Whilst flicking through the papers last month, I noticed that the movers and shakers of the British fashion industry had once more got a taste of the Downing Street Champagne.
As London Fashion Week got under way, Theresa May hosted dozens of top designers, fashion house execs and rising talents at Number Ten. This followed a tradition started by previous incumbents Sarah Brown and Samantha Cameron.
‘British fashion is of huge importance, contributing £28 billion to the UK economy and supporting nearly 900,000 jobs,’ gushed the prime minister to the press. And the journalists, for their part, lapped it all up: May’s soiree got across-the-board coverage.
Now, this is not intended to be a curmudgeonly attack on the likes of Vogue and Burberry. But what if we compare the treatment dished out to the fashionistas with that of an industry that is seldom in fashion among ministers and media types? I refer, of course, to English language teaching.
ELT is itself a golden goose to the UK economy. Its export revenue was estimated at £1.2 billion in 2014 alone. And it is surely overdue some official recognition, a little sip of the PM’s Dom Perignon.
The profession has been beset by worries this year over the impact of Brexit and terror attacks. Yet, according to EL Gazette’s report in July, in most regions its customers have streamed in at a rate that compares favourably to 2016.
So, yes, we deserve thanks and praise from the powers that be, and the boost to our self-esteem that this will bring.
We deserve the sight of Theresa May congratulating teaching guru Luke Meddings on the popularity of his pedagogical approach.
Moreover, we deserve to get our faces and voices in the mainstream media – perhaps then the public will get a decent understanding of what we do and why it matters.
We all yearn for English language teaching to move on permanently from its stereotype as a backpackers’ profession.
Getting into the corridors of power might be one way to achieve that.
Warren Turner works as a general English teacher at Bloomsbury International London by day and as an Ielts teacher at a Bedfordshire hospital by night.