We know what to do this summer

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Hattemer school

NACE may be the new kid on the summer school bloc but its academic expertise may surprise you.

Take four summer schools, three of them new to the summer school market, two outside the UK and teaching languages other than English One is an elite Parisian private day school, established in 1885 by Rose Hattemer, it is renowned among le tout Paris for its “rigor and attention to detail, its seriousness and the experience and knowledge of its teaching practitioners”. This summer, for only the second time on its august history, it is opening its doors to young learners aged between six and 11 for courses in French, with an accompany programme of cultural visits and leisure programmes.

The equestrian centre at the Stonar school, Wiltshire.

The second is a state of the art bilingual school established among the orange groves, mountains and beaches of the Spanish province of Castellon, just south of Valencia. Agora Lledo, as the school is called, was established in 2001 by ten partner teachers. In 2018, it was ranked as the highest scoring IB school on the continent of Europe. It is offering a dual immersion programme this summer in Spanish and English.

The third looks like a more familiar, traditional English boarding school. It is located just ourside Bath. With an extensive equestrian centre among the many facilities on campus, it is one of the best schools for riding in England. And it is running residential language and activity summer courses for ten to seventeen year olds.

But what do they have in common? They are all under the same ownership. They belong to NACE, a multinational chain of international schools with a strong reputation for bilingual education and language learning.

So why do they seem so different? NACE’s David Chalude explains.

“NACE is a group of some 50 schools, but we know that every school and school community is different. As part of the creation of our summer courses, we are not looking for absolute uniformity,” he explains.

“On the contrary, each of our programs is designed as a taster of the school in which the program takes place. Each program is developed and led by year-round school staff members… our programs incorporate the strengths, values and ethos of our schools,” he adds.

A quick look at the EL Gazette language school rankings, published last month, shows that, on average, summer schools run by educationalist do better on British Council inspections than those run by language school specialists. But while British boarding schools have long run their own summer schools, few international schools have done so.

So why are NACE taking the plunge into the summer school market? The answer, as Chalude reveals, lies in the name of the fourth school in their summer brochure.

“In September 2017, NACE acquired ICS, an international day school in London which has been operating a well-known summer school for forty years.”

ICS London, now there’s a familiar name. An EL Gazette Centre of Excellence, it is the only independent day school in central London to offer summer programmes, starting with children as young as three and attracting students up to eighteen with a new pre-university course.

“We started from ICS expertise to develop other programs within some of the group’s schools.” Chalude tells the Gazette,

“Hattemer’s French language summer school in Paris was successfully launched last year, and we are planning to launch two new residential programs this year, one at Agora Lledo in Castellon, Spain, and the second at Stonar School in Wiltshire.

The most innovative of the NACE programmes is the bilingual immersion programme: English for Spanish students and Spanish for speaker of other languages. How exactly will that work?

“Our program is developed in two languages. Agora Lledo’s language teachers are native to the language they teach. Students will be in an English or Spanish setting during language classes and sports activities, and will be gathered in the same residence,” Chalude explains

“We also offer a host family formula, with families in our school community for students who want a maximum of Spanish immersion.”

But can a chain of international schools really pull off what looks like a quiet revolution in the summer school market? It’s too soon to tell, but agents in the markets where NACE operates its year-round international schools sound convinced.

“NACE is opening summer schools?” commented one Spanish agent when we told him the news. “ I didn’t know, but that’s very interesting, very interesting indeed.”

Students at the Agora Lledo school in Spain.
Image courtesy of Nace