Ten Tips for Choosing a Summer School

Finding the right summer school for your child is an important decision to make and it can be confusing to know which school offers the right course and support to ensure your child has a great experience.

We have developed Ten Tips to help you decide which summer school offers the right solution:

  1. Location

Look for schools within easy reach of international airports and historic areas of cultural interest that will educate and enthuse your child. You may wish to consider how close the school is to London where most of the top museums and attractions are.

  1. Keeping your child safe

What is the ratio on adults to children? The lower the ratio the better the level of supervision. Ideally you should look for a minimum of 1:6. How experienced are the staff in looking after children?  Are staff predominantly university students or are they professionals experienced in working in a residential environment? Do a high proportion of staff return year after year? 24/7 welfare is key to your child’s safety.

  1. Will your child get the very best teaching?

How can you be sure that your child’s English will improve, particularly communicative skills? For example, does the course lead to an internationally recognised certificate and does the school publish pass rates? Do the teachers hold internationally recognised teaching qualifications and are all the teachers native English speakers? Is the school accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English and does the school publish inspection results on their website?

  1. Facilities

Are the facilities appropriate for your child’s age? Most summer schools will be based either at a university or a boarding school. The facilities at British boarding schools are generally more appropriate for younger students. Look for schools which offer excellent classroom, sports and recreation facilities. A good course will make sure that students have fun both inside and outside the classroom. 

  1. A safe arrival and departure

Probably your first concern is who will meet your child at the airport and check them in at the end of the course? You need to be confident that if your child is very young and travelling alone, they will feel safe and well looked after. Is there a central contact to call at any time on arrival/departure days?

  1. An international experience

Coming to England is not just about learning English in the classroom. It’s giving students the opportunity to meet and get to know children from other countries and cultures, with English as a common language. Your child will benefit most from a course which has a wide mix of nationalities. Check that the school’s policy is to mix nationalities in shared bedrooms.

  1. Price

It may be tempting in these difficult economic times to look at less expensive courses, but cheap does not always equal good. The key question is value for money. If price is your main consideration, you should be aware that you may be disappointed in the result. Paying a little more often reflects a significant difference in the quality of facilities, teaching and welfare.

  1. Years in operation

Longevity does not necessarily equate to quality but the fact that a language school has been in existence for a number of years is a good indication of reliability. The longer a summer school has been operating, the longer the time the school has had to create a smoothly run, efficient course.  Another indicator to watch out for is the numbers of staff and students returning from year to year. High returnee rates usually suggest a well-managed, successful course.

  1. First impressions

Once you’ve browsed the website, it is advisable to make personal contact with the summer school. If the experience is positive and your questions are answered efficiently and in a friendly way, this is a good indication of the attitude of the people who will be caring for your child on the course. It is important that you feel comfortable in your relationship with the school and confident that if there are any problems, they will be dealt with quickly and caringly.

  1. What’s included in the fees

It is important to know exactly what you are getting on the course. Do make sure the summer school is clear about what is included in the course fees and what are considered “extras”.  All schools should include teaching, accommodation, meals and a social programme.  Some schools may also include free travel insurance. Schools with lots of “extras” may not work out as inexpensive as you first think.


We hope that you have found these tips useful and if you would like to discuss if any of the Thames Valley Summer School courses are right for your child, please get in touch with Brittany Williams, our Registrar, on english@thamesvalleysummer.co.uk or call her in the office on +44 (0)1753 852001.

 2nd May 2018 /    Alice /   English Courses, Education

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