Spotlight on...

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Business Travel to Milan

Anyone taking a peek at our instagram feed will know that I travel a lot (!) … last year I was in Italy more than a dozen times, I also visited Mauritius, Greece and France on various trips throughout the year.  More often than not I travel alone, with three large suitcases full of marketing materials to show to potential clients.

One of the cities I visit the most is Milan.  I have an overnight trip every two weeks in the summer, and after that I visit about once a month from Autumn onwards to take part in various events.  Milan is a very safe city, the central area around Duomo di Milano is full of tourists taking selfies at the magnificent Cathedral that took a whopping six centuries to build!  The impressive and extremely opulent Galleria Vittorio Emanuele shopping centre is right next door where you can take your time to marvel at their shiny offerings, or have an overpriced drink or meal overlooking the square.    My personal preference is to stay slightly out of the centre, but close enough to walk in if I wish. 

Milan is a fantastic city for business travellers for many reasons, but my top four reasons would be:

Accessibility - Milan Linate Airport is located just 10 mins from the city centre making it super accessible.  My favourite low cost airline EasyJet has around 5 flights per day from London Gatwick in the summer, and in my experience, has the lowest flight prices of any of the other airports in Italy that EasyJet services.  Be aware however, that from 27th July - 27th October 2019 Milan Linate will be closed for a long term maintenance project so you’ll need to fly to Malpensa instead.

Hotels - Milan offers a fantastic choice of quality hotels for both accommodation and meetings facilities.  You are spoiled for choice in terms of city centre hotels from budget to high-end, there are options for every traveller’s wallet.  I personally use booking.com to make my reservations, but there are many options such as the ever- popular airbnb.com. hotels.com, secretescapes.com etc.  The Porta Nouva district is quiet, leafy in parts, and home to a number of beautiful international hotels.  If you are looking at the top of the range, the staff at The Westin Palace Hotel will make you feel like a princess.  My hotel of choice is The Windsor Hotel, which is located in Porta Nouva. It’s super comfortable, and super quiet (apart from sirens which are just a normal occurrence in Milan) .  The hotel is located a 15-20 minute cab ride from Linate, Republicca metro is a 2 minute walk, Centrale station a 10 minute walk, and the central Duomo area with it’s Cathedral, famous Galleria and restaurants is just a 20 minute walk if you don’t fancy braving the metro. I have stayed in a large number of hotels in the city, but in my opinion the Windsor covers all bases in terms of comfort, customer service, a 5* restaurant and won’t break the bank as their rates are actually very reasonable for the class of hotel.

Getting around - navigating your way around the city could not be easier with a wide range of tram, bus or metro routes.  A day ticket which covers the metro, trams and busses costs just Euro 1.50 per day (take note London!) and the network is simple to work out. What wasn’t so easy to work out at first was where to buy tickets, so I’m happy to share my top tip of popping into Hudson News in the arrivals area of Linate, and picking up a few whilst you are there. I personally like to walk where possible when I visit, so finding one of the many amazing restaurant choices on offer is as easy as 1, 2, 3! Which brings me nicely onto …

Food - this should really have been at the top of the list!  I have yet to find a region in Italy where the food is not delicious, beautiful, flavoursome and addictive, and Milan certainly doesn’t disappoint.  There are a vast number or restaurants to choose from, but some of my favourites are Clotilde and Bistro Giacomo.

With so many plus points - there is absolutely no reason not to plan your next business event in Milan.

Corporate Social Responsibility – your Company is Never Too Small.

If you haven’t yet heard of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) you may want to have a read of this blog post first before reading on.  

During the course of my work I meet a wide variety of different companies who all work in different sectors, are of varying sizes and in diverse locations, but one thing I hear on a regular basis is ‘we don’t have the capacity to take on an Intern / we don’t have time to train anyone new’.  This disappoints me for many reasons, but mainly because I firmly believe that no matter how small your company is, there is always time to enable someone else to learn from your experiences.  

 I was recently asked to contribute to Brighton Chamber’s blog on this very topic, as part of a series of blog posts looking at alternative options to full-time employment.

The Blue Penguin Company is small – we have fewer than 5 permanent employees, yet we make time for those starting out in their careers (or those thinking about which careers they would like to be starting out in) because we recognise the importance of investing in young people.  Organisations like Sussex Chamber of Commerce recognise this importance too, they recognise it so much, they even have a special award for it.

