Frequently Asked
Questions

About ECS

What is ECS?

ECS - English Country Schools - is a British Council Accredited English Language and activity summer school organisation for children and teenagers 7 to 17. Learning takes place through formal lessons, educational workshops and a full activity programme in a safe and beautiful countryside location so that pupils improve their English and develop personally.

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 7 - 10, 11 - 14 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.

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. We expect children 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.

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?

In brief, if your child is a non-EU citizen he or she may need a a Short-term student (child) visa to attend English Country Schools or a Short-term student (6 months) visa if aged 16 or 17. For further information please see our page here

What if the visa is refused?

Please make sure you apply for the correct visa in a timley manner: see our advice page at https://www.countryschools.co.uk/more-info/visa-support/  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.

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?

If you child must travel outside our free transfer times or via another airport or train station we can arrange escorted taxi transfers. Our driver will meet children on arrival and assist with checking in on departure. The maximum cost for a one-way taxi transfer is £230 for Heathrow and £245 for Gatwick. When pupils share a taxi the cost will be shared between the number of pupils plus £15 per child (to take into account a larger vehicle, waiting and checking in different flights, etc.) Children travelling as Unaccompanied Minors (in the care of airline staff) will incur an extra charge of £20 per person to reflect the extra time needed to look after them. There are also extra charges for antisocial hours if the taxi journey begins before 06:00 or after 20:00. We cannot be sure of the exact cost until we receive everyone's flight details. Also, there may be changes on the day: for example flights may be delayed or arrive early. We do not arrange taxi transfers without first receiving payment and need at least two weeks notice to be sure of using our usual taxi company. The best way to handle this is for us to charge the maximum cost to your child's account. We will however deduct only the actual cost according to the number of people who share. Any surplus will be returned to the child's account. We do not make any profit on taxi journeys and the cost of the taxi is not negotiable. If pupils choose to pay the taxi driver directly (not recommended) they *must* obtain a receipt to avoid being charged twice. 

Dates and prices

When do your courses take place?

Every summer for up to 5 weeks. Summer 2019 dates are:

  • July 7 - August 4
  • July 7 - 21
  • July 21 - August 4
  • August 4 - 12 (English through Adventure)

How much does it cost?

Approximately 1250 Pounds Sterling per week. See here for further information.

What does the cost include?

Please see here for a list of what is and is not included in the course fee

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 a discount of up to 10% off the course fee per child as follows:

Returnees: 10%
Siblings attending together: 10%
Extended family (eg. cousins) attending together: 5%
Friends attending together: 5%

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. Our English through Adventure camp can be attended by itself or in addition to the main course. See details here

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?

On each course we accept a maximum of 5 boys and 5 girls who share the same mother tongue and we give priority to returning students. We have just one centre and 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. 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 goliday 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.

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. We provide wifi for 7 - 10 year olds for around one hour per day before the evening meal, 17:00 - 18:00.

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.

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