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  • Writer's pictureSilvia Krivosik

Making a Difference within the Community - Expanding the Reach by Learning English

St. George’s School of English is an independent English language school in the field of English language training and cultural experiences for students of all ages. We compete successfully in the market for training and cultural experiences contracts, often against major language chains. We operate a school with more than 20 staff and currently deliver our services to over 4000 clients every year, located both locally and globally. We deliver both mainstream English language training and specialised bespoke programmes (mostly run in house, but also off site at local companies) to speakers of English as a foreign language.

Our social mission is:- To enhance and empower non English speakers’ lives by providing opportunities through English language training and to bring people and communities together through a multicultural experience.

Our principal objective is to deliver on this mission, taking every opportunity to have a positive social impact locally and globally: in everything that we do, maximising the good that we do. This is a far reaching aspiration, but is at the heart of our decisions and how we run our business.

The key to our impact is access – using English language training to remove the barriers faced by most speakers of English as a foreign language. Being able to communicate effectively in English, both here in the UK as well as abroad, makes an amazing difference to people’s lives. It is the means by which most speakers of English as a foreign language in the UK can use to access jobs, education, general services – or even the simple freedom of socialising and being part of a community and culture you live or are surrounded with – all so central to our quality of life and its enjoyment. These are all so obvious to us all, yet the lack of these can have such a negative effect on those who are unable to access it.

We also target access to opportunities, providing training for people who aim to advance their personal and professional career, have been ‘stuck’ in a job which does not satisfy or challenge their personal development, or whom have been unemployed. By advancing their current skills, increasing their employability and professional language skills we help them access better jobs in a more competitive job market.

Our range of services are closely aligned with our social mission: - adult English language training, cultural training, work experience, ‘naturalisation’ in the local community and culture, ‘living in the UK’ skills, social English, specialised subject programmes such as training for specific vocabulary and language use, ‘furthering studies’ training and skills, as well as a huge range of novel and bespoke English training solutions to meet the needs of specific companies and departments (local council, NHS, general health care, dentistry, specialised companies, local community groups, independent catering company chains). These programmes are provided for clients who live or work locally, as well as client s who travel to us from abroad. - teenage work experience, English language training and cultural training programmes, specialised subject programmes such as EU funded programmes in specific fields of industry, cultural experience and training programmes - English language and cultural experience training for children - as the only training provider in our area we also provide English language training and cultural experience for local AuPairs - our accommodation services which place learners in local host families form an important part of our programmes and cultural education in our area

How does our school engage in specific activities that have a positive impact on the community

1. Individual development and support As the leading language organiser and a cultural enterprise in our area, we believe in the positive impact that language training, cultural inclusion and professional development has in breaking down barriers for the most effected in our society. We want a world where everyone can access quality jobs, education, services and have a quality life within the community.

Our training programmes are designed to help our clients achieve a personal cultural and language confidence within the community and in the job market. For many foreign people, a language barrier and a dependency on help of others hampers access to everything needed to lead a full life in the UK. Our training equips people with the language and employability skills and confidence to exceed their personal ‘ceilings’ and stagnation independently. The bespoke element of ‘naturalisation’ in our training enables them to not only professionally and personally grow but also network whilst including themselves fully and productively in the local society.

2. Community and cultural inclusion activities We support a wonderfully diverse range of community groups and projects, by providing organisation, support and premises. This allows community members to socialise together, create and get together for their common purpose. Amongst our own events created for the members of our community in Worthing was a first ‘Christmas around the world’ market. The purpose of this event was to bringing the cultural barriers down by introducing locals to different diverse cultural traditions of this season in a pleasant festive social setting. The event brought together local traders with their goods and ware, local entertainers and catering, our students and staff who contributed with their knowledge and organisation, and many members of the community from varied backgrounds, including many families with children for our festive creative workshops. Our event attracted a high number of visitors and had a very positive impact on all attendees.

We also act as an enabler for the social impact of others by participating in events such a ‘Worthing Artist Open Houses’, an event which allows local artists and crafters to display their art to the local community. We were also one of the exhibitors at this event portraying the beauty of the local surroundings as we proudly show it to our clients.

