Monday 05 October 2020


Neil Sandilands, Deputy Teaching Centre Manager, British Council Qatar

The British Council in Qatar was quick to respond to the challenges brought on by the pandemic. We returned our teaching products and services online within two-weeks of our March pause in Face-Face teaching and we were ready with a new offer in September to align with Qatar’s 4th Phase of resumption.  There have been many challenges and lots of learning along the way.

As Heraclitus said, “The only constant in life is change.” I can’t think of a time that this has ever been so true. If someone had told me at the beginning of the year that in September, we’d be developing guidance for our staff to identify how to safely break from wearing face masks, I wouldn’t have believed it.  But this is our reality, and I’m very proud to work with a team who has shown great resilience and creativity to face these challenges head on and find solutions, to keep our classes running and our students learning. At the front line of all this are our fantastic teachers.  

From April-August our teachers delivered 100% of our classes online. Our goal was to ensure the same level of specialist teacher support and feedback from our face-face classes. Our teachers went through intensive training in March to prepare for this and, while this has been challenging, they have enjoyed learning and sharing with each other. 

Our focus now is to support the resumption of ‘normal’ life by bringing back our classes as close to how we previously delivered them but as safely as possible following the guidance set by the Ministries of Public Health & Education.  This is a very difficult time for our customers, especially parents. They have some tough decisions to make around how their child will learn and I’m sure they will feel the weight of responsibility in getting that right. The principles behind our current classes are safety and great teaching. We have designed them in such a way that we minimise the class size and length as well as start times to ensure that interactions are kept well within safe limits. We also guarantee our teachers will deliver all the classes on our courses. While our adult classes are 100% face-face, our kids classes have one class in our centre with their teacher and a second class online, also with their teacher. Regardless of the delivery method, it’s the same great teaching. 

World Teacher’s Day is an opportunity to recognise progress and reflect on ways to counter the remaining challenges for the promotion of the teaching profession. In the last six months, our teachers have achieved great things, and on this special day, I would like to say a huge thank you to all of them for their resilience and professionalism - you have been amazing!

Notes to Editor

For further information please contact: 

Claire McAuley, Senior Communication Manager, Gulf Cluster - T +44 (0) 28 9019 2224 | M +44 (0) 7856524504

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We work with over 100 countries in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Last year we reached over 75 million people directly and 758 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. We make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government.