Paul Fear, CEO, British Accreditation Council (BAC)

1.75 billion people is a huge number, about 23% of the world’s population. That’s the number of people who can speak English to a ‘useful level’ and the numbers are growing fast. by 2020 the number of speakers is set to reach 2 billion.

There are numerous reasons for the growth in the use of English from its flexibility as a language, you don’t need to be fluent in English to make your self understood, English readily accepts new forms and words in ways other languages might struggle to do, its widespread use as the lingua franca in technology, business, academia, diplomacy and so on.

The demand then for English language teaching and associated services is enormous. According to one estimate, although meaningful statistics are very hard to come by, world revenue from the supply of such services reached US$35.5 bn in 2016.

Teaching aids, textbooks and so on obviously form a considerable part of that total but the lions share will be generated from the teaching of English. Whilst a lot of the teaching will be in primary and secondary schools a substantial, if unmeasured, form of delivery will be undertaken by private language schools. Therein lies a problem.

In almost every sphere of education and training there will be a mechanism for ensuring quality of delivery. It would almost be unheard of for primary and secondary schools not to be inspected and regulated, universities are increasingly and sometimes uncomfortably becoming aware that their students and potential students expect to receive value for money.

Executive education is hugely demanding with results driven demand dictating which providers succeed or fail.   It would not be unreasonable to assume that English language market worth many billions of dollars would have the same degree of oversight. If that is your expectation, then you are going to be disappointed.

Apart from a few countries where there are semi voluntary accreditation schemes, and a small number of international accreditation bodies there is very little oversight of the sector. In most countries English language schools are considered to be private training providers and are therefore not seen as an integral part of the formal education sector. The net effect of this is that the vast majority of EFL language schools aren’t regulated or quality assured.

This has led to the industry suffering from an image problem. Stories abound of classes being staffed with teachers whose only qualification is that they are native English speakers.

Whilst I am sure that some unqualified staff are excellent teachers there are very few other areas of education provision where it would be acceptable to employ teaching staff without any teaching qualifications or experience. It might be a great opportunity for young backpackers seeking to support themselves on their travels or students on a gap year, but you might question how effective they are in the classroom.

This means the industry plays host, at one extreme, to outstanding high quality providers of English language education but at the other end of the spectrum, schools delivering poor quality education that take advantage of the lack of an independent quality assurance mechanism.

The final part of the puzzle is the characteristics of the English as a foreign language market. Very low barriers of entry means almost anyone can set up a school. As a result, competition is fierce with branding becoming the key differentiator for students rather than actual quality of provision.

At the British Accreditation Council, we believe we can make a meaningful contribution to supporting good practice within the sector and provide greater transparency for all stakeholders.

Having spent more than a year in the research and development of an accreditation scheme we were very pleased to launch the scheme at an event held in the House of Commons in early March.

The scheme sets out a set of standards incorporating not only the best practice that we see in the EFL industry but also sets out expectations on assessment and the monitoring of student progress and outcomes, teacher qualifications and their professional development and, of course, child protection measures.

The scheme is demanding and as a result we expect that many of providers will chose not to pursue accreditation but for those that do, based on our experience of working in more than 20 countries, suggests that students and other stakeholders will gravitate to providers who can demonstrate they have robust quality assurance mechanism in place. In the long term we hope that our accreditation scheme along with the small number agencies who operate in this market will improve standards and confidence in the industry.

Ultimately, quality assurance is beneficial for everyone even though it can be a painful experience for the uninitiated but is certainly worth it both professionally and commercially in the long run.

Paul Fear, CEO, British Accreditation Council (BAC)

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page