Today we speak to James Alger, founder of www.jobsinchildcare.com. James graduated from the Modern Languages department of the University of Leeds, and has 10 years’ experience working with VIP families as a governor.
Can you describe the job of a governor or governess?
Governors and governesses are principally employed in a language teaching capacity (although they may provide ‘across the board’ educational support) by parents wishing their children to speak English, French, Spanish, Chinese or other languages. The governess is usually a qualified teacher and native speaker in the desired (‘target’) language, and the role itself is usually full-time.
The governess aims to develop the charge’s language ability through diverse, interesting lessons and experiences. Duties therefore typically include planning and giving lessons, managing extra-curricular activities and planning of days out and free-time. As a general rule, additional attention is paid to behaviour and social etiquette. In this sense, we tend to see the role of governor or governess as somewhere between personal tutor and big brother/ sister.
A governess may also be in touch with her charge’s school teachers to ensure that the education given at home complements that which the child receives at school. In this way the presence of the governess helps to push the child to his or her full educational potential.
What are the benefits of being a governess or tutor?
Governess work is generally interesting and varied work. On top of providing lessons, governesses may have the opportunity to incorporate extra-curricular talents such as art, music or sporting ability into their working life. Time at work can therefore be dedicated to teaching music, taking part in sports or broadening the charges’ educational horizons by other means. It is quite the opposite of working in an office.
Hiring a governess is expensive, so the family you end up working for is likely to be wealthy. Salaries typically begin at £1000/ week and, depending on the location, local demand and the teacher’s experience and qualifications, can reach £1500 or more. This means that the job itself may come with a variety of other perks – from good food at work to five star hotels and private jet travel – and even extends to birthday presents! We have heard of governesses receiving large cash sums as gifts, and one who was even rewarded for her years of service with an apartment!
Why do families employ governesses/ tutors?
As previously mentioned, governesses provide educational support, homework help and work with their charges to improve their schoolwork. They may also develop their charges’ sporting, music or other extra-curricular skills.
The immersive nature of the governess working on a full-time basis, combined with her educational background, creates an environment that allows the child to pick up a second (or even third language) practically and naturally, achieving fluency in as short a time as possible. Spending 40 hours a week or more with a governess, a child can quickly become bilingual, and learns to read, write and think in the language the governess teaches.
As well as learning the new language in the most natural way possible, the charge will generally learn to speak with excellent, natural grammar and vocabulary and a clean, clear accent. Later in life, the child will be well-placed to live in a different country or to work in an international capacity. An interest in languages and other cultures can also be fostered from an early age.
And to complement the practical benefits of having a governor or governess, there is often an element of showing off on the employer’s part. Having a private English governess who has flown over from London exclusively to teach your children makes for impressive table talk for many businesspeople!
If a fully qualified teacher wishes to become a governess/ governor, what should he/ she do?
If a teacher is fully qualified, he or she is already well on the road to becoming a governor or governess. Naturally, some prior experience working in a family would be a plus – but this is not always required.
A more pressing point moving forward would simply be to find an agency and start applying for jobs!
Now, please tell us more about your website and how you help governesses/ tutors.
www.jobsinchildcare.com displays the open vacancies from a wide variety of agencies in one place. Rather than having to trawl around agencies figuring out which jobs are suitable for you and which aren’t, you type in your desired role (ie. ‘governess’) and a location on our site, and you will see all jobs that are currently available with their salaries in a single list. You then apply for the job directly through JIC.
You can also upload your CV to JIC. This means that when agencies are looking for a candidate for a role, they can find your profile and contact you directly if you are suitable. Being headhunted for a job in this way means you may be offered a fantastic salary.
And as well as that – our blog section can help you prepare a governess CV, offer you interview tips and much more. You can even read a variety of interviews with VIP governesses and nannies and find out what this type of work is all about to see if it’s for you.
How about any tips for career progression, in the Middle East and further afield?
Career progression is a broad topic, and naturally everyone has their own ideas, goals and aims in life. For those who want to spend a year or two saving the money to buy a house, going after adventure and seeing the world, governor or governess work is certainly an excellent option. I would simply suggest that teachers do their own research and don’t be afraid to jump in and go for something new once in a while!