All staff induction

There are six parts to this induction; the Organisation, Roles, Risk Assessment, Welfare, Policies and Procedures, and The First Day of a Course. You can move through these parts with the arrows at the bottom of the text. When you reach the end of the induction there will be a short test.

Part 1: The Organisation

Knowing how the organisation fits together will enable you to:

  1. know where to get support and help if you need it
  2. know where to take problems and other issues
  3. help you to help the students find advice and support

Elac is not a huge organisation but it’s big enough to provide the infrastructure and support mechanisms you need.

A Little History

Elac began life as Eastbourne Language and Activity Centre in 1991. It was set up by John and Sara Dunster after John left Meads School of English where he was Principal. Eastbourne Language and Activity Centre was initially a homestay course based at Park College in Eastbourne. Andrew McPhee joined in 2000 when the organisation began to branch out into residential centres and became known as Elac.

In 2006, the administration of the summer centres moved to Bath, then in 2012 the office moved to 22 Milsom Street, in the heart of Bath city centre. Milsom Street is also home to the Elac Study Centre, where we run tailor-made courses for closed groups throughout the year. Tim Cooke joined John Dunster and Andrew McPhee as an Elac Director in 2015.

During the summer we run seven multi-national residential and homestay centres for students between the ages of 11 – 17 in a variety of locations in the UK. We work with students from a wide range of countries, but have particularly strong links with Italy, Spain, China, Russia, Japan, France, Poland, Austria and Turkey.

Elac is no longer a small business – we welcome over 3,500 students each summer – however, we still retain the values and ethos that characterised Elac from the beginning and which made it attractive to our staff, students and partners: an organisation that is friendly, personal, loyal, professional and caring. We believe strongly in building relationships and being good partners.

The People

Elac’s Founder is John Dunster, Andrew McPhee is the Principal, and Tim Cooke is the CEO. Neil Barnes and Kera Gustafson are Elac’s Vice Principals. Liam Moloney, Jason Harrison, Phil Spark are Operations Managers. In our Bath office there is the Welfare and Administration Director, Elaine Wickens, as well as Susie Johns who handles all Elac’s recruitment and Human Resources and Helen Ordever, Office Administrator.

The Staff Team in our Centres

Individual centres vary in their staffing from year to year but the diagram below shows the usual staffing structure. We present it this way for two reasons:

Firstly, the organisation is more like a web or cloud than any other kind of structure. Major communication routes are shown – the continuous lines show more frequent communication than the dotted lines. The outer circle is more concerned with planning, the inner with implementation of plans. You also need to imagine lines of communication running from every point to every other point in the web. Communication in all directions is vital to the success of the course.

Secondly, this diagram puts the students at the centre of the organisation, rather than at the bottom of a top-down structure. It is a reminder of our need to be student-centred.

Job descriptions for all the roles you see here are on this site. Click here to go to the Employment Opportunities page.

Part 2: Roles

Knowing who does what and who is responsible for what will help you to:

  1. know who to go to with questions and for help
  2. know who to direct other people to
  3. appreciate what your colleagues do

Everyone has a critical role to play in Elac.

Job Descriptions

We try to make everyone’s role clear and transparent to others. This site contains job descriptions for everyone (Click here to open the page). It is good for you to have an understanding of what everyone at Elac does before the start of the summer courses so feel free to look around and find out what everyone’s responsibilities are.

To help you appreciate who does what and who is responsible for what in Elac, try this short test first.

Match the descriptions on left to the job descriptions on the right:

L1: Is in overall charge of student welfare in a centre. R1: An Activity Leader
L2: Is primarily responsible for planning the activities programme. R2: The Assistant Centre Manager
L3: Is in charge of the centre. R3: The Centre Manager
L4: Is most concerned with day-to-day teacher support. R4: A teacher
L5: Makes sure that individual activities and excursions run well. R5: A Group Leader
L6: Plans the week’s teaching programme. R6: The Group Leader Co-ordinator
L7: Looks after a group of students from a single agent. R7: The Activity Manager
L8: Arranges group leader meetings. R8: The Academic Manager

Click here to see the answers.

Part 3: Risk Assessment

Knowing how to assess and deal with risks will enable you to:

  1. keep our students safe
  2. keep yourself safe
  3. keep your colleagues safe

Risks are present at all times – in the classroom, on Educational Visits, in activity sessions and in residences. We all need to be aware of them and minimise them.

Assessing Risk

We need to consider two things

  • how important is the risk, how serious the consequences of an accident?
  • how likely is it that an accident will occur?

Clearly, some risks are common and result in very little damage. Some are rare but have extremely serious consequences.

Take a moment to think about each of the following.  Make a note of your response.

Ask yourself if the incident is

  • Rare?
  • Common?
  • Serious?
  • Minor?

Classify each event with two of the following: R, C, S and M.

