11th April 2019
My son was at BIC-BENAL.com, the Benalmadena international College. (telf: 952 561 666), in Calle Catamaran, Nueva Torrequebrada, 29630 Benalmadena Costa) since 2017
My son and other children at BIC were being taught by UNQUALIFIED teachers.
At no time did BIC inform me that UNQUALIFIED teachers were employed by him.
Since 2012, it's NOT been a legal requirement that teachers hold qualifications for the subject's they teach, but you would think that a School charging 8000 plus euro's a year would use QUALIFIED staff.
I went to ask Mr. Keith Ellis (The owner) about this and asked to see the qualifications for a number of teachers.
All school's have a LEGAL requirement to show evidence of qualifications if asked to by a parent.
After waiting a week without being contacted, I made a new appointment to see Mr. Keith Ellis.
He showed me a WORD PROCESSING CERTIFICATE for the teacher, teaching ICT (!). (Ms. J. Williams, the Principal)
A Qualified ICT teacher usually holds a Computer Science Degree.
I questioned the ICT teacher about a number of ICT topics and she was unable to answer ANY of them !
He showed me a PHYSICS certificate for one teacher, who was teaching MATHS (Mr. Kyle Axton, who was, at the time employed ILLEGALLY by Keith Ellis, as Kyle Axton was in Spain on a Tourist visa)
He refused to show me any documents for the other teacher, who was teaching MATHS. (Mr. Parver)
I asked Mr. Ellis if these Teachers were QUALIFIED to teach the subjects they were teaching and each time I asked (I asked over 25 times), he simply said:
"I have given them authority to teach"
Both time's I had a meeting with Mr. Keith Ellis, we recorded the conversations on our Mobile Phones.
For Parents spending thousands of Euros per term, you would except QUALIFIED teachers , teaching the subjects.
Indeed, the definition of 'UNQUALIFIED' is:-
"not having the skills, knowledge, or experience needed to do a particular job or activity"
Also, I was SHOCKED to learn that an American teacher, Mr. Kyle Axton, was ILEGALLY employed by Mr. Keith Ellis from August 29th 2018, even though Mr. Keith Ellis knew that Mr. Kyle Axton was on a TOURIST visa and not authorised to work in Spain.
(Mr. Kyle Axton left BIC on the 21st of March 2019, by this time he had gained his Resident's permit the previous day).
A number of both STUDENTS and TEACHERS have recently left BIC as it's failing them.
I removed my son from BIC.
I believe that you should reach out to the BIC, confirm the above and make a judgement if you belive that potential Parents thinking about placing their children at the Benalmadena International School, should be informed.
I ask for a FULL investigation to be made into this.
My self and my wife are happy to attend any meeting in respect of the above and make a legal declaration and provide copies of the recordings made during the meetings with Mr. Keith Ellis.
Mr. Kyle Axton has sent the following Letter to Parents and Students of BIC
Fiefdom Benalmadena International College
August 29th of the year 2018, an American named Kyle Axton arrived to the The Benalmadena International College (BIC) for a job interview. Keith and Belinda Ellis, the school owners, were pleasant people.
Keith showed Kyle the school science rooms and materials.
While the rooms contained materials, they were in total disorder and the storage rooms stank of chemicals and were full of trash.
The lab table tops were simple kitchen materials not suitable to chemistry experiments.
Yet for Kyle, this presented the opportunity for him to reside in Spain and maybe become a permanent resident.
After all, how bad could a European private school be?
Keith knew Kyle was not legal to work in Spain from the phone conversation they had to setup the in person interview.
Keith was not bothered by the legality on the phone, nor in person.
While this seemed unusual to Kyle, still it was opportunity.
At no time did Keith offer assistance in obtaining the legal status to work in Spain; it simply was of no interest to him in the least.
Keith presented himself as a humble honest school owner interested in children's education.
He told Kyle that the previous Physicist retired from the school, and other teachers had retired as well in the twenty years since the school was founded.
Later Kyle learned those were lies
Also the building construction project above the main campus was soon to be a new gymnasium finished with an indoor pool which would have public access in the evening for the local community.
Later, these would be revealed as disillusionment at best, and probably the same lies Keith had been telling people for five years.
After a day of looking around the school, Keith, Belinda, and Kyle retired to their living quarters above the cafeteria, which is accessed by a stairwell on the backside of the building.
The golden retriever dog was ever present in all environments of the school and living quarters, a well-mannered dog she was.
Keith said the dog was free to go anywhere in the school at any time, which was evident as time passed.
Inside the quarters, the living space was humble yet spacious.
