Dinosaurs, Stonehenge and the world's most famous crime writer were all part of English UK's inward mission to the South West. And although high winds prevented a planned hot-air balloon flight, the 12 leading international education agents enjoyed a packed schedule seeing attractions and language centres in this beautiful part of England.
"It was a great week, with a really varied programme and a very friendly feeling throughout," said organiser Roz Rozidor, international manager with English UK.
"As we were in Torquay, we had the perfect opportunity to visit some of the locations associated with Agatha Christie and her novels. We made sure the agents got to try a Devonshire cream tea, they had a walking trip round Bristol's historic harbourside, and went on a ferry across Poole Harbour. And of course we had glimpses of not one, but two World Heritage sites -- Stonehenge and the Jurassic Coast, which combines spectacular scenery with early dinosaur finds. The mission took in a diverse group of our member centres, and the agents were clearly very interested in doing business with them. We've had really positive feedback all round."
Gulseren Yazicioglu from World International Education Agency in Turkey said: "We had a chance to visit educational providers and places which we hadn't done before...I'd like work together with those providers," while Lucy Williamson from Devon School of English commented: "The agents and schools were all really engaged and well prepared and clearly felt relaxed.".
The mission started with a full-day workshop at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel in London, attended by 10 English UK member centre representatives and Audrey Rodgers from the British Council, before travelling to the British Council headquarters, for presentations, a welcome reception and buffet dinner with the mission partners.
Outside London, the group's first visit was to the rural Bishopstrow College, which specialises in preparing young learners for entry to the UK's leading boarding schools and where they observed lessons and looked around the boarding houses. They then moved on to Bristol, and OISE to find out more about their Octorial programmes.
The next destination was the beautiful English Riviera, and two member centres in neighbouring seaside resorts, the family-run Devon School of English in Paignton and Torquay International School - which has its own hotel. After sightseeing and a cream tea, the group met more English UK members at a networking dinner in Exeter hosted by the English UK Southwest regional group.
In Dorset, the next destination, the group visited Harrow House in Swanage, where agents were impressed with the range of sport and leisure activities available on the school's large residential campus. They then went to Bournemouth by ferry, visiting Anglo-Continental where the agents experienced learning English for themselves in their own taster English lesson. The mission concluded with a second mini-workshop in Bournemouth, attended by ten centres from the private, FE and university sectors and a farewell dinner at 1812.
Ali Kazi, of the Bahraini Tourist & Travel Bureau, said: 'The standard of the trip was wonderful. It was great to see all the schools...It's been wonderful...to experience this part of the world. We've gained great knowledge about all the schools and services."
Click here to see an album of pictures from the trip.
The next inward mission is in October, and is open to agents from Latin America.