||New UK vetting system phased in
A new scheme, aimed at regulating those that work directly within the UK’s youth sector, could impact upon provider recruitment processes, warn industry peers.
Officially launched in October last year the new Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS) was the former government’s key response to the Bichard Enquiry, which followed a high profile child murder case in 2002. The report called for better information sharing between departments and agencies and compelled those that worked directly with under 18s and vulnerable adults to be appropriately checked and registered on a centralised database.
A collaboration between the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and overseen by the UK Home Office, the new scheme comprises two registers; one for those wishing to work with under 18s and one for those wishing to work with vulnerable adults. Those working in regulated activity either 1) frequently (once a week or more), 2) intensively (four times a month or more) and 3) overnight (between the hours of 2am and 6am) or as a regulated activity provider (RAPs) must be catalogued.
However, a French agent, who wished to remain anonymous, has warned the cost implications all applicants must pay a one-off fee of £64 (US$93) could well deter potential host families (a mainstay provider of care and accommodation for overseas students) from offering their services. “Each host family hosting, say an Italian, French or German teenager, even for a week, would have to register to the scheme at both a great cost and with a lengthy and complicated form filling process, which is going to deter almost all of the good host families,” he said. He was also sceptical about how companies outside of the UK would deal with the scheme’s logistics.
Mark Rendell from English UK said the response to the phasing in process had been somewhat mixed so far. “While English UK members and the families of vulnerable groups coming to the UK would welcome any sensible measures to strengthen safeguarding, the VBS is regarded by many as being a sledgehammer to crack a nut,” he admitted. However, he added that CRB applications had already increased by 40 per cent year-on-year in the run up to the new model.
Guardianship companies could also be affected by the new regulations, but Duncan Hume from White House Guardianships noted that this extra layer of protection can only be a good thing. “The sad fact is there is no official control over guardianship, which is horrific and surprising in this increasingly protective society,” he said. Richard Yudale from Alpha Plus Guardians shares in this philosophy and added, “There may be some reluctance to engage in the rather long-winded and intrusive process entailed by the ISA’s requirements, but as time goes on people will see it as a bonus that they will not have to complete a separate CRB form for every activity involving children.”
The phasing in process is said to have a five year timeframe.
Language school boomtown in Australia
Following the collapse of the Geos empire, two former employees have emerged triumphant from the furore by setting up their own English language schools in Australia.
Cairns College of English formerly Geos Cairns College of English has reopened its doors as a locally owned facility. Ueli Stauffer, former Geos Principal Administrator, alongside a private investor, has taken over the day-to-day running of the campus with core staff members also reprising their former roles.
The facility closed down in January with 20 members of staff and 150 students affected. However, Stauffer asserted that the school was already on the road to recovery with 20 students from seven different countries already enrolled on courses at the school. Strong forward student bookings were also forecast for the winter season (July/August), he added.
The college, which is currently reapplying for Cricos accreditation, is presently accepting non-student-visa-carrying applicants only but Stauffer added he expected Cricos approval to be confirmed by the end of this month or early September.
Elsewhere, Natalie Johnston, who worked for both Geos Perth and Geos Queensland College of English, has opened a boutique style English language school in Burleigh Heads on Australia’s Gold Coast.
Johnston confirmed that the language school, which is in its 10th month of operation, has applied for and received Cricos accreditation. She added, “Having worked for a big chain for many years, across two states, a lot can be said for the quality and style of owner operator ventures…so when the stars aligned, together with partners Larissa Owen and Chris Johnston, MyEnglish was born!”
Five schools join the ranks of QE
Quality English (QE), the English language school grouping, has welcomed five new institutions into its membership fold.
Southbourne School of English in Southbourne, UK; Capital School of English in Bournemouth, UK; Mackenzie School of English in Edinburgh, UK; Liverpool International Language Academy (Lila) in Liverpool, UK and Point3 Language Centre in Montreal, Canada join to make a 45-strong membership.
The group has also been busy organising several missions to parts of Latin America. Santiago in Chile and Buenos Aires in Argentina hosted two key agent events back in March with eight QE schools meeting a total of 36 agent representatives. “All the schools were very good and I had already been in contact with some of them so it was a great opportunity to meet them in person,” said Monica Di Santi from E1-network.com.
New UK chain born
Three independent language school owners in the UK have joined forces to create a chain of boutique schools collectively known as the Language in Group (LinG).
Totnes School of English in the UK and Annalivia School of English in Ireland will join Language in London to become Language in Totnes and Language in Dublin respectively this September.
According to Stuart Rubenstein, Owner of Language in London, the amalgamation was borne out of a mutual ambition to offer something new and challenging in today’s competitive marketplace. He explained, “Firstly, there are obvious economies of scale by forming a group, allowing us immediately to take on more staff and jointly fund a new website. The second reason was that we work well as a team, with different skills and ideas and combining our talents has already enabled us to move forward more quickly than we could ever have done alone.”
Alongside Margie Barker, Principal of Language in Totnes and Kevin Kelly, Principal of Language in Dublin, the three pioneers share a wealth of experience; something agent partners will find reassuring, noted Kelly. “We want to help our agent partners by giving them something new and interesting to sell, which they can trust immediately because between the three of us we can count over 40 years in this industry,” he said.
An official launch is scheduled for September with new brochures and a collaborative website said to be in the pipeline. A revised academic structure Rubenstein noted that the current curriculum would be streamlined entirely would take a fresh look on book-based general English.
Rubenstein added that long-term the group hoped to grow its membership even further by welcoming new schools into the LinG fold. “The plan is, and has to be, to expand,” he affirmed.
NZ school liable for pay-out
The ex-boss of a language school in New Zealand, has been awarded NZ$190,000 (US$127,000) after an employment tribunal found him to have been unjustifiably dismissed.
David Page was stripped of his job as Regional Director of Geos New Zealand at a conference in 2008 and sacked from his post as head of Geos Auckland by email in April 2009. Page launched the unfair dismissal claim against Japanese firm Geos corporation, which has since gone into liquidation with debts of NZ$121 million (US$81). The three Geos schools in New Zealand have been taken over by New Zealand Language Centres Ltd, which are now liable for the pay-out.
Director, Justin Mastoyo said, “We are concerned about the determination of the Employment Relations Authority and as a result will be challenging the determination in the employment court.”
Fourth US school for EC
English language teaching chain, EC, has launched a new centre in San Francisco, CA, in the USA.
A brand new development, EC San Francisco will consist of 16 classrooms that surround a central lounge where students can congregate to chat or make use of Wi-Fi facilities.
EC Executive Chairman, Andrew Mangion, noted that the new school was a proud addition to the chain’s growing repertoire. “Opening a fourth EC school in the USA and a ninth destination internationally is a proud moment for our organisation and we look forward to seeing more of these moments in the future,” he said.
Cindy Barns Ochoa, Centre Director, added that the school’s location in the heart of downtown San Francisco makes for an “incredible learning environment” and the campus itself is only a short walk from local landmarks such as Union Square, Market Street, the Ferry Building and the waterfront.
The chain has also started to flex its muscles in the Latin Ameican market by acquiring a 50 per cent stake in Argentine Spanish language centre, Expanish.
Set up by entrepreneurs Agustin Vignale and Alejandro Rched in 2006, the school provides Spanish immersion programmes in Buenos Aires as well as volunteer placements.