Celtic English Academy is the first private sector company and first SME organisation to be awarded a Gold Standard FairPlay Employer Award by the inclusive working experts in the FairPlay Employer Team at Chwarae Teg.

As a local, Welsh organisation, who work internationally, the Academy has been growing since it was established in 2004. The Academy’s owner director, James Doherty, has always desired to consolidate their foundations based upon “quality, consistency and fairness for all”.

Pre-pandemic, the English language school began its FairPlay Employer journey through Chwarae Teg’s Agile Nation 2 Business Programme, which is fully funded by the European Social Fund through Welsh Government. In late 2020 they continued their support by subscribing to the FairPlay Employer Award, accessing bespoke consultancy support from the FairPlay Employer solutions team, supporting the transformation of the organisational culture, driving the Academy to achieve the Gold standard.

The need for remote working during the Covid 19 pandemic was new and challenging to the Academy. Even before the first day of the UK lockdown, when all their teaching moved online overnight, the Academy was dealing with cancellations, postponements, and the rapid return of students to their home countries in the months and weeks prior. As an organisation working with international visitors, usually of 50 different nationalities each year, the pandemic was hard-hitting for the educational tourism sector especially. Yet through this crisis, with all the changes they had to navigate, they saw an opportunity to go further – to be a more inclusive and diverse organisation, with better communications and working practice. Thanks to the FairPlay Employer Team, the Academy implemented an agile work environment, alongside improving communications and supporting wellbeing. The new way of working increased productivity, autonomy and dedication, creating a positive working environment overall.

Shoko Doherty, Chief Executive Officer, Celtic English Academy, said: “Being recognised as a Gold standard FairPlay Employer is something we have worked hard to achieve by evidencing our solid commitment to fairness, inclusivity, wellbeing and workplace flexibility.

“There is variety of backgrounds amongst our students and staff, not only culturally, but socio-economically, or with age or religion; it’s like a microcosm of the world, under one roof! The experts at FairPlay Employer have designed, and enabled us to implement, the most up to date people processes to create a truly inclusive workplace.”

Emelyne Burkhard, Organisational Development and Communications Manager, Celtic English Academy adds: “Thanks to the FairPlay Employer journey I’ve witnessed us move quickly from fire-fighting the crisis to making sustainable change, with substantial future vision. All whilst being in one of the hardest hit sectors. We hope ours is an example to encourage others.”

Stephanie Griffiths, Commercial Director, Chwarae Teg, said: “I must congratulate everyone at Celtic English Academy. To achieve a Gold Award the client needs to be of a very high standard and their staff must also believe in those standards and really live and breathe the culture across the business. It’s testament to their dedication that they have also become a finalist in the FairPlay Employer category at the Chwarae Teg Womenspire Awards 2021.

“Future focussed employers like Celtic English Academy want to ensure their organisation provides the right environment for everyone to thrive and feel that they belong. Our FairPlay Employer service can make it happen by giving organisations and businesses a clear path to success.”

Organisations interested in finding out more about how they can benefit from the FairPlay Employer programme should visit chwaraeteg.com/projects/fairplay, email fairplayemployer@chwaraeteg.com or call 07428 783 874.