Vacancy Status: Closed

Role: Director of English Language

Client: British Council (BC)

Business Unit: English & Examinations Strategic Business Unit Location: London

Remuneration: Competitive salary, plus bonus and civil service pension, 32 days holiday & impressive range of family friendly policies

Status: Indefinite

Purpose of Job:
To lead the British Council’s worldwide English Language business reaching 110 million English learners, teachers and policymakers each year with a turnover of £200m predominantly generated in competitive commercial markets, and significantly grow both impact and income over the next few years.

To lead and inspire direct reports i.e. the Heads of English Teacher Development and Public Education, Head English Teaching Centres, Head Digital, Broadcast and Print English Learning and Head English Research & Development and ensure they and their activities are fully integrated into a holistic British Council English offer.

To collaborate with the Director Examinations and the Director Business Innovation and Partnership Development to ensure a joined up approach to English across teaching, learning and assessment and partnerships.

To provide strategic global leadership and direction to overseas based regional Managers in English.

For the job holder to contribute as a member of the English & Examinations SBU leadership team to reinforcing the BC’s reputation as a world authority in English language.


Context and Environment:
The English and Exams Strategic Business Unit (E&E) is one of three strategic business units in the British Council (the others being Arts and Education & Society) all of which have the remit to build trust for the people of the UK by building relationships through aspects of our language and culture. E&E achieves this by enabling people across the world to access the life-changing education and work opportunities that are created by learning English or gaining valuable UK qualifications. The Director English sits alongside the Director Examinations, and the Director Business Innovation and Partnership Development as part of the SBU leadership team reporting to the Director of the English & Examinations SBU.


In English, we engage with English learners, teachers and policymakers worldwide. We operate direct (face to face) teaching through over 2,000 British Council employed teachers in 50 countries. Beyond this we engage with 110m million teachers and learners in many more countries through policy and teacher development work in schools as well as in (or with) further and higher education institutions and via self- access English learning products –publications, radio, TV, digital and mobile apps - which we design and market. The British Council operates in challenging and competitive environments both directly and with commercial and non-commercial partners.

Apart from the leadership given from the Executive Board member, this role will provide the direct leadership for the challenge of growing our work in this area. This is a complex people management role with a significant requirement to get results though others and will work closely with the large globally dispersed English team.

Accountabilities, responsibilities and main duties:
The key challenges facing this role are to:

  • Implement a strategy for growth in direct teaching, public education systems work and self-access learning, identifying new sources of funding to achieve this.
  • Ensure we have an integrated English offer across our three business streams, and identify synergies with our English proficiency exams business and innovation and partnerships work.
  • Increase our capacity to generate new content and product to support the growth of our business streams, and that these are tailored, where necessary, to the needs of the markets we operate in.
  • Build the capacity globally to support our growth strategy.
  • Continue to build the British Council's reputation as a world authority in English Language.

This role is a leadership role and must move the business forward into uncharted waters. This will include collaborating with the Director Examinations and Director Business Innovation and Partnership Development to develop a model which achieves the greater impact we are seeking in English and the income to support and sustain this and to contribute towards the British Council’s broad cultural relations offer. These developments will mean that the role must be prepared to work with issues where there is not an established framework. It is also important that the job-holder works with the head of HR to role model leadership behaviours and to nurture and develop talent in English to take the business forward.

Key relationships:
Internal – Director English & Examinations, Director Examinations, Director Business Innovation and Partnership Development and the remainder of the E&E SBU leadership team including colleagues in HR, Marketing, Communications and Finance., Regional Directors, and overseas based regional English teams.
External – ELT academic thought leaders, donors, current and potential business partners, Education Ministries or Ministries of Education or Teacher Education thought leaders.

Other important features or requirements of the job: This role requires an individual with experience of leading a globally dispersed operation and who is able to inspire and integrate at a high level. It is likely that the job holder will have a successful track record in ELT or Education management with a business focus.

A UK or EU passport is required together with Child Protection checks.

Person Specification:


Creating Shared Purpose (most demanding)
Connecting with Others (most demanding)
Making It Happen (most demanding)

Skills and Knowledge

Demonstrable knowledge of English Language business
Creating Shared Purpose
Able to develop strategy into working plan for complex operation
Understanding of resource planning (people, finance)


Leadership in a commercial and international environment
Demonstrable track record of success in ELT or international management
Responsibility for professional and commercial goals


Experience of working with digital/new media in this sector


Degree or equivalent


Higher qualification in ELT e.g. DELTA

To apply please email your CV with current remuneration details to Alison Harkness at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call Elaine Rippon on 01477 534491 to discuss further. Closing date: 5 October 2012