Why choose an accredited centre?

Accreditation UK monitors and improves standards of management, teaching, resources, welfare and care of under 18s in UK English language teaching (ELT).

Accreditation guarantees quality 

Accredited centres must have:

• appropriately qualified teachers

• teaching, which meets the Scheme requirements

• effective safeguarding and supervision of under 18s

• safe premises, with properly-equipped classrooms and areas for relaxation

• brochures and publicity materials which accurately reflect what is provided

• proper emergency procedures, known to staff and students.

If they have accommodation, including homestays, this will be regularly inspected and must meet Scheme standards.

See section 2.2 of the Accreditation UK Handbook 2014-15 for the full list of what we check during the inspection process. 

The same standards are applied in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Inspection process

Our rigorous inspection process involves:

• full inspections of every centre every four years

• re-inspections of all new centres within 18 months

• random spot-check inspections

• inspections carried out by ELT-specialist inspectors

• inspection reports moderated by a committee of experts.

• publicly available inspection criteria, specific to the needs of international students of English

• publicly available inspection report summaries and full inspection reports.

Understanding inspection reports

All inspections result in an inspection report. These reports describe the English language teaching provision in relation to Accreditation UK requirements at the time of the inspection. 

The reports are written for the Accreditation Scheme Advisory Committee to make a recommendation on accreditation. They also help the centre continue to improve.

You can read the latest inspection reports on our A-Z list of accredited centres. Some accredited centres are yet to have their next inspections and therefore do not yet have a published inspection report. All centres will have published reports by 1 January 2017.

What does the inspection report include?

The reports:

  • include statistics and a description of the centre (profile and introduction)
  • assess provision against all inspection criteria with detailed comments and a summary for each section
  • include a ‘summary statement’ indicating main strengths and any areas needing significant improvement (previously called 'publishable statement')

Summary statements are a helpful review of the inspectors’ findings for all accredited centres and are available in one documents (A-Z for easy reference). They include:

  • name of centre and date of last full inspection
  • type of institution, main type of course offered and age range of student enrolled
  • any areas, which need improvement
  • any areas, which are a particular strength 

Reading the reports

Reports should be read with reference to the full inspection criteria for the relevant year. You can download the criteria on the A-Z page.

Some individual criteria may be N/A (not applicable) or ‘not met’ but each section has a summary of the inspectors’ assessment against the section standard. All four section standards (management, resources and the environment, teaching and learning and welfare and student services)  must be met for accreditation to be awarded. From 2014 there is an additional standard which must be met, 'Care of under 18s', for those centres that enrol such students.

Spot checks and supplementary inspections

Short unannounced inspection visits are conducted in addition to the full inspection.

These take place:

• on newly accredited centres

• to check action has been taken to address necessary improvements

• to inspect new or additional premises

• to inspect new courses.

Reports on these spot checks and supplementary inspections will be included on our A-Z list after the full inspection report.

The British Council also conducts interim visits on a selection of centres chosen at random. These inspections are not part of the regular full inspection schedule and the reports are not published.

Visas and UK support fund

All accredited centres can enrol students on a short term study visa (for English courses up to 11 months). Over 200 centres are also on the UKVI Register of Sponsors – only relevant for recruiting students on Tier 4 visas.

Students at British Council centres are protected by the only UK support fund, which ensures they can complete their studies in the very rare event of a centre closing.

For more information on visas, visit the GOV.UK website below.