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Case Study: Isca School of English, Devon

Sarah Tomlinson, principal of Isca, grew up next door to the family school she now runs. “I remember as a child watching my grandmother making bread. She did all the cooking for students.”

In 1979, her father Richard, a French teacher, took over as principal, while her mother Jo ran welfare. “I remember her interviewing host families, asking herself, ‘Would I be happy for my children to live here?’”

Her father, “the soul of the school,” had a passion for language teaching and an unerring memory for every student. “Many of them come back to visit. The minute they walk in, he remembers their name.”

Like her Dad, Sarah is a born teacher and linguist. “Teaching EFL in Spain and then French and Spanish in British secondary schools, I always loved teaching teenagers,” even before her father asked her to come back and, eventually, take over at Isca. Her Spanish husband, Javier Diez, runs the office, her siblings help out.

The school will be 55 years-old next year. Recently, some German twins arrived to study. “Their grandmother had studied here and then their mother!” It’s all about family.

Image courtesy of ISCA
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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