2021 Year in Review 

Why IH Bristol

Another year is nearly over! 2021 and our 'new normal' has certainly been interesting, but we are so proud of what we've achieved during it despite the incredibly challenging circumstances. 

We can’t wait to get stuck into 2022 and welcome even more students back to our school in person. We have so much to look forward to; for starters, the launch of our new Best of Bristol 45+ course and our new Future Leaders course (to be announced shortly), as well as the many students who had planned to join us in 2020 who will finally be able to do so in 2022, and new students who are making plans and following their dreams. The pandemic isn’t over, of course, but with successful vaccine rollouts in so many countries, and the incredibly determined and resilient attitudes of our students in their pursuit of their language learning goals, we’re cautiously very optimistic. 

In the meantime we have a lot to celebrate, and believe that at times like these it's very important that we do. Here's just some of what happened at IH Bristol this year:


  • A new lockdown in the UK (third overall, second for schools) meant we moved seamlessly back to online teaching. Not the start to the year we’d hoped for, but it was a success nonetheless 

  • OET inspection success: Following an unannounced inspection of our OET exams in March 2020, we learned in January 2021 that we received the highest possible score and are fully compliant with all exam procedures. The auditor congratulated the invigilation staff on “their dedication to providing the best possible quality of exam delivery".  (our OET exams continued throughout all lockdowns as they were considered essential) 


  • In February, IH Bristol was approved for Bildungsurlaub recognition in Niedersächsischen, Rheinland Pfalz, Bremen, and Berlin, and Hessen. Bildungsurlaub is educational leave which German employees are entitled to for 5 paid days a year to study at a recognised institution to develop their skills in a range of areas. Find out more about Bildungsurlaub recognition here 


  • On 8th March 2021 lockdown restrictions were lifted and we were delighted to reopen for face-to-face classes at our Queens Avenue building once again. Investments made in technology for hybrid classes and the excellent work our teachers put into their lessons means all courses continued with unwavering quality 

  • Cambridge exams restarted  


  • We were successful in bidding for some funding from Trinity College London to teach English to asylum seekers in the local area; we started testing and interviewing students for the programme in April, ahead of it commencing in May 

May & June 

  • These months saw an exceptionally high uptake of OET exams – on some dates we opened both buildings to accommodate the demand from candidates 

  • We also welcomed record numbers of candidates for Cambridge FCE exams for Schools & PET exams for Schools - more than 100 candidates!  


  • We welcomed a small number of Junior students for face-to-face junior programmes in Bristol, and more online (dates for 2022 junior courses are available here

  • Over in our adult centre, in addition to our in-person summer students our Swiss school group joined us online from Switzerland – we're now looking forward to meeting them in person in 2022 

  • Completion of the first PRELIM project 

  • On 30th July it was the International day of friendship! Our previous student Otavio shared this lovely photo with us from his time at IH Bristol (many of whom also joined us for our online student reunion in December 2020) 


  • We welcomed Jess and Amin to the team! Jess is coordinating our Foreign Languages courses as well as assisting with the general admin team, while Amin takes care of our two school buildings


  • We introduced our NEW Best of Bristol 45+ course for 2022  

  • We welcomed students from 21 countries to study with us in person! A record since the pandemic began  

  • Katie attended the English UK marketing conference in London – after a year and a half of online events it was great to see industry colleagues and catch up with other schools in person again for the first time since the pandemic.  


  • Another very successful CELTA course with excellent feedback from all participants 

  • Director Val Hennessy was interviewed by the BBC about the challenges of operating a language school with little to no support for our industry during the pandemic.  

  • Some of our students arranged their own trip to spend a long weekend visiting the Isle of Man - and shared some beautiful photos with us!


  • We learned we were successful in our application to take part in the second PRELIM project, helping build teachers’ confidence around the world; for 2021-2022 we are partnering with ANELTA in Angola and can’t wait to get started 

  • Our refugee students received their exam results - most passed with merit!

  • Welcomed new CELTA teacher trainer, Marie to the team! 



Throughout 2021

  • We continued to run free English lessons to locals as part of our CELTA course 

  • We ran weekly online social events in partnership with IH Belfast, Galway, Manchester & Portsmouth so students past and present could continue practising their English and meeting like-minded students at home, wherever they were in the world 

  • Improvements to both school buildings have been ongoing 

  • We still make lots of study materials available online for those who are unable to attend in person: our Free Exercises & Useful Expressions are available to anybody who has access to a phone/computer and our Phrase of the Day videos can help students worldwide to increase their knowledge on a daily basis.   


All in all, we’re extremely proud of everything our students and staff have achieved this year; here's to an even better 2022! We hope you’ll join us. 


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