News and media


Scottish company launches online training for Chinese English teachers

26 June 2013

Highlands-based company TEFL Scotland to double their workforce to develop teacher training courses with Chinese partner

A Scottish business which began life in a garden shed in the Highlands is expanding into new international markets – the first being the world’s second largest economy. Representatives of TEFL Scotland are in Beijing today to sign a partnership agreement with the largest online training provider in China.

Directors and founders Joe and Jennifer Hallwood are signing a partnership agreement between TEFL Scotland Ltd. and Zhi Bo Hong Yuan Co.,Ltd – a wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Website for Primary and Middle School Teachers’ Further Education. Operating as, it is one of the largest online training providers in China and trains four million teachers every year.

TEFL Scotland and are to jointly develop and promote TEFL distance and classroom training and international culture exchanges to English teachers across China.

This partnership – worth an estimated £1 million over three years - will result in TEFL Scotland doubling its workforce in the Highlands, bringing an expected 10 new jobs to their Dingwall base.

Joe and Jennifer met while teaching English in Greece and began the company after returning to the UK and marrying. TEFL Scotland was founded in October 2008 in Beauly in the Scottish Highlands on a budget of a few hundred pounds. The business grew to £1m turnover in just three years now employs 13 people in Scotland – 10 in Dingwall and three in Edinburgh - and trains around 5,000 people a year to go abroad and teach English.  The company has received ongoing support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Scottish Development International (SDI) to ensure they can continue to grow the business in a sustainable way.

Joining Joe and Jennifer at the signing ceremony is Scottish Government Minister for External Affairs and International Development, Humza Yousaf, Anne McColl, Chief Executive of Scottish Development International (SDI) and Mr. Yuming Liu, Chief Editor

Mr Yousaf said:

“Joe and Jennifer’s expansion to China is a fantastic Scottish success story, and hugely important for Scotland’s education sector and the Highlands. This announcement is a ringing endorsement of Scotland’s world-class education and teacher training provision and we are keen to continue sharing Scottish expertise with China to the benefit of both our nations.”

Joe Hallwood said:

"We're delighted that Mr Yousaf can join us at the signing ceremony and that the Scottish Government is placing such a large emphasis on the growth and global development of small businesses. Without the support of organisations such as SDI and HIE this opportunity would not have been possible. This is our first step into the Asian language learning market and we're very much looking forward to working with  Hopefully this is the start of a long and successful business partnership, and one which will present further opportunities down the line."

TEFL Scotland were introduced to after an exploratory trip to Beijing in November 2012, part funded by SDI.

Anne MacColl, Chief Executive of Scottish Development International said:

"At Scottish Development International we work to support ambitious Scottish companies to develop and grow in overseas markets. In recent years we've doubled the number of companies we've assisted to trade in China, highlighting an interest and enthusiasm for exploring opportunities in this market. TEFL Scotland is a leading example of the success which comes from of a targeted international growth strategy.  We are pleased they have found such a strong partner in to help realise their ambitions. "

Nicola Ewing, Head of Business Growth for Highlands and Islands Enterprise, commented:

“TEFL Scotland brings nearly £1.5m in revenue to the Highlands and has developed a well-earned reputation across the UK and beyond for providing quality, accredited courses for English teachers. As ambitious and innovative entrepreneurs, Joe and Jennifer are continually looking for ways to improve and expand the business. At HIE, we are delighted at this new partnership with one of the biggest training providers in China and, working with our colleagues at Scottish Development International, we will continue to help and support them in every way we can.”

  • TEFL Scotland is a training organisation which offers TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) courses across the UK and Ireland
  • Joe Hallwood was a finalist for IOD Emerging Director of the Year 2013 and TEFL Scotland was a finalist for FSB Online Business of the Year 2013. TEFL Scotland is nominated for Scottish Business Awards Online Business of the Year 2013. In 2010, Jennifer Hallwood won HBWC (Highland Business Women’s Club) and ASB (Association of Scottish Businesswomen) Most Enterprising Business of the Year.
  • TEFL Scotland trained nine volunteers from Edinburgh in teaching English as a foreign language for no cost, to better prepare them for their work with underprivileged children in Mongolia this summer.
  • was founded by Northeast Normal University, and is led by the university in cooperation with 18 provincial normal universities, education colleges and training organisations. As a large professional website, it provides degree and non-degree training for primary school and secondary school teachers and principals throughout China, and is the core and foundation website for the national online education network.
  • TEFL Scotland has received support for strategy workshops, leadership training courses, exploration trips to China, MIT entrepreneurship training and a system re-build. TEFL Scotland also employed three graduates under the TalentScotland Graduate Placement scheme through HIE and recently employed an International Business Manager funded in part by SDI.

Leave a comment

Back to top