Sunday, May 26, 2024

An English summer

Our special supplement will help you decide where to get the best English instruction the UK has to offer

Some things in education are completely predictable. For example, on average, schools that deal with one age group all year round are likely to be good at it during the summer too.

So, as we report on page 22 and 23, boarding schools who have been looking after children in residential accommodation for several hundred years are, generally speaking, better at doing it in the summer than language schools which, from September to June, specialise in teaching adults. And, as we show on pages 24 to 25, universities are pretty good at offering courses which introduce teenagers to the university experience.

Nor is it surprising, as these two features reveal, that one reason they’re better is that they offer the best terms and conditions to their teachers. Many summer school providers don’t believe they’re in the business of education at all, but in hospitality, and treat teachers like waiters who happen to know a little about grammar. As a parent who shelled out thousands

“Many summer school providers don’t believe they’re in the business of 
education at all, but in hospitality, and treat  teachers like waiters”

to send my child to summer language courses overseas, I really cared that she had good teachers.

With parents in mind, we created our ranking of the top 50 summer course providers on pages 19 to 21, to focus in on the areas that the parents who pay for such courses worry about and, once again, the specialists generally came out tops. Whether they were boarding schools, like St Edmunds, specialist summer providers like Discovery, or year-round schools like Bell and Churchill House, who have been in the summer school business for decades, they were more likely to make the grade. As for the school groups, it was year-round schools like IH Bristol, St Giles Highgate and CES Edinburgh, rather than the chain summer operations, that stood out.

Not everything about this summer is predictable. Will Covid surge again? Will there be enough teachers in a world where everyone is changing jobs? And, as we ask on page 26, will the UK Government sort out the bureaucratic dog’s breakfast that is the post-Brexit visa system?

Whatever happens, two countries are likely to benefit. We confidently predict that, barring pandemic chaos, Malta and Ireland will be fully booked. In fact, we as report on page 27, many of their schools are running out of summer spaces already. The other thing they’re short of, at least to judge by the job adverts, is teachers.

MELANIE BUTLER, EDITOR IN CHIEF

Images courtesy of PHOTO SHUTTERSTOCK and Library
Melanie Butler
Melanie Butler
Melanie started teaching EFL in Iran in 1975. She worked for the BBC World Service, Pearson/Longman and MET magazine before taking over at the Gazette in 1987 and also launching Study Travel magazine. Educated in ten schools in seven countries, she speaks fluent French and Spanish and rather rusty Italian.
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