Italian students of the Monte San Martino Trust who attend Central School of English in London spend their four-week bursary in a building steeped with history. As a plaque on the wall attests, it was the home of Samuel Pepys, the famous diarist and Naval official, from 1679 to 1688. He had just arrived from the Tower of London – not, as a tourist, like the Trust’s students, perhaps –but as a former prisoner. He had been arrested on trumped-up charges of passing naval secrets to the French.
For many years the Trust has been sending students to Central School, which along with the other school that it uses, CSE-Oxford, offers high-quality education and takes its duty of care extremely seriously. Those elements have not changed but in June 2019 Central School did undergo a shift in that it moved premises, from its previous base in Tottenham Court Road to 12 Buckingham Street, the home of Pepys.
The main reason for the move was that Central School’s owner, Till Gins, did not own the premises in Tottenham Court Road but he does own 12 Buckingham Street. Central operates independently but is one of the schools acquired over the years by Instill Education, as the business is known. Two other language schools under this umbrella share the five floors in 12 Buckingham Street – OISE and The Regent School of English
The presence of three separate but collaborating schools provides flexibility in terms of meeting students’ individual needs and creates an even better social and cultural programme than before. The company has invested heavily in upgrading the premises to provide an impressive learning experience for students, which is essential in an increasingly competitive market. There continues to be no shortage of private language schools in London but they all face the challenge of declining demand for short private language programmes.
It is imperative that schools provide the highest standards of tuition and customer care. A lot of schools have gone out of business and pretty much every school in London is down on numbers, except perhaps in those schools teaching young teenagers. Scandinavian and northern Europe pupils now leave school with a much higher level of English than previously so they are less likely to visit London for short courses. The same is true to a lesser extent in Italy and Spain but these countries continue to be the most fruitful market.
The number of students in summer remains healthy. All Instill Education schools prioritise high-quality teaching and the size of a class never exceeds eight students. Attendance outside the summer months usually falls off so, for example, Davide Montini, a bursary recipient from the province of Ancona, found himself in the fortunate position in November 2019 of being in a class of four people. He said: “I did not study English after leaving high school and I spoke without structure – ‘macaroni English’! This has been a very good way to improve.”
Davide also benefited from the guided walks arranged from the school. Situated at Embankment, the school is well placed for touring London and is close to Embankment Station in a quiet street which contrasts with the previous location in Tottenham Court Road. As David Mullany, the school Principal, says: “I now don’t have to listen to buskers every afternoon. This location is much more conducive to effective study!”