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EL Young learners: Big may not be beautiful

Melanie Butler writes 

How do chains and multi-centre operators fare in our analysis of young learner providers? The picture, as with the market segment as a whole, is mixed with some very high performers, a larger number scoring below average plus a mysterious gap in the middle.

There are three main types of providers analysed in the boxes below: the chains, which appear in italics, the stand-alone year-round language schools with summer operations, which are underlined, and the multi-centres providers. The two chains with differently branded providers are examined separately in the box at the bottom of the page.

Take the multi-centres first. The top-scoring organisation on the chart below, Discovery Summer, is in this category, as are Thames Valley, Summer Boarding and Exsportise – all of which score strongly. But no other multi-centre scores more than three strengths, with one strength being the most common outcome. It is also worth noting that no multi-centre group with more than eight centres scores above the national average of 3.75. Big, it seems, is not necessarily beautiful – although Churchill House, a stand-alone year-round language school with longer experience in summer schools, manages to score in the top 20 per cent nationally while running ten summer centres.

With the chains which operate year-round, the summer schools tend to underscore the adult provision. Oxford International Group (in the lower box) is an exception, with two of its brands achieving high scores. The Embassy summer operation matches the mean group score, and is slap bang in the missing middle with five points. St Giles and Stafford House also have a middle-rank score for junior programmes, but score higher than Embassy as a group.


italics = chain-school
underline = stand-alone year-round school with junior centres
NYI = not yet inspected
* = new inspection report pending

pSii table