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Biggest-ever English UK annual conference creates a real buzz

Published EDU-WorldWide on Monday, May 27, 2019

Biggest-ever English UK conference creates a real buzz

Student statistics, a panel discussion about Brexit opportunities and an explorer who claims to have eaten his own dog were among the highlights of the biggest-ever English UK annual conference.

Over 230 delegates from 164 member centres attended the event – most at no cost – with the room still packed during the closing networking reception. They were joined by almost 20 service providers and volunteers from charities which have benefited from Eddie Byers funding.

Steve Phillips, English UK chair, said: “It was the best ever – it was great. There was a real buzz about the day and it was inspired to end with a session from explorer Benedict Allen, whose stories about exploration made our travel stories look tame.”

The new Roundtable session – where facilitators led discussions on industry topics including using annual and QUIC stats, doing well in a BC inspection, work/life balance and ELT and the environment were hugely popular, with crowds around English UK compliance manager Naadiya Rawat’s table explaining visa rules on short course extensions.

Dan Bryan of Languages International in Bath said: “The updates were very useful and I think everyone’s found the Roundtables a benefit – it would be great to carry on these discussions. The panel was good as well and gave a different perspective.”

Jan Fossgard, of Purley Language College, was back at the conference after several years’ break. “It’s a step change – it feels quite different. There’s definitely been some fresh ideas, and it’s good to come and see what the wider industry is doing.”

Other innovations were the live-streaming of the event, and the use of an interactive software which meant delegates could vote and comment on sessions using their smartphones, with results displayed on screens. Reporting on the last and coming year, English UK chief executive Sarah Cooper discussed projects including improving accreditation, where members will be consulted in the autumn on proposals by workings groups. “It’s about making it a scheme to continue to drive standards up, being user friendly, and developmental rather than just compliance, and about supporting you in your development,” she said.

There was also a lot of interest in the year’s student statistics – which showed “a mixed picture” according to Patrik Pavlacic of Bonard – and the results of a pilot to create data including the economic value of ELT. “I would love to see data to give all the information we need on the value of our industry by pressing a button. We have the ambition to do that and it’s not going away, but it’s complex because of the different levels of ability to provide data and some reluctance. We’ve got to find ways of resourcing it and we will achieve it,” said Ms Cooper.

The day ended with a collection and pub quiz which raised over £500 for the Eddie Byers Fund to improve lives through language learning.

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