I am honoured to be included in a group of mentors at the University of Sussex Business School.  This year I was graciously invited to take part in the annual ‘Dragon’s Den’ style project, focussing on New Venture Creation and Business Planning with an inspiring group of students.

I was assigned to a group of six highly intelligent, motivated and fearless young people who wasted no time in putting together a solid plan of action, to ensure they really made the most of having a mentor on hand to work through their ideas with.  They communicated well, they were always on time (early actually) for our meetings, and they always prepared in advance to make the very best of our time together.  I was astounded by their levels of enthusiasm for the project, and despite having a very full schedule already, they took their remit very seriously.  Their collaborative working methods were first class, and this really paid off in their final presentations, when they were awarded a very impressive 3rd place out of around 20 groups.

On a more personal level and as a parent of three young children, it was wonderful for me to have an insight into what life may hold in the coming years for my own children.  It did however also made me mindful that my children would only have access to the same opportunities as my group of students, if people like me continue to prioritise CSR.  

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Like many working professionals, I’m super busy.  I travel extensively for work, I attend countless meetings each week, and I manage a team of people and each year we welcome a vast amount of young people to the UK who will be taking part in Educational Programmes.  Even with all of these factors considered, I will continue to make time to help in the education of young people when possible.  Will you?

The British Chamber of Commerce for Italy

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We are thrilled to have been welcomed as a new Sustaining Member of the British Chamber of Commerce for Italy. This well-established and revered organisation is packed to the brim with like minded professionals keen to work together with other businesses, to promote meaningful and successful relationships between our two countries.

We have already had the privilege of attending a number of their events in Milan, and are very much looking forward to getting more involved over the coming months.

How do I become a Summer Host Family? Everything you need to know.

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Many British families up and down the country choose to host Summer Language students in their homes each year in order to make some additional income from their spare rooms, add a little culture to their lives or to enjoy some varied company throughout the year.

Whatever your reasons for wanting to become a Host Family, there is quite a bit to consider before opening up your home. This post is not intended scare-monger or put you off hosting, but merely to provide honest and realistic information that you may not have considered before making this important decision.

  1. Insurance – I can’t stress enough how import this is. It is NOT the responsibility of the Language School to insure your home against damage caused by any of their students, this lies firmly with you. Accidents happen, some are less expensive to fix than others, but it’s definitely not worth risking for the sake of a couple of hundred pounds a year. As a host family you should ensure that a) your insurance provider is aware that you have paying guests under the age of 18 staying in your home and b) you have adequate accidental damage cover in conjunction with point a). Even having a paying student in your home and not declaring it to your insurance company could invalidate your policy. If you are planning to provide front door keys to your students, you will want to check what your policies conditions are on this specific aspect.

  2. Gas Safety Certificate - any responsible Language School will insist on an up to date copy of this each year, although worryingly, some schools don’t even ask for one (!) If you have Gas appliances in your home you should have a full service and Gas Safety check (these are separate things) annually to ensure your appliances are safe and fit for use. If you do not and your students suffer any accidents or worse, a fatality as a result, your insurance will probably not cover you for any claims made against you (which really would be the least of your worries in this instance).

  3. Willingness to adapt – having students in your home is not just about providing a bed. You are taking on the responsibility for someone else’s child, their safety and well-being, and their education whilst they are in your home. You are also giving up your freedom to walk around the house in your underwear! Think carefully about your own family dynamic, how your own children will adapt to having new faces in the house, how you will manage your own family routines and existing commitments around the students’, whether or not it’s okay for your friends from Canada to come and stay whilst you have students under the age of 18 staying with you? (the answer is ‘no’ unless they are DBS checked).

  4. The social aspect – at the end of the week many British families crack open a bottle of wine, order a cheeky take-away and snuggle down on the sofa whilst winding down after a busy week. If your glass of wine normally turns into a bottle (or two) over the weekends, hosting students may not be something that is right for your family. Whilst having a glass or two of wine over dinner is not a problem, excessive intake of alcohol and/or late-night partying is not okay when you are responsible for other people’s children. Think carefully about how you socialise as a family and whether or not having students to stay is going to impact how you like to relax in your home.

