Bell, founded in 1955, follows the vision of one man’s belief in the power of language to promote intercultural understanding and change lives. Frank Bell, a University of Cambridge graduate, was captured during the Second World War and, during his imprisonment, he established an “undercover university”. Teaching languages to fellow prisoners, he saw that the route to international cooperation and understanding lay in learning. After the war, he opened the first Bell school, in Cambridge.
Bell now has adult schools for ages 16-plus in Cambridge and London, and four young learner schools for ages 7 to 17 in prestigious locations around the UK. It also runs projects all over the world, and has an English-speaking nursery and pre-school in Switzerland.
“Even 60 years on,” says Greg Hoile, the company’s Chief Executive, “Bell’s teaching approach is still influenced by Frank Bell’s wish for Bell to stand apart from its competitors by placing a focus on academic excellence and high standards.”
THE NEXT 60 YEARS
The Bell Way teaching method was developed with Bell experts alongside an emeritus professor from the University of Cambridge. The method is based on six principles: high expectations, clear goals, learning everywhere, assessment, students as unique individuals and also the commitment that Bell never stops learning as an organisation.
“Our portfolio of courses evolves continuously to meet the needs of our students,” says Hoile. “One area that is growing is the teaching of subjects in English, not just the teaching of the language itself. Our University Pathways courses, for example, teach international students subjects in English in preparation for studying at an English-speaking university.”
In 2016, Bell established a new course for young learners, Young Cambridge Scholars, which teaches students in English and gives a taste of what life is like at a top university. Bell also opened bilingual pre-school nurseries in China in 2016.
Another recently launched innovation from Bell, working with a University of Cambridge professor, is a way to measure confidence as well as academic results. “We are committed to ensuring that our students reach their potential academically, have a rewarding experience during their stay, and leave with more confidence and a greater sense of belonging to the international community,” says Hoile. The next 60 years for Bell sound like they will be as interesting as the first.