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Melanie Butler explains how we calculate the rankings

The EL Gazette rankings are based entirely on the summary statements published by the British Council. The statements appear on the bottom of the first page of every full report, published on https://www.britishcouncil.org/education/accreditation/centres/. From the summary statement, we assign one point for each ‘area of strength’ listed and deduct a point for each area that ‘needs improvement’ to arrive at the ‘net areas of strength.’

The British Council inspection covers up to 15 areas. Thirteen of these areas are applicable to all centres: strategic and quality management, staff management, student administration, publicity, premises and facilities, learning resources, academic staff profile, academic management, course design, learner management, teaching, care of students and leisure opportunities.

Two areas, accommodation and safeguarding under 18s do not apply to centres which do not offer accommodation and/or who do not enrol students under the age of 18. So, most centres have 15 potential areas of strength, some have 14 and a handful have only 13.

Each statement includes the age range of students accepted by the school and notes all areas where a centre is strong and all areas which, in the judgement of the inspectors, need improvement. Here is an example: “This private language school offers courses in general English for adults (16+). The inspection report noted a need for improvement in the area of publicity. Strengths were noted in the areas of staff management, care of students, accommodation and leisure opportunities.”

So, how do we calculate the rankings? We start by noting the number of areas a centre is inspected under: 13, 14 or 15. In the above example, the school takes under 18s and it offers accommodation, so it is inspected under all 15 areas.

Then we count the areas of strength listed, in this case 4. Next, we deduct any areas with a need for improvement. This school has 4 areas of strength and 1 area with a need for improvement, so it has 3 ‘net areas of strength.’

Next, we should divide the net areas of strength by the number of areas inspected under. However, 10 per cent of accredited centres have passed inspection with net areas of strength equal to zero. Another 4 per cent have passed with a negative net score because they have more areas with need for improvement than areas of strength. The lowest ‘score’ a centre has currently been awarded and still passed the inspection is -3.

When you throw zeros and negative numbers into statistical calculations you get odd results. Besides, all these centre have passed their inspection, which must in itself be worth some points.

So, we use a ‘range modifier’ of 4. That means we add 4 to each centre’s raw score and 4 to the number of areas they have been inspected under. This pulls all scores into the positive range.

Going back to our example, we add the range modifier 4 to the 3 net areas of strength, giving us 7; and we add 4 to the total areas of inspection, giving us 19. We divide 7 by 19, giving us a score of 0.37 or 3.7 out of 10.

All centres are thus given a standardised score, with a minimum of 0 and a maximum of 10, regardless of how many areas they are inspected on. Currently, only schools scoring 6.3 or above are listed in our Centres of Excellence ranking. This roughly equates to a minimum of 7 net areas of strength, or 8 for those centres that are inspected under all 15 areas.

Click here to get a PDF of the EL Gazette UK Language Centre Rankings 2019

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