“I started teaching English Conversation and Pronunciation in a large Japanese town, south of Osaka, in 1969. There were very few foreigners in the area and I was much in demand because I was a native speaker and spoke ‘Queens’ English which they preferred. It all began with 3 young girls knocking on my door and requesting lessons. Before long I was inundated with students and also taught at the University and large companies.
In 1974, we returned to the UK and bought a house in Woking. I asked my students if they would like to study in England. As they knew me, I was trusted to help them and even brought two students home with us.
I am not a professional teacher and although this was not a problem in Japan as everyone requested conversation and pronunciation lessons, I was not qualified to teach in the UK. I arranged for some of my students to attend the Adult Education Centres for lessons. Vivienne was a teacher and that’s how we met.
As we both lived in the area, we decided to open a school in Woking as the transport was excellent and we were close to Heathrow Airport and near to London but not IN London, which was very beneficial.
On our first day we had around 15 students and Vivienne divided them into small groups. We rented one room in a beautiful new building owned by Woking Borough Council for an initial period of one month as we couldn’t afford to commit to any longer! I then returned to Japan to seek more business and Vivienne got in touch with her many contacts in Europe. Initially our students were mainly Japanese and European but then, through the Embassies in London we had many Arab and Middle Eastern students who were anxious to learn English.
It went from strength to strength with a lot of marketing by both of us and obtaining many reliable contacts. In our last we had over 650 students.
We had no problems whatsoever finding excellent teachers and office staff. Vivienne was involved on the teaching side as Principal. I was Managing Director and was responsible for the business side of the school.
We had so many wonderful experiences over the years, it is impossible to highlight them in a blog post.
We had a very good reputation as a quality school with an extremely caring environment. Out youngest student was 5 years of age (Jet Set Juniors Summer Programme) and our oldest was in his late 70s! We were also asked by a Swiss student if we could accommodate his horse! We did!
We bought our own premises in 1976 after outgrowing all our many rented rooms. I undertook immediate and very extensive rebuilding and refurbishing programmes which took many weeks but were fabulous on completion with every comfort for our staff and students. Thereafter, we went from strength to strength.”
Margaret Skelding, Founder