Simple English ~ Nicola Prentis

Thoughts on ELT, English and whatever else comes into my head

The A-Z of Summer School, Part I




About three quarters of Summer School bookings come through agents. There’d be no way to survive without them so paying the commission is unavoidable. They’re more likely not to want to cross the parents than we are so, particularly in some countries, they won’t say boo to a goose. We’ve not even started yet and I’ve been unable to stop a C2 and a C1 student enrolling on the PET course because the agent can’t/won’t talk the parent into at least having them do FCE.


Incoming students at any time day or night. Some parents think nothing of having a child arrive into the airport at 5:30 am or 9 pm. Fun for all concerned.


The EFL lessons might be what make the parent choose a school, but I’m pretty sure it’s mostly the Activities program that brings the kids back.


Bed lists

I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with this. Incredible requests to be fulfilled, constant demands to change rooms, a million things to consider when assigning them – and that’s just for the staff. Students are just as fussy though and it’s not uncommon for parents to request, with no apparent shame, that their child doesn’t share with a given nationality.

British Council

If it’s inspection year, you’ll produce more notices for display than you have surfaces to put them up on. Bede’s aced our inspection last year, with 10 out of 15 criteria met with “strengths” putting us as the 5th best summer school in the UK and the top multi-centre school. I imagine no small part of that was down to the Academic Consultant we’ve hired since the last inspection – ME 🙂


CRB checks

They’re called DBS checks now and I can’t remember what the new letters stand for** but the old ones are for Criminal Record Check. This system is a complete and utter nonsense but costs a fortune.

Your DBS is pretty much obsolete the moment it’s issued although apparently you can now register so at least you don’t have to keep applying for new ones every time you change job and your employer can check it to make sure nothing has changed. You can only register for 14 days after it’s received though so presumably you wouldn’t if you were doing illegal things for which you’d not been caught. They take ages to come through so summer school usually starts with late recruits not receiving their obsolete certificates until too late. A disaster waiting to happen.


Day off

I’m often too tired to enjoy mine and wander around Brighton in a zombie like state, so institutionalised that I get my room key out instead of train tickets when trying to get onto the platform. The baffling array of options in supermarkets leaves me wondering how I ever fed myself and, if I do try to buy anything, I find myself forgetting how money works and forgetting to take my change. I often can’t bear to meet up with anyone not doing Summer School as the Outside World has been happening at too far a remove for me to interact with.


Crying teenagers, endless goodbyes, running after departing buses and pleas to be allowed out of class to wave someone off. I heartlessly stamp all of them out lest they interfere with my departures schedule. The staff are almost as needy when they leave. Get over it; there’s Facebook.



The longest day in eternity. I sometimes get the bus with the students, if there’s space, if it’s my day off and I’m foolishly attempting to spend it in London. I just hope no-one near me is sick or soils themselves – both are common occurrences.



No-one  signs up to deal with a child’s shit, which is another reason never to do the Welfare Manager’s job if bed lists wasn’t enough to put you off. It’s always the boys who turn showers into toilets or smear it on mirrors, but both genders may attempt to turn Western style toilets into squat toilets. You don’t want to be the next person in there after that.

Food image

I hope you like carbs with your carbs, because it’s the most represented food group in mass British catering. Seemingly law of physics breaking cooking events, like fried eggs with solid yolks but runny whites, keep it unpredictable even if the menu is not. Weight gain is inevitable. Evening snack is all too raidable.



When summer school has become your entire universe, the most trivial of things can be Top Gossip. Sources are the now fascinating lives and scandals of the students, your own centre and other centres. The latter is picked up when staff meet at airports which makes transfer days a highlight of the week. Bad managers will be hung on the school grapevine and there’s literally nothing you can do to stop a rumour once it’s out there. The truth? That’s for the Real World.


Host School

I’ve been lucky with mine. They don’t want us there, of course, but someone has to be and at least we’re a good school and they quite like us.  Host schools find it hard to deal with the fact we have very few ways to make our students behave/keep quiet/not drop litter/not shit inappropriately, but it’s the only thing keeping them afloat financially. For some reason Little Lord Tarquin IV’s fees aren’t enough to pay for vital repairs and modernisations at the country’s top boarding schools.


I-Q of Summer School


**Disclosure and Barring Service


3 comments on “The A-Z of Summer School, Part I

  1. Pingback: The A-Z of Summer School, Part II | Simple English ~ Nicola Prentis

  2. Pingback: The A-Z of Summer School, Part III | Simple English ~ Nicola Prentis

  3. majgibbs11
    July 10, 2014

    Reblogged this on Irrelevant Irreverence and commented:
    Excellent summary of summer school (or rather,”summer-y”…no that’s a terrible pun). Letters B and F are particularly applicable to me this year, and I’ve already discovered I cannot deal with one of them…no prizes for guessing which one.

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This entry was posted on June 30, 2014 by in Summer School and tagged .
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