Hastings language school closes its doors

The former Embassy Language School, in Hastings, has closed
The former Embassy Language School, in Hastings, has closed

A language school which operated in Hastings for more than 45 years has closed.

Embassy Language School, in Dane Road, St Leonards, closed its doors for the final time on December 21, shortly after the business was sold to English language school EC.

Reg Veale, a former principle at the Hastings Embassy Language School, saying goodbye to a group of Brazilian students - the first of his Majors Study Tours groups

Reg Veale, a former principle at the Hastings Embassy Language School, saying goodbye to a group of Brazilian students - the first of his Majors Study Tours groups

A spokesman for EC said: “The short stay, discounted groups, which work well in Hastings, is not an area of the market where the EC brand focuses.

“We also already have a number of locations outside London and, given our normal pricing and cost structure, we don’t think we could generate enough demand to make our normal school model work in Hastings.

“We very carefully assessed the demand for Hastings and took the decision to close the school.”

The language school opened in 1973 and formed the beginning of the multi-million pound Embassy business model.

After opening the school in Hastings, Embassy opened other locations in the UK, US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia making it one of the largest private education providers in the world.

The school enjoyed ‘boom years’ in the late 1980s and early 1990s when around 180 to 220 people would attend morning sessions and a further 100 to 150 people sat in afternoon classes.

Many of the students came from Europe and undertook a two week course in English, while staying with families in the town.

However, according to former teacher Michael Collinson, who worked at the school on a casual basis, the interest in the industry fell away.

He said: “We had people coming from Europe who were paying for the lessons, paying to stay in the town and spending money there. Many would choose a day trip to London or Brighton for shopping but the impact to the town’s economy would have been huge.

“I’m not sure of the reasons why but the interest in the industry has fallen away. I don’t think this can all be down to Brexit as it’s been happening for years.”

By the time it closed, the school employed approximately ten people on a permanent basis during the quieter winter months and closer to 20 during the busier summers.

Reg Veale, a former principal at the language school who retired in June 2018, said he ‘kind of expected’ the closure.

He added: “Although we were still profitable in Hastings, the whole thing was marginal.

“Our parent company are in a different business proving pathway classes for students who are preparing students for university.

“When I retired, I didn’t think the centre would close but then I didn’t know about the EC dimension as I was only a principal and I wasn’t involved in the discussion.

“It is a sad loss. It made a big difference to host families and to a number of attractions around the town which students would visit.”

Following the closure of the former Embassy language school, Mr Veale has set up his own business – Majors Study Tours – to provide language classes for students formally educated at the school.

Anyone interested in taking part in classes can email reginald.veale@gmail.com for more information.

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