The future of accreditation, government lobbying, international promotion and problems with Secure English Language Tests were just some of the big issues raised and discussed at our first-ever member roadshow in Cardiff.
Representatives from eight Welsh language centres had the chance to quiz senior English UK staff and main board trustees on strategy, raise problems, give their opinions and discuss industry issues in the pilot session of a new series, which is planned to cover every region of the UK once the busy summer season is over.
Dave Henson, managing director of WE Bridge Ltd, which hosted the first roadshow, said: "It has been really positive, a really relevant discussion and topics. All the English UK people were very articulate, had obviously thought long and hard about that they were going to present and areas that they wanted to discuss. And I think we were listened to and generally felt encouraged."
The Cardiff roadshow included 12 representatives from eight Welsh ELT centres, English UK Chief Executive Eddie Byers, deputy CEOs Annie Wright and Huan Japes, English UK board member Daphne Laing, and Richard Day, who stepped down from the main board earlier this year.
Opening the meeting, Eddie Byers explained that the roadshow concept had come from the membership survey. The idea is to reach the wider membership, bring colleagues together locally, examine current themes and challenges, feedback what English UK does, and give members the chance to meet English UK people. "We think it's the right time to discuss the issues our industry faces, sharing views that inform what you are doing locally in your new Welsh regional group and contributing to what we are doing in English UK," he said.
The "big three" priorities identified by members in the recent membership survey were then highlighted and discussed in some detail: public affairs and lobbying, international promotion and the future of accreditation. Members had submitted some questions in advance, and the discussion stimulated many more in a lively and informal discussion around key topics.
What did members think of the first Roadshow?
In the networking session at the end of the roadshow and sponsored by Cambridge English Language Assessment, members gave some informal feedback. "It was really excellent and very representative, and very open-minded. I am really impressed by the calibre of people who came down," said James Doherty of Celtic English.
Nicky Partridge of Peartree Languages liked having members of the board coming to meet people in a more intimate setting, while Gill Gornall of Capital School of English, Cardiff, thought it was good to understand that members were thinking in similar ways "and that something positive and concrete is being done and planned rather than sitting back and complaining about it. It's nice to see people here as a group and not competitors. If we can build on that, that's good for everybody."
- The Roadshows will resume after the summer: we're planning the autumn dates and will announce them soon. We're looking forward to meeting as many members as possible, to hear your views and discuss the big issues facing us all.
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