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More UK language centres gone

A further 10 language centres have been removed from the British Council accreditation lists since last September, bringing the total number which have closed down or left the scheme since the outbreak of Covid to 110, or 22.5% of the total number of centres recorded by the Gazette in March 2020. Fourteen new centres have received accreditation in the same period.

Two centres previously marked as having left have re-appeared. Bell Young Learners St Albans saved their year-round  centre when the landlords closed down by taking on the lease themselves. Centre of Excellence stalwart, the University of Brighton, is also back on the list after a brief interval. With Bell St Albans open again, the year-round young learners’ specialists sector has escaped unscathed although the private language centre-owned junior summer schools have seen a 22.5% drop.

One-third of all adult year-round language schools, including those that also accept under-16s, have closed down or left the scheme. Among the university language centres the number is 27%. 

The junior market will also be buoyed by the news that China has dropped its strict Covid travel restrictions. Teacher shortages, however, remain a significant factor, with at least one major operator choosing to cut back on the number of its centres last year for lack of staff. 

The teacher shortage may also be behind the record number of eight centres whose accreditation is currently under review and whose summary statement is under review. In the past, when the number averaged five or six, the majority of concerns were centred on safeguarding and welfare, with teaching rarely being cited in more than a single case. Now, teaching has caught up with safeguarding as equal top reasons for putting accreditation under review. 

Language centres leaving accreditation since September 2022:

  1. Aberystwyth University*
  2. Berlitz Oxford *
  3. Cambridge Language and Activity Courses 
  4. Connect Academy 
  5. International Community School*
  6. Mayfair School of English
  7. MLI (UK only)
  8. Nottingham College*
  9. Regent Summer (merged with OISE)*
  10. St George’s International*
Image courtesy of Bell St Albans' campus
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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