Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
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We know that you’re bound to have lots of questions and here you’ll find answers to the ones we’re asked most often.
Country Cousins, Our Programmes and Courses
Country Cousins is the founding company name that guarantees a premium service across its different education mediums. It offers education in language schools, in local English schools and complete immersions in Host Families. This way you will always speak to the same professionals and will benefit from their experience and our quality services.
Channel School is the Country Cousins base and a language school which offers a multitude of courses and academic programmes.
Country Cousins celebrated its 60th birthday in 2011! Founded in 1951, Country Cousins has earned a very good, long-standing reputation in the TEFL world.
Channel School is available all year for groups, and from Easter (please check availability) until September for individuals.
We would always recommend a 4 week visit. The first week students spend acclimatising and finding their way around. The second week they begin to relax and feel confident. The third week they completely settle down to the course and really begin making lasting friendships with their peers from other countries. The final week they really shine and are using their acquired English much more fluently and freely.
The maximum is 15 and the average is 12 students per class. They are of mixed nationalities in order to maximise students’ use of English.
Outside of the timetabled social programme, there are many optional after school activities (payable extra) on offer, such as riding, boat trips, day trips surfing and many more. Prices vary from approximately £6.00 – £50.00, and are available upon request. These trips are optional because students may choose instead to be with the family and follow their daily activities. We hope that these ‘optional’ activities will enable the students to discover some of the delights that North Devon has to offer during their stay, as an added bonus to the Activities already provided on their main programme. These activities will take place after school hours, or at the weekend, and will in no way interrupt the school curriculum. The above activities cannot be booked until the student arrives in the UK, so that the students already at the school do not miss out.
73% of our students do a 4 week course with us, which is the length of course we recommend to see a good improvement in the student’s level of English and make the most out of the visit. Most of the remaining students do a 2, 3 or 6 week course. We therefore run a 4 week social programme with a different daytrip each week. Two of those daytrips always include Exmoor National Park and Exeter (which are by far the most popular daytrips we offer). The other two daytrips can vary; we normally change them year after year because of returning students so that they do not repeat the same trips. If a student arrives when the Exeter trip has already taken place that month the excursion will not be repeated.
Only if the student has got assistance from a helper because it is an old two floor building with steps on a steep hill. It is not possible for disabled children who use wheelchairs to access the classroom or other parts of the building without a helper.
Welfare & Accommodation
We give details of the host family as soon as we have had the £150 deposit per student with the enrolment details and have found a suitable family for the student. If for any reason the student would prefer a different family then we will look for an alternative at that stage. Please note that host families can sometimes change due to changes in circumstances and in these instances we send the new family details as soon as possible.
We are in the progress of building a canteen. We are hoping that it will be ready for our summer 2021 season . At the moment we contract a catering company that cooks hot meals for the students. This is a very popular interim measure until our canteen is finished.
Every year we have problems because students are sent to the school with problems such as diabetes, hearing problems, severe allergies, asthma, bed-wetting, dyslexia, ADHD and emotional issues yet the parents/agents have not informed us of these matters. We need to know if students are on regular medication, have any health or dietary problems and also any behavioural or learning issues, or it can result in complications with the host family, lack of knowledge should a student become ill, or the student simply not getting the best out of their classes or excursions. Also, if there is a situation at home that may be affecting them emotionally (recent death of a family member, parents getting divorced, illness of a family member, etc.) it is helpful if you can inform us.
In Ilfracombe we have a bus operating to school in the mornings and home again for those not within easy walking distance. For Young Learners (7-11 years old) there is a bus to and from school and evening activities. This is covered by the Young Learners supplement of £50 per week.
The supplement is for students aged 7-11 and entitles them to the door to door taxi service to/from school and evening activities, extra supervision (in line with legal requirements) and one out-class per week which is teacher-led and to a place of educational and/or historical interest.
We have been working with some of our families for more than 30 years. We keep a database of the feedback that students give us about them and visit them regularly. We normally find that it is the contrary. Some students treat their host families as hotels. For example, they do not help the family when preparing meals, do not keep their bedroom tidy, do not follow the instructions that the family have given them, come home in the evenings later than expected, do not spend any time at home, are not interested in communicating with the host family, etc. However, some families may be worried that being away from their parents is all too overwhelming for the student and may just be giving them space, which is easily resolved by our experienced welfare staff.
We define free time as when the school has not organised an activity or lesson. Students must attend all lessons and activities. If your child chooses not to spend his/her free time with the homestay host at weekends or in the evenings the following guidelines will apply:
- Young learners (under 12 years of age) are required to have full supervision at all times either with the homestay, our staff or their group leaders if they are in a group. • Students 12 – 14 years must not be absent from the homestay accommodation without supervision from the homestay hosts for long periods of time without checking in with the host at regular intervals. They will have to make sure their host has their mobile number, knows where they are at all times, and when to expect them to return. • Students over 14 years of age, have the freedom to spend their time as they wish to do so within reason. They will have to make sure their host has their mobile number, knows where they are at all times, and when to expect them to return.
