As parents of a teenage boy, we understand very well that sending your child to another country for a few weeks is a decision that you will not take easily.
Of course we also know that going on a language course at this age is an important character-building experience which also boosts your child's self confidence.
The most important element is a safe environment.
We have procedures in place to ensure the safety of our students from the moment they arrive in England to the moment they leave. You can find details in our Safeguarding Policy, but here are some of the main points we think you should know:
Most students fly to London Heathrow Airport. We have staff waiting at the airport to meet your child when he or she arrives. We will also give your child a 24/7 mobile number so that he or she can always contact us if there are any problems before he/she meets our leader.
Our leaders will bring your child to our coach or minibus for the journey to Weymouth.
When the group arrives in Weymouth, our Accommodation Officer will introduce each student to his or her hosts. The hosts will then take your child to their home and show them all they need to know.
Students arriving at other airports are brought to Weymouth by taxi. The driver meets them when they arrive at the airport and brings them directly to their homestays.
Each student receives a street map of Weymouth and the area. The college and all the meeting places are clearly shown on the map. Your child's hosts will also show him or her their local bus stop.
The next morning, hosts normally take their students to the college by car.
Our hosts understand that this is a whole new experience for their guests and they make them feel welcome as soon as they arrive.
Our students normally settle in to their new "homes" quickly and their English hosts soon become their temporary "parents", looking after them just as you do. Being part of a family environment ensures that our students are well looked after as individuals.
Jennie, our Accommodation Officer, is in regular contact with our hosts and they call her if they have any concerns.
On the first school day all the students meet at the college and we start with a short introduction where we tell them what we will be doing during the day.
There is a short written test and a spoken test which enable us to put your child into the most suitable class.
The first lesson covers what to say in typical situations and we look at cultural differences.
Students get their lunch at the college and then your child will get a full induction where we explain the school's rules and how to stay safe.
We will look at the street map with each student individually to make sure that your child understands where the meeting places for the programme activities are and how they can get home.
Students will then get their id cards, which list the contact details for their hosts as well as the school, with a 24/7 emergency number.
We look at the freetime programme and anyone who has not already chosen their activities can now do so. Everyone gets a printout of their whole programme, which shows the exact meeting time and place for each event.
We then take the students on a tour of the main points in Weymouth, including the meeting points. We also show them all where their individual bus stops are to get home.
Your child's teacher will monitor his or her progress and help with any language problems. If the teacher feels that the level of the class is a little too high or low, he or she will discuss this with your child.
Ewa, our Director of Studies, also monitors each student's progress and she will arrange for your child to move to a different class if your child and the teacher think this advisable.
There is a full programme of activities and excursions. Our leaders are with the students for all these activities. They are responsible for ensuring the safety of all the students.
We have carried out a risk assessment for each activity. This shows the leaders where any dangers may be and shows them how to keep the students safe in that situation. It covers everything from crossing roads safely to avoiding fishermen's hooks on the quayside!
The evening activities finish at around 21:30. Our leaders will take your child to his or her bus stop and wait until he or she has got on the bus to go home. There will normally be quite a few other students on the same bus.
If your child is flying home from London Heathrow Airport, his or her hosts will bring him/her to the college, where a leader will be waiting.
Our leader will travel to the airport with the group. On arrival we take the students to the departure hall and help each student check in. We will make sure that your child knows where to go after the passport check. We will wait at the airport until the plane has departed.
If there is any problem or the plane is not able to leave, we will collect your child and stay with him/her until he or she is able to depart. If a delay means that the plane is not able to leave until the next day, we will arrange accommodation and stay with your child until he/she is able to fly.
Your child will have the mobile telephone number of the leader(s).
For return jouneys from other airports or with small groups, the return may be in a minibus. Our driver will check in the students, wait until the plane has departed and be available for any problems, as for the Heathrow flights above.
The school has a Safeguarding Policy with details of all that Weymouth English Centre does to ensure the safety of its students.
Students are not under the school’s supervision when travelling to school each morning or returning to their homestays. Some students live close to the college and will walk to school, but most will use the local bus service, where a weekly pass allows unlimited travel.
