Broadstairs English Centre has won an international award.
It has been named Language Educator of the Year in the globally-recognised PIEoneer Awards that celebrate innovation and achievement across the international education industry.
It was the only UK competitor in its category and triumphed against tough competition from much large organisations – The University of Sydney Centre for English Teaching in Australia, and the International Language Academy of Canada.
The gala awards ceremony was celebrated online this year due to virus safety restrictions and the BEC citation read: “Established in 2009 by a family of teachers, Broadstairs English Centre is particularly noted for its dedication to training, particularly for homestay providers, a program that encourages the promotion of learning outside of class and in the home by teaching providers ways to facilitate conversation and learning through techniques used in the classroom.”
Director Chris McDermott said: “This is a fabulous achievement and a real honour. We were proud to fly the flag as the only UK-based finalist against very worthy and highly experienced fellow nominees.
“We deserve our place among the hierarchy of international education providers. We are determined to focus on what each of our students need to gain the maximum benefit from their time with us.
“Our success is only possible because of an amazing team whose dedication ensures that every student we welcome has a unique experience.
“We have worked hard to create a learning-centred school which makes the most of the short time our young guests are with us. This helped to shape our mission ‘to create one continuous learning experience to which every member of staff and every homestay provider contributes’.”
It is the latest major honour for BEC, which is jointly run by Chris and his brother Alex who is co-director.
Earlier this year it was named the top-ranking, year-round young learners’ school in the industry’s 2020 rankings published by the international EL Gazette, based on the British Council inspection report.
But BEC is not content to sit on its laurels. The centre is already forging ahead to create new learning opportunities for young people from around the world, seeking fresh ideas and challenges to work around current pandemic restrictions.
Through the Latin America virtual language fair Alex is discussing his ideas with representatives from across the region including Ecuador, Argentina and Peru.
He explained: “We can offer a long stay programme for students from Latin America, such as a 10-12 week term. They will arrive and live in their bubble in a Covid-secure setting with all health and safety measures in place.
“If their schools and colleges in their home regions are shut and they are doing their learning online, then why not spend a whole term with BEC on a language, cultural and heritage experience – and they can continue their individual studies online, just as they would at home.
“In fact, the pandemic has opened up this sort of bespoke learning opportunity. I believe we meet the challenge it has created by looking afresh and innovating.”
He also believes the successful links visiting BEC students have established with local schools can be explored again through the pairing of virtual buddies who could meet online and share their educational and social experiences, with socially-distanced meetings an option.
Response has been encouraging and Chris will be further promoting the idea at the ICEF (International Consultants for Education and Fairs) virtual event from Berlin that will again feature global networking and discussion.
BEC is also looking to introduce its residential bubble language learning for any international group from January to July who may stay from one week to four. The students, aged from 11-17, would all be from the same school and would travel, eat, learn, enjoy activities and excursions, all within the same social group.
Chris added: “We are adapting and moving forward to meet the challenges the pandemic has presented. Our aim remains to be up and running as soon as the pandemic is under control and personal safety is assured. We will be rebuilding our staffing structure and host family network as to meet our needs.”