Around half of the schools we work with have what we call 'compulsory' exeat weekends. That means that the school closes completely for two nights - usually a Friday and a Saturday and everyone must leave. All the British students get to go home to to family and all the school staff get a well-earned break. For the international boarders things are not quite so straightforward. They must go to their guardian.
Sometimes, if a parent is using a family friend as a guardian this can cause problems. They may not be available or because they live so far from the school the travel can cause a barrier.
"Over the years I have seen many examples of family friendships being spoiled because an overseas parent is using them as a guardian. If an overseas parent is not paying a Guardianship Organisation then things can get a little awkward between them if they are not available for an exeat weekend.' Lana Foster Managing Director, Bright World.
In these instances, I would say the exeat weekends become a strain and a hassle for overseas parents.
The phrase 'a change is as good as a rest' is true. Doing something different from one's routine is as refreshing as taking a break from work or school altogether.
A host family will never replace their home but if a student has a regular host family they go to then an Exeat weekend can be almost as relaxing as the British student going home to see their parents.
They get to stay in a home rather than a boarding house. They can pop down the shops (if they are old enough) and relax in different surroundings. They can eat home-cooked food and even help out with cooking the meals.
They go back to school having had a different experience and with things to tell their school friends about and their parents back home. They have learnt a bit about the culture of 'normal' people's lives in the UK and seen how we live.
A host family can provide an independent ear as well. Someone they can trust and confide in out of school who will feedback any concerns to us at Bright World. This is an important element of the safeguarding work we can do as a guardian.
My feeling is that exeat weekends exist and at Bright World we embrace that and make the most of them. They take up as much time an effort as a whole half term and cause overseas parents an extra expense. Seeing how positive the experience can be, we are happy to arrange them.
Read more about our guardianship programme.
find out more about programmes on offer during the Christmas holidays in the UK.
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