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BSC Edinburgh rewarded for UK ELT growth

British Study Centres Edinburgh was awarded Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s High Growth award in February, as numbers increased by 57% compared to this point last year, after focusing its strategy on the young learner market and CELTA teacher training courses.

BSC Edinburgh's CELTA program has also proved popular, often with the local university's students. Photo: Flickr/ Herbert Frank

The growth has meant that the school converted unused office space into classrooms and is renting additional classrooms over the summer

The school saw student weeks rise from 3,301 in 2016 to 5,861 in 2017. Additionally, in 2014-15 the school ran two CELTA courses with around 10 candidates each – in 2017-18 it has 12 scheduled CELTA courses with 120 candidates.

“Just adult individuals [bookings] are currently 31% up on last year”

Alex Cann, school director in Edinburgh, told The PIE News that a dedicated groups team is focusing on group bookings.

“The majority of the groups are from Italy,” he said. “In the summer, we’ve had groups from Russia, Spain, France, Japan – a good mix of nationalities.”

The increase in demand for teacher training courses has been aided by growth of interest in teaching qualifications from Edinburgh University graduates.

“Last summer, we found for the first time is that we were getting a lot of overseas students feeding into our course from the master’s course at Edinburgh University,” Cann said, adding that the CELTA gave students practical experience that they may have been missing on theoretical TESOL courses.

“Historically our cohorts have been predominantly British, with one or two overseas students. However, we have recently seen a rise in international students enrolling, particularly on our August and September courses.”

The growth has meant that the school converted unused office space into classrooms and is renting additional classrooms over the summer. Cann said that BSC Edinburgh is being forced to turn away business for this summer.

BSC is cooperating with agents, who bring in around 80% of business, according to Cann.

“We guarantee spaces to certain agents, up to a certain capacity.  We are working hard to consolidate relationships with our volume providers and those who give us long-term bookings through the quieter periods.”

However, it is not only junior bookings that have risen.

“Adult individual bookings alone are currently 31% up on last year,” Cann said. “We get adult individuals year-round, whereas junior business is more seasonal; we are pushing to get longer-term adult students through the winter months.”

Sarah Cooper, CEO of English UK, told The PIE News that it is a little early to say whether this growth is replicated around the country, but the organisation promoting ELT in the UK is hopeful.

“It doesn’t surprise me to hear [that the junior numbers have increased.] The 2016 data showed that juniors for the first time had overtaken adults – [representing] 51% of all English UK member business,” she said.

“We have had three years of decline and 2016 was the third of those three years. We are expecting to see a much more positive year [in 2017 figures].”

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