The floor above the cafeteria is divided in half with half being the living quarters and the other half is a table tennis area with a billiards table that costs 1 euro per game.
There were no table tennis paddles or balls for the tables. Also there is room with couches behind a door that says Do not enter.
The next day, Thursday August 30th Kyle needed to purchase a return flight to Barcelona to collect his belongings and he needed to find a residence within walking distance to the school.
Paul the bus driver offered an apartment for 700 euro for one month's time.
Keith was kind enough to buy the plane ticket to Barcelona as a gift; however, he would not assist anymore in the transition costs for Kyle.
Together with Keith and Belinda Kyle went to a rental agency to look for other living space options.
To Kyle surprise in the agency, Keith spoke zero Spanish after over 25 years in Spain.
Kyle had been in Spain a short time, yet he spoke Spanish for almost two decades.
In the end, there was not sufficient time to look for other accommodations.
Keith and Belinda's inability to help, obligated Kyle to take the only option available to him, the 700 euro apartment offered by Paul the bus driver.
With the living space organized, Kyle boarded the plane back to Barcelona to collect his big suitcases.
Sunday September second Kyle returned to Benalmadena with his possession.
Monday the third would be the first day of work.
All the teachers were wearing shorts in the steamy weather.
The school had no air conditioning, nor fans, and no heating either for the cold months.
The IT guy was the first person he met that day, funny guy and great with computers.
Kyle and IT were instant friends.
Secondary Gym teacher added Kyle to the BIC Whatsapp group, by which almost all school communication would be made.
Unfortunately though, Keith and Belinda were rather computer and technology illiterate.
Keith did not know how to turn on a computer much less use a smartphone and Whatsapp.
On Keith's office desk there never was a computer.
Belinda seemed to know how to type on the computer, but not much else; she could not forward an email.
In the year 2018 a school that was training the future of humanity was headed by two people who understood nothing about technology, and later Kyle would learn they knew nothing about science either.
As a result, the school owners never participated in the Whatsapp group, which was the only school-wide communication system.
The email system was cumbersome and used sparingly if at all by staff.
Never was a school communication sent by email, excepting the morning attendance for the school.
Moreover, the school has no clocks in any of the classrooms, nor were there telephones, or an intercom system for school wide communications.
The objective for the first day of work was to order the school books for this school year 2018-2019.
This fact surprised Kyle.
He knew a book order would need months to fulfill.
Besides, why were the books not digital books?
Upstairs in the science labs he met Biologist and Chemist.
Together they sorted the book orders.
There were some old very tattered books for the years 7-9, but not nearly enough for all the students.
Years 10-11 had seven books for chemistry, a few more for biology, and about 10 physics books to share among 30 or so dual science students.
Year 12 science books were non-existent.
Biologist and Kyle also added to the book list the teacher materials for the new 10-11 and 12 year books.
The new 10-11-12 books were also for a new IGCSE testing standard that was implemented the previous year, thus these books should have been ordered 1 year prior for the previous school year 2017-2018.
After the books were ordered, Kyle cleaned trash out of his science room.
Kyle spent 3 days cleaning and looking for materials.
He found no teaching materials for any of the classes, and the other staff informed him that Keith would not buy and has not bought teaching materials because they were expensive.
Nonetheless, Kyle was hopeful the teaching materials for the new books might arrive after a few months.
The experimental equipment and apparatus was in complete disarray spread across 3 rooms.
Chemistry experiments would be limited since proper equipment was lacking.
There was no eye wash station incase acid got in eyes.
There was no vent hood to remove toxic fumes.
And the table tops were poor quality that could not resist chemicals.
Three months were needed to organize the science materials and prepare experiments for the upcoming school year, yet school was due to start in two day's time!
Biologist, Chemist, and Kyle organized what was possible in the run up to the first day of class and became decent friends.
BIC provided zero training to Kyle.
He was American and not familiar with British curriculum.
Furthermore, the BIC organization structure and processes were never even mentioned much less explained to Kyle.
Turned out that BIC had no system for anything other than lunch orders and the start of the school day attendance registration.
Also turned out that the lunch order system was a fluke that was made by a short term employee and it was prone to failure.
After a month or two a link to the cloud storage platform, Microsoft One Drive, was provided.
Kyle and Biologist explored its contents and did not find anything useful so we ignored it.
Besides we were overloaded with classes by then.
Concluding the first month at BIC the three scientists, Biologist, Chemist and Kyle were a bit overwhelmed with work but it seemed possible.
Chemist worked part time although BIC needed him full-time in Kyle's opinion.
Chemist worked illegally although he was a legal resident of Spain.
