Thursday, May 30, 2024
HomeApril 2023Issue 484Agents beware of ignoring BC advice

Agents beware of ignoring BC advice

Reading the reports can save a lot of problems, Melanie Butler reports

Most Agents choose a school based on whether it has been accredited by the British Council without looking at any of the data the British Council Inspectors have published about it.

While the summer schools listed here are among the best in the EFL world they are not typical of the sector. For example, all the language schools operators whose summer scores have been listed here have obtained at least 9 areas of strength on Inspection. The most common score for summer providers is just three.

Nine providers currently have zero areas of strength or a net negative scores – which means they have more Needs for Improvement than strengths.

Worse still – three summer operations currently have their accreditation suspended awaiting a new inspection. One has failed Staff Management, Publicity, Academic Management and Teaching another went down in Student Welfare and Safeguarding.

Of Safeguarding in the third, Inspectors write: “There is insufficient provision for the safeguarding of students under the age of 18 within the school; and in the leisure activities provided. A safeguarding policy is in place but key staff have not been trained. Recruitment and supervision systems are insufficiently robust and record keeping is poor.”

How are agents supposed to know that these schools are in trouble? Simple. They are supposed to read the inspection reports before they send children to the school.

The British system of accreditation inspection is very transparent: the full inspection reports for every operator are available for anyone to see on:

If a centre is suspended awaiting re-inspection the report will state “The summary statement has been withdrawn and should not be used.”

Failure to check the reports of individual schools can be a very expensive mistake. Some years ago a parent phoned me from Spain to complain about a summer school her daughter had been enrolled in: it had failed to pick her up at the airport, sent her to the wrong host family and put her in a class full of adults.

I checked online for the British Council report of the school in question; it has failed in safeguarding.

“Why did the agent recommend this school?” she shouted. I said she could complain to the British Council. “I’m a lawyer” said the woman, “Just send the report to me and I’ll sue the agent.”

Image courtesy of COPYRIGHT PEXELS.COM
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