For example, RS = Rare and Serious, CM = Common and Minor, RM = Rare and Minor.

  • Falling under a moving train
  • Getting stung by a wasp
  • Slipping on wet floor
  • Falling out of a second-floor window
  • Falling downstairs
  • Choking on your food
  • Cutting yourself on a pair of scissors
  • Breaking your leg in a volleyball game
  • Drowning in a swimming pool
  • Being mugged on the street

Here are our answers. Compare them with your notes.

Don’t worry too much if your comments are slightly different.

Avoiding Risk

Now think of two events.

The first is a lesson coming to the end in a classroom.  The second is an excursion to a seaside town.

What risks can you see in these two events? Remember we are considering young people and teenagers!

How would you minimise the chances of accidents?

When you have made a few notes, click here to see our answers. Compare them with your notes.

Again, don’t worry if your list is different.

Whatever list you have, you should have thought of prevention. The obvious ones are:

Supervision –

If you are teaching: watch the class carefully and don’t let them use electronic equipment or open windows unless you are sure they are safe.  Don’t leave the room unnecessarily

On Educational Visits: make sure students aren’t left alone to wander off and get into trouble

Checking –

Whatever you are doing:

Make sure equipment is safe – if it isn’t, or it doesn’t look it, report it.  Count heads frequently on excursions.  Point out risks to your students

Alertness –

Look around and check for dangers on excursions

Know what’s going on in your classroom and who are the least responsible students

Please remember that managers can’t be everywhere – take the responsibility for keeping yourself, your students and your colleagues safe. There are written Risk Assessments for all activities and Educational Visits.

Part 4: Welfare

Welfare is a wide-ranging area that affects all staff, at all times. The staff member with designated responsibility for student welfare is the Assistant Centre Manager. However, welfare issues can crop up at any time.

You may be the person that notices something wrong: a student who seems to be upset, inappropriate behaviour from a staff member towards a student, or from one student towards another, or unusual behaviour from a student that gives you cause for concern.

In all of these circumstances, that issue becomes your responsibility by virtue of the fact that you have noticed it. Do not ignore it. Your key decision is when and to whom to pass on your concerns.

Knowing Elac’s welfare systems will help you to:

  1. spot issues before they become serious
  2. know who to go to with a welfare issue
  3. keep our students safe and happy

Everyone has a critical role to play in Elac’s welfare work.

Key Issues

Safeguarding the children in our care is a serious concern of Elac, as you would expect. In line with this, we would now like you to visit an external site where you can take a short course in the most important issues and get a certificate once you have completed the process.  Please e-mail the certificate to Elac as soon as you have completed the course.

IMPORTANT; When completing the Safeguarding course, first you must register your name and email address with Accreditation UK. Then you go to “Catalogue” (on the menu bar) and choose the course which corresponds to your position in the summer:

Teachers – Safeguarding for Teachers
Activity Leaders – Safeguarding for Activity Staff
Academic manager, Centre Manager, Assistant Centre Manager, Activity Manager, Senior Teacher, Deputy Activity Manager – Safeguarding for Managers
Office Administrators – Safeguarding for Language Centre Staff

Click here to go to the site now to complete the safeguarding course.

Elac also has its own Safeguarding Policy and you can access that document by clicking here.

If you become aware of a welfare issue (homesickness, antagonism between students, lack of sleep, lack of food) you may want to inform the Group Leader concerned, as well as the Assistant Centre Manager. If, however, it is a Child Protection issue (mental, physical or sexual abuse, drug-taking) then you should direct your concerns in the first instance to the Assistant Centre Manager alone.

You may be unsure whether what you have witnessed or heard is a cause for concern or not. If it is appropriate you may want to ask a few questions (directly or indirectly) to confirm any concerns that you have, without involving yourself too much.

If you are not convinced that there is a cause for concern, you should still pass on the information (as long as it isn’t a child protection issue). No action will be taken unless there is other information which supports yours, but a note will be made of it, so that if further instances come to light later on, it can be referred to.

If you are convinced that there is a cause for concern, you should pass the information on for further action as soon as possible. Decisions about who should be informed and involved will be taken by the Assistant Centre Manager, so please treat the information as confidential.

If you become aware of a student welfare or child protection issue because a student takes you into their confidence, you must pass on this information. Make it clear to the student that if they confide in you, you will be required to pass the information on. Try to do so in a manner that does not prevent them from sharing their concerns.

Remember: student welfare is your responsibility, and is one you share with every other Elac staff member.

Part 5: Policies and Procedures

All organisations have policies and procedures which they expect their staff to follow. We keep ours to a minimum.

Knowing Elac’s policies and procedures will help you to:

  1. feel part of the organisation
  2. feel comfortable in your role
  3. relax and focus on what’s important rather than worrying about what to do
  4. stay out of trouble!

