Paisley College students file complaints
Teacher/director denies allegations
Johna Gosbee remembers shaking as she worked on a client’s hair at Paisley College in New Glasgow. She didn’t know what she was doing and says she needed her instructor’s help. But her teacher, Pam Hansen who is director of the college, was busy working on a client of her own and couldn’t come.
It was a common experience, claims Gosbee, who attended the school from September until recently when she decided she didn’t want to put any more money into a college that she claims wasn’t teaching her.
“I only have 200 hours left on my course and I’d be done, but I’m not willing to give her the rest of my tuition money to have a shot at writing a provincial exam which I know I’m going to fail and then be out of $11,000 and not have a certificate,” she said.
A majority of the school’s other students have left as well, several student said. They say there is only one who is attending now. The school has had up to 12 at one point.
Gosbee and other former students of Paisley College, which is located on Summit Avenue have brought forward their concerns because they say they don’t want anyone else to spend their money there thinking it’s a great place when it’s not.
“People think they’re going there as a service, but they don’t really understand what’s going on behind the closed doors of the college,” Gosbee said.
The Department of Labour and Advanced Education is now investigating those concerns.
Addressing the complaints in an email, Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education spokesperson Chrissy Matheson said: “Our priority is to ensure students of private career colleges are receiving a quality education and that their investment is protected. The Private Career Colleges division reviews complaints from students when the student is unable to resolve the complaint internally with the private career college.
Complaints are confidential. The division currently has two active, formal complaints from students of the Paisley College. We take all complaints very seriously, and these complaints are currently being investigated.”
Hansen, in an in person interview Tuesday denied the allegations saying that the students were always properly instructed before they worked on clients and that part of the learning process was the hands on training.
A copy of one of the complaints that has been submitted was given to The News by one of the students, Kesha Weir.
In her complaint, Weir stated that there was little to no formal instruction at Paisley College, with students given books to read but no teaching. Students weren’t given as many tests as they were supposed to and the ones they did get, they marked themselves. She states that students were performing services for paying clients when not properly taught or not taught at all.
In an interview she spoke of students being given clients to massage when they had never had any instruction on how to give a massage.
She also states that owner and instructor Hansen would have clients of her own booked for the entire period, which took her away from her responsibilities as an instructor.
Gosbee said when she first heard about the college, it sounded like a great opportunity with a small class size and the chance to finish in nine months as opposed to longer courses offered at community colleges. She said it’s been a disappointment and she has serious concerns about the potential risks to clients that could be happening.
She mentioned one instance in which a student was doing a pedicure on a diabetic but was unsure how.
“She was made to do it anyway, which is wrong,” Gosbee said.
She reiterated that Hansen never seemed to have time for the students, but rather seemed to use them as a means to make money for herself.
“She has a working salon in this building that she has clients come in that she does. She’s making money off clients, making money off our tuition and making money off our services.”
None of the student’s allegations have been proven.
Hansen said that her form of instruction wasn’t traditional, but as far as she knows it has always followed the guidelines. She claims she was blindsided when she heard that the students had lodged formal complaints and says they never talked to her about them first.
“No student is expected to perform a service on a client without first being instructed on that service,” Hansen said.
She said every client who comes to the school knows they are being worked on by students who are learning and sign a waiver to that effect.
She said the required amount of theory by the Department of Labour and Advanced Education is 40 per cent but that can come at any point in the course and didn’t have to be spread out evenly through the course. She said wants her students to learn by doing in an environment similar to what they’ll end up in.
“It’s not the typical high school, stand in front of the class lecture. I do things differently. It doesn’t mean it’s right or wrong. It’s different,” Hansen said. “I offer the most hands-on experience that I possibly can, because it’s real life scenarios. That’s where you gain the most experience.”
She said she has her own clients she works on to provide the students an opportunity to shadow her. If they don’t take that opportunity, she said it’s their choice.
Pressed as to whether any students actually take that opportunity, Hansen said: “The dedicated ones do.”
Several of the students have met with a lawyer in hopes of getting their tuition money reimbursed.
“We just want our money back,” Weir said. “I’m not going to walk out of there with a certificate and not know what I’m doing.”
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