Language schools code of practice
Hastings language schools and summer course organisations code of practice
The Code of Practice has been produced as the result of discussions between English language schools and English language summer course organisers operating in Hastings and other organisations concerned with the functioning of schools or affected by them. It has been produced in an attempt to ensure that schools and course organisers operate in a responsible manner towards their students, maintain good relations with Hastings' permanent residents and other visitors, and enhance the resort's reputation as a centre for learning.
In the remaining sections of this code and in the declaration which follows the word 'school' is used to mean either an English language school or summer course organiser and the word 'schools' to mean the two types of organisation collectively.
All schools operating in Hastings are asked to endorse the Code of Practice which consists of this introductory statement and a detailed declaration containing the standards of operation, which is below. Adherence to the principles and standards is voluntary and is separate from any requirements of the British Council and the ARELS Group for recognition by those bodies. While the Code of Practice is a voluntary agreement undertaken by language schools and summer course organisers, Hastings Borough Council fully supports the aims of the Code and the Code itself. Hastings Borough Council is in no position to enforce the Code and has no legal powers to do so. However, in any approach to the council for information, the importance of the Code in ensuring that acceptable standards are provided will be stressed.
The Code recognises that there is a wide variety of schools operating in the Hastings area which offer courses in English as a Foreign Language. Each has its own characteristics and needs. It is not intended that the Code should inhibit the freedom and ability of organisations to offer a full range of courses.
In general, all schools adhering to this Code should ensure that their promotional literature and brochures are strictly accurate and informative - and do not give, either in text or illustration, a misleading impression of the services offered or the status of the organisation.
The Declaration covers the standards of operation required for education, premises, leisure and social activities, student welfare, host family accommodation, transport and local bus services.
To ensure that educational standards are maintained at all times, all students undertaking a course in Hastings should receive a basic minimum standard of tuition however short or modest their course. This should ensure that students are not disappointed with their course from a language tuition point of view and that the reputation of Hastings as a centre of learning is not devalued. Whilst it is recognised that at the time of drawing up this Code, demand for trained teachers may still exceed supply, all schools should strive towards having a Director of Studies who holds a R.S.A. Diploma (DELTA) and teachers who hold a R.S.A. Preparatory Certificate or equivalent (CELTA or TEFL). The Declaration sets out standards for hours of tuition, class size, teacher qualification, course content and student attainment reports.
Just as the achievement of a good standard of education provision is important, it is essential to obtain a satisfactory standard for premises used by schools if a reputation for a high standard of learning is to be retained. The Declaration deals with regulations and the size and condition of premises.
Leisure and social activities
One of the most noticeable features of schools to the Hastings resident is the large groups of young people which congregate in the town centre each summer. To ensure that any potential conflict between the schools and the resident is kept to a minimum, it is desirable for Schools to supplement their language teaching activities with a high level of organised leisure and social activity. In particular, a full programme with close supervision is needed for under 18's, unless these are accompanied by a parent or other adult. The Declaration includes the need to provide social and leisure events and recreational activities and to avoid over-crowding by students in the town centre. Where possible, Schools should ensure that host families are aware of their responsibilities in ensuring that their students, particularly if under 18, return to host accommodation each evening at the time specified by the School.
Students at schools range from young people, some under 16, to mature adults and from those with no knowledge or experience of life in a foreign country to seasoned travellers. It is particularly important that assistance is given by schools to those with little knowledge or experience in living away from home. Schools should provide for the welfare of their students, paying particular attention to the needs of the young.
To this end, schools should appoint a responsible adult specifically to attend to the needs of students and to be always available in case of difficulties. It may be found useful to provide a leaflet or give an introductory talk to students outlining the habits, laws and customs of the British, the sort of behaviour expected in Britain and other useful information.
Schools need to accept responsibility for their students, reserving the right to expel or remove students from host families and send them home if appropriate. The Declaration calls for the provision of a responsible adult to supervise student welfare and for the issue of identity cards.
