Our Story

Founded in 1969

The English Language Centre Bristol (ELC Bristol) was founded in 1969. It was the first English language school in Bristol. Abon School was founded in 1973. ELC Bristol and Abon were great friends and were the only two language schools in the city until the late 1980s.

John joined ELC Bristol as its youngest teacher in 1979 and two years later the Principal sold the school to its seven teachers. John lived in the school and he and Margaret even had their wedding reception there! By 1995, there were only three teachers remaining from the original team and although she had been helping for many years, Margaret was formally invited to join ELC Bristol - we became a family-run school.

In 1997, the Principal of Abon School retired and ELC Bristol and Abon became one school. Our remaining partners retired in 2007 and since then the school has been run by John and Margaret. So, there was an advantage of being the youngest after all!

A family-run school in the UK

40,000 students from more than 50 countries

We have always had a wonderful team of teachers. We love our students and have always put them at the centre of everything we do.

For the last 10 years we have consistently been ranked one of the top English language schools in the country, according to the British Council Inspectors’ reports. To this day, we remain the joint number one school out of more than 500 schools in the UK – something which makes us very proud.

In 2019, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the school in style with a party at the Avon Gorge Hotel, overlooking the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge. By then, 40,000 amazing students had passed through our doors from more than 50 different countries, leaving us with wonderful memories.

In July 2022, ELC Bristol became part of the Clifton College Education Group. Clifton College have always been our friends and neighbours. We have used their facilities and classrooms during our busy summer courses for more than 20 years. ELC Bristol remains a family-run school, with the same student-centred ethos, but we have moved with our teachers and staff to a beautiful, award-winning building in the heart of Clifton, less than 5 minutes' walk from our previous buildings of Pembroke and Abon House. The move to our new home has been good news for both our staff and our students. Not only do we now have space for over 200 students year round in our new, purpose-built classrooms, but, after buying a one-off £10.00 sports pass, our students and staff can all benefit from free access to the College's swimming pool and gym!

2020 and 2021 were difficult years for us all, but we have survived, and we now look forward to a secure future and to helping more wonderful students to realise their dreams at ELC in beautiful Bristol.

John and Margaret Duncan