Melanie Butler finds the best UK schools for groups of young learners
Groups of young learners coming to the UK for a short course outside the summer reason is an increasingly common sight – in fact it is probably the fastest growing market segment. Increasing numbers of British Council accredited centres are offering courses designed to meet the demand. In fact, of all 478 accredited centres, 244 now take under-16s year-round.
The centres are divided, however, into two groups: private language schools catering to adults and young learners, and young-learner specialists who either cater wholly to under- 16s, or where the majority of their students are in this age group.
What should we focus on when looking for a great young-learner course? Child protection is probably the number-one concern for all the adults involved: parents, agents, group leaders and even governments. So, an area of strength in the safeguarding of under-18s is the first thing we should look for in the school inspection report.
For the adults who are actually paying for the course, it is also important that their children make progress. Educational research shows us that if you want good learning, you need good teaching. So, an area of strength in teaching is also something that we want to see.
Safeguarding and Teaching. Easy enough to find schools with a strength in those, you might think.
Think again. Checking the inspection reports of 248 accredited centres offering year-round short courses for under-16s, we could find just eleven that excelled at both safeguarding and teaching. All of them are listed in the table below.
All of these schools have strengths in teaching, though the average quality varies a little, according to the inspectors who awarded one of three overall judgements: very good, good to very good, and good.
There are small differences in the safeguarding results, too. Some were inspected for eight criteria, while for others only six criteria were applicable. The most common was to find strengths in half of the applicable criteria, so four out of eight, or three out of six.
For students, though, there are two more key factors: accommodation and the leisure programme, so we added those to the listings, along with one final piece of information: the total number of areas of strength awarded by the British Council.
⋆ Area of strength awarded by British Council √ Area Met
⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆ areas of strength in Teaching, Under18s, Accommodation, Leisure
⋆⋆⋆ areas of strengths in Teaching, Under18s, Leisure Opportunities
⋆⋆ areas of strengths in Teaching, Under18s, Leisure Opportunities
Type = Type of school YLS – Young Learner Specialist PLS = Private language school
BC score = total number of areas of strengths awarded across all 15 areas inspected
Accomm = accommodation Leisure = Leisure opportunities