the curriculum
Offering classes in their native language
Devoting attention to individual pupils, small groups and those with
Helping to brake down prejudices
Raising awareness of other EU member states and their language and
Assisting with the development of links and exchanges
Comenius language assistants work between 12 and 16 hours a week and
may be appointed for a minimum of 3 months and a maximum of 8 months.
Assistants will not be placed in secondary schools where their first
language is taught. Therefore, they cannot be employed like a normal FLA,
i.e. to teach or support the teaching of their language in the school. A group
of schools may share an assistant. The British Council suggests that this
would between up to a maximum of 3 schools. The British Council provides
the Comenius Assistants’ salaries. The hosting schools must provide a
teacher/mentor to look after the welfare of the Comenius Assistant. The
closing date for applications each year is February 1st. Details on
British Council FLAs :
The British Council can recruit assistants for your school from French,
German and Spanish speaking countries and from Italy, China, Japan or
Russia. They can greatly enhance your pupils’ experience of learning a
The following has been taken directly from the British Council pages
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS TO YOUR STUDENTS?
A foreign language assistant can bring a language alive for a young learner.
Working with small groups, your foreign language assistant can help improve
your students' confidence in speaking and understanding a language.
Assistants can bring with them a wealth of resources and ideas, websites,
lesson plans, songs and games.
Your assistant can also help students with their understanding of the
language and culture in different and creative ways. For example your French
assistant could help teach Food Technology, your Spanish assistant could
teach salsa and your Chinese assistant could teach calligraphy in art classes.
More advanced students will learn about current issues in the countries of the
languages they are studying through the use of recent videos, DVDs, TV and
radio programmes, sports and
WHAT IS THE PROFILE OF AN ASSISTANT?
Foreign language assistants are usually aged between 20 and 30 and are
either currently studying English in their home country or training to be
teachers of English. They are selected by our partner organisation in their
country, which is either the local Ministry of Education, their appointed agency
or by us. Chinese assistants are all qualified teachers.
A reference and medical certificate are usually enclosed with the dossier.
They are also asked to send a police clearance certificate to the school
soon after being appointed. Assistants from France are not legally obliged
to provide a medical certificate in advance, so you should request a medical
form before the assistant arrives. and ensure a post is offered 'subject to the
receipt of a suitable medical certificate'.
WHERE ARE ASSISTANTS FROM?
We can provide assistants from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, China, Japan
and Russia as well as other countries where these languages are spoken: -
French assistants can come from Belgium, Canada, Senegal and Switzerland.
German assistants can be from Austria and Switzerland. Spanish assistants
come from a range of countries Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico,
Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela.
WHAT ARE AN ASSISTANT'S TERMS AND CONDITIONS?
Each assistant must work a minimum of 12 hours per week; additional hours
(we recommend up to a maximum of 18) can be negotiated directly and must
be paid pro-rata.
The cost of employing an assistant will depend upon where your school
is located in the UK. Below you will find all the information you need to
know about covering the cost of your assistant.
ESSENTIAL POINTS TO NOTE ABOUT EMPLOYING YOUR ASSISTANT
Assistants must work a minimum of 12 hours a week; additional hours (we
recommend a maximum of 18) can be negotiated directly with the assistant.
It is not possible to offer an assistant a lower salary in return for fewer hours.
They are unlikely to be able to afford to survive on the salary they will receive
and the amounts below are an agreed minimum stipulated by the UK
Whilst we accept applications for assistants from boarding schools, we
recommend that the assistants’ opportunities to make friends outside school
and travel around the country are not restricted by excessive duties or
weekend working and that any reduction in salary in return for free
accommodation is seen to be fair and calculated with local levels of rent
payment in mind.
Assistants from non-EU countries may not extend their weekly timetable of 12
hours. Please contact the British Council which has delegated authority to
grant permission on behalf of the Home Office.
WORKING WITH OTHER SCHOOLS
If you are not able to offer 12 hours, you should attempt to find a partner
school which can share the costs and timetable. Assistants may be shared
between a maximum of three schools provided travel arrangements are
reasonable and you are able to reimburse additional travel costs.
1. Your assistant works for 2 hours in your school and 10 hours in a local
secondary school. You would pay £1,092.66 * and the secondary
school would pay £5,463.34*
2. You share an assistant equally with two other local schools, four hours
each. Cost per school £2,185.33*
3. Any other combination of primary and/or secondary schools, as long as
the assistant works in no more than three schools and works a
minimum of 12 hours per week.
*Plus National Insurance contributions and London Weighting if appropriate.
ENGLAND AND WALES (2007/2008)
Period of appointment – 1 October to 31 May* (8 months)
Gross monthly payment - £819.50
Standard hourly rate - £15.61
Total cost - £6,556 (exclusive of National Insurance contributions).
You should not ask your assistants to take sole responsibility for classes
unless they are a qualified teacher and agree to this in advance. Assistants
should also not be asked to regularly discipline pupils, mark students' work
(including exams) or teach subjects other than that of their own language.
For primary schools, if you visit this page :
They provide a list of FAQ re FLA’s from a primary school’s perspective.
The ideal is for 3 primary schools to share an FLA, with one acting as the host
and providing the teacher/mentor. The costs would then be divided between
the 3 schools.
If you are interested in hosting an FLA you must contact your local LA MFL
advisor for an application form etc.
We do not have an MFL advisor in Southend so we come under Essex cc for
this scheme. The advisor who needs to be contacted there, is Andrea
Osborne : Andrea.Osborne@essexcc.gov.uk
You will need to inform the LA advisor of your wish to employ an FLA, ideally
by the end of January. They will pass this information along with the
requirements of all the other schools in your LA to the British Council by 6
March. The British Council usually sends dossiers to LAs or Local Authorities
by the end of May for them to forward. These dates are subject to change
slightly, so make sure you visit the British Council website regularly.