Sustainable development , ESL CSR Self-assessment tool
Sustainable development

ESL CSR Self-assessment tool

ESL CSR Self-assessment tool

ESL CSR Self-assessment tool

Using our own experiences in the field of CSR and with strategic support from the consultancy firm ECO2 Initiative, we have developed a CSR self-assessment tool especially for language schools. Based on the ISO 26000 norm and validated by a consulting committee of renowned language schools, our tool helps schools evaluate the degree of maturity of their current approach to CSR issues. It then assists the schools with developing their own action plans according to their local circumstances, based on three key fields of action: 
 
  • Management & Operations
  • Education
  • Community
The results of the implementation process of CSR actions will be featured under the schools’ descriptions on our website, in order to spread awareness of sustainable values and stimulate further action. Our partner schools are part of our identity and their approach to sustainability matters to us. We want to provide you with as complete a picture of each school as possible, allowing you to make a decision based on all factors that are important to you.

As a company and as individuals, we believe passionately in sustainable development.

For more information about our initiative, consult our FAQ section.
WHAT IS CSR?
The International Standards Organization defines CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) as the "responsibility of an organization for the impact of its decisions and activities on society and the environment, through transparent and ethical behaviour which contributes to sustainable development including health and the welfare of society; takes into account the expectations of stakeholders; is in compliance with applicable law and consistent with international norms of behaviour; and is integrated throughout the organization and practised in its relationships. Activities include products, services and processes. Relationships refer to an organization's activities within its sphere of influence."

The European Community proposes a more simple definition: "CSR is a concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with stakeholders on a voluntary basis."
WHAT IS THE ESL CSR SELF-ASSESSMENT TOOL?
The ESL CSR self-assessment tool is a checklist of commonly accepted actions to set up and/or reinforce a CSR process in a school in the language travel industry.
We therefore decided to compile CSR actions corresponding to the realities of a language school, taking into consideration three main topics:

1. Sustainable management and operations: how does the school plan and operate actions through CSR criteria?
2. Education: how does the school deal with sustainable development issues in an educational context?
3. Community: how does the school interact with and contribute to its local community and/or on a larger scale?
WHY DOES THIS TOOL EXIST?
As actors in the language travel industry, we not only want to recognize the different CSR actions already in process in some of our partner schools but we also want to encourage all of them to do more by offering a comprehensive global vision of how and what a language school could focus on in terms of sustainable development.

As a representative of a wide number of language schools, we know our role can contribute modestly to helping achieve a more sustainable world by standardizing best practices in our industry. Because it is not always easy to know where to start or how to reinforce a corporate social responsibility action plan, the ESL CSR self-assessment tool aims at stimulating language schools to kick off their own strategy by providing guidelines and support.

In addition, our role starts by providing precise and extensive information about our partner schools. We aim at informing students about each school’s identity with different angles. The sustainable development one contributes to raise awareness to a wide public including our own team, our partners and finally our students.

WHO DEVELOPED THE TOOL?
Like many others, ESL Education Group has started a process of internal reflection and instigated an action plan for minimizing negative impacts from its activity while identifying how to contribute more positively to a changing world. ECO2 Initiative supports us on this path with their technical and strategic expertise.
WHAT IS THE TOOL'S LEGITIMACY?
All of the tool's self-assessment criteria are based on the ISO26000 norm, which offers guidance on social responsibility. A consulting committee comprising 7 different language schools participated in the validation of ESL's CSR self-assessment tool. Our partner schools that have volunteered to contribute to the tool’s final development represent the diversity of education providers of the language travel industry (i.e. cultures, cities, contexts, groups and individually-owned schools).

The goal of the consulting committee has been to make sure we are on track with a tool aimed firstly at being useful for the language schools. Each school's adherence to the tool is fundamental for our initiative's success.
HOW ACCURATE ARE THE SELF-ASSESSMENT RESULTS?
Technically, the whole self-assessment exercise requires the user (the school) to follow steps that guarantee a sustainable process for each action in place.

In addition, the self-assessment structure safeguards against multiple interpretations about what is and what is not a sustainable process or about what is achieved and what is not in terms of CSR.
WHO CONTROLS THE VERACITY OF THE INFORMATION PROVIDED AND THE SELF-ASSESSMENT RESULTS?
The CSR self-assessment tool can only be useful if questions are answered with honesty. Before creating an ESL CSR account, our partner schools agree upon submitting information on behalf of their company on a voluntary commitment of transparency.

Our initiative is not based on a process of controlling anyone. It aims at being useful for all types of education providers around the world, sharing the same values, commitments and goals for a better world.

However, the details of the school’s self-evaluation are public and in case of false information observed by ESL or any student onsite, we would address the issue communicating directly with our partner school to clarify the situation either by requiring the self-assessment to be corrected or by stopping our partnership representation of the school.
HOW DOES THE SELF-ASSESSMENT METHODOLOGY WORK?
The tool is built on a qualitative approach as opposed to a quantitative one. This means that the focus is not on measuring the results of the actions but on offering a global vision of the implementation process of these actions and the improvements that can be achieved.

The method of self-assessment is to answer to the questions by YES or NO. A positive answer is subdivided into 4 LEVELS of achievement to self-assess progress and performance.