If you have any special requests for the care of any of your students during their visit then these should be detailed at the time of enrolment and we can make sure that we can meet your requirements. Most teenagers find comfort in spending time with their peers. Agents sometimes request that their students are not allowed out in the evening, which can be really isolating and seem unfair if those students are sharing accommodation with another student who is allowed out.
We do, please see listed below. All students have a copy, as do the English families. So there is no excuse for a student to be late. Students need to understand that the host family is waiting for them! Times are as follows:
– Young Learners (7 to 11): Evening activities only
– 12 years old: 9 pm at home
– 13 & 14 years old: 9:30 pm
– 15 & 16 years old: 10:00 pm
– 17 years old: 10.30 pm
We have very experienced welfare staff to assist with any problems that may arise. We cannot address problems once the student has returned home, but we can effectively and sympathetically resolve any difficulties whilst the student is here. There is always someone at the end of the phone 24 hours a day for any emergencies.
Yes, therefore there is no need to bring such big suitcases!
One of our staff will arrange a doctor’s appointment and, if no leader is available, will take the student. STUDENTS MUST SHOW THEIR EHIC CARD before consultations are booked. For children under 16 with an EHIC card there is usually no charge for consultation, nor for medicines. Similarly emergency dentistry is generally free to under 16s with an EHIC Card. Dentists will usually only perform emergency procedures that will last until the student is back in their own country where they can receive full and permanent treatment. Please note that work on dental braces is not free, but attracts an initial charge of approximately £50 and the costs escalate depending on the level of work required. Please note that we will require permission from you to administer paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin to your students. There is a space on the individual and group booking forms for this.
North Devon has the best and mildest weather in the Country, but still very changeable. It is advisable to bring a waterproof jacket and a sweater, even in summer, as well as the usual lighter clothing.
Yes, students are supervised at all times during activities, breaks and lessons.
£60 per week is usually sufficient. Please note that there are some optional excursions which can cost in the region of £25, for instance a daytrip to Bath. These ‘Optionals’ can be paid for via the parents’ credit card (2% extra is charged if paying by card) if the student has insufficient funds.
We have very experienced welfare staff who can talk to the student concerned, the host family and our staff to ensure we pay care and attention, as well as organising a “buddy” to befriend them. If the student is inconsolable and determined to go home, you should arrange the flight and then we can arrange transport back to the airport, but this is a last resort.
Full-board accommodation in a host family or residential, English tuition, social and activity programme. Travel and insurance are not included.
Yes. The deposit is included in the overall cost of the visit. The deposit is non-refundable.
4 weeks before the arrival of the student.
You will need to pay £150 booking fee per student before we start the administration of paperwork, including accommodation, escorts, etc.
We have to pay significant charges on each card payment and the additional percentage covers those costs.
Travel & Escorts
We have a comprehensive and reliable travel and escort service. We can arrange for individuals to be met by our escort and taken to a mode of public transport, Country Cousins bus or arrange a private car. For groups, we can arrange an escort, coach and driver, and for any individuals or groups travelling on our specific dates we have coaches to the West Country and our escort service available.
We have our own escorts at all airports. For private car and minibus journeys to smaller airports and London St Pancras the driver acts as an escort. At Heathrow we have escorts working at each terminal.
The escort will wait at the Arrivals area. If the escort needs to meet another flight in a different terminal, you should still wait at the Customs Exit in the Arrivals meeting area and the escort will return as soon as possible.
No. We have an escort co-ordinator at London Heathrow Airport, Liz Harwood, mobile number + 44 7771 574881, but she has up to 10 staff working for her to cover the five terminals. People arriving need to look for someone holding a yellow sign with the Country Cousins name and logo as below appearing in black:
Yes they are. At these smaller airports, the driver will act as the escort, so we do not need to charge for an additional employee to be at the airport. In this way, we only need to charge for the travel via private car or minibus.
We do have a travel and escort service available on Saturdays, but those times are outside those when we can meet. Country Cousins vehicles will not be on the road between the hours of midnight and 6am. We would have to arrange an overnight stay at a hotel/guesthouse on arrival and on departure at extra cost to you. If this is not acceptable, then you must arrange flights within our travel times. But why? Because most of our families host more than one student and they find themselves waking up at 1am to see one student off, and then at 3am to see another one off, and then at 5am to see the last one off, whilst at the same time they may have one arriving at 2am, and another one at 4am. As much as we look after our students, we also need to look after our host families. We have lost some very good families because of this.
Very important! We have found that students who do not attend the Sunday morning meeting find their first few days of their visit very confusing without the information they would have been given in the Sunday meeting: Identity cards, their programme (timetable), a tour of the facilities, vital information about the school and Ilfracombe.
It is approximately 4 hours by car or 4.5 hours by bus, and 2 hours by train. Please note that Ilfracombe does not have a train station so to reach the town travellers need to book a taxi, find a connecting bus service, or book a Country Cousins collection at extra cost. Please note that children under 14 are not permitted to travel on National Express coaches without an adult. The nearest train station to our schools is in Barnstaple and we can arrange for collections from the station at additional cost. We highly recommend that you use our airport transfer service, as this guarantees you a door to door service and is reliable. Direct travel to North Devon by coach or train can be difficult.