The Face of Elac …

As Elac staff on our courses this summer you will be the ‘face’ of Elac as far as the students and Group Leaders are concerned, and so it is important to us that all staff members maintain the kind of professional standards that would be expected within any school organisation. In terms of dress, this means a smart appearance; it doesn’t necessarily mean a shirt and tie, but on the other hand, scruffy jeans or shorts are not acceptable. For activity staff appropriate sportswear and Elac sports clothing are best.

It is important that we all exercise courtesy – and sometimes diplomacy – in dealing with the Group Leaders. If you do have a difficult situation with a Group Leader or a student always get the support and guidance of the Centre Manager or one of the other senior staff members. It is part of what they do.

On your First Day …

If you are employed directly by Elac, please bring the following with you:

  1. the originals of any qualification certificates
  2. some form of photographic ID – passport, driving licence etc.
  3. proof of your address – a utility or tax bill will do fine
  4. any tax papers which are relevant – especially, if you have one, a P45.

… and be on time!

It is important that you are punctual for classes or activities. It is a difficult job to keep the students up to the mark, if staff are arriving a few minutes late. At the beginning of the morning this is especially significant, as there may be important information to give to people prior to the first lesson or activity, or even cover to organise. Equally there may be changes to activities, or equipment that needs to be set up. It is therefore essential that all teachers are in the staff room (or nearby) 15 minutes before the start of the first lesson, and that activity staff arrive for their briefing meeting 15 minutes before scheduled activities.


If you have any dates on which you need to be absent during the course, then please let us know before the start of the course so that we can plan to cover your responsibilities. If it is an unplanned absence, then please discuss with the Centre Manager beforehand where possible – if there is a good reason for the absence, then we will do everything we can to assist. In cases of illness, let the Centre Manager know as soon as possible in the morning.  Generally speaking, we appreciate our staff soldiering on with the odd sniffle, but if it is a serious case of illness, and especially if it is infectious, it is better for you to rest and recover.

Professional Conduct

You will want to enjoy yourself away from the course while you are with us, to relax and unwind with other staff.  However, this must not conflict with your role as an Elac staff member on the course. If you are on duty on an evening activity, then you don’t drink alcohol before or during that activity. Equally, if you are working in the morning, your Centre Manager will expect you to arrive in a fit state to carry out your responsibilities professionally.

Part 6: The First Day of a Course

The nature of summer courses is that they are fast-moving and dynamic events. In our larger centres we may have as many as 400 students arriving in one weekend, all of whom need to be tested, interviewed, arranged into classes and inducted into the centre – as well as entertained!

Knowing how the first day works will help you to:

  1. know your role and where to be
  2. help the organisation run smoothly
  3. make our students welcome
  4. see the system not the chaos!

The Aims of the First Day

On day one of the course we aim to:

  1. make the students feel relaxed but also excited
  2. introduce them to the course centre and to the local town
  3. test their ability in English
  4. tell them about our expectations of them
  5. warm them up with a few activities

Zigzag Courses

Our courses involve the students having 3 lessons a day, followed or preceded by activities or excursions, and social events in the evening. This is what we mean by the zigzag pattern – some students have classes in the morning and activities in the afternoon; some have morning activities and afternoon classes.

We allocate colours to groups so, for example, if a student is in the red group he or she will have classes in the morning and activities in the afternoon. Someone in the blue group will do the opposite. To keep it fair, we swap the groups around, usually every week. Students are recognised by their coloured wrist band.

On your First Day …

This zigzag system also applies to the first day of a course with some students being tested and placed in classes in the morning and having an induction programme in the afternoon while the others follow a reverse pattern – induction in the morning and tests and classes in the afternoon.

The timetable will look something like this.  The timetable for the morning mirrors that for the afternoon.

Time Red Group Time Blue Group
09.15 – 10.15 Written & oral tests in class 09.15 – 12.30 Orientation Visit to Local Town
10.15 – 11.15 Tour of campus & Welcome Talk
11.45 – 12.45 Induction and warm up in class
12.45 – 13.30 Lunch 12.30 – 13.15 Lunch
13.45 – 17.00 Orientation Visit to Local Town 13.45 – 14.45 Written & oral tests in class
14.45 – 15.45 Tour of campus & Welcome Talk
16.15 – 17.15 Induction and warm up in class


If you are teaching with Elac, you will be involved in the testing and warm-up lessons. If you are an Activity Leader, you will be involved with the orientation part of the programme. There’s more about this on the pages dedicated to your roles.

This is the end of the All-Staff Induction. You will now be asked a series of questions about the information you have just read. You can see how many correct answers you have answered at the end of the tests, but you must get at least 90% (18/20) before you download the certificate and send it to us. If you don’t get 90%, don’t worry, read back through the information and take the test again! Once you complete the test successfully, please send the certificate, together with the Safeguarding Certificate which you completed online (in Part 4: Welfare of this induction) to so it can be added to the other documents you have sent us.