Marie (16 years) was really excited about coming to complete her education at a boarding school in England. She had heard all about it from some friends who had done the same and she couldn’t wait to join the school and choose her ‘A’ Level subjects.

So, you can imagine how devastated she felt when, after her interview at the school, they told her that her English language level was not of a high enough standard to enter the school at sixth form level. Marie and her parents were in shock. It was already the end of May and the new term would begin at the start of September. She had already left her school in France and had no other option for continuing her education. How could they turn this around for Marie in such a short time?

Our total immersion courses at Fleetham Lodge are a perfect solution for situations like this and we had already had students from the school before so one of the teachers suggested that they contact me and see if something could be arranged. Marie only had a month free over the summer so we decided to use this time to really focus improving her English to reach the level she required. I worked closely with the school to find out exactly what they wanted from her and together we worked out a programme that would improve her skills and also help her to integrate quickly once she started the new term. We were all determined to make this work and now all we needed was for Marie to do her part!

And do her part she did! We worked hard on her English level and she was a model student focusing hard and also doing all her homework! But it wasn’t all work. One of my daughters was just a year older and at the same school so Marie was able to go out and about with her and her friends which made a big difference to her speaking and general fluency. It also gave her some friends to begin her new school career with. We also organised trips at the weekend to various local places of historical, cultural and landscape interest which helped Marie to get to know the place she would be living in better and also understand some of the culture she might be studying.

Despite all this activity and hard work, the place at the school was not guaranteed until Marie re-took her placement test and this fact hovered over us every day. She would regularly ask me “will they accept me” and of course this was out of my hands. I did, however, keep both her parents and the school informed of her progress and we pushed on with our study, working on all her skills to reach the level Marie needed.

Finally, the time came for her to re-take the test. The teacher came to us for this and we waited a little anxiously for the outcome. The teacher was highly impressed with Marie’s progress and recommended that the school offer her a place. We were all thoroughly delighted, but she still had to receive a formal offer. Marie didn’t actually receive this until after she had left us, but by the time she returned home I was sure that they would accept her into the school. She had jumped from a low Intermediate student to an Upper intermediate one – something which normally takes 6 months on a typical general English termly course. A year later she took and passed the IELTS exam with a band 9 in speaking!

Marie went on to complete her high school education at the school and then moved on to university in the UK. It is a wonderful story and one in which we are very proud to have played a part.

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