Frequently Asked

About ECS

What is ECS?

English Country Schools, or ECS for short, is a British Council accredited English language teaching organisation. Our primary focus is running a residential English summer school in the UK for international children and teenagers. We also offer online teaching and an adventure camp.

Our English summer camp takes in England, UK. We combine formal lessons, educational workshops and a full activity programme in a safe and beautiful countryside location. Through all these activities, our pupils improve their English and develop personally.

Our organisation specialises in teaching young people under the age of 18, and we have a strong focus on holistic learning, engaging with nature, sustainability and environmental responsibility.

What makes your courses special?

A beautiful location in the countryside; highly organised and personal administration; a friendly, safe and well-supervised environment; separate courses for 8 - 13 and 14 - 17 year olds enabling us to provide best for the needs and interests of each age group; excellent communications and feedback to parents; a limited number of pupils on each course who share the same mother tongue; an exciting choice of activities to help pupils develop through enjoyable and worthwhile experiences - all Accredited by The British Council.

How do pupils benefit?

In addition to learning and improving their English, children and teenagers have a great time, become more independent and develop socially. They meet and make friends with children and teenagers from different countries and cultures. This helps them to broaden their horizons, develop an understanding of others and further practise their English. They enjoy an active, healthy holiday in the countryside and learn more about how to live better in balance with nature. We expect pupils to return home healthy and refreshed and return to their studies with renewed enthusiasm and determination.

How can I be sure?

We have been organising summer courses for over 30 years. We are inspected and accredited by The British Council under the Accreditation UK scheme. We are also founder members of Young Learners English UK. Any of the parents on our list of Parental Contacts will be happy to talk with you about their child's experience of our courses. See also What Parents Say

Who attends your courses?

Children and teenagers aged 7 - 17 from 30+ different countries from all races, religions and cultures, typically attending international school in their own countries. In order to encourage the use of English we accept a maximum of 5 boys and 5 girls in each age group who share the same mother tongue.

Travel & Location

Where do your courses take place?

In beautiful countryside at Port Regis School near Shaftesbury in Dorset in the south of England about 2 hours from London. We also run a one-week adventure camp that takes place in a camp site next to the sea on the Dorset south coast. More information here

How will my child get there?

You can bring your child personally to the school or we can provide free airport transfers between Heathrow and the school / adventure camp on the first and last day. Where possible we put parents from the same country in contact with each other so that students can arrange to travel together. more information

Will my child need a visa?

No visa is required for pupils from any EU or EEA country or for Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan and a few other countries. For further information please see our advice page here

What if the visa is refused?

Please make sure you apply for the correct visa in a timely manner: see our advice page here. If a visa is refused, please send us the visa refusal letter. If in our opinion the reason for refusal is unreasonable, we will refund any payment you have made to us. We will not make refunds if there is parental error: for example if you apply for the wrong type of visa, apply too late or fail to provide the requested documents to the visa authorities.

Do you offer free airport transfers?

Yes, we offer free airport transfers between the school and all terminals at London Heathrow Airport on scheduled arrival and departure dates. For further details please see

Can I accompany my child on the free transfer to the school?

We discourage this. However if you wish to accompany your child on the free transfer coach please note:

  • Only one adult per family
  • Children are not allowed to sit on the parent’s lap
  • Transfer coaches leave at approximately 13:30 and 16:30 and the journey to the school takes about two hours
  • If there are more parents who wish to travel than we have seats available, the parents of the youngest children will have priority

Flights sometimes arrive early or late: for this reason we cannot be sure that we will have places for parents and we cannot arrange additional coaches just so that parents can travel. If we cannot provide a transfer for you (we will of course have places for your children) you will need to decide whether you wish to say goodbye to your children at the airport or arrange a taxi to come to the school. If you come to the school by taxi remember you will need to get back again!

How much does a taxi cost?

For pupils who arrive at London Heathrow after 16:00hrs or depart London Heathrow before 12:00hrs or travel via other airports or stations (including London Gatwick / St Pancras) we can arrange escorted taxi transfers at extra cost (approximately GBP 250 for Heathrow; GBP 275 for Gatwick; GBP 130 for Bristol). The cost reduces for children travelling together. The cost increases for children travelling as Unaccompanied Minors (UMs) or travelling at unsocial hours. Please contact us for precise details.

Dates and prices

When do your courses take place?

Every summer for up to 4 weeks. Summer 2023 dates are:

  • arrive 9 July / 23 July
  • depart 23 July / 6 August

How much does it cost?

Approximately 1500 Pounds Sterling per week. See here for further information.

Is it worth it?

We think so and so do the approximately 50% of students who return to us each summer. Compare the cost of taking your child on holiday to a hotel: in addition we provide English Lessons, excursions, good multinational social company, a full sports and social programme, 3 meals a day and 24-hour supervision!

Do you offer discounts?