  5. ‘Just for family’ space – this one is the biggest indicators for me as a Language Provider in terms of whether or not hosting students is right for a family. Bedrooms aside, if you are planning to have a communal area of your home (kitchen, living room, dining area etc.) set aside as ‘just for family’ then I would suggest that hosting students is not for you! The whole concept of hosting students in your home is to make them feel welcome, included and part of your daily family life. If they are banished to their bedrooms whilst you and your family are getting cozy watching a movie in the living room, they are not going to feel wanted or included.

If you have got to the end of this list and still feel like you are ready to open your home up to Summer Language students, then do! The rewards are plentiful for both your own family and your student, and often life-long friendships are made, with reciprocal visits being made to your student’s homes in future years. It’s not easy all the time, but it’s definitely enjoyable in the right setting and with ground rules firmly established from the outset.

BCCI Business Lunch - Milan

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Today I was fortunate enough to attend a Business Lunch in Milan hosted by the BCCI.  The guest speaker was an inspiring woman who happens to be Amazon’s Country Manager for both Italy and Spain.  This knowledgeable professional has more than 10 years’ experience of working at Amazon in an impressive number of their international sites, and she shared some pretty impressive stats about the Company during her presentation. Here are just a few of the value nuggets I took away from the event;

  • She’s a woman! Yes an intelligent, strong, confident, inspiring and successful woman who has a family and doesn’t feel the need to work past 6pm in order to get her job done (For those who know me well, you know I’m a massive champion for supporting other women in business).

  • Amazon has more than 600,000 employees worldwide.

  • The Company has fairly low profits because much of what they make is reinvested into the business… it’s more about the customer experience for them than the bottom line.

  • Creativity is a team effort at Amazon and not reserved for those at the top of the pyramid.

  • As a company they pay for additional learning for their employees (love this!)

  • They are not afraid to admit failure – in fact they love it (I’ll explain why in a minute)

  • They always put the customer first, and work backwards from there.

There were so many fascinating pieces of information that I took away from her presentation, but the two that I will borrow for my own business are;

  • Fail big and fail fast!  The Amazon Phone may have been an expensive faux pas, but the technology developed for it was used to bring the Echo to life.  The project cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars, but they see this as a total positive.

  • Dream big!  Every single big dream you have for your company (or in life in general) can be achieved through careful planning, calculated risk taking and focus.  Don’t hold your ideas back because you think other people won’t be on board with them, use that as a challenge to get them some legs.

I love attending presentations like this, the information learned is just solid gold and much of it can be taken back into my own business,  and used to inspire our students to make the very best of their Internship opportunities in the UK.  Thank you BCCI – I’ll see you soon.

3 Steps to Achieving a Positive Work-Life Balance as a busy Parent

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Social Media is full of inspirational quotes with accompanying photos of tranquil lakes, forests, online courses for inner peace, mindfulness exercises you can do in the car, and life-changing day creams with SPF30 … the list is long.

So what is the secret to a positive work-life balance when you are a busy parent? If I had the answer to that I would have a best-selling book, a personal trainer called Bjorn and a new Range on the drive now wouldn't I.

I don't have all the answers, but what I do have is 15 years' worth of experience juggling a marriage, kids, dogs, major house renovations (x 3) giving up a salaried job to start a new business with tiny babies, and extensive travel during that time. That list in itself does not make me an expert, but it has given me plenty of time to think about how to keep all my plates spinning without burning out, and dare I say, actually achieving a positive work-life balance.

This list will vary for everyone depending on their own personal situations, but here is my short list of those changes that we implemented in our family to help us achieve a happier balance;

O N E

Plan your meals in advance – it's not surprising I would start with a food-related point, but this one really will ensure you remain on track with everything else in your life. I can't count how many times I have got to 5 pm, frazzled, mascara smudged, with hungry babies, an un-walked dog and opened the fridge looking for a miracle, only to discover we'll be having cereal for dinner again.

Sunday is the day we choose to plan our meals for the following week, but you can do it anytime that suits you. My suggestion would be to choose weekday meals that take less than 30 mins to prepare, batch cooking on one of the weekend days if you can be bothered, and freezing some portions to have later in the week (spag bol/chilli/tomato and basil pasta sauce/mince for cottage pie are winners in my house). When our children were very little, we bought this book which was a goldmine of information about meal planning and staying within a healthy food budget. There are of course also loads of amazing recipes on BBC Good Food, Sainsbury's and in this book by Jamie Oliver.

