Does your social programme have the importance it deserves?
23 September 2014

If it doesn't - or if you're after some new ideas - our Student Experience conference is the place for you.

As part of our unique conference focusing on the little details which can transform your students' stay in the UK, we've invited Justin Crane, Kaplan's Student Experience Manager for the UK and Eire, to discuss the importance of the social programme (and another speaker will explain how to inject "the Wow! factor" into your offer).

Justin says social programmes perform a vital role, and for several reasons.

"We see ourselves as point of call for students if they need anything. We are probably the one person that students go to talk to about any problem, however specific or important. It might be something to do with the school, it might be an accommodation problem. And we're out and about .. not just helping them out with problems but genuinely making them feel they are getting a great experience here."

It's important, he says, that students can bring any problem or query to staff. "We're not just about what we're providing for them, but to make their lives easier. For example, I've had two teenage students talking to me about how safe it is for them to go travelling in Egypt and Turkey. They're not experienced travellers, so we've said we'll find out more and get back to them."

Does he think the social programme organisers are as important to the students as the teaching? "Er... yes. And we find that learning in the classroom is then taken out on activities. I go out with students and am constantly bombarded with questions about English, and they're spending more time then talking to English people."

For Justin, there are two further aspects to this. One is that the majority of students arrive in their language school without knowing a single person "and hopefully because of what we do they will get to know a hell of a lot more. Some people are shy, but it is our job to try and get them involved." And the second is to provide memorable experiences for students, things which they wouldn't get to do in their home country or elsewhere.

"In Cambridge there are May Balls for the university students. We can't take our student to those but we can do like the locals and take them to hire punts, see the fireworks at midnight and so on. Things like that, which are specific to where they are studying, are brilliant."

So how can language centres create the kind of social programme which leads to happy students and, ultimately, plenty of recommendations? "It's not necessary to have vast amounts of money. It's about the quality of the organiser, and generating an experience," says Justin, who'll be offering many more suggestions during his presentation.

The Student Experience Conference is being held at the University of Sheffield on September 26 and is ideal for all language school staff involved in student administration, student welfare, student accommodation and implementing social programmes.

Other elective sessions include giving your social programme the Wow! Factor, effective risk assessment, managing accommodation, integrating learning and leisure and meeting Accreditation UK's student welfare criteria.

Find out more and book your place.

Please note: This event is now fully booked, to be added to the cancellations lists please email Tom Weatherley, Professional Services Manager.


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