For most people the summer season is a time to take a well-earned break from the routine of work or school and to relax, unwind and generally tune out from the hectic lives we all now seem to lead.  At Equinox Education Services, the opposite can be said to be true as the summer represents the busiest period in our annual calendar when we facilitate hundreds of students coming to Ireland to improve their English and enjoy the unique aspects of our culture. This year was no different as 2018 brought an influx of almost 300 students to us that made for an international mix that included Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Romania and Japan among our four learning centres in Carlow, Athy, Thurles and Kilkenny.

At this time of year we also employ many seasonal staff with almost forty people working with us to deliver a range of services for our students including centre managers, teachers, home-stay coordinators, Irish -buddies, activity and excursion leaders. This is aside from our fantastic network of sub-contactors and host families, who all provide an invaluable and vital service to our operation during the six to eight weeks that the students are in our care. It’s a huge undertaking, but one that we are immensely proud of and intend to grow as we look to develop the business in the future. To keep us on the right path, we have adopted a series of quality-assurance, planning and policy measures that equip us properly in advance of the period and then enable us to reflect and take stock of the effectiveness of our services at the end of it so that we can improve on what we deliver on behalf of our agents and students.

This summer we surveyed all of our students to ascertain what they thought of various aspects of the summer programme (please see the table below).

In total, 396 manual surveys were voluntarily completed between 27th June and 7th August 2018. The data was collated and any personal information (e.g. student’s name, age and sex) was destroyed in compliance with GDPR regulations. The range of nine questions asked the respondent to rank aspects of their experience of their learning,  their host family experience, our leadership and their rating of our activities / excursions as either bad, average, good or excellent. Equinox scored exceptionally well in all categories, with 85% respondents scoring an ‘improvement to their English’ as good or above. Similarly, our host family network received as resounding endorsement as 97% of students rated their home stay experience as good or above. The data has drawn out some areas we need to look at improving such as students who feel that the English has not improved (although we have measures in place to address this at the time if it is flagged on the survey, by the student or their teacher) and feedback about the quality of their food during their home stay.  All, thankfully minimal issues, but ones we need to be mindful of.  As with all surveys, they are a snapshot in time, but for us they will enable to track our service delivery levels and make the necessary adjustments to improve. Our aim for future surveys is to broaden out the range of questions and have all the results independently assessed and verified.   In the meantime, we will continue to use surveys as a tool to build on the success of our programmes. If you wish to comment on our findings or leave any suggestions about how we can improve our services, please comment in the ‘Leave a comment’ box below.