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20 years of Quality English - Q&A with current CEO Jonathan Swindell

20 years of Quality English - Q&A with current CEO Jonathan Swindell

As we look back on the first 20 years of QE, we took the chance to sit down with the current Chief Executive of Quality English, Jonathan Swindell, to ask him a few questions: 

  1.  Quality English is turning 20 this year. You have been the Chief Executive of the company for the past seven years and you have also led the company through the pandemic. How do you feel about the 20thanniversary?

First of all, I’m extremely proud to be Chief Executive of Quality English as it is a challenging but rewarding position. The wide and varied remit means that no two days are the same; from visiting schools all over the world to planning networking events, and everything in between (including putting t-shirts on penguins!). It is a pleasure to work with QE schools as they are so passionate about what they do and what their school means to them.

The pandemic was the biggest challenge our industry has ever faced, and I am so pleased that most of them survived and that we are still here to support their endeavours and to help showcase their quality. If anything, it has made us even more determined to ensure that QE schools are the first choice for agents and students alike as they deserve nothing less.

Our 20th anniversary means a lot to me as it is a chance for us to look back on the first 20 years of Quality English and look forward to the next 20 years! The QE “family” is a strong network and the schools support and encourage one another, sharing the mutual goal of providing excellent tuition and support. And so, 2023 is a time to reconnect, celebrate and look forward.

  1. You are regularly visiting the QE schools and potential QE schools and colleges. Can you tell us what make these schools stand out? What does a QE school need to become part of the QE “family”?

All QE schools have a lot in common. Firstly, they are all independent and not part of a chain. Their owners are involved in the day-to-day running of the school and their enthusiasm and passion runs throughout the school. They are all accredited by their local accreditation body, whether that be the British Council in the UK, Languages Canada and so on. But on top of this we carry out our own Quality Control inspections and compile reports on QE schools which include feedback from both agents and students. Our Quality Control procedures start when a school applies to join and continues throughout the time we work with them.

When I walk into a school, I can tell very quickly if it is a QE-type school. From the warm welcome on reception to the standard of the premises and facilities. A QE school has professional yet friendly staff who know each and every student personally. QE schools put the needs of the students first and do their very best to support them throughout their stay. All of this paints a picture of what a QE school is – above and beyond their accreditations and reputations.  

  1. Why do you think is the QE brand important to the industry? How can it help students and agents?

We work in a competitive industry with a huge range of schools offering a wide variety of courses to all types of student. I believe that the QE brand is an important differentiator and enables agents and students to select a school they know they can trust. We put quality first in everything we do and everything we look for in a school and this makes it easier for agents and students to choose the school that suits their needs.

You can find a QE school in any English-speaking country in the world and more than this, you can find one in a location that suits you. Whether that be in a big city like London or New York, a coastal setting like Bournemouth or Bray, or somewhere more rural like Wisconsin or Ontario.

We work hard to educate and inform our network of Quality Agents about each and every QE school through regular online and F2F events. Quality Agents are an important part of what we do and an essential part of the network.

  1. What do you like most about your job at Quality English and what challenges do you face?

I enjoy the variety of the role as I mentioned earlier. I have always enjoyed travelling the world and this role certainly enables that! In my role I am privileged to not only be able to visit our schools but I also attend our Missions (agent workshops) which introduce our schools to agents in key markets. These events are challenging but also highly enjoyable as I get to experience different cultures alongside wonderful colleagues.

  1. You are doing a lot of travelling every year and meet a lot of people on conferences and events? What's the funniest story you can tell us from the past seven years?

When you travel regularly with colleagues you often find yourself in new settings and enjoying new experiences. It is always fun to navigate a new city and language and there have been so many of these occasions I have enjoyed in the company of QE school colleagues.

The two that stand out for me are getting the train from Berlin (after ICEF) to Prague for a QE Mission and ten or so QE school owners randomly meeting and hanging out with Flo Rida in a restaurant in Tokyo. The train journey took us through some incredible scenery and was a pleasant change from the usual flights around Europe, whilst the encounter with a famous American rapper was nothing short of surreal.

  1. How will you be celebrating this special year and what are the plans for 2023 and beyond? 

We have various celebrations planned over the course of the year but the highlight will be our Madrid Mission in November which will include the QE Conference and a Gala Dinner after the workshop. It will be a wonderful opportunity to have so many QE schools and agents together to celebrate this milestone.

2023 will be busier than ever but I am very excited about it. We are a small team at QE but we achieve a lot and we have no plans to slow down. I must give a special mention to Kathi Gerth who is an incredible colleague; full of innovation, ideas and productivity – thank you Kathi!

Our plans for the future include taking on an additional staff member to support some exciting new projects and we will also be researching and developing some new emerging markets on behalf of QE schools.

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