Language school’s lifeline

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By GUY WILLIAMS

A Queenstown language school’s emerging from hibernation to provide free English classes after securing a government funding lifeline.

Language Schools New Zealand reopened for 15 hours a week from this past Monday, operating weekdays from 9am till noon at its Remarkables Park campus.

Owner Guy Hughes says he’s been able to re-hire his former manager and two ‘‘very, very delighted’’ teachers he’d been forced to lay off only a few months ago.

After his first application was turned down, he was invited to apply again to a government fund for ‘private training establishments’, which includes language schools.

That’s intended to serve as a lifeline until they can reopen when international students are allowed back into New Zealand.

It’s receiving a grant based on the cost of the school’s lease and re-hiring the ‘‘skeleton’’ staff.

‘‘It’s enough to get a couple of teachers in and do something good for the community.

‘‘There’s no point the school just sitting there empty if there’re people in need out there and us with the ability to do something about it.’’

The school, which Hughes started 27 years ago, had more than 90 students and 15 staff when Covid-19 forced the closure of the borders.

It went into hibernation in September after the last students graduated.

Although it technically remains in hibernation, the grant gives it the ability to reopen until the end of June, Hughes says.

It will have two classes, based on ability, of probably up to 18 students each.

‘‘We’re really hoping we’ll get some of our ex-students back.’’

Of the resort’s two other language schools, the ABC College of English also went into hibernation in September, while Southern Lakes English College has remained open after successfully applying to a different government fund to provide a free, full-time course to 70 former migrant workers.

guy.williams@scene.co.nz