It is 60 years since John and Brita Haycraft moved to Cordoba, Spain, and the idea of International House was born from the first few students they taught in their tiny flat. Little did they know that from those humble beginnings would grow a worldwide network of language schools. For this very special edition of the IH Journal we thought it would be only right to interview Claudio Cremades, the current owner and director of IH Cordoba; the first International House. The school has remained in the IH family since its foundation in 1953 as Claudio’s father, Eulogio Cremades, who was first a student, then a teacher, took over the school when the Haycrafts returned to the UK in the late 1950s. Claudio succeeded his father, taking the helm in 1993.
Claudio, who is one of six children, said running the school was definitely not part of his plans when he was growing up, although he could be considered an IH baby himself! When he was growing up the school was always a part of their lives, as were the Haycrafts. His father told him stories about John and Brita and they would also spend time with them during the summers. Claudio studied to be a lawyer and practiced for a few years until his father asked him to sort out some problems in their other school, Huelva. He was supposed to stay for a week but ended up being there for two years. On his return to Cordoba his father offered him a post in the school and he has been there ever since. He says it was a decision he has never regretted.
IHJ: What remains the same from the founding school?
Claudio: Obviously there have been some huge changes as the world around has changed but the spirit of the school is still the same or even stronger, the same accessibility, the same passion from the teaching staff, the same family feel.
IHJ: What impact has technology had?
Claudio: The biggest change to the school has been the development and use of technology. In the last five years we have progressively started to incorporate the latest technology into the school by using IWBs, Apple TV etc, and the latest initiative has been the introduction of iPads to the classroom. One of the teachers at IH Cordoba, Jennifer Dobson (see her Action Research report) has been in charge of introducing and implementing this initiative in three steps. Firstly, Jennifer and her team of four teachers were researching the direction to take with the introduction of iPads. The next step was for another team to implement the results from the research and, thirdly, the plan for the future is to create a training course for teachers on how to incorporate the iPad into the classroom. I have backed this project from the very start and it was amazing how they found a revolutionary way of teaching which also incorporated the original teaching style.
IHJ: How has the profile of student changed over the years?
Claudio: One of the biggest changes has been the recent financial crisis in Spain. Previously 65% of our market was Young Learners and now there has been a clear shift in this statistic with more and more young adults learning English in order to better their chances of finding work outside of Spain
IHJ: What has been the winning formula for IH Cordoba?
Claudio: I think the combination of experience and innovation has had a lot to do with the continued success of the school. Also, after being in existence for 60 years, the school obviously has a great deal of prestige in the local area and an excellent reputation.
We would like to thank Claudio for his time and to wish him and the school all the best in this anniversary year.