There are 4 LEVELS of achievement. Each LEVEL corresponds to a number of points for the global grade of self-assessment of the school:

• LEVEL 1:
CSR action is envisaged but not implemented, not related to an operational mission in services.
Effectively, it almost means NO, but it might be part of the school's management discussions and future plans.

• LEVEL 2:
CSR action is in process, but it is not incorporated into a global CSR strategy of the school.
Although a specific CSR action is in process, it is not under the school's management responsibility and formal action plan. The action in question might be a test or the initiative of a member of the staff, but it hasn't been officially backed up by the school's CSR strategy and policy. However, it has the potential of being incorporated into it and its implementation reinforced in a sustainable way (see LEVEL 3).

The border between LEVEL 2 and LEVEL 3 is at the heart of the ESL CSR self-evaluation. The difference between LEVEL 2 and LEVEL 3 highlights the importance of formalizing a CSR plan into an official strategy as a key step towards involving a company in a solid CSR process. If any of the 8 main CSR criteria (questions "A" to "H") are at LEVEL 2, it is not possible to answer the further, more detailed CSR actions related to that individual criterion (a1, a2, … h1, h2) until the main CSR criterion is at LEVEL 3.

• LEVEL 3:
CSR action is in process of implementation, under the responsibility of one or more persons acting pursuant to the formal action plan of the school's CSR strategy.
From LEVEL 3 on, each CSR action benefits from the consistency of being part of the official strategy and planning of the school's management. That way, the CSR action is known by the school's team and all stakeholders, allowing more awareness and leadership from everybody in a sustainable way.

• LEVEL 4:
CSR action completed, feedback on results and monitoring phase

This is the highest level of the self-evaluation. Therefore, when a question is self-assessed as being at LEVEL 4, it needs to be validated by answering YES or NO to additional questions (or uploading a document as evidence) in order to avoid different interpretations and to have a common understanding of what is a completed action.
Validation of LEVEL 4 information and details are not public but can be provided by the school or ESL upon request.
WHAT DO THE SELF-ASSESSMENT RESULTS MEAN IN TERMS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND CSR?
0 – 2: the school is not yet acting concretely for sustainable development
2,1 – 4,5: the school is in the early stages of a sustainable development initiative
4,6 – 6,9: the school has launched a sustainable CSR implementation process
7 – 9: the school is committed to sustainable development with a CSR policy in place
9,1 – 10: the school is strongly committed to sustainable development with a solid CSR policy in place
WHEN DO SCHOOLS SELF-ASSESS THEIR CSR ACTIONS IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS?
CSR is an ongoing process. Therefore, the self-assessment tool offers practical support to be regularly updated by each school that wants to detail its own progress and achievements in terms of CSR strategy and operations.
DO ALL SCHOOLS USE THE ESL CSR SELF-ASSESSMENT TOOL?
Not necessarily but we hope they will and actively encourage them to do so! Our CSR self-assessment tool relies on each school’s voluntary commitment to act and take decisions with CSR principles and values in mind and to be transparent about it. It only concerns those among our partner schools who are willing to say what they do and what they don’t do. Our goal is to motivate the largest number to consider these actions in their developments and, why not, in their priorities.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CSR SELF-ASSESSMENT TOOL?
It will help start and/or enhance language schools’ involvement in sustainable development as well as help everyone visualize the level of consideration and implementation of CSR policies.
The results allow the language school to self-assess the degree of maturity of their CSR plan and improve it.
The tool also offers language schools the opportunity to promote CSR values and support us in raising awareness of sustainable development to a larger international public.

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TESTIMONIALS

Andrea Quattrone

I decided to go on a language trip to Newcastle upon Tyne with ESL and now I can say that it was one of the best choices I have ever made. I learned about ESL online; at first, I was very impressed by their website’s precision, and then, by the staff’s availability and professionalism. They were all extremely helpful and precise in clarifying all my doubts!

In the beginning, I went on this trip just to improve my English knowledge and skills, but it soon became one of the best ways to strengthen incredible relationships. I am still very close to some of the people I met during my stay and I really would like to develop these friendships in the future and take them as good excuses to travel more.

Anyone can say that England is a truly unique country, but going there is the only way to deeply understand this statement. The habits, the breakfast, the buildings… there are so many things to discover. And British people are so enthusiastic that they make you feel warm even in a place that isn’t!

The weekend excursions were my favourite thing! Edinburgh, the Lake District, Alnwick Castle (Harry Potter’s one!)… The moments I spent in these places were truly unforgettable!

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María Bautista Villaverde

Learning French at the Institut Européen de Français was a great experience. I refreshed my French and got ready for my third Erasmus term. Classes are interactive and practical. Life in Montpellier is quiet, but – as it’s a student town – there is always something to do.

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Ana Briones Gallego

In October, I took an English course in Byron Bay, a small city in Australia, in the region of New South Wales. This experience was absolutely incredible. Byron is a very special place; the pace of life is relaxed, people are really nice and the surroundings are amazing. I spent most of my free time at the beach, where I could see dolphins and whales, only a few meters away from the coast. The main sport here is surf, so even if you’ve never tried, you have to give it a go. At night, there are many bars with live music. The school is very welcoming and all teachers are always helpful. I recommend Byron Bay as a destination, as it’s really similar to paradise! You will learn English whilst feeling constantly on holiday!

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