Standards of host family accommodation
Particularly if students are on their first visit to Britain, the standard of accommodation and food and the welcome they receive from their host family or in their hostel will colour their future regard for Britain and the British. It is, therefore, important that students are provided with a good minimum standard of accommodation, that schools ensure this standard is maintained and that the relationship between host and student is a satisfactory one. Schools should ensure that one person is specifically concerned with accommodation and that inspections are carried out and complaints quickly investigated. The school prospectus should state clearly the accommodation arrangements provided or available. The Declaration calls for the provision of an accommodation officer, for the inspection of accommodation, the investigation of complaints, clear prospectus details and the controlled allocation of accommodation.
Transport and local bus services
This section has been specifically included because of the difficulties which have occurred due to large numbers of students using public transport, often at peak hours when congestion is already acute. Whenever possible, schools should ensure that these difficulties are minimised. The Declaration covers providing information to transport operators, use of season tickets, off-peak travel, consultations and basic road use instruction.
Schools who sign the Declaration will be issued with an annual certificate for display in their premises. A copy of the Declaration must also be prominently displayed at all times alongside the certificate. Copies of the Declaration must be readily available on request for students and their families, host families or providers of services associated with the industry.
It is expected that the majority of complaints or allegations stemming from violation of the Code of Practice can be satisfactorily resolved internally by the School concerned. Complaints which are not satisfactorily resolved can be referred to a small panel consisting of Hastings Language School Organisers and a representative of Hastings Borough Council. Although the Panel do not have any legal powers, they can exclude any school from displaying the Hastings Code of Practice Certificate and withdraw the right of use of the logo and/or any other services outlined in the Code of Practice.
Where appropriate, serious complaints or allegations will be referred to statutory organisations such as trading standards, environmental health, planning, etc.
* NOTE: For Hastings read Hastings and St Leonards.
For the purposes of this Declaration the word "School" is used to mean a school or summer course organiser for the teaching of English as a foreign language.
The school undertakes that:
1. It will provide its students with a minimum of 10 hours supervised tuition per week (except where it is already subject to different requirements imposed by the Department for Education), except where the purpose of the students stay is explicitly cultural rather than linguistic.
2. Its teachers will be appropriately qualified and will have received training and briefing to at least a minimum standard (as referred to in the Code of Practice).
3. Its classes will not exceed a maximum of 16 students under the control of one teacher (except where it is already subject to different requirements imposed by the Department for Education).
4. Its courses will be designed and organised by a course director suitably qualified and experienced in teaching English as a foreign language. These courses will aim to maximise the students' opportunity to extend their familiarity with the English language and the British way of life through formal tuition and through contact with the English-speaking environment which the resort provides.
5. It will issue a written Certificate of Attendance attainment to its students on completion of their course, where appropriate. A statement of a student's level of progress will be made available on request.
1. The school asserts that its premises will comply with all the necessary fire, environmental health and planning regulations and consents, and all permanent employees must be fully conversant with current fire procedures.
2. The premises will be in good repair, of adequate size and equipped with suitable facilities for the number of students using them.
Leisure and social activities
1. A leisure programme will be provided appropriate to the age, ability and interests of students. This may include excursions, study visits, sports events and other social activities. Where students under the age of 18 are involved, the programme will involve all of these things, will be closely supervised and will account for the majority of their non-tuition time. Emphasis should be placed on ensuring that the student and host family adhere to the times set down by schools by which students should return to their host family accommodation each evening.
2. Where feasible, the school will arrange for its students to use the resort's recreational facilities such as the sports centre, etc., in organised groups.
3. To avoid the congregation of large numbers of young people at locations such as the town centre where this may cause nuisance or be a hazard to traffic, the school will use less congested locations such as Wellington Place, Wellington Square, the seafront and Warrior Square Gardens.