If your budget allows, you may benefit from ordering pre-packaged meals from companies like Hello Fresh, and Gousto who deliver fresh, measured-out and bagged-up ingredients to your door so that you can create Nigella-style meals without having to think about them.

We personally order from Hello Fresh and what we've found is that:

a) we spend less money per week on food

b) we don't eat the same meals week-in-week-out

c) there is very little waste

We also have a couple of emergency ‘bung in the oven' type meals that we can cook quickly on particularly dire days so that we don't cave in and order a takeaway.

T W O

Ask for help – working parents can be very stubborn and if you are anything like me, you too will be working on becoming a martyr any day now … (or at least I used to be). I can assure you that you are NOT required to be a superhero. There I said it. You don't have to be Wonderwoman or Iron Man, you just have to be able to get through your days without falling into bed in a heap at midnight after reading Gangsta Granny, clearing up after dinner, finding everyone's PE kits that went MIA at the end of last term, and making a model volcano for the next morning, too exhausted to wash your face before bed. I may appear to be aiming low here, but anyone with small children will know what this feels like, and it's not healthy to do (at all) on an ongoing basis. There is another way, you just have to find the one that works best for your situation.

If you have people in your life that you can ask for help, do! That could be a partner/husband/wife/grandparent/friend … if those are not options for you then the magic word is OUTSOURCE. This may seem like an extravagance, but it's going to be the difference between finding that work-life zen and not.

When you spend precious ‘non-work' time cleaning toilets, doing laundry, shining windows, washing floors, cutting the lawn, going to the supermarket and walking the dog twice a day, you are not spending that time with your children/partner or making time for you to actually feel like you are a human. If you have to pay a cleaner, gardener, dog-walker or internet shopper to help make your life a bit easier, then make this a priority in your monthly budget if possible. It will pay off I promise! Make sure that if you are in a partnership that you are both taking equal responsibilities in terms of parenting and necessary household chores.

T H R E E

You are more than somebody's parent – this may seem like a ridiculous statement, but after 15 years of marriage and children, I can tell you that I have only just (in the last few years) started to feel like my own person again. Don't get me wrong, I adore my family and my children are my world. But having 3 babies in 4 years was extremely hard on me both physically and emotionally.

During those pregnancies, I suffered from bereavement, post-natal depression, an employment tribunal after being fired whilst on maternity leave, two house moves and a long period of financial difficulty. All the while, I had three little people who needed to be cared for, nurtured and provided for both physically and emotionally, and not a huge amount of sleep.

Every parent has their own story and their own difficulties, each person will have reacted/adapted to those situations in a different way. Looking back now my advice, if I may be so bold as to offer it is; "make time each day for YOU' … it may be a 20 minute bubble bath with the door locked, a good book or relaxing playlist in your ears, shaving your legs and putting on the fancy body lotion you got for Christmas, or going out for dinner with your girlfriends once a month (side note: good friends are EXTREMELY important to a positive work-life balance), whatever it is for you, make sure you do it as a priority.

The more balanced you feel on the inside will project into every other area of your life, including your family life and your work life,

5 Top Tips on Preparing for Your Internship Placement

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The summer is fast approaching and if you have enrolled in a Summer Work Experience Internship you will be busily preparing for your trip. This year The Blue Penguin Company has had a record number of Internship applications and we are thrilled to be able to offer these ambitious young people such varied and challenging placements, in some truly fantastic companies.

We have come up with a list of 5 top tips to help you get the most out of your Internship Placement;

1. Do your research – take the time to do a little research about the company you are going to be working for BEFORE you arrive. Read their most recent blogposts (if they have any) and find out basic information about who owns the company, who their clients are, what their Company ethos is, and any projects they may currently be working on. If you have any of your own work that you feel is relevant, bring it along to show as an example of your skills.

2. Pack appropriately – you should be sent information on the Company dress code before you depart, but if not, make sure you ask. By asking and preparing in advance you can ensure that you not only feel prepared, but also look the part. It would also be a good idea to do some research of the typical expected weather over the period you are working there, so that you have a selection of clothing suitable for all weathers, which includes your journey to and from work each day (we’re thinking umbrellas!)

