With host families the number one choice for boarding school students during the school holidays, it is vitally important that we, at Bright World, have a good variety of host families to fulfil the needs of our clients.
We initially recruit and screen host families according to location and proximity to schools where we know we will have students. We aim to place our students as close to the school as possible, so that our host families can collect them in person and drop them back at school after their stay.
Once we identify that the family is in a suitable location, the rest of the screening process begins. Staff at Bright World involved in this process are fully trained in Safer Recruitment practices.
Safer recruitment is a set of practices that help to make sure a company’s staff and volunteers are suitable to work with children and young people. It is a vital part of creating a safe and positive environment and making a commitment to keep children safe from harm.
For Bright World, safer recruitment is a continuing process where we aim to improve year on year. Our accrediting body, AEGIS helps us to keep our high standards of screening up to date and in line with other childcare sectors.
There are many areas of safeguarding involved in the safer recruitment process. Enrolling as a host family involves completing a comprehensive application form, offering two references for each adult in the household, and undertaking a enhanced DBS or criminal record check on every person in the household who is aged 16 or over. This is followed by a house inspection which not only looks generally at the comfort aspects of the house but also involves thorough health and safety inspections on boiler service checks, fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. There is much more involved to recruiting a host family than many may imagine.
For many students and parents, the location or facilities at the host family are the most important factors. For us, the right motivation for hosting, enhanced DBS checks, excellent references and a clean, safe environment within the home are most important. This is why all Bright World host families receive the same stringent checks, so no matter where they are located, we can be assured that we have completed the checks necessary to ensure our students are as safe as possible. It is important that we make our parents and students aware that screening and safeguarding always come first.
Parents and students have specific requirements that relate to location, lifestyle and facilities available at host families. Some students ask us for a quiet place to study where they will be the only student in the host family, whilst others are looking for a more active holiday and interaction with children of their own age.
We want to fulfil as many requirements as possible, so we have to work hard to ensure that we have not only enough host families but a good variety of choices so that we can respond to these specific requests.
Feedback from our students and parents is sought via online questionnaires and in-person interviews and we are delighted to report that year on year we receive an overwhelmingly positive response from parents and students.
We want overseas parents to feel involved in their child's host family selection process. Once a host family is fully screened to safer recruitment standards, they appear on our unique database.
Using our Host Family Selection Tool, parents can search for a family in their own time. They can select families depending on distance from their chosen school and they can view an outline of all the host families who may be available to them. Once they find a profile they like, they can ask us to check the family's availability.
Bright World host families are chosen for having high standards of care and facilities. If our Local Coordinator has any reservations during the inspection we do not proceed. We think these high standards make our host families the ideal choice for students in their school holidays.
Students would, of course, prefer to be back home in their own country with their parents for longer holidays, but this is not always possible, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic and so finding a ‘home from home’ in the UK can offer the ideal alternative. Staying in a family environment, eating home cooked food and taking time out with no set routines or timetables offers an opportunity for students to relax and recharge.