Richard Mountford, Operations Director, Studio Cambridge

Richard Mountford, Operations Director, Studio Cambridge

The essential features of a high-quality teenage language programme

Richard Mountford shares his views based on his experience as Operations Director with IALC-accredited school Studio Cambridge.

The first key to a successful summer camp is high quality, well-trained staff.

In particular an experienced and trusted Course Director (CD) is essential. We always try to employ Course Directors from amongst our year-round staff. If that’s not possible we ensure that the CD is a returner who has already been in a senior role with us.

Close supervision and support for the centre staff is needed. We have 3 area managers from our senior staff who divide up the role of overseeing our 7 centres throughout the summer.

Preparation is important – we give CDs a minimum of 2 weeks to prepare prior to the start of the course and each centre has up to 5 Assistant CDs (depending on the size of the centre) to organise excursions, classes, activities and welfare.

Don’t give key jobs to inexperienced staff!

A 24 hour phone needs to be manned by experienced staff and decision makers.

Successful organisation for key parts of the programme, such as excursions and airport transfers, can be deceptively complicated and subject to things beyond your control going wrong. So experienced senior staff are needed in these roles.

A second key feature is communication

  • We pay a lot of attention to training staff how to respond to agent and parent queries.
  • Every query needs to be taken seriously, responded to quickly and answered in detail.
  • Excellent communication between the centres and senior managers is vital.
  • Getting the small things right goes a long way in keeping satisfaction levels high for the whole programme

 

Special considerations for teenage participants

Getting the balance right for teenagers is critical.

The students want more free-time and a chance to be independent. Parents tend to want a packed full-on programme without the potential dangers that free-time offers.

We work hard to get the balance right between giving teenagers safe and caring supervision whilst also giving them the chance to make the most of the international camp, with the freedom to grow and mature as young adults.

 

Remember that there are always 2 sides to the story. A good school will understand the difficulties that agents face from worried parents and will have the attitude “we are in this together”! But that works both ways and agents need to be measured and trust that together we will get to the bottom of the problem.

 

Richard Mountford is Operations Director with Studio Cambridge. The school runs several teenage summer camp in and around Cambridge, Reading and Richmond.

More articles on junior & teenager language programmes
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Members of IALC share their insights on the language travel industry. Contributors are owners, directors, managers, teachers or administrative staff of IALC-accredited language schools worldwide.

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