Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Saxoncourt - Nightmare in London

The purpose of this blog is to alert people who are interested in taking the CELTA course or any course offered by Saxoncourt / Shane Global in London, 59 South Molton Street.

To summarize: this school made me have one of the worst nightmares I ever experienced.


I searched for a number or places in London where I could take my CELTA course (Cambridge Certificate in English Teaching). Saxoncourt was on my top list because it was one of the cheapest (and that’s exactly what I got: the cheapest!). I googled it to try to find out about the school. I ended up discovering (at the moment and also when it was too late) that the school has a very bad reputation. I found practically no positive reviews. The main thing I found was a blog entitled THE TEFL BACKLIST, which has a post with a collection of terrible things found on the internet about Saxoncourt / Shane Global.

They mention mainly three things:
- The horrible working conditions of teachers;
- The poor quality of their teaching;
- How much they value money and business sometimes more than people and their teaching.

But I thought: “This post is from 2006, things must have changed… and can you believe everything on the internet?” – Biggest mistake!!! I wish I had believed it!

I entered some groups on Facebook and asked about Saxoncourt. No one said anything except for one person: “You’ll be in the best place in London!”.


Their websites (Saxoncourt and Shane Global - ) seem very professional and attractive, we could find a few pictures of the school in such angles that it seems a modern and clean place (apparently they removed the pictures after I told them I was informed at a legal centre they can be framed for misleading advertisement, but we can still see some pictures on Google Maps or Google images). Also, it is on a prestigious street in central London. I called the school, they interviewed me via skype, very nice people. It can’t be that bad, can it? They made me feel safe, so I enrolled and paid for all the course in advance before arriving in England to secure my place. But the reality was far from what I expected.


When I arrived I found an old, dirty, stinky place: pieces of broken furniture lying around, other old and disgusting furniture which seems to have been taken from a garbage dump (not exaggerating), badly cared and stinky bathrooms, dirty and unhygienic carpet, walls with lots of stains, old paint coming off, some things that need to be fixed are disorderly glued with adhesive tape, a pile of garbage a few centimetres from students who sit by the window (see pictures below). This is a sign of big disrespect to their clients. Lots of these things are unacceptable and very unprofessional. I was so shocked that I couldn't concentrate on my studies. I tried to calm down and thought: “As long as the learning experience is good...” Unfortunately it wasn’t.


The teacher was very rude, impatient, not approachable. Just to give an example: when I gave my first class, she stayed at the back of the classroom making faces of displeasure and shaking her head in disapproval as she took notes. I felt horrible. After that, to give me my feedback, she looked down on me: I CAN SEE YOU ARE AN EXPERIENCED TEACHER, BUT UNFORTUNATELY YOU DON'T FOLLOW THE CELTA CRITERIA. I tried to justify what I did, she didn't give me a chance to talk, she raised her hand on my face to "block" me and said in a blunt way: I AM SORRY IF YOU ARE NOT HAPPY WITH WHAT I AM SAYING, BUT THIS IS MY JOB.

I thought many of her attitudes were unacceptable, she was very offensive. I talked to my classmates to know about their opinion. Most agreed that the school was in very bad conditions and the teacher was rude, but they didn’t want to lose their money (most came from other countries or cities, so they didn’t have a chance to see the school before enrolling). In my case, after three days, I wasn't able to study anymore and decided to leave and ask for a refund.  


The director and a coordinator called me in a room and told me that according to the contract, I could not have a refund. I said I wanted to exercise my right as a consumer to cancel the contract because they failed to provide me a proper service and also because of the misleading advertisement (putting pictures in such angles that disguise the decadent conditions of the building). They said that is not misleading advertisement, that is “marketing”.

I also explained that I come from a country where teachers receive one of the worst salaries in the world (true!). I saved years of my teacher’s salary and sold everything I had to travel and study abroad and make this dream come true. I explained that was the only money I had to continue my studies and build my future, and as an educational institution, they have a big social responsibility. They answered:

I answered back: "In that case, if you think about money first and not people, then you shouldn't direct an educational institution."

I lost all my money and I thought the way they treated me was very disrespectful. I decided to protest: I stayed in front of the school and gave every student who entered a paper with the link of Cambridge website where they can complain about the school in case they have problems. The director and some employees went there to try to stop me. They tried to get my papers by force. In the end, they called the police to get me out of there. I explained the situation to the police officers and told them I was exercising my freedom of speech. They agreed and were friendly, but advised me not to stay there to avoid problems. The school staff said that if I entered there, they would call the police again, and then I would have a criminal record for trespassing. They turned my dream into a nightmare.


Some people may not believe me and I know it is difficult to give credit to everything we find on the internet (I didn’t at first!). But the pictures speak for themselves, so at least in this aspect I can prove. About the quality of their job, isn’t it strange that we can find practically NO positive reviews about Saxoncourt, but mainly a blog saying horrible things? And after I posted this on Facebook, more people said bad things about it. Also, I wish someone had alerted me before I made a decision to study there, so this is what I am doing now. In case you decide to take the risk of studying at Saxoncourt / Shane Global in London, look for references first and also visit the school before enrolling.


Fortunately, I could raise money from my friends and family and went to St Giles in Highgate. Then I could compare and see a big difference! St Giles is a very well-cared and beautiful place, appropriate and clean classrooms equipped with technology such as Interactive Board with internet and an installed sound system, big library with free access, computer room exclusive for CELTA trainees with an extra library, friendly and helpful tutors. Except for the tutors, which could be a personal opinion, NONE of the other things can be found at Saxoncourt, where our classroom was in precarious conditions: all we had was some decayed furniture and a simple board… and at times we had to run from room to room to chase for some old, trashy CD player. Yes, they have a computer room (but for the entire school, with only ONE computer reserved for CELTA trainees), there was also a shelf with a dozen books that they called “library”. 

So if you plan on studying at some English school in London, you can find numerous options. Check what the school has to offer and look for references, maybe it is worth investing more. The cheapest could turn out to be the most expensive in the end. 

Anyway, in spite of all these hardships and imbroglio at Saxoncourt, I had a wonderful experience and a happy end with my CELTA course at St Giles.

If you also have any complaints about Saxoncourt / Shane Global, please report them to Cambridge at Click on “Helpdesk” > “Submit a request”.


THIS IS HOW THEY SHOW (apparently they removed the pictures from their website, but it is still possible to see on google images and google maps). Blured pictures or just one angle to mask the bad conditions of the school. Perhaps the sign at the front door is one of the few things that look nice. 



A close up on the floor

Pieces of furniture lying around

This is how they fix things

Rundown, stinky bathroom, toilet without lid. Also notice the condition on which the toilet is attached to the floor.

Holes on the wall

Paint coming off

A pile of garbage a few centimetres from students sitting next to the window.

Greasy, torn, dirty seat. Taken from a garbage dump? It matches the door.

A student's seat. Also take a look at the carpet.

Dirty, badly cared walls