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15 years of Quality. A look back on how it all started...

Celebrating 15 years of Quality English

Blog by Carolyn Blackmore,

Chief Executive 2003 – 2016

Quality English was founded in January 2003.

We are proud to be celebrating our first 15 years this year.

It all began early this century. The founders of Quality English ‘QE’ owned and ran prestigious independent English language schools in the UK and they starting exploring the new Chinese market. Together they paved the way for market visits, relying on ‘safety in numbers’ and pooled information. They found that they could represent one another’s schools effectively and successfully by believing that ‘collaboration is stronger than competition’.  Before long the market began to open up to them.

From this point, each of the founders had a vision for the development of ‘Quality English’. All were creative and, certainly, ambitious. You might say that they were inspired.

One of them wrote at the time “QE is well positioned already: a group of independent, quality-minded schools that can deal with problems quickly, and are quickly responsive to customers’ needs (students and agents).  The offering is based on flexibility, variety of price, range of courses, size of class, different locations, and variety of accommodation options.  With each new member school variety of offering will increase.  QE seeks to present a meaningful and reliable alternative to the big language chains, and is on the way!”

QE set out to become the leading global brand for high-quality English language training in English-speaking countries and so enable the independent brand licensees (QE schools) to maintain or even increase market share in the face of growing competition (from the ‘chains’ and higher education sector).

From the very start in 2003, I was fortunate to be appointed as the first Chief Executive and had the job of developing and growing the brand. QE gradually became known and also trusted in our industry through the global reach of the internet; our agent and individual school networks; through QE branding of quality EFL services - consistent use of the QE logo on all school and agent promotional materials.

At the time we used a King Penguin image in our publicity with ‘The Individual in King’ – ‘we value the individual in our schools and the individuals who study with us.’ Hence we made full use of our feathered friend and he has become legendary.

QE relied absolutely on the goodwill of individual and independent schools and agents to support the new brand. Only with their backing would QE be able to grow and develop for the benefit of all stakeholders. Agents could become QE Agents on the basis of recommendation by QE schools and would derive a wide range of benefits. Schools wishing to be ‘brand licensees’ (QE schools) would be considered if their reputation with agents was strong.

The following values underpinned the new and emerging brand:


“the best I can get”

“EFL specialists”

“value for money”

“efficient service”


“dealing direct with provider”

“personal service”

“independent agents”

(“I can contact people locally who have been to a QE school”)


“I can find exactly what I need”

“easy to find on the QE website”

“lots of locations to choose from”

“in any major English-speaking country”

Coming up in the next Blog: The running of Missions to the markets: a high profile and popular activity from the outset.

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