Language school that sells Liverpool to the world
For two decades, the Liverpool School of English has taught English to more than 50,000 students in 80 countries and faced the greatest challenge in its history during the pandemic. Tony McDonough reports
The visitor economy before the Liverpool pandemic was worth over £ 3 billion a year and one of the unsung heroes of that success has been the Liverpool School of English.
Based in Mount Pleasant for 23 years, the school taught English to more than 5,000 international students a year in more than 80 countries around the world, before the COVID-19 crisis.
Once the pandemic struck in March last year, a combination of lockdowns and severe restrictions on international travel caused those numbers to plummet. The company escaped the various aspects of government support for businesses and had to go through the most difficult period in its history without outside help.
But, thanks to the vaccine rollout, COVID restrictions in the UK are gradually being relaxed and May is expected to see a significant easing of restrictions on international travel, a change that is greeted enthusiastically by Saeed Adam, head of business development. at the Liverpool School of English.
“The pandemic has been really difficult for us,” he told LBN. “Due to blockages, travel bans and border restrictions, most of our students disappeared overnight. In May and June, we started offering online courses to students around the world.
“But it has always been very difficult for us. We still have bills to pay, a full time staff of about 70 people, the running costs of our building. We were not at all eligible for the first round of government tariff relief. In the end, the government gave more latitude to the boards, but we still haven’t met the criteria.
“The southern councils interpreted the rules differently and a lot of our competition there got support. And while we spoke to Liverpool City Council and they were supportive of us, we still didn’t meet the criteria. “
These overheads also included membership fees for various commercial organizations of which the Liverpool School of English is a member. In normal times, representatives of the school would go to events and trade fairs all over the world, selling not only the school, but also the city.
Saeed explained: “Before the pandemic we visited 28 different countries around the world, at trade shows, exhibitions with bodies such as UKTI and the British Council. I would say 60% of the time we were selling Liverpool as a destination.
“Schools of English for Foreigners represent £ 1.4 billion each year to the UK economy. The Liverpool School of English alone has drawn over 50,000 people to the city over the past two decades.
“If you go back 10 years, Liverpool was not in the top 20 destinations for foreign students looking to learn English. Now he’s about sixth or seventh. Capital of Culture really helped in 2008 as Liverpool FC and The Beatles. Students from Japan and Brazil especially like to come for The Beatles.
According to Saeed, most students fall into three categories. By far the largest cohort are university students who are already studying in the city and who need to learn English to complete their studies. Second, people, mainly Europeans, who are looking to improve their employment prospects. Holidaymakers who simply want to speak better English also come to the school.
It also offers the OET qualification, an English test designed specifically for the many healthcare professionals coming from overseas to work in the NHS. And the school is accredited by the British Council, English UK, ISI and PTE.
Enrollment at the Liverpool School of English can double or triple during the summer months, which is a peak time for visitors to the city. At these times, the school also uses the City of Liverpool College space when it is closed to its regular students during summer vacation.
“We also welcome many representatives of foreign embassies to the school,” Saeed added. “We show them what we do and we show them how fantastic Liverpool is as a city and how safe it is for people to visit.
“In April we relaunched our physical classes and we are already seeing a growing demand from people overseas to come to Liverpool. We also continue to run the courses online and deliver them to different time zones to accommodate students in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America.
“There is a group of French students who are isolating themselves here and they are coming to the school to start their lessons in the next few days. Obviously, we’re still waiting to see what restrictions on international travel will be lifted in the coming weeks.
“Hopefully we will have a very busy summer. The number of emails we receive shows that people from all over the world are eager to come to Liverpool. We are bringing a lot of money to this city and we are very optimistic about the future. “