3. Don’t be late – we understand that the importance of time-keeping varies in different cultures but in the UK we are sticklers for punctuality. Nothing says ‘I’m not extremely grateful for this amazing opportunity’ like arriving to work late. We understand that sometimes being late is unavoidable due to transportation or weather issues, but you should always have a contact number of your manager to be able to call your manager (yes call, not text) and let them know you are running late. Make sure you ask for this on the first day.

4. Keep busy – once you have started at your placement, make sure you have identified ways to stay busy during quieter periods. For instance, if you are working in a restaurant, the early mornings or late afternoons may be quiet and there may not be many customers about. This is not an invitation to stand around waiting for prospective clients to arrive, this is an invitation for you to find inventive ways to stay busy, like clearing glasses off shelves to clean them, wrapping cutlery in napkins or restocking fridges. This is the most important point for your own success on this list, as you will be evaluated on your ability to use your initiative and show maturity!

5. Remain motivated throughout your placement – it’s great that you are super perky on your first or even second day at work, but if you are going to be carrying out a placement for 2, 4, 6 or more weeks, it’s important to keep those levels of motivation going throughout. Remember that your evaluation is typically completed by your manager AT THE END of your placement, so make sure they have plenty of positive examples of your work to record.

6. Okay we know we said 5 – but this one is definitely worth an extra mention… it is absolutely, 100% never never never okay to be on your mobile phone during working hours. It’s not okay to sneak off to the toilet to check your Instagram feed or update snapchat. Please take careful note of this point as it’s one that could cost you your job if not taken seriously.

Work Experience Internships are a gift – they are little golden nuggets of opportunity given to you by busy, experienced industry professionals who have opened up the doors of their Companies to invite you in to learn. If you are reading this and want to know more about how to apply for a Work Experience Internship Programme, please take a look at our website for more information.

As a company we work tirelessly throughout the year to build and maintain relationships with businesses, and one poor experience will invariably mean we are not able to work with these companies again. We therefore recruit our candidates very carefully, they are interviewed, regularly and fully briefed, and their placements are managed throughout their time in at work. Grab the opportunity you have been given with both hands and make the very most of it.

How Seriously do Brighton-based Businesses take Corporate Social Responsibility?

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There is a lot of information out there about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) yet in our experience it’s tricky to find companies who a) understand what it is and why it’s important, and b) Companies willing to break out of their comfort zones in order to take part in something that is not seen as traditionally revenue generating.

So what is it exactly?

According to The Giving Machine, the purpose of CSR is “ To encourage businesses to conduct their companies in an ethical manner and work towards having a more positive impact on society through ensuring sustainable growth..” Thinking about the Sustainable Growth aspect, surely as part of their strategy it is important for Companies to focus on bringing in new, fresh talent in order to stay relevant and to up-skill young people, ensuring an ongoing interest and passion for their sector? You would think!

Brighton now officially has the highest proportion of Creative, Small and Medium sized businesses in the UK, with 1 in 8 businesses operating in this sector. That’s a huge chunk of creative talent sitting right on our doorstep.

With two outstanding Universities also on our doorstep, the city is inundated with exceptional young people eager to learn from the best before embarking on their own careers in their chosen fields. With Brighton’s reputation of being forward-thinking, inclusive, liberal, innovative and creative one would think it would be relatively easy to find creative companies willing to invest in Corporate Social Responsibility. These companies can and should be making a real effort to create opportunities for young people to gain valuable experience within their businesses, but these seem few and far between.

There is some great work being done in the city through organisations like Brighton Digital Festival to encourage young people to be involved in change from a more creative standpoint, so why are we as an Internship provider finding it so hard to get Brighton-based Creative Agencies on board?

Your thoughts on a postcard.

Our Team is Growing!

Since 2012 when The Blue Penguin Company was born, we have taken very much a ‘slow yet organic’ approach to growth. This was for a number of reasons, firstly I’m a working mama … I had three small people at home that needed my time and energy and I wanted to be there for them. I wanted to take part in their sports days, school outings, nativity plays and all the other things that many working parents don’t have the luxury of attending because of their necessary work commitments. Family is at the centre of everything we do as a company, so we believe that commitment to family very much needs to start at home.