Concluding the first month, Chemist was paid on Friday.
The same day Keith called biologist down to the office and instructed him to take over some classes taught by chemist since chemist decided not to return on Monday.
When Kyle heard the news from biologist, he was surprised, so he called chemist.
Chemist was dumbfounded. He had no idea that he was made redundant.
Kyle and biologist were unhappy that chemist was removed for no reason and without notification.
We felt expendable and worthless.
This was the straw that broke the camel's back.
BIC was sham school and nothing was important other than money.
Why would any teacher spend extra time preparing extensively when the work is not appreciated, nor does the teacher feel secure that the job will exist the next day.
Other staff told Kyle that chemist is another one of many like him who were never notified that they were redundant.
All the staff felt vulnerable to Keith's whims.
The following Monday Assistant Gym teacher suddenly was in the place of the Chemist.
Assistant Gym was a nice guy, but no scientist, nor math teacher.
Suddenly the school schedules were changed and Kyle was teaching year 11 dual science chemistry on top of the already dual science year 11 physics and biology.
Why did biologist not teach all the biology classes?
No one ever knew.
Biologist should have taught all biology classes.
Kyle should have taught all physics classes.
Chemist should teach all chemistry classes.
However, that was never the case and worsened as the year progressed.
Assistant gym teacher substituted for 1 one week.
The following Monday he arrived to school assuming he was still covering the class schedule.
When he found no students in his room, he asked the office.
Oh sorry they said, he was no longer needed.
He was the last person to find out.
Assistant gym teacher was never paid for his one week of illegal service.
The school schedule was radically changed to eliminate chemist and assistant gym teacher.
After three or four school schedule changes following the redundancy of Chemist, the school was in even more disarray than when it began.
Never once did biologist and Kyle have a list of the students who should attend the classes.
When a new group of students came to our rooms, we would pass around a paper and ask the student to write their names.
We had no idea who should or should not be in our classrooms.
We never did.
Thus attendance was a joke.
Administration never asked about attendance nor did administration actually know who should be in our classes either.
Occasionally Keith would ask for copies of our teacher class schedules because he could not find the official copies.
Were there official copies?
They probably were on a computer somewhere.
The school was a smoldering fire before and the flames continued to grow as the months past.
Still there were not enough books for science students.
There were no teaching materials.
The laboratory equipment was in disarray.
When Kyle and Biologist did have a free hour to grade they would need to spend the school break time or lunch time supervising children outside.
Also Kyle would spend hours photocopying books.
This meant we had less time to eat, to visit the bathroom, or even grade papers.
Moreover, often free periods for planning and grading were used as substitution periods for missing teachers.
The missing teacher's schedule would be distributed to the free class periods of the other teachers or classes would be combined with other random classes.
Effectively we had no free periods.
Keith would not pay a substitute.
Was the administration organized enough to find substitutes?
Despite the lack of fundamental school supplies, House Points (HP) was an essential part of the BIC weekly activity.
Mondays and Fridays an extra fifteen minutes per morning were dedicated to counting HP rather than teaching classes.
HP were a practice in futility.
At the end of class students would ask the teacher to sign the agendas and give them 2 points.
This consumed precious time that could have been used to grading or preparing classes.
During Monday morning assembly we would waste 15 minutes listening to sappy speeches and counting HP for two competing groups within the school, groups that competed for nothing.
The accumulation of points had no end game.
It was just a waste time.
HP did not create community nor anything else.
In March though, Keith did add carrots and sticks to the HP, more about that later.
School dragged on with few textbooks to go around.
Kyle would spend time photocopying books rather than preparing classes.
After a parent complained about the lack of books and teaching materials, the Keith and Julia Williams the Head Teacher, kept Kyle after school to belittle him.
Keith said BIC had plenty of great books and the science information in them had not changed since Darwin's time.
Kyle was stupefied at this statement.
Science changes every year as humanity learns more about our planet and the universe.
Keith was obviously illiterate about technology and science.
Julia suggested Kyle use BBC bites as teaching materials for the classes. Kyle explored the BBC bites.
Unfortunately, BBC bites only works in the UK.
Later Julia admitted she used a VPN that made her internet seem as if it were in the UK and thus BBC bites worked for her at home.
BIC did not have a VPN and was not going to buy one, so this idea was dead on arrival.
Eventually books did arrive the week of the first parent's meetings, October fifteenth.
At the meetings Kyle told parents the good news was books arrived.
The bad news is we are months behind schedule now.
Besides he was a physicist overloaded with biology and chemistry classes.
With the new books should have come the new teaching materials.
Kyle asked Keith about the teaching materials.
