English UK's latest inward mission was so successful that every participating agent who gave feedback says they would work with at least some the language centres they encountered. The 12-strong European group who toured the North of England were also unanimous that they were much more confident about promoting the region than they had been before.
Elena Tejedor of Spanish agency Aula ingles said: "I really recommend North England to any agency promoting English as a foreign language in the UK. After my inward mission with English UK, I could find out how welcoming their people are, the beauty of their landscapes, their non-ending possibilities for leisure for student and the good quality of the teaching and professionalism of the educators at schools there. Even the food is good! I am very grateful to English UK and British Council for this opportunity and look forward to returning with my students."
Partner agency member Svetlana Semichastnaya of Elbrus-Education, Russia agreed, adding: 'It was a terrific experience. I was amazed to discover new study destination with excellent quality of teaching, excellent facilities both for studying and living. And the cities in the North have also so much to offer at a cheaper price than London, Oxford, Cambridge or the South of England."
Roz Rozidor, English UK's international manager who organised and led the trip which covered Manchester, York, Leeds, Southport and Liverpool, said she had slightly refocused the format to put a stronger emphasis on experiencing the destination as well as visiting member centres.
"Our role, as well as helping to nurture potential partnerships between members and agents, is to raise the profile of English language teaching in the UK and to help highlight the attractiveness of our different regions and nations. So it's important to focus on sightseeing and experiencing the destination which helps the agent when they're considering what to offer to their clients.
"The really enthusiastic feedback we've had about this mission, and the way in which the agents say they hope to work with the member centres they met, seems to indicate that this works well."
One popular event included a night out for a curry in Leeds, which was a first for an English UK inward mission. Other highlights included a pub lunch, walking tours of Leeds and York, a minibus tour of Liverpool plus the opportunity to see the medieval Kirkstall Abbey and visit Anthony Gormley's human sculptures on Crosby Beach.
The agents also got to experience lessons at member centres and meet representatives at workshops as well as during sightseeing and group meals. The party included 12 representatives from Spain, Italy, Russia, Switzerland, Finland and the British Council in Poland, of which ten so far have given feedback.