A student's arrival at school in the UK must be one of the biggest challenges they have faced so far in life. They have travelled a long way and arrive in a new country and are taken to a new school. English is probably not their first language so they don't necessarily understand everything that is being said.
There is so much to take in; new bedroom, new rules, new routine, strange food and a timetable to follow from day one. The houseparents and teaching staff at schools are really welcoming and their job is to make sure all students are settling in well. They do a fantastic job.
So why is meeting their education guardian so important to them?
A guardian is different. They are not part of the school. They are someone completely independent and they have been employed by parents to act as their representative in the UK.
When the student meets their guardian at boarding school, it is their time to really have the ear of an independent friend who adds a further level of care and supplements the support that the school is already giving.
During our settling in visits this year we mainly received positive feedback from Local Coordinators who have met their new students. Our brave and bold young students are excited and looking forward to the year ahead. Many have travelled overseas alone before, for summer programmes or have attended schools for short taster periods and they settle in quickly.
On some occasions, however, the story is not so positive. Students have arrived and are in their boarding house with a group of others and although individual assistance is always on offer from caring houseparents, students don't always feel they can stop them in their busy tracks to ask for help as they are struggling.
When their Bright World Buddy visits them, they have a meeting that is dedicated just to them. They see a friendly face who is genuinely interested in how they are settling in. They are not part of the school but are employed by the parents so students often feel they can be more open with their Buddy.
We regularly receive disclosures at this point from students on feeling homesick, stressed or depressed. Just a week or so into the term, our safeguarding team jumps into action and works with schools to follow up these disclosures, ensuring the student is getting the support they need and parents overseas are fully informed.
The arrival visit is also the perfect time for our Bright World Buddies to make sure all the contact details we have for students are correct. They will often join each other's Whatsapp as contacts for easy communication in the future. The Buddy also goes to the school with details of all the arrangements we are making for them for exeats and half terms in case they have different ideas.
Bright World has a strict code of conduct for students to follow when they are out of school and under our care. The arrival visit provides the perfect opportunity to go through the Bright World Student Handbook and make sure the student understands the boundaries and rules that are there to keep them safe.
We love it when parents are able to travel with their children and we can meet them too. It really helps us to find out more about our students first hand and know what elements of our care package are the most important to them and what they may be feeling anxious about.
When parents are unable to make the journey, we do the best we can to involve them in the first days of term and bring them to life for them in the form of photos and reports that we upload to our portal, Blink.
Nice to meet you! Thank you for your attention to my son Anton, for your very interesting story about the first days of his stay at school and I hope everything will be fine!"
Pictured: Jalpa Lai, our Bright World Buddy for Surrey and London
Having just started my arrival visits, I am finding this aspect of the role so very rewarding and am learning so much from each and every student. During an incredibly busy, emotional, exciting and exhausting time with so much mentally for the new students to absorb, it has struck me how vital it is to have a friendly, caring and helpful person on hand to meet during those early days of such a significant educational and life journey.
As one of the first adults to greet students outside of the school, I am finding that the role is not only one of great responsibility, but also one which is an absolute privilege.
Rachael Wheeler, Bright World Buddy for East Surrey and Ascot
"It's always fun to share in the hustle and bustle of a new term and the special excitement for students arriving at boarding school full of hopes and aspirations for the year ahead"
Rebecca Warboys, Bright World Buddy for York
When I explained how Bright World is structured, my student was delighted. He said that 'I previously had a guardian from my home country, but I didn't feel I was important and he was never there when I needed him. I like the fact I now have you as my buddy close by if I need you and also there is a Head Office full of people to support me - I will never feel alone'.
Rosanna Lythgoe, Bright World Buddy for Essex
Tung had already messaged me before he arrived, and also his brother too. When we met we already felt we were friends who had been in touch and it wasn't like meeting a stranger. Tung gave me a gift from Vietnam when we met and I have sent him a thank you card so it does feel like a friendship.
Lisa McGowan, Bright World Buddy for Cheltenham, Gloucestershire & Worcestershire
At Bright World, we can provide you with a first class guardianship service. To find out more about the best guardianship in the UK please contact us today.
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