Our new and recently launched local campaign includes a club card scheme enabling our clients to unlock benefits, special discounts and deals from the local shops and traders thus attracting even more revenue to Worthing.

Our accommodation scheme using local host families has proven to be invaluable in educating local families that foreigners and cultural diversity are not to be feared but valued. Our latest research shows that this activity not only increases cultural education, enjoyment of diversity, and awareness but also radically reduces racism.

Our work experience scheme of the past 5 years using local companies has created many career opportunities for our clients leading to the enhancement of cultural education and professional skills by both the participating companies as well as our clients resulting in many success stories of our clients abroad.

3. ‘English as a foreign language’ training

Our language training comes in many different formats to suit the busy lives and varied needs of people of different cultures and engages young and old into the languages skills which create the career opportunities they develop through their lives. Our programmes are designed for people already settled locally, as well as for people travelling to us for short term or long term studies with the aim of returning back to their countries. All our programmes (whether it is one to one tuition, group or special programmes) include elements of cultural training; and support our learners into preparing and taking professional language exams and qualification they can further utilise on their professional path. The skills gained during these programmes are transferrable locally as well as globally and cater for clients of all ages, starting as young as four years old.

4. Preparation for further education and training

Our language training and study skills programmes such as University Preparation and Study Skills support our learners into education or further training, where they wish to pursue professional exams and gain formal qualifications at universities or colleges thus directly contributing to the increasing skills base and quality of the job market.

5. Professional development and skills

The professional training programmes are based on the employment and skills needs of the communities where we work, covering a wide range of subjects. In fact, we are the only training establishment which runs not just language related programmes but cultural skills related to specific jobs. We work with a wide variety of agencies, partners and local companies to deliver a rolling programme of courses to people who need to enhance their professional skills within their already chosen jobs, programmes which are not only language but also industry and culture specific. Our programmes are designed explicitly to support them to achieve employment outcomes and to meet the employer’s skill needs. Especially in industries so heavily dependent on foreign workers where there is no such service in existence, our courses fill a great need as expressed by many local employers dealing with foreign workers.

One of our largest current clients is a local chain of catering establishments and restaurants called Proto group where we designed a specific course to bridge the language as well as cultural barrier between the local English customers and the restaurant employees who are all foreign workers. The course includes teaching the employees specific skills such as English humour and ‘naturalisation’ into specific aspects of the local culture you cannot find anywhere else, such as local interests, preferences, cultural knowledge etc.. The purpose is to strengthen the relationship between the employees and customers and create more positive working experience for everyone. These courses also include certain aspects of ‘life coaching’ to establish a need for self-development and motivation.

This is just one of the businesses with very specific needs. We have run courses for a large local company with needs to develop the languages skills of their foreign employees in the melting plastic industry called Nordell. We regularly deliver commercial training for workers within the local health industry (NHS workers such as nurses, care assistants doctors and dentists) requiring a specific language recognition exam in order to practice or progress within the employment.

For many of our learners long periods of employment within the same job, where they have reached their personal ‘ceiling’ or other personal circumstances have sapped their confidence and self-esteem and eroded the skills and qualities needed to succeed at work. This has placed real barriers to accessing the professional development market. This is now becoming recognised by employers as a barrier and raises a need for specific training of foreign workers, and has in fact created a niche market for our school. Our range of courses and programmes not only help learners to achieve qualifications, but also embed the day-to-day skills needed to thrive in employment – by mentoring for confidence, by providing information, advice and guidance to highlight choices and options, leading to higher employment satisfaction and reflecting itself in better work ethics and motivation, helping employers increase their employee effectiveness in return. Our school aims to increase the participation of employers and learners from a wider community and now provides programmes in house as well as off site.

Our school also aims to remove the barriers to participation. We create programmes around the work schedule and life commitments of our learners, to suit their employers too.

