Eastbourne language schools welcome MP’s efforts to help recovery
Language schools in Eastbourne who say they have been hit by students unable to study in the town due to the covid pandemic, have enlisted the town’s MP to help them recover.
The schools say they have suffered major disruption since the pandemic broke out last year.
Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell has now secured a meeting with the export minister to discuss how English language schools in her constituency can recover from the pandemic.
In normal circumstances, students come to Eastbourne from all over the world to learn English.
Mrs Ansell has been a vocal advocate to gain support for the sector, which is so important to the town and its economy, but a sector that has been shut down due to covid.
Principal of Twin English Centre in Compton Park Tracey Cook, said, “Here at Twin Eastbourne the situation is absolutely devastating for us and for the host families, travel companies and local attractions who rely on us as a source of their income.
“We have been closely involved with the local community for many decades and would normally be welcoming hundreds of language students at this time of year. But students are just not coming this year, due to the uncertainties around international travel and tourism. We have had virtually no income for 18 months. We need support from government so that we can make it through to the autumn and once again be part of the lifeblood of the community.”
Speaking in the English language teaching debate in parliament last week (June 11), Mrs Ansell asked the minister Graham Stuart, “The English language is arguably this country’s most successful export. Covid has, of course, devastated the sector, and with the international scene still challenging, the impact goes on and is deep and wide even as other sectors recover.”
Mrs Ansell asked minsters to ‘work together to overcome the challenges that the sector faces and safeguard the future of this vital export, which is so important to Eastbourne and to the UK’.
Mr Stuart agreed to meeting with Mrs Ansell.
Speaking after the debate, Mrs Ansell said, “I am pleased we have made some progress and that the government recognises we must have a joined-up approach to help our English language schools in Eastbourne and across the UK.
“My job now is to bring as many bodies, people and stakeholders together to start to work up a plan to help this industry that brings so much money to Eastbourne and soft power to this country by fostering a life-long love of our country and language for many foreign students.”
English UK is the body that represents the language school industry and works closely with Caroline Ansell. CEO Jodie Gray said, “We are delighted that Caroline has been able to secure agreement for ministers to attend a cross-party delegation. The English language industry in the UK is a vital component of our international education offer and centres are keen to reopen and welcome students from around the world.
“However, ongoing travel restrictions and the legacy of the pandemic mean that the industry needs targeted government support now in order to survive. We urge ministers to listen to our concerns and offer us the help we need.”
In response to this news, a spokesperson for Sprachcaffe language school based in Ocklynge Road said, “We appreciate that MP Caroline Ansell cares and fights for language schools in Eastbourne.
“The last 18 months have not been easy for anyone. We have all been affected in one way or another by this pandemic. One of the industries that are suffering the most is indeed tourism.
“Our company, Sprachcaffe, has language schools in many countries, including five language schools in the UK, one of them in Eastbourne. This year, unfortunately, we have been forced to cancel our summer camp in Eastbourne due to the situation in the UK. We are very sorry that we had to suspend the summer camp; however, we had no alternative.
“We always want to look on the bright side of things, and we are already preparing our school in Eastbourne for next year. Furthermore, we hope that the industry will recover and come back stronger than ever.”
Didac School takes students from Switzerland and is based in Trinity Trees. A spokesperson for the school said it was ‘excellent news to hear that Caroline is fighting the corner for language schools that have suffered during this pandemic’.
A spokesperson for St Giles International in Silverdale Road said, “We are grateful to Caroline Ansell for her continued support for our industry. We have noticed a severe downturn in our student numbers across all our five UK schools – including our Eastbourne centre – as a result of the pandemic and as Caroline highlights, we are yet to see a real recovery.
“In our view, the slow recovery is primarily a result of the current UK border policy. We have yet to see any of our major markets on the green list and the continued need to quarantine, as well as the high cost of the mandatory tests, is understandably acting as a major deterrent for students who might otherwise have been interested in studying with us. We are hopeful that we’ll see more meaningful recovery commence in 2022, with hopefully more relaxation of our borders.
“These are without doubt the toughest market conditions that we’ve had to operate in, over our 66 year history and it has been very challenging managing our business with little government support being offered to our sector. Like so many other schools, we have not received consistent business rates relief across our group and we would have hoped for more government assistance in helping a world-beating industry that supports so many livelihoods and offers so much to the UK, both culturally & economically. Our thanks again to Caroline Ansell for highlighting our concerns and for her supportive stance to us.”