1. Students will be given pastoral care appropriate to their age, background and circumstances. Account will be taken of any special needs arising from religious observance.
2. A named person(s) will be identified to all staff and students to deal with students' personal problems.
3. There will be a procedure, known to all students and staff, for dealing with abusive behaviour (harassment, bullying, actual or threatened violence, damage to personal property, and verbal and other abuse based on racial, sexual or religious differences).
4. All students will be issued with a 24-hour emergency contact number of the school/school leader.
5. Students should be given advice on:
- Local facilities, services and amenities
- Personal safety and the care of valuables
- Medical and personal insurance
- Local places of worship
- Licensing laws
- Traffic regulations
- Compliance with the law, e.g. use of drugs, cigarettes, knives, motoring offences, procedures in case of arrest by the police.
Schools will ensure that students under 18 lodged by them or their agency in host families will not be lodged with students of 18 years or older.
Standards of host family accommodation
1. Within host family accommodation the following will be made available to the student to ensure a comfortable living environment throughout their stay.
- A proper state of cleanliness and repair
- Adequate heating and lighting
- A sufficiently spacious bedroom with natural light, equipped with an adequately size bed and adequate hanging and drawer space for clothes
- Appropriate privacy from members of the opposite sex.
- A table for private study
- Sufficient washing facilities and access to a bathroom, with baths or showers available daily.
- A change of towels and bed linen each week
- A laundry service (especially in the case of under 18s) or clearly explained laundry arrangements.
2. All accommodation allocated to students will be visited by a responsible representative before students are placed.
3. All accommodation will be inspected by the school/agency at least once every two years.
4. Accommodation registers will be kept up to date with accurate information, including records of visits.
5. No more than four students will be accommodation in a host family at any one time (including students from other schools/agencies).
6. Before students (under 18) are placed in host family accommodation the prospective host [main carer(s)] will be required a sign a declaration that they and other adults in the home are not unfit to be in contact with such students.
7. The Accommodation Provider will ask for a copy of a Gas Regulatory Check before any student is accommodated.
8. No more than two students will be accommodated in the same bedroom.
9. Students with the same first language will not be lodged in the same home at the same time (unless written consent is obtained in advance of arrival from agents/parents or legal guardians).
10. The school will employ an accommodation officer to inspect and approve host families. He/she will also be responsible for providing host families with guidance and support.
11. The school reserves the right to inspect its host families' facilities at random and without prior notice.
12. The school will immediately investigate all complaints made by students about host families or made by host families about students.
13. The Duty to Refer, under the guidance of the ISA/CRB, checking system is paramount.
Transport and local bus services
In order to minimise congestion of the resort's transport services at busy times of year, the school agreed to endeavour:
1. To provide Stagecoach, the local bus company, before the summer, with an indication of its students' likely travel patterns during July and August specifying:
- likely numbers of students
- the areas where they will be lodged
- the relevant bus routes
- the times they are likely to travel by bus.
2. To encourage its students to use the appropriate season or multi-journey bus tickets.
3. To consult the bus companies when establishing lesson times during the summer, where these are likely to have an effect on local bus use.
4. To consult the appropriate train operating company when making arrangements for large groups of students to travel by train, particularly with regard to peak times
5. To provide some basic instruction in road safety and the Highway Code for students who choose to travel by bicycle instead of by public transport.
1. Schools must display a copy of the annual Code of Conduct Certificate and Declaration in a prominent position on their premises.
2. Copies of the Declaration must be made available on request.
3. A panel of Language School Organisers and a representative of Hastings Borough Council will mediate on unresolved serious complaints or allegations; referring complaints to relevant statutory organisations when appropriate.
4. The panel will have the right to exclude any school which consistently violates the Code of Practice. All benefits relating to the Code of Practice such as use of the Code of Practice logo and display of the certificate, etc., will be withdrawn.
NOTE: For Hastings read Hastings and St Leonards
Language schools code of practice