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Dreaming of a fairer and kinder school

Although I loved some things about my job – teaching English (obviously), the students (from all over the world), my fellow teachers (ace) and the commute (super short) – I’d been unhappy for a while.  I wanted to teach in a school that was fairer and kinder to both teachers and students. Somewhere that gave teachers and students a better deal, but this was easier said than done.

During the first UK lockdown when anyone and everyone was hitting Zoom, between homeschooling my then 9 year old daughter (don’t ask – it was a nightmare) and representing my colleagues in a redundancy consultation process (upsetting), I had time to reflect and came up with the idea of an online school as a co-operative.  Lucy, my co-founder, was also looking for something different, so together, with the help of lots of other kind and generous souls, we created Red Brick Language School.

Co-operative values

Being a co-operative means our ethos is based on the International Co-operative Association’s (ICA) values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity.  We believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others as outlined by the ICA.  These along with the seven co-operative principles are enshrined in our governing documents which set out how Red Brick’s run.  This means we always look for the most ethical option, whether we’re choosing a supplier e.g. our web-hosting comes from a company committed to environmental protection, or being transparent about our prices and class sizes.

Pedagogy before profit

Co-operatives come in many different shapes and sizes, we are a worker collective so it’s the teachers who own and manage the school.  Our first ‘business’ decision was to put pedagogy before profit.  In practice this means we offer affordable English language classes without exploiting teachers or students.  We believe helping you achieve your learning goals is more important than making lots of money – crazy, I know, but that’s teachers for you!

More meaningful communication opportunities in class

We want you to achieve your learning goals as quickly as possible and at an affordable price so have designed our courses to maximise learning so you spend less time in the classroom.  Where possible, you complete work before the lesson (alone, with a partner or in groups – don’t worry, we’ll show you how).  We do this so you get more opportunities to practise communicating in English in a meaningful way before and during the lesson.  You can read articles, watch videos, complete grammar or vocabulary exercises at your own speed in your own time, and of course, we’ll give you all the support and feedback you need.

Effective teaching methods

In our classes, you won’t waste time doing activities that don’t help you improve your English because we only use methods and techniques proven to be effective when learning another language.  We pay our teachers to plan your lessons, mark your work and give you feedback so they have the time to really consider what will help you improve your English.

Flexibility for busy people

Our Group Classes offer you choice and flexibility because many activities are done outside of the classroom; you can also choose short courses that meet your needs and fit these around your busy schedule, meaning you can study with us while working, undertaking caring responsibilities or attending college or university.

Fluency first

We have lots of experience and we know what students want, usually, this is to become more fluent, to speak English better. We have developed our Group Classes and Speaking Clubs to help you achieve this.  More speaking = more listening = more meaningful communication + teacher support + feedback = more fluency.

Learning goals

We want you to be a successful English language learner and we know the best way to do this is to:

  • assess your speaking level not just your grammar and vocabulary
  • create a learning plan for you with realistic goals
  • give you advice on how to learn or practise English independently even if you are super busy
  • provide you with lots of opportunities to communicate in English

Happy teachers means happy students

All our teachers are paid a fair salary.  All our teachers receive holiday pay and sick pay.   All our teachers get to have a say in how our school is run.  All our teachers are paid for planning your lessons, marking your work and giving you feedback.  This means they teach fewer classes to make enough money to live; which means our teachers are not stressed or overworked.  Yep, our teachers are happy, and happy teachers make better teachers which is good news for you.

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