Wimbledon School of English: Past, Present And Future
We explore how Wimbledon School of English has changed over the last 50+ years and its view of the future
WSE is one of very few independent English Language schools in the UK. It is rare to ﬁnd an ELT school such as ours which is still a family business, passed down through the generations. The school was started on a very small scale in 1964 in India, by Mrs Marjorie Housden, who was there with her husband Gerard, a doctor who was working in North India with the Church Missionary Society. Marjorie, who originally trained as a PE teacher, ran English language classes for local children and fell in love with English teaching. When the Housdens returned to the UK in 1966 and settled in Wimbledon, Marjorie continued her small school with a business partner, Mrs Roynan. They taught au pairs in the Housden’s house in Wimbledon Village and then, as demand increased, in the local church hall. The school moved to 41 Worple Road in the mid-1970s and has been here ever since – sharing the premises with a ghost who some say lives on the top ﬂoor. We often wonder if it is one of the nuns who used to live under the eaves when the building was a nursery school.
Now, many years later, we are proud to have been named as the top English language centre in the UK (from 570 British Council accredited language schools).
UK English Language Teaching Today
We have seen many changes over the years in our clients’ needs and demands. We now live in a global community and in the UK we all beneﬁt from the fact the English is the language of international communication.
Each year here in Wimbledon, we welcome about 2,000 students from over 80 different countries, ranging in age from 16 to 80 with the majority in their 20s. In the summer we also run off-site summer camps for children in beautiful public schools in the south of England. What we call ‘General English’ is still important, but there has been an increase in demand for examination courses such as preparation for the IELTS examination which students need to enter university, and more specialised courses such as English for business, law, aviation, academic purposes and medicine. Many of our clients are professionals hoping to enhance their career prospects or needing specialised training, and as one of the top UK English language schools, we are one of very few places where lawyers, doctors and nurses, pilots and air-trafﬁc controllers can prepare for international qualiﬁcations.
The London Exam Centre, St George’s Road
We started our public examination centre, the London Exam Centre, over 40 years ago and it is an important part of what we do. Each year we provide examinations for several thousand clients from a wide geographical area including Surrey and the whole of London. The examinations on offer include Cambridge English examinations, IELTS, Pearson and Trinity, OET for healthcare professionals, TOLES for lawyers, the TEA test for pilots and air trafﬁc controllers, and the ACCA accountancy exams.
Accommodation & Our Students
English language teaching is really a combination of education and hospitality. As our clients need accommodation too, our wonderful host families welcome our students into their homes, introduce them to English culture and we would be lost without them. Our students enjoy all the attractions that Wimbledon, London and the UK have to offer, and shopping and enjoying local leisure activities are some of their favourite activities.
Our Core Values
Although we have come a long way since 1964, our core values haven’t changed. We still believe strongly in international education and pride ourselves in offering a top quality service in everything we do. International education is one of the UK’s largest and most important exports, and our sector alone contributes £1.2 billion pa. to the UK economy*.
Our students at WSE are from wealthy backgrounds and when they are not studying they are keen consumers who love shopping, local leisure activities, exploring London and the rest of the UK. As such, they are a great boost to the local community and we hope they continue to come here.
Jane Dancaster, Managing Director.
*‘Supporting the British Economy through Teaching English as a Foreign Language’– a report produced by Capital Economics, November 2015.