…and our story of 2020 and 2021
The past year and a half has been a challenge for all of us, everywhere. Here at Lewis, we’ve been really touched by the kind messages we’ve received from our friends from around the world. Many of you have asked after the well-being of our staff and also the school as a whole, in what has been a difficult time for language schools and many other businesses.
Happily, travel to the UK has now become a lot easier, more students are joining our adult courses, and our summer junior centres in Southampton and the New Forest will be back in 2022.
Our online courses continue to run, and we’ve greatly enjoyed expanding this side of our business. It’s been a busy and eventful 18 months. Here’s our story of 2020 and 2021…
The School Closes and Moves Online
The Lewis School temporarily closed in March 2020, along with all other schools in the UK.
All our courses moved online and many new students joined us from around the world for lessons on Zoom. Our teachers (and students!) managed the transition beautifully. You can see some of them in our promotional video.
A Bit of Lockdown Fun
With England in lockdown, our staff were spending a lot more time at home than usual. For a bit of fun, we shared photos of the hobbies and DIY projects we were taking part in. Check out this link to see Andrew’s gardening, Courtney’s cooking, Stephen on guitar and much more!
And, well, we couldn’t resist having a big staff quiz on Zoom (you can work out who won from the photo below!).
Just before the pandemic, we’d launched a new suite of online courses for English teachers. Then we got really busy! We welcomed over 100 teachers onto our training courses in 2020. We also ran some free webinars, which around 200 teachers signed up for.
Our CertTESOL course, where you can become a qualified English teacher, also moved online, and all our trainees passed! Abby wrote about the experience of our spring group and also interviewed our autumn group on the day they received their results.
Junior Courses Online Summer Camp
Sadly, we had to cancel our 2020 summer centres, but we ran an online summer camp where students improved their English through film, culture and conversation lessons, plus social activities.
Opening Up Again!
In September 2020, we were open once again for face-to-face classes, with a number of Covid safety measures in place. It was a delight to be back! For students who had to quarantine on arriving in the UK, we offered quarantine homestay. Face-to-face social activities also started again, with trips to Winchester, a pancake party, an international food party and lots more.
A second national lockdown began in November, but schools stayed open and only non-essential businesses closed.
Competitions and Prizes
Christmas and New Year
For the 2020/21 Christmas and New Year period, we had a party at school with our students and a staff party over Zoom. From these, we made a video to wish you all a Happy New Year.
The school closed again in January 2021 as the UK entered its third lockdown. Lessons all moved online. So did social activities. Who knew that Uno, quizzes and role-playing adventures could be such good fun on Zoom?!
Working with Teachers from Honduras
Our online teacher training continued with teachers from Palestine, Jordan, Chile, Argentina and the UK joining our courses. We also won a bid to support the English language development of teachers from Honduras – a richly satisfying project.
Online lessons got even more creative in 2021! Our theatre team launched a very popular series of online storytelling courses for junior students. The groups ranged from primary school age to secondary school to older teenagers and the results were amazing! Over 150 students from Italy and Bosnia have improved their vocabulary and pronunciation and become more confident speakers.
In April, face-to-face classes were back! Tom and Suzie appeared in a video explaining our Covid safety measures. These measures have since been relaxed.
Sadly, our 2021 junior summer centres were unable to run due to travel restrictions (they’ll be back in 2022). However, in July, the government began easing Covid restrictions, with masks and social distancing no longer required. More students joined our face-to-face adult courses, numbers and nationalities increased and we saw the return of barbecue parties, bowling, trips to the New Forest and the Isle of Wight and lots of other social activities.
Face-to-face teacher training courses also returned in September.
Travel to the UK Gets Easier
The government eased travel restrictions on 4 October. It’s now much easier to travel to the UK, as under-18s and fully vaccinated people from most countries do not need to quarantine.
It does feel like things are getting back to normal, and we look forward to welcoming many more people – adult and junior students, teachers and agents, visitors and friends – to our school in 2022.