Saturday, May 25, 2024

Top for under-16s

Melanie Butler explains the ranking of language centres for young learners

Click here to see PDF of top YL centres

Language centres for young learners are the fastest-growing sector in UK EFL, now accounting for 30 per cent of all accredited provision.

By language centres for young learners we do not, of course, mean that all of them only teach under-16s. Four of the top centres for under-16s are also EL Gazette Centres of Excellence for adults: Sidmouth International School, St Giles Highgate, St Clare’s Oxford and IH London.

An increasing number of adult language schools also offer courses to under-16s. However, in this ranking we only include centres which had a majority, or significant minority, of under-16s enrolled at the time of their last inspection.

Thirty-three accredited language centres which focus on under-16s now receive an area of strength in more than half of the 15 areas under which they are inspected. That means that the top 25 per cent of YL centres are squashed into just six bands. So how can we tell them apart?

The main area in which provision for under-16s differs from that of adults is the level of Safeguarding of Under 18s; the three areas under Welfare and Student Services are also key for this age group. We have also looked at the area of Premises and Facilities, which also impacts on student well-being.

So, we have weighted the scores by assigning a maximum of six bonus points for the criteria covered under these headings. Differences in bonus points are used to show slight differences under these categories and do not affect the overall ranking score of each centre.

The bonus points are based on the number of individual criteria marked as a strength on the British Council report in the areas we have put under the spotlight, as well as one bonus point for getting strengths in each of these areas in the summary statement.

A strength is deducted for any criterion in a given area which is judged as Not met. The British Council place particular emphasis on the importance of meeting every criteria, and one judgement of Not met means an area of strength will not be awarded by the inspectors in the summary statement.

If any of the individual criteria in one area are not applicable to the school in question, the school would have a lower possible maximum. The number of criteria in a given area can also vary from year to year. For example, in 2017, centres could be awarded strengths in just two of the five criteria in the area of Academic Staff Profile. Since 2018, three out of four criteria can be marked as strong.

To iron out statistical differences, we calculated all results as a percentage of available criteria for each area reported across the same base number. This does not entirely eliminate the statistical discrepancy and so differences of less than 0.2 are unlikely to be significant. 

Reading the reports

You can see how the system works by looking at the extract below from a 2017 report. There are eight criteria in this area but two are marked N/A under Strength, which means a strength cannot be marked.

In this example, a strength is marked for three out of the six applicable areas, which is fifty per cent. This means it is eligible to be awarded an area of strength in the summary statement.

However, one criteria is marked Not met, so a point is deducted from the strengths in this area, giving a net of 2 out of 6.

Images courtesy of MILLFIELD ENTERPRISES 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.
- Advertisment -

Latest Posts