Students are housed in certain areas where the school has several homestays so that there will normally be other students travelling to and from school on the same bus.
Students also travel by bus, unsupervised, to the meeting places for the evening activities. These venues are at several locations in Weymouth and are detailed on each student’s programme of activities as well as marked on the street map which is given to each student.
At the end of the weekday evening activities, activity leaders take the students to their central bus stops in Weymouth, make sure that each student gets on the right bus and wait until the last students have left. Students must go straight home to be at their homestays by 22:00.
The different activities on any evening are timed so that all the students go home at the same time. This ensures that there are always several students on the same bus and going to the same area. If students wish to go out without their homestays on the “family evening”, after the Saturday excursion or on Sundays, they must follow the “away from homestay” procedure described in section 12.2.7 of the Safeguarding Policy.
In our experience this is usually a bigger problem for the parents than for the students!
We have genuinely caring hosts who will inform us if there are any problems. We have a team of teachers and leaders who have been specially trained for these courses and want the best for each student. There is a very full programme of activities and excursions which keeps all the students very busy.
Many different members of our team will see your child each day and will follow up any sign of unhappiness. We also get regular feedback from our students.
But of course sometimes we do have a student who feels homesick. When it does, parents react in different ways.
A natural course of action is for parents to start calling their child much more frequently, perhaps several times a day. This is, in fact, almost always the worst thing you can do.
Learning to cope while away from one's parents is a normal part of growing up. It may be difficult, but the child who goes through this develops into a more mature and stronger person. Being immersed in this "new" environment is the best way to adapt and grow. Parents who call their children several times a day keep bringing them out of that environment and back towards something they knew before they started the experience. After the call, they then have to start again in their new situation. As hard as it may be for the parents, keeping contact to a minimum is normally the best way of letting children cope with this important stage in their lives.
Of course we fully understand that you want to know how your child is progressing. With the course papers you will receive the personal mobile telephone number of Chris, the Director and Centre Manager. You are welcome to call or email him to discuss your child's individual situation and he will give you all the information you need.
Our teachers, activity leaders and all our team have been "DBS" checked by the authorities. This ensures that no people who have been shown to be unsuitable for working with children can be employed by WEC.
Our hosts, coach and minibus drivers and taxi drivers have also been checked, as have any other adults who may come into unsupervised contact with our students.
Your child and you will receive a 24 / 7 emergency contact number before the course starts. He or she and you will always be able to contact a member of our team if there is any problem.
Your child and you will be given contact details so that he or she can always contact us in Weymouth.
If you are not satisfied with any part of the school's work, please tell us as soon as possible so that we can find a solution.
If you tell us about a problem and are still not satisfied, please contact our director, Christopher Hills, at firstname.lastname@example.org or T. +44 (0)1926 811709 and give him the full details.
If you are still not satisfied, you should contact English UK, 219 St John Street, London, EC1V 4LY with full details of the problem.
"This is to thank you and your staff for making Tadzio’s stay apparently very enjoyable as well as making everything easy for me as far as the preparations went. Also the Edmonds as the host family were absolutely spot on. He enjoyed staying with them as the large family bustle much reminded him of home."
Marcin - parent from Poland
"Just a few words to tell you that Victoire and Pauline were both very happy about their 2 weeks in Weymouth. Their families were both very kind and they also appreciated the English lessons and the sailing courses. Thank you very much for every thing."
Isabelle - parent from Belgium
"I would like to let you know that Nina had a wonderful time in Weymouth. Her host parents were very nice and they were always available for a talk. It was great that the only language the students had in common was English. Nina enjoyed the different activities which were offered. Overall, she made very good progress during her stay. Thanks a lot!"
Pascale - parent from Germany
"thanks for your fantastic job and attention."
Reinhold - parent from Germany
"I wish to thank you and all the staff for your wonderful work at WEC. Elena really enjoyed her stay, the school, the two families and the activities. She is thinking to come and be an activity leader next year. During our short visit we could appreciate the organization with bus and taxes coming to pick up students for their activities. The place is really beautiful, both Weymouth center, Portland island and surroundings like Durdle door. We will certainly send our younger daughter Chiara to WEC when she will be 14 or 15."
Mauro - parent from Italy