Blog January 19, 2016 by

St Giles

Goodbye to Barbara Williams and Hello to Sarah Ford!

Changes in the Platinum Centre at St Giles London Central


St Giles legend, Barbara Williams, retired from her role as Director of Platinum Courses on 24th December 2015, ending a fabulous 26 year career with the school. Barbara was extremely well-respected and liked and the school celebrated her career during a touching ceremony in early December where she gave an entertaining and touching farewell speech. On behalf of everyone associated with the school we wish her a very happy and long retirement.

When St Giles knew that Barbara Williams would be retiring as Director of Platinum Courses, the search began in earnest for her successor. Mark Rendell, Principal, said that, “We knew that we had a hugely experienced and capable team at London Central and we wanted Barbara’s successor to come from within the school.”

We are delighted to have appointed someone who we feel is the ideal candidate to replace Barbara, and Sarah Ford officially took on the role from 29th December 2015. Sarah has built up a strong profile at the school with roles that have included senior teacher, director of the London family stay programme and social programme organiser.

We met up with Sarah to find out more about her:

Congratulations on your new role! How are you feeling?

I’ve been working at St Giles myself for eight years, and although these are very big shoes to fill, I’m looking forward to the challenge! Having taught in Taiwan and London for over 10 years, and with plenty of experience to draw on, I’m ready now to build on Barbara’s legacy.

You knew Barbara very well, didn’t you? How do you feel you compare in terms of personality and style?

We are both originally from the English Midlands, both come from hardworking families and both have an eye for detail and will notice if a lightbulb has gone or if a student’s name is spelled incorrectly! Obviously I learnt a lot from Barbara and it’ll be strange not having her around, but it is important to embrace the future and I’m excited about the opportunity and am looking forward to the challenge ahead!

How is the Platinum Centre different from the rest of the school?

Well, we have lots of exciting people coming from all over the world with a really diverse range of jobs and experience. It is always lovely to meet new business people and get to know them a little, and then to watch them make progress with their English, which really can help them in their careers. We are focused on English for specific purposes and business English, and with smaller classes and one-to-one lessons our teachers can really get to know their students and give targeted and individual assistance.

What’s the best thing that you’ve noticed about the Platinum Centre since you started?

I think it’s the experienced team of teachers, who know each other really well and work together to provide lessons to suit students’ individual needs. They’re professional and friendly, and have made me feel very welcome since I arrived!

What is that makes the Platinum experience so special?

I’ve mentioned the individual attention, superb facilities and brilliant teachers but there are so many opportunities in London for shopping, sightseeing…there’s always something to do so you don’t feel the winter blues for long! We also have a great social programme where our trainees can sharpen their social English and this week we have trips planned to a Greek restaurant and to the theatre to see Bend It Like Beckham.

We wish Barbara a very happy retirement and good luck to Sarah in her new role! 

Find out more about taking a Platinum English course at St Giles London Central.