Tony Gurr

How to Spot and ‘Nail’ an EDUfraud!

In Conferences, Educational Leadership, News & Updates (from the CBO), Our Schools, Our Universities, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness on 21/10/2017 at 1:23 pm


As I was finishing up the 2017-18 Conference Calendar yesterday, I was also glancing at a couple of the more recent conference programmes and biodata of speakers. It dawned on me that so many speakers describe themselves as consultants, trainers, teachers and coaches – all in the same breathe!

Fraud alert (sign)

Oh, and the worst one is when they feel the need to tell you ‘I’m the FOUNDER of so-and-so (insert Company Name here)’ – that’s when you know you have got an egotistical twerp who loves to exaggerate or stretch the truth to breaking point!

I did actually talk about these wonderfully-talented, multi-skilled individuals – who love nothing more than to project the image that they are ‘the smartest and most experienced guys (or gals) in the room’in an earlier post.

Lucky for us…they very rarely are!


However, I did not really come up with any suggestions or solutions for how we can ‘pop their little bubbles’, expose them for what they are, and protect ourselves from them:

Snake Oil Sellers (TG ver) 080517


Blog Post (Curric Pt 02) Image 02 230717


It’s actually not that difficult to sniff them out:

  • Their biodata just seems too good to be true!
  • Their actual age just does not seem to match the number of years experience they claim to have!
  • Their ‘sessions’ are just not as authentic or passionate as those from ‘real’ teachers who really know their stuff – and smell like they have been ripped off from some blog listicle!


I know, I know…you just can’t trust anyone these days!


Questions (Chinese proverb and donkey) Ver 03


I’ve often found that a good way to sort the wheat from the chaff is to corner one of these EDUfrauds and Snake-Oil Salesmen and ask them a few simple questions:

  1. So, how many actual (full-time) years of experience have you had in the classroom?
  2. What type of teaching qualifications do you have? Where did you get them? Was there a practicum component?
  3. What about your coaching qualifications – where / when did you get those? Did you complete every module?
  4. And, teacher training? What type of experience and training have you had for that? Where they accredited programmes?
  5. So, a consultant? I guess you have an MBA or PhD, then?


Some of these chaps can be quite entertaining (with their unlikely but well-rehearsed stories) and are often voluble and verbally facile – so put them on the spot:

  1. What type of formal leadership positions have you held in institutions? How long did you hold these positions?
  2. What type of training did you find most useful to help you succeed in these positions?
  3. What successes are you most proud of implementing when you were in these roles?
  4. Tell me about 3 or 4 of your long-term coaching relationships. What areas have you helped clients develop in? How many coachees do you currently have?
  5. What about your consultancy projects? Could you give me a list of 5-6 recent clients that I can approach for references?


These questions are also great when these people come cold-calling trying to ‘flog their wares’ – and really help you sort out who has the experience and talent to help you…from those who are just ‘faking it till they make it’.


Take care…sadly, it’s a jungle out there!


That having been said, it’s always good to know:


Photo Credit – Elwyn Gabriels (“Keser döner sap döner gün gelir hesap döner.”)


  1. I could never be a consultant.  I’ve only got a PGCE, an ELT Cert. and 29 years teaching experience, no other qualifications. Laurence Raw, Baskent University. Department of English, Faculty of Education,Ankara 06810, Turkey. (Twitter)

    • Laurance,

      The PGCE (along with your PhD and mile long list of publications) should help 😉 The thing is…it’s probably your dislike of allthingsCURRICULUM that might hold you back…


      • Many people forget that the PGCE is a ‘real’ teaching qualification (like the DELTA – for ELT teachers). However, the CELTA does not fall into the same category – the CELTA means that you are are a ‘newly initiated teacher’ (with very limited training and skills). CELTA centres, with integrity, will insist that CELTA holders work for a minimum of two years (full-time) before they begin a DELTA programme.

        The same is true of so-called ‘Masters Programmes’ – many institutions have just become ‘certificate factories’…that issue a qualification simply because one pays one’s fees. Any Masters programme that does not meet the DELTA practicum standards, in the opinion of many professional ELT institutions, is not worth its salt!

        Do I agree with this? Yes! Teaching should NOT be a profession you ‘buy’ your way into…nor should it be a ‘springboard’ for a commercial career in education for those who realise they are not that ‘good’ at it (or feel it is too ‘tough’ for them)!


  2. Brilliant post. There are not that many ‘consultants’ here in Japan but there are a number of people flogging wares without doing an arse-elbow check. Cheers!

    • Thx for dropping in, Marc!

      I know exactly what you mean and know this problem is really widespread. People with more ambition (for making a quick buck) than experience / talent are not what our students need…

      Keep in touch,


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