His response was, "teaching materials cost a lot of money."
Despite this Kyle asked the wife Belinda if she had ordered the materials.
She replied that she did not know.
So Kyle looked through her email and found the order.
The vendor responded that an email address was needed to complete the order.
Belinda had ignored or not understood the vendors request.
Kyle forwarded the email to himself from Belindas computer.
He communicated directly with the vendor during vacation to assure the teaching materials would be available after break.
October 26th, the last day before a vacation, the children were allowed to dress in costume for Halloween, if the student paid two euros.
Why did students need to pay 2 euro to wear a costume
Why was any money involved?
Parents were already paying plenty of money.
School resumed November fifth, and a few days later the electronic teaching materials became available.
Kyle shared the materials with Biologist.
Keith doubtfully knew the electronic materials existed or were even possible since he knew nothing about computers.
Kyle printed many worksheets for the year 10 and 11 classes in order to review the materials previously covered, as well as fill in gaps of missing materials.
He spent all his time grading worksheets until exam time before Christmas.
Midterm exams were not explained to Kyle.
As far as he knew, there were no specific rules about test just like the rest of the school had no actual rules.
He prepared exams based on the materials covered in class.
Unfortunately for him, the British system does not test students on what they have already studied in years 10 and 11.
He discovered this the hard way.
A parent complained that Kyle's exams were not IGCSE exams.
True, they were not IGCSE exams.
Kyle did not know where such exams could be found.
Keith and Julia told Kyle he would retest all the year 11 children after winter vacation and administer past GCSE exams.
However, they never told him where to find such exams and the answers to them.
Kyle informed the year 11 students that they would be retested in January, and the children were not happy.
Furthermore, this would consume precious learning time for the year 11 students.
Instead of learning new materials, they would spend six class periods taking exams after the new year.
Grades and comments for the midterm reports were chaos.
The grading in BIC was totally opinion based and not based on merit.
The grading range was from 0 to 9 and 9 was 'impossible', unless the student was the best in the world.
Again, Kyle was unfamiliar with the British system and no one explained the grade range to him.
Biologist tried to help, but he was busy with his work.
The first time Kyle submitted grades, he was told they were too high.
Next he was told they were too low.
So he put them in the middle.
A few students should have high marks and Julia told Kyle these girls get 7 and no less.
So he gave those girls seven.
In a Whatsapp message from Julia to Kyle, she wrote, "I am altering a few [Year] 8 and [Year] 9 grades across the board as many appear to be too high."
To which he could only respond 'Ok.'
As the term ended, a Maths teacher left BIC and transferred to another school.
Would Keith hire a replacement?
No he would not even though he knew about her departure months in advance.
After the New Year's holiday, the year 11 students became obstinate as they wallowed in the schools chaos and the foreboding IGCSE exams in May.
Kyle was barely able to direct them as they were totally uninterested and combative.
He did not have the time or energy to fix all the missed learning they suffered at the BIC.
Furthermore, Kyle was completely overwhelmed with the new class schedule.
Beginning in January he would teach:
- Year 12 chemistry (year 12 physics was removed by Keith even though the student paid for the month of January.
Keith rhetorically asked, "What's the point in teaching her?" )
- Year 11 Biology, Chemistry, Physics
- Year 10 Biology, Chemistry, Physics
- Year 9 Biology, Chemistry, Physics
- Year 8 Biology, Chemistry
- Year 7 low maths 2 times per week
- Year 8 low maths 1 time per week
- Year 8 high maths 1 time per week
- Year 9 low maths 1 time per week
- Year 10 low maths 1 time per week
- Year 11 low maths 1 time per week
What teacher could ever prepare so many different classes?
Who could memorize all those children's names and keep track of attendance and grades for so many different subjects and students?
Furthermore, most of the math classes had three different teachers: head Maths teacher, Kyle, and Business teacher.
Business teacher started after the new year.
He was not good with maths and should not teach math much less such crazy maths schedule as this one.
Despite the chaotic schedule, the year 10 class was stellar.
The students were lively, engaged and fun to teach.
Kyle gave them more effort but just a little more as he was overwhelmed.
Year 9 was a discipline war every class period.
The entire school disliked year 9 and it was a large disrespectful group.
Nonetheless, the administration did almost nothing to tame year 9 children.
Secondary Gym teacher tried talking with year 9 a few times, but it was in vane without administrative backing and concrete consequences.
The year 11 students completed the second round of exams in January. T
he results were bad and the children were unhappy to say the least.
This fomented more unrest in the school.
Year 11 spoke to head Maths teacher as he was the longest serving and a well-respected teacher in the BIC.