We are pleased to offer discounts to a maximum of 15% per child as follows:

Returnees: 10%
Siblings attending together: 10% each
Extended family (eg. cousins) or friends attending together: 5% each

Can my child attend outside your official course dates?

Our courses are normally completely full. If we accept some students for less than the full course (see course dates) this leaves places empty which would otherwise be filled by full fee-paying students. This is not economical for us. Furthermore, the course is conceived as a whole, with a beginning, a middle and an end. For example, a lot of the work that students do in the morning classes and workshops comes together in an end-of-course performance. This helps to make sense of the whole experience for the students. Finally, students on a residential course make very close friendships: when they leave early this can have a demoralising effect on the other students. For these reasons we do not accept students for less than the full period of each course.

Can my child attend just the adventure camp?

Yes - depending on availability. See detailshere

Making a Booking

How do I book?

Complete our booking form. If we can accept your booking we will send you full pre-course information (clothes, airport procedures, school rules, etc) and request your deposit payment (300 GBP) to secure the place. The balance of fees is payable six weeks before your child attends.

When do I need to book?

In each age group (7-11, 11-14, 14-17) we accept a maximum of 5 boys and 5 girls who share the same mother tongue and we give priority to returning students. We are a relatively small organisation with an enviable reputation so places fill quickly. Bookings open in September for the following year. You can check to see if a place is available by completing the first part of our booking form here. We occasionally get cancellations so we operate a reserve list. If you need a visa this can take longer than expected so please allow plenty of time.

Can I represent your school as an agent?

Yes, but please be aware that we do not accept large groups of pupils. In each age group we accept a maximum of 5 boys and 5 girls who share the same mother tongue. Please see further information here

Learning English

How do you decide which class my child will join?

We organise classes for each age group at a variety of levels ranging from Beginner to Advanced. We ask parents to estimate their child's ability in the Booking Form. This gives us an initial idea of placement. We also assess each child's level of English on the first teaching day of the course after they have had time to rest from travelling. There is generally a correlation between age and ability: the younger students tend to be in the lower ability classes, older students tend to be in the higher ability classes. Where this is not the case - for example a young student with very good English, or an older student with limited English - we ask parents to decide whether they wish their child to be placed by age or by ability. 

Do you arrange tests and exams?

All pupils are tested on arrival and are placed in the best class for their age and level of English. Our aim on all courses is to provide motivating content which will make learning English exciting and fun and make maximum use of the multinational situation in an English countryside setting. We firmly believe that attending our courses results in substantially improved English and positive educational / social development which will be reflected in better test results generally.

We don't want to 'teach to the test' in our general English classes and workshops. However pupils aged 11+ who wish to gain an internationally recognised qualification to prove their attainment in speaking and listening in English can choose to attend our separate Trinity GESE academic workshop and exam. This can help to motivate them to mix and speak English among the various nationalities on the course, to everyone's benefit.

My child already has good English. Will he or she benefit?

Yes. Often students who speak good English still need to improve their writing, spelling, grammar, etc. The workshop choices on our courses for pupils aged 11+ (drama, digital photography, grammar and pronunciation, creating a course journal, poetry, etc.) are highly motivating and allow students to concentrate on particular interests and areas of weakness. ECS is about much more than just learning English: all pupils benefit by participating in a variety of sports and activities with their peers from other countries and cultures. They have a great holiday and become more internationally minded, self-confident and independent.

Can parents learn English too?!

Our expertise is in working with children and teenagers. We do not teach adults. We can however help with finding places for adults at British Council Accredited schools in Dorset and Oxfordshire.

Can you give my child extra lessons?

Our experience is that this is counterproductive. Remember that all pupils continue to use and practise their English among the many different nationalities on the course during sports, social activities and free time.

We do however offer a service called 'English Focus' that aims to identify linguistic strengths and weaknesses in order to help a pupil to get the most from attending the course. Please see further information here.

My child is dyslexic - can you help?

Yes! Summer school can be an excellent educational experience for a child or teenager with dyslexia. For more information about this please see

Miscellaneous questions

Is there WiFi at the school?

Mobile devices are an established part of most children's lives but our courses are also an opportunity to get away from screens for a while and engage with real life. We provide filtered wifi for 11 - 17 year olds during scheduled free time.

Do you allow group leaders to attend?

We do not accept groups from any country and for this reason cannot justify providing accommodation for group leaders. Furthermore our safer recruitment policy aims to minimise risk by ensuring that all adults who will come into contact with our pupils have been interviewed, references followed up and background checks carried out. This is undermined if we allow adults who accompany a group to live or assist on the campus. For these reasons we do not allow group leaders.

What if my child gets homesick?

Homesickness is not common on our courses but it can happen. With the right parental support we can nearly always overcome homesickness, helping the child to become more independent in the process. We have a page that describes how you can help reduce the chance of homesickness on the course and how we can best work together to help the child if this happens. Please see here

More information

If you cannot find the answer to a question, please contact us and we will be happy to help.

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