The point of English UK inward missions is to show agents the full range of options in an area. And that was what a party of 12 agents got on a trip to the East of England in May, learning more about the possibilities of English language provision in independent schools, Further Education colleges and private English language teaching centres. They took in Bedford, Colchester, Suffolk and Cambridge over the week-long mission.
"Agents were really impressed with the huge range of courses and centres we saw, and got plenty of chances to talk to students as well as member centre staff," said Laura Underwood, English UK's Marketing and Events Officer who led the trip. "The fact that in just a few days we experienced a city, a town, a village and beautiful coastline, demonstrates the variety the East of England has to offer international students."
The English UK Spring Inward Mission hosted agents from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Tunisia, Turkey and the UAE, and a representative from the British Council Morocco. In addition, the group included two London-based agents. "All participants found the mission valuable, and in particular the UK based agents. They felt they got a chance to see more of each centre than they would be able to do if they organised it themselves. We haven't opened up inward missions to UK agents for a while, so it was a bit of an experiment – but UK agents are likely to be particularly instrumental in promoting the UK as an English language learning destination, so it's given us something to think about," Laura added.
As well as visiting seven member centres over the week, which began on 17 May, the group did two workshop sessions, with 21 member centres represented over the two workshops, and attended a reception at the British Council in London.
The party visited two independent schools: the Bedford School Study Centre, which prepares international students for UK boarding schools; and SKOLA Alexanders College, an independent school for international students located on Suffolk's beautiful coastline. They saw two contrasting institutions in Colchester; the Colchester Institute where they got a chance to meet students in an EFL class; and the Colchester English Study Centre, who gave a special presentation on local historical finds before agents and students had fun trying on costumes and taking photographs.
In Cambridge, the group visited three centres, each with a unique offer. At Select English, the group chatted to students over a barbecue; at Cambridge Regional College, they found out about an extensive range of international partnerships; and the Cambridge Academy of English impressed agents with a sumptuous lunch and a game of croquet in the centre's beautiful garden.
The final event in the seven-day mission was a dinner at Jesus College Cambridge, sponsored by English UK East and attended by representatives of many of its member centres, who were able to chat to agents about the huge variety of courses on offer in the region.
View the English UK Spring Inward Mission image gallery and photos on our facebook page.
Notes to Editors