Since August 2020 we can boast the prestigious EAQUALS quality award, making us the first internationally accredited language school in Slovakia. But do you know exactly what this means for our current and potential students?
EAQUALS is an international association established in 1991, representing organisations and schools dedicated to the teaching of any foreign language, not just English. It is an advisory body to the language section of the Council of Europe and its task is to guarantee the quality of teaching. Its primary aim is to defend the interests of language learners. Accredited members include language schools and centres from all over the world, currently in more than 30 countries. As of 2020, we are the only language school in Slovakia to have joined this exclusive society, counting Polish universities and language centres in Germany, France and the UK.
Emphasis on quality
How can this certificate of quality be obtained? As part of the accreditation process, the school undergoes a rigorous internal inspection and must demonstrate high international standards, not only regarding the qualifications of the teachers and the quality of teaching, but also the environment in which teaching takes place. A continuous teacher training programme must be demonstrably applied and assessed in practice, and as the actual quality of foreign language teaching is the central and most important aspect of the inspection, inspectors will observe every teacher’s lessons at least once.
The inspection itself was preceded by a review of all the strategic and administrative documents necessary to operate a good school. In the first step, we provided all the necessary information and documents to the EAQUALS team for review, after which three inspectors came to verify how we abide by the content of those documents in practice. The inspection took a total of three days and was really thorough. The inspection also included focus groups with students, HR and admin staff, and external collaborators. They even checked on our marketing methods – making sure that what we communicate externally and promise our students is actually delivered. It was important to back this up and demonstrate the fidelity of the information provided to the inspection in the first phase of accreditation – a paper dragon would never have passed.
The importance of feedback
As we say, praise is nice to receive, but critique drives us forward. So the inspectors also looked into our feedback loops, and not just those from the students. They inspected the means through which our students, teachers and clients can comment on the teaching process or make suggestions for improvement. Even you can directly contact EAQUALS with your feedback, which is why it is so important for us to approach any feedback systematically and never ignore any of your messages.
Teachers under scrutiny
The inspectors also observed all our teachers and attended as many lessons as humanly possible. Every teacher had to undergo observation and then some. Teachers’ salaries, professional development, and educational outcomes were also examined. The inspectors assessed whether our teachers are paid fairly and what conditions our school creates for their development. To obtain the EAQUALS certificate, it is not only the current state that is important but the vision for the future, i.e., whether the teachers work on themselves, how they continue to develop their teaching skills and above all the extent to which the language school supports them in this. Good schools must keep moving forward because there is no stagnation in education, you either rise or you fall.
We know what we’re talking about
We founded our language centre as teachers who had been teaching for a long time and wanted to do it even better, but couldn’t find a school that would support us and provide the right conditions. We wanted to create a school that really cares about students’ results, invests in its teachers and cares about their development too. We are very pleased that we are now officially recognised as a school that support its teachers and creates an environment for quality education. Thanks to the EAQUALS certificate it is not only students who seek us out for quality but also talented and educated teachers, who will be assured that they will not only give to the school, but also get something back in the form of their own growth.
To ensure increasing quality, EAQUALS, like other similar certificates, has a limited time validity. Therefore two years after the first inspection we will undergo a process of directed self-assessment, and four years after obtaining the certificate we will repeat the entire inspection, the same as the one we had to undergo the first time. And because we have no intention of lowering our high standards of quality in education, we are already preparing to not only pass the certification again, but to score even higher points than before.
Do we pass your assessment? Enrol in one of our courses and experience quality education for yourself. We look forward to welcoming you to The Bridge – the school where you will learn English.