After the Language in London closure, what now?
“This type of sudden closure is awful for the whole industry, and at the end of the day it is the students and agents that we need to consider”
The sudden closure of Language in London, one of the three English language schools until recently that made up Language in Group, shocked the UK’s ELT sector last month. Here Margie Barker, director of Language in Totnes and Language in Group, reflects on the closure and the state of the industry.
Up until quite recently, my own school in Totnes, along with the Dublin school of Kevin Kheffache and Language In London, had been cooperating and pooling our sales and marketing efforts. This was primarily driven by the hope that that by combining our efforts our three smaller schools may be able to compete better with the big players in what is a very competitive and difficult market. We had recently decided to discontinue with this and return to working completely independently because the costs outweighed the benefits and our experimental cooperative simply didn’t work!
“The costs outweighed the benefits and our experimental cooperative simply didn’t work!”
Sadly I received the news about the closure of Language In London directly from Huan of English UK on the telephone in a late Friday afternoon call, and to be honest I am still in shock! I have been in catch-up mode ever since and of course trying to reach out to as many people as I can. This type of sudden closure is awful for the whole industry, and at the end of the day it is the students and agents that we need to consider. I have been working to help the good people at UK English to pick up the pieces wherever possible, given we are not London based and as a small independent school have resource constraints of our own.
Like all small businesses, to survive and prosper we need to continue to innovate and reinvent ourselves and so I had already started to re-brand the Totnes school and concentrate on the aspects where we clearly have an advantage: as a smaller boutique school in a unique destination, we can give students a far richer experience in a peaceful but vibrant environment. The Dublin school, which is actually in the seaside town of Dun Laoghaire, near Sandy Cove, also fitted that profile as well and so I started to work again with Kevin on re-branding and also the possibility of taking an interest in that school, given the similarities in the potential student experience.
“Like all small businesses, to survive and prosper we need to continue to innovate and reinvent ourselves “
We are in the process of launching these schools as English in Totnes and the Sandy Cove School of English, with the websites Englishintotnes.com and Sandycoveschool.com soon to go live. In the meantime, it is business as usual and the schools are doing well as we move into the quieter winter period. In some ways, it’ll be good to have a bit of extra time to continue the re-branding after the madness of summer and to get a few minutes to remember that stuff happens and life goes on!
I guess I need to learn to be a little more fatalistic or philosophical about things like school failures: these things and other more unthinkable events like Brexit will come and go and always have done. No matter what, we carry on working our butts off in an industry that – even though it’s difficult and challenging – is OUR industry. It’s hard, seemingly unforgiving at times, but we love it – it’s a passion and frankly I think that those of us bitten by the bug have not much choice but to carry on!