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Has Covid weakened the chain school links?

Melanie Butler examines the results of the chains for strengths and consistency

Calculating the rankings for chain schools has become more difficult during the time of Covid. In fact, 43% of schools which are no longer on the British Council list belonged to chains: two chains are now left with only two year-round schools and no longer qualify for our grid, while one has, as we understand it, had its accreditation suspended pending review.

We also have three chain owners and two school mergers where each remaining school now has two different sets of inspection results. Despite the fact that there have been no new fill inspections since early 2020, our chain rankings have changed.

As you can see from the grid, we have made some changes to who we include under a chain. To avoid confusion, we only include schools with the same brand name, so schools branded OISE not Regent, for example. And we use the inspection report for the school with that brand name in the case of a merger.

With chain rankings, most focus not only on the average score but also on the consistency of their outcomes. The standard deviation across all schools is three net strengths on inspection, so TEG, for example, which aims at the value end of the market, does just as well on consistency as our top chain overall, the not-for-profit The English Language Centre Group. Both operate only in the UK and, in UK hotel terms, TEG is the ever-popular Premier Inn while the three schools in the ELC group are the equivalent of Claridge’s, The Connaught and The Berkely. Previously independent, they are now owned by the Maybourne Group.

Of the international chains, the best performer, in terms of both average score on inspection and consistency, is EC. The Maltese-owned chain stands with five schools scoring an average of 11 net strengths and all within a three point band. Bell hits the same average score, but has a five point gap between its top two schools and the others.

Our other star is EF, with eight schools scoring an average of 10.05, all in a four point range, which puts it ahead of the two other brands, both of which still have more than six or more branded UK schools. Eurocentres, which has seen two changes of ownership, also scores 10, with all four schools within four points of each other.


*Under new ownership / *Year-round centre / *Junior operation / M merger of two schools / WD Results withdrawn, accreditation under review / ELC The English Language Centre Group / EUR Eurocentres / Kap Kaplan / LSI Language Studies International (does not include LSI Portsmouth) / OHI Oxford House International / Ox Int: Oxford International.

Images courtesy of PHOTO BY 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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