As employers’ needs change, so do our programmes. Since 2012 we have introduced programmes to reflect labour market needs leading to work experience programmes for overseas learners aged 17 and older. These programmes prepare learners for employment, and we have extended our offer for supporting teaching in schools abroad by preparing teachers from EU countries. This programme also includes observations in local colleges and schools whom we participate with, such as Northbrook College and Davison Schools. We have worked with local employers including the local council, GSK, NHS, several local catering establishments, as well as well recognised employers abroad such as Siemens, Ryanair, Skoda – to name but a few. This ensures our programmes are job-relevant, provides great placement and application opportunities both for the employees and employers, and opens up job progression into different roles (such as management) within their company for our learners.

What does it mean to us as a school

We are pleased to say that our school has been nominated for the 'Best Community Impact' category at the prestigious businesses event and awards at Business Excellence Forum 2017. We feel honoured to have been nominated and taken part in this event recognised worldwide. Our Office Manager Petra Butler represented St. George's at the event and met many big personalities of the business world lilke Brad Sugars (the founder of ActionCOACH, below in the picture), Richard Maloney, Matthew Syed and many otherinfluential entrepreneurs.

The journey of most speakers of English as a foreign language, just like our own represents a major change in their lives, a change including an opportunity to fit, expand their social network and their personal experiences, to feel part of a different community, to contribute, access decent education, and services, to see friends, to self-develop and grown whilst retaining their sense of choice, freedom and independence within their own culture– in short, to connect with others.

Each foreign worker or a learner who feels included and accepted for who they are gains better life chances, and each employer already benefiting from the diversity feels they further gain higher employee effectiveness and engagement in return. The current political situation in the UK and in the world is making foreigners feel insecure, unwanted and negatively targeted. The need for full inclusion is probably bigger than any other issue we’re addressing right now. This is why we do what we do. We know that English language training and cultural education are not solutions on their own, but they are an essential part of any measure to address these issues.

Our reach does not only affect people as individuals, employers and their businesses but also the people of the local community. Our host families report that hosting foreign students not only helps financially but removes barriers within their family, making all members more acceptant of other cultures with lesser tendencies to ‘dislike’ foreigners. We feel that in today’s world where there seems to be ‘clear’ definition and lack of purpose of foreigners living in the UK this is even more imperative. St. George’s is here to inspire, innovate and lead, thus creating a relationship of trust and perfect symbiosis amongst the foreign workers and learners and the local community.

"St George’s are making a significant difference to not only students from abroad, but local residents who originate from overseas as well as local employers who seek their help with specialised training, in addition their reach within our community they provide a massive economic boost to our local economy bringing visitors to the town throughout the year. Their students also make a positive difference for local families who use the income generated as host families to better their family quality of life. With their new discount card they are directing the spending of families as well as visitors into our local shops, establishments and activities. It is a huge honour to welcome St George’s students to the town who always show courtesy to both town and our people and look forward to future intake of students. I therefore would support St. George’s School of English for a business award in 2017."

-Bob Smytherman, former Mayor of Worthing, currently in the role of Worthing Town Crier and Master of Ceremonies.

"I have been working with St George's School of English over the last couple of years. In particular they have done community outreach work by holding a fabulous stall at the Sussex Day celebration event that Sunny Worthing Media Group organised. St George's School have also supported our local community and business awards. As a local resident who is involved in many local events and charities I have been impressed by St George's ability to bring students into Worthing and boost the local economy. What impresses me most is the huge range of activities that they put on for visiting overseas students and how they involve them in local events and workshops. They offer high quality English (ESL) courses to children, young adults and adults. St George's School of English is however much more than just a language school for foreign students. They also have strong links with local businesses and offer English courses to resident employees of local companies and teacher training colleges to improve their English language and take accredited qualifications if they wish. St George's adds great value to Worthing in terms of the Economic impact of visiting students, income to host families and the benefits to local employees receiving training. Perhaps more importantly St George's adds positively to the towns culture and diversity." - Colm Sweet Founder of Sunny Worthing Media Group, Networth and Share the Warmth charity.-

Would you like to get involved in providing life changing opportunities to speakers of English as a foreign language? Don't hesitate to contact us.

#BEFA2017 #BEFA #BEF2017 #BradSugar

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