Secondly, we wanted to take time as a business to really get to know our clients, what they wanted in terms of a service, how they wanted it to be delivered, and then to fine-tune our services to make sure we were offering the very best we could to those people wanting to invest in our Educational Programmes. We have consistently kept our student groups small so that we can take the time to get to know our students on a very personal level, and keep our trips stimulating and fresh, taking into account the interests of our clients when planning our programmes. We have never and will never be in the business of herding sheep. We spend a lot of time visiting Italy to meet with families, schools, colleges and individuals as we believe speaking to people face to face is a more personal and much more effective form of communication. The internet is great, but you can’t beat a good coffee and a chat!

In 2017 we were fortunate enough to have Laura join our team, and with her she brought not only essential Italian Language skills, but also a wealth of teaching knowledge and methodologies gained over a decade or more, which have proved invaluable to us as a Company. Laura is responsible for making and maintaining good relationships with our schools, families and partners in Italy to ensure we are always able to reach as many people in as personal, relevant and honest way as possible.

In April 2019 Luisa joined our team in the role of Italian Administrator. Luisa is also an Italian native speaker and has recently graduated in Media Studies from the University of Sussex. We looked long and hard to find someone who fitted in well with our Company ethos, who was also able to bring the much needed skills and passion to the Company to help us grow and Luisa was very much the right person for the job.

We are just weeks away from the beginning of our Summer 2019 Programme and I am personally so excited to see how our new team structure will bring even more opportunities to our fantastic students.

Happy World Penguin Day!

Yes, it’s totally a thing! Google it and you’ll see. We love these little furry guys for so many reasons, we like them so much we even named our Company after them.

So why the 25th April then? Well according to the wisdom of the internet it seems this is roughly when these adorable creatures start their annual migration north. If you care about penguins as much as we do, you too can celebrate World Penguin Day by finding out more about Protecting Antarctica’s Marine Environment from Greenpeace , or just help to raise awareness for the plight of the Penguin by posting a cute Penguin picture, or sending a Penguin e card to get people talking .Wishing you all a Happy #WorldPenguinDay .

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Spotlight on: Outdoor Education

Outdoor Education is becoming a more popular medium for learning, and more and more schools are introducing options like Forest SchoolBeach School and Outdoor Education courses.  But why do we need to take students out of the classroom?

As a company we are fortunate enough to have a long standing and close working relationship with this wonderful company who provide outstanding Outdoor Educational experiences for young people.  

Founders Steve Shove and Mat Barnsley explain why outdoor education is not just about making fires in the woods; ‘Graduates of our survival academy and expeditions are helped to secure entry to higher and further education courses of their choice and to secure the roles they desire when moving into the work place: uniquely we offer post-activity reports and references. We have a proven methodology for success that is used by some of the world’s largest corporations. It provides a foundation and tools to succeed in life, relevant to each individual and taught in the most inspiring, engaging and memorable ways.’  

I love all of the various programmes that Steve, Mat and their team of experienced instructors provide, but my favourite is definitely their Arctic Expeditions

We include elements of outdoor education in all of our summer programmes to give students a taste of the benefits that alternative learning environments bring.

As a parent, especially with your first child, it’s often hard to know when the right time is to enrol your child on an experience away from home, and then to make the choice of which option would be the most beneficial for your child.  Taking the time to research established, suitably qualified and ethical providers is always the best place to begin, but I would encourage you to talk to your child about their wishes, interests and aspirations for now and also in the future before making a choice.  

These experiences are an investment for families, not an opportunity for a week-long childcare placement during the holidays, so parents should be encouraged to focus on the investment rather than the cost of the activity.  If it takes a little longer to save up for a higher quality programme, then your child will have longer to plan, mature and prepare for their experience.  Low cost options provide a low-cost solution, and personally when it comes to my own children I am driven more by the ‘safest’ choice rather than the ‘cheapest’ option.

We are Growing - Behind the Scenes of our Video Shoot

The last twelve months have been a time of growth for us at The Blue Penguin Company and we have been working closely with a number of carefully selected professionals to help us ensure we are bringing details of what we do , to the right people, in the right way. Part of this process involved making a series of videos channel)to help our clients who don’t have English as a first language, to be able to visually see what we do and how we do it.  

