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Brexit and bureaucracy woes see top-rated language school close its doors

PUBLISHED: 10:47 16 October 2019

Co-owner and principal Judy Loren, right, at Excel's final leaving ceremony on August 30. Picture: Excel English Language School

Co-owner and principal Judy Loren, right, at Excel's final leaving ceremony on August 30. Picture: Excel English Language School

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A long-established English school has gone into liquidation after 30 years of teaching in Muswell Hill.

Excel English Language School has been running for 30 years. Picture: Hannah SomervilleExcel English Language School has been running for 30 years. Picture: Hannah Somerville

The Excel English Language School has been running since 1989 and at its peak, saw 700 to 800 students a year attend for courses from across the globe.

But Brexit uncertainty as well as recent visa application refusals led, owners said, to a "massive downturn" in student numbers from 2015 onwards.

On Saturday, August 3 - almost 30 years after the first classes were held - the school closed its doors for the last time and the parent company entered insolvency proceedings in late September.

All in all it owes £352,000 to creditors, including nearly £180,000 in directors' loans, £13,000 to HMRC and £13,000 to Haringey Council in business rates.

Twelve students have been transferred to other English language schools in London. Picture: Excel English Language SchoolTwelve students have been transferred to other English language schools in London. Picture: Excel English Language School

The building off Grosvenor Gardens is now set to be taken over by a small education provider for youngsters with special educational needs.

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Former co-principal and owner Judy Loren, 70, who owned the school along with husband Richard, 72, told the Ham&High: "It's very sad. We aren't a large school but we were known for having an excellent reputation.

"We were British Council-accredited and had been from very early on, and we were members of lots of different quality organisations for our industry."

A lease on the building in Muswell Hill is set to be signed soon. Picture: Hannah SomervilleA lease on the building in Muswell Hill is set to be signed soon. Picture: Hannah Somerville

At the start of 2019 the school was still ranked in the British Council's top 20 language school organisations in the UK.

Mrs Loren, of Vallance Road, who was named North London Businesswoman of the year in 1992 and 1997, said the political climate had made it impossible to keep running.

She said: "One of the main reasons was Brexit. Europeans suddenly became very anxious about whether they would actually be able to live in the country without a full passport, and whether the UK was going to implode.

"There have also been problems with visas. When the Conservatives came in, they decided the tier system was too easy and with their stance on immigration, they see students as immigrants. We had refusals."

Before the company collapsed, she said, Excel transferred the fees paid by 12 students to nearby schools for them to continue their studies. All staff were paid up to August 30.

The likely new occupant has yet to sign a lease but it is understood to be a small company teaching young people with autism spectrum disorders and severe dyslexia.

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