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PLS closures in Scotland

Over forty per cent of Scotland’s year-round private language schools have closed down due to the pandemic, and more will follow unless the government changes policy, research shows. This compares to just 12.5 per cent across the UK as a whole.

Covid-19 has laid waste to Scotland’s small private English language school sector, with 7 out of 17 accredited year-round private language centres having disappeared.

The decision by the Scottish government to exclude language schools from the tax relief on non-domestic rates offered to the wider hospitality industry is one of the main causes, according to Chris Moonie, of Mackenzie language school and current chair of English UK Scotland. The three Scots-owned summer school operations accredited by the British Council have far lower year-round overheads and are not yet under threat.

We see the same pattern across the UK. So, Oxford, which has also not allowed rates relief to language schools, has seen four school closures, while Cambridge, which has allowed relief, has had just two. But there are still more language schools in Oxford than in the whole of Scotland.

Edinburgh is the worst hit city in the British Isles with five school closures, while a sixth, Berlitz, has closed its physical premises and left the accreditation scheme but continues to teach online. So far, both of the two Glasgow schools are still operating, but the only year-round language school outside the central belt, International House Aberdeen, has gone out of business.

No accredited language schools have so far closed in either Wales or Northern Ireland, while in the Irish Republic, which boasts the biggest English language business in the world, per capita, only two of the 72 schools are reported to have closed. See our updated list of UK school closures and changes to legal status.

Scotland now has just nine accredited year-round language schools and, without government support, more are likely to close.

Image courtesy of Ron
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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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