Maths created a plan that could help the students and Keith accepted Math's plan.
Did Keith ever have a plan?
The plan was to exonerate year 11 from Monday morning assembly and Maths would teach them something about GCSE during that time.
Also, biologist would teach year 11 biology for six to eight weeks.
Then year 11 would return to Kyle for more chemistry and maybe physics if there was time.
Also, the year 11 students would take yet another IGCSE exam.
However, these exams would have lots of questions removed.
If the students had not covered the question's topic, then the question was removed.
This resulted in better test scores, yet unrealistic test scores.
Again the students wasted 6 class periods on tests rather than learning new information.
In a similar fashion Kyle and biologist agreed to swap the year 9 students for one month.
During that month biologist would teach biology and Kyle would teach physics.
This allowed just enough books for the year 9 students in the subjects.
Curiously and confusingly at the BIC, science students jump to the next level book after the winter holiday.
For example, the year 9 students began using the year 10 level books in January.
The same was true for all the science classes.
Neither biologist nor Kyle understood why this was so, but that was the BIC method.
However, there were not enough books for the year 9 students, which is one reason why biologist and Kyle chose to swap the classes, as well as teach the subject in which they were best trained.
They swapped classes without consulting the administration since administration seemed worthless.
Returning to house points, as the school year progressed, students were less and less interested in the futile activity.
However, for Keith it was important.
In early March, he incentivized the house points by saying if a student collected less than 40 points per week, those students would spend a day outside of his office.
Those students who gathered more than 55 points would be allowed to not wear uniforms on the final Friday of the month.
Following this announcement Keith came to the year 10 class register and made a bigger stick for them.
He threatened that if the students did not collect enough points, than he would not allow them to take the IGCSE exams next year.
Kyle thought this is absurd!
How could a school director even fathom such a ludicrous idea?
Kyle during his time at BIC worked on his legal status in Spain
As an American, immigrating to Europe is difficult.
He did obtain a NIE (number identifier of foreigners) through the purchase of a car.
With the NIE number he also obtained a social security number.
With these numbers he was able to open a bank account in Spain;
however, the bank wanted a nomina which is a form of direct payment from the employer.
Thus on Wednesday March 20th, Kyle presented the NIE and social security number to Keith and BIC in hopes of further normalizing his status in Spain.
The next day March 21st Keith told Kyle, "you don't work here anymore after today. A parent complained about you and I'm through with you".
Keith did not offer to pay Kyle anything. Kyle responded to Keith, "I work here and I'll be here tomorrow like normal."
"No you can't do that" replied Keith.
"If you don't want me here then you will have to call the police and have me arrested."
Then Kyle walked out of BIC.
The following morning Kyle did as he said he would.
First he arrived early, but he waited at the Mercadona across the street in hopes that some students might join him to walk into the school together.
Keith saw Kyle and approached him at Mercadona.
Kyle recorded everything.
Keith invited him into the school to "solve the problem."
Kyle refused to follow him anywhere and told him he would go to work as usual.
The video recording dissuaded Keith and he quickly returned to the school.
A few minutes before 9am when school begins, Kyle entered the school from the rear as Kyle always did.
The year 10 students followed him up the stairs.
The bus driver, Paul ran up the stairs and prevented Kyle from accessing the top floor.
Paul repeatedly told Kyle to go to Keith's office, which he refused.
Kyle told Paul, you are preventing me from going to work.
Kyle and Paul were recorded by Chemist since Kyle invited chemist to record everything.
Keith eventually came up the stairs and demanded Kyle go to his office.
Kyle refused and insisted on going to work as normal.
Instead, Kyle, Chemist, Paul, and Keith waited on the second floor for the police to arrive.
There were no students present during the standoff on the second floor.
Keith tried to belittle and persuade Kyle and Chemist.
Any time Keith spoke both Kyle and Chemist recorded him.
The recording led to Keith's silence.
The police arrived and Kyle spoke with the police in Spanish.
Neither Keith nor Paul could speak Spanish.
Keith again asked to go to his office so that the students could begin the school day.
Kyle knew he had made enough of a spectacle of BIC, so he translated for Keith.
Kyle and one police officer enter the office.
Keith stayed outside.
The police checked Kyle's backpack, his videos, and his documents.
The police said, you have nothing dangerous with you.
There are no children in you videos, and you obviously worked here.
Later the police spoke to Keith while Kyle and Chemist waited outside.
Keith agreed to pay Kyle a partial salary for the month of March and Kyle was able to retrieve his microwave from the classroom.
After which Kyle and Chemist left the premises March 22nd of 2019.