Samantha Milton, Co-director of the Sydney English Academy believes it is the integral atmosphere of mutual respect which has seen SEA’s 40+ Program really take off over the last 2 years.
“Any student, no matter their age is welcomed, their contribution valued. This in turn enriches the lives of all fellow students. Our mature-aged students are quickly and seamlessly integrated into school life, and their wisdom and experience is genuinely embraced by our younger students,” Samantha says.
Dave Trendall, SEA’s Social Program Coordinator has refined the program to offer events and activities more geared to the interests of mature-aged students:
“We offer a great range of social activities, often focussing on arts and culture and the beautiful natural environment around Manly, rather than just pubs and parties!”
Accommodation can be another stumbling block for older students, who feel that unless they can afford hotel accommodation they might not be comfortable. However SEA, with the support of its international partners, continues to get great feedback from senior students who have been persuaded to try homestay.
“I have the advantage of personally knowing each of our homestay families,” explains Samantha. “This has allowed me to draw up a short-list of tried and tested homestay providers who genuinely enjoy hosting more mature students. These families offer an intellectually engaging home environment, but also the right balance between involvement with the student and peace and privacy when it’s required. Often our mature-aged students are pleasantly surprised at how much they enjoy the homestay experience, as they may have previously perceived it as something that is geared more to younger students.”
Director Mick Edwards points out that the size of the school lends itself to being just the right environment for older students.
“At SEA everyone is accountable. Irresponsible or immature behaviour is not tolerated and respect of fellow students and staff is expected throughout the school. This means that everyone can improve their English while having fun in an optimum learning environment. It is also a very inclusive atmosphere, being not too big, which means that mature-aged students are just as quickly assimilated into the ‘SEA family’ as are younger students.”