Whilst making videos, improving our website, having professional photos taken of our students, and working with a professional graphic designer to produce our beautiful marketing material may seem like an expensive option for a small business, it has really changed the way we reach our clients, and opened up new pathways for us to showcase what we do. 

Working with a wholly European market, it is important that we are able to reach clients who may not speak English very proficiently, in a way that is personal, informative, easy to understand, and available with subtitles in their own language.  This enables families and education providers to make an informed decision about whether or not our programmes are right for them by bringing all of the information to them in an ‘easy to watch way’.  

What is always important to us is that our video content is honest, informative and showcases the outstandingly beautiful part of the UK where our programmes take place.

Penguin Awareness Day

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Happy Penguin Awareness Day

Did you know it was Penguin Awareness Day today ?  Many didn’t, but we did! 

One of the first questions I normally get asked is ‘Why are you called The Blue Penguin Company?’ Was it the result of too much prosecco and a late-night game of scrabble?  Did we only get to ‘b’ in the alphabet before we gave up and did ‘eeny meeny’? Actually not… I’ll explain.

I’m African– and I love animals.  For me animals have got it just right, and penguins in particular focus on:

a) survival

b) family

c) community

Daddy Penguin sits on the egg, and Mummy Penguin gets to run her own successful fishing business – how delightfully modern!  

Our business is focussed around families, we are one, we work with them, and our primary focus is to provide a safe, welcoming environment for our clients to learn.  We are extremely community-minded and work with (and support) local businesses and education providers to bring high-quality, well-planned and welcoming programmes to our clients.  Our business is centred around our clients, and everything we do starts from there. We carefully listen to their needs, their constraints and concerns, and we meticulously plan programmes to suit their individual requirements.  There really is something for everyone.

Wishing you all a Happy Penguin Awareness Day!

Visiting schools – our follow up trip to Lombardia

In October as part of a week-long marketing road trip to Italy (where we drove a whopping 1,500km), we had the chance to go and visit some of our girls at school to see how they were getting on at the beginning of their new academic year – thank you for making us feel so welcome!  

It was great to see how pleased the girls were by our visit, and they were enthusiastically recounting stories of their time in the UK during the summer.  We also had a chance to have a debrief with their teachers and the school leadership team, to discuss how they felt the programme went from their point of view. The girls also graciously agreed to film some video testimonials with us, sharing with other students why trips like our Work Experience Programmes are so beneficial for personal growth.

We are very much ‘people’ people, and we like to have the opportunity to meet our clients in person at the very beginning of the planning process so that we can fully understand what is important to them, what kind of results they would like to see from their time in the UK, and how we can structure their programmes in such a way that they make the maximum amount of progress in the time available.

In order for us to market our programmes this successfully, we visit our clients a number of times a year to meet in schools, colleges, universities and with individual families so that we can be available face to face to answer any questions or queries they may have, before they commit to any particular programme.

The Blue Penguin Company – Summer 2018 Round Up

What a wonderful summer this has been for us.  We have had the chance to welcome so many new students to Worthing to take part in our wide variety of English Language Programmes, and we can’t really believe it’s all over for another year. It does however mean we get to travel to Italy quite a bit over the coming months to meet more new schools and families though, so it’s not all sad.  We wanted to share some of the highlights from our summer with you.

We made a video ! It was so much fun! The weather this summer was beautiful, with record lows in rainfall and sunny skies most days, so perfect conditions for filming.  The smiles on our students’ faces were such a pleasure to see, and we loved having the time to get to know them all a little better.  We were very proud of how professional these beautiful young people were, how much their confidence had grown in their English Language abilities over the weeks that they were with us, and how enthusiastic they were to share their experiences on camera (in English!).  Their testimonials were unscripted, honest and heartfelt.

We were thrilled to welcome a new school from Lombardia to our client list in September. All of the girls worked incredibly hard at their Work Experience Placements, and we had extremely positive feedback from their employers.  As well as being placed in a wide variety of work placements, we were also fortunate enough to experience many new activities during our social programme.  There were many ‘firsts’ for this group – hotpod yoga and Bushcraft activities to name a few.  The girls were brave and open-minded, and their